Our stay at Four Seasons Hampshire coincides with the hottest weekend of the year so far — and the hotel positively blossoms in the sunshine. The grounds stretch as far as the eye can see (there are 500 acres), horses graze lazily in the fields and in the middle of it all stands the handsome Georgian manor house-turned-hotel, all 133 rooms of it. Enthusiastically greeted by staff and the resident black Labrador (the hotel welcomes dogs), we're shown to a large and predictably comfortable room. Three sash windows overlook countryside — a welcome sight for us urbanites — and, in the distance, the hotel's equestrian centre. Eschewing the option of exploring the grounds on one of the hotel's bicycles (too hot and too lazy) we head to the indoor pool, under glass and with a fabulous outdoor spa pool. But before sprawling on a sun-lounger and switching off, there's work to be done.
I'm here to investigate the hotel spa's new range of treatments by Sodashi, a wholesome Australian company, which focuses on purity and radiance (that's the meaning of Sodashi in Sanskrit). Ingredients are 100 percent natural, sourced thoughtfully and the treatments promise to regenerate the skin as well as impart a sense of wellbeing. The spa is one of the biggest I've seen; located in an 18th century stable block, it's a vision of white walls and pale wood, with people contentedly padding around in fluffy bathrobes. It oozes zen (ESPA is the other spa brand). I settle into one of the 15 treatment rooms and ponder over what mood lighting I'd like. It's imperative I choose right; after all, my Sodashi Samadara Ultimate Age-Defying Facial is an impressive 105-minutes.
And so it begins. My therapist applies a series of Sodashi products to my face, all of which have a different role to play in the rejuvenation of my dry, tired looking skin. Some calm and polish, others lift and revitalise. But all smell delightful and feel like they're doing me some serious good. A clay mask follows. It is allowed to set hard and left on for 25 minutes to allow the creams underneath to truly penetrate the epidermis. It does get a little hot under there but I fall into a deep sleep, waking only when my therapist whispers that the treatment has come to an end.
My skin certainly looks better than it did two hours previously (plump like a peach is how my friend describes it) — and I am so relaxed I feel like I am in a trance. Luckily it's only a short meander from the spa to the hotel terrace where we sip Champagne, gently undoing all the good work we've just done in the spa and vitality pool. Our visit coincides with school holidays and the place is dotted with children. The hotel prides itself on its appeal to families. There is a kids' check-in (with a toy box at reception) and mini towelling dressing gowns — oh to be a child of the 21st-century!
We eat in the smartest of the hotel's three restaurants, Seasons. The food is described as French-European and is spot on. Afterwards we spend a happy hour on the terrace, under the stars, sipping Sancerre. Perhaps a little too much Sancerre judging by my headache the following morning, but after a hearty breakfast, a few lengths in the impressive pool and some (more) downtime on a lounger, I feel restored. And, I'm glad to report, my skin is still peach perfect.
It's a country idyll, yet just an hour's drive from London.
The spa is huge, and the outdoor vitality pool is fabulously warm.
Expansive grounds are perfect for walking your pooch and the hotel is dog-friendly.
Very child-friendly: there's a brand new playground and for horse-mad children try the Own a Pony for the Day scheme.
The not so good:
Best to start saving if you're on a strict budget. But it's worth it. At £200 the facial isn't cheap, but it is 105-minutes long!
A picturesque hotel which caters to every whim, whether it's outdoor country pursuits, spa self-indulgence, satisfying your inner gourmand or just taking time out in the tranquil surroundings.
Double rooms start at £255. The 105-minute Sodashi Samadara Ultimate Age-Defying Facial is £200. Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire, Dogmersfield Park, Hampshire RG27 8TD (+44 (0)1252 853 000; fourseasons.com/hampshire).