1. Worth the wait
When Hong Kong-born real estate tycoon Gerald Chan first purchased this 18th-century Georgian manor house nearly two decades ago, he could not have expected that converting it into a five-star hotel would take so long. Some even speculated it might never open at all. But open it has, and since welcoming its first guests in November, Heckfield Place has wowed all comers: so much so that it was swiftly crowned hotel of the year by The Sunday Times.
2. Past, present, future
The original manor house, now a Grade II-listed structure, was once home to politician Lord Eversley, and the marble fireplaces and elaborate ceilings throughout – all lovingly restored – hark back to the time when such aristocrats were in residence. But this is not simply a traditional stately pile: the décor, courtesy of designer Ben Thompson, is a masterstroke of eclecticism that brings together all manner of historic touchpoints: from Persian rugs and mid-20th-century furniture in the public spaces to subtle touches of modernity – such as the Bang & Olufsen speakers and Apple TV – found in the 38 rural-chic bedrooms. It is, in short, a design triumph.
3. Home away from home
It’s become very much de rigueur since the opening of Babington House in Somerset – very much the granddaddy of modern country house hotels – for these kinds of properties to describe themselves as a home away from home, but Heckfield Place deserves this epithet. You really can treat the place as your own by donning a pair of wellies to go for a walk in the expansive grounds or taking advantage of the superb programme of curated activities that run daily. These range from nightly screenings in the 45-seat underground screening room to scent-making workshops or morning yoga sessions. Heckfield Place’s closeness to London – only an hour away – makes it a prime target for urban types seeking a rural escape without forgoing the kinds of amenities found in today’s luxury hotels, and these are in no short supply here – not least in the form of the Bodyism gym and delightful spa.
4. Ingredients for success
Often, when a hotel brings on board a big-name chef, their association is little more than window dressing, but at Heckfield Place you can see Skye Gyngell’s influence everywhere. The former holder of a Michelin star at London’s Petersham Nurseries Café and now in charge of Spring at Somerset House is frequently to be found in the kitchen here overseeing menus for the two restaurants, Marle and Hearth, both of which are wonderful advertisements for her elegant and ingredient-focused approach to cooking (many ingredients are sourced directly from the biodynamic farm on the estate).
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This article was originally published in the April 2019 issue of SilverKris magazine