Country house hotels changed the face of travel in Britain. Their development can be traced to 1966, when an 18th-century mansion in Hampshire was purchased by Martin Skan. Ten years later Chewton Glen was famous around the world, and Skan had become a hotel legend. In the following decades, dozens of crumbling piles were reinvented, in virtually every region of the country. Accommodations of an international standard were installed, the grounds and gardens were relaid and talented young chefs were hired to begin their quests for Michelin stars.
The latest addition to the genre, Heckfield Place opened in September. Also located in Hampshire, a 90-minute drive southwest of London, the 47-room property is surrounded by 400 acres of grounds. It has taken 10 years to restore the Georgian red-brick mansion and its walled gardens. Two restaurants will be under the supervision of acclaimed Australian chef and food writer Skye Gyngell. The Little Bothy spa will feature five treatment rooms and three studios for personal training, yoga, Pilates and ballet. And in addition to traditional country pursuits such as horseback riding and fly-fishing, Heckfield Place will host cultural events, including lectures and concerts, many held in its new state-of-the-art surround-sound cinema.