Heckfield Place for one night only
On Friday evening, Oliver and I headed out of town to celebrate our one year anniversary. So much has happened in the past year (we got engaged for starters!), and we wanted to mark that by enjoying some quality time together away from London.
Our destination for the evening? Heckfield Place, a Georgian manor house set amidst 400 acres of Hampshire estate; its reopening after six years of renovation last autumn has been much hyped and heralded in press worldwide.
Thanks to heavy snowfall in Hampshire on Thursday and Friday, there were a couple of hiccups on our journey there (slight train delays, followed by the car refusing to start when the chauffeur came to pick us up from the station), so we were relieved when we finally arrived at Heckfield.
From the moment we entered, the service was faultless throughout our stay. Greeted by staff as soon as we alighted from the car, we encountered only extremely professional and friendly service at Heckfield, from the smooth check-in, to the friendly waiting staff during all mealtimes.
The thought and care behind the hotel’s design is also very obvious from the moment you enter. Whilst there are still remnants of the house’s Georgian heritage (the sweeping staircase in the entrance hall, chandeliers in the drawing rooms), the hotel’s recent renovation has seen a complete overhaul in design. Scandi influences, subtle tones, and sleek finishes are running themes throughout the property, along with finishing touches such as plants, furry throws, marble surfaces, and woven rugs in the bedrooms.
The hotel is home to two restaurants: Marle and Hearth, both under the culinary direction of Michelin-starred chef Skye Gyngell. Dinner on Friday was in Marle, the more casual of the two restaurants, and a sleek and spacious room on the ground floor. Although there were a healthy number of diners in the restaurant, there was still a quiet sense of intimacy that we enjoyed: we found that throughout our stay at Heckfield, there seemed to be a peaceful hush in all parts of the hotel.
We shared burrata and artichokes to start, and both went for the ‘roasted vegetables’ for our mains: a selection of homegrown root vegetables served on a pistachio puree and freeka base. The menu was curated and thoughtful, offering hearty options made with seasonal ingredients, all grown on the estate’s farm.
We went to bed feeling very satisfied that night, and woke on Saturday morning already excited about the breakfast offering. Breakfast at Heckfield is included within the room rate, and is served in Marle. The restaurant has floor to ceiling windows overlooking the grounds, which allows for a leisurely breakfast in the sunshine.
You’ll find British classics with a twist on the menu here, as well as a selection of homemade pastries. Whilst the porridge with poached pears, brown sugar and Jersey cream caught my eye, I ended up ordering the bubble ‘n’ squeak with fried egg and kasundi. Oliver went for boiled eggs and sausages on rye, and we also shared a pastry basket between us, that came with a generous selection of sourdough, rye, banana bread, and muffins (all homemade). I didn’t end up regretting my choice at all; every dish was delicious, but my spicy kasundi was particularly moreish.
After breakfast, we headed outside to explore the grounds. The hotel provides Hunter wellies and coats for all guests to borrow, and after donning these, we took a long walk in the snow. The hotel’s grounds are certainly impressive, and we managed to see what is probably only a tiny patch of the 400-acre estate. We couldn’t have been luckier with the weather, as the sun was shining and the hotel looked all the more magical glistening in the snow…after our walk, we headed back inside to cosy up in the drawing room and enjoy some complimentary tea and cake. A light lunch menu is also served here, and we opted for toasted cheese sandwiches to warm up from the cold.
After whiling away a couple of hours, it was time to head home. Heckfield really is a unique property, and our time there felt much too short: whilst offering the grandeur of a Georgian manor house run with five-star excellence, it strips away the traditional pomp found in a number of British countryside hotels, and replaces it with a modern, relaxed atmosphere. It proves the perfect escape to unwind: next time, I’ll be sure to check out the spa, cinema, and tasting menu at Hearth too.