By Rachel Seed
I love this hotel. There, I’ve said it straight away. I’m a huge fan of the Four Seasons brand and concept and have experienced their exemplary levels of service all over the world. I’d heard wonderful things about their Hampshire outpost, and despite the English summer downpour well and truly setting in as I drove out from London, as soon as I’d slipped into my dressing gown and slippers and poured myself a bath (and a rather large G&T to go with it), I didn’t at all mind that my planned outdoor pursuits had had to be postponed until the deluge abated.
I’d timed my review of the property rather craftily, as it fell just before a month of travelling the West Coast of the States. I figured I could do with some five-star rest and relaxation before heading out west. I’d had a stressful couple of months in the build-up to my impending trip, so a couple of nights residing in luxury should set me up for my travels beautifully. Boy, was I right.
I’d been dying to stay at this hotel since it opened, and have heard some great things about it from both people travelling for leisure and also people who have worked arranging events there. If you fancy a weekend away from it all, without compromising on luxury or service, then you can’t do much better in the UK than this. The Four Seasons service combined with country pursuits is perfect: lots of fresh air, loads of outdoor activities, a world-class spa, a great restaurant, an eye-boggling breakfast buffet (one of the best I’ve seen in England) and a wonderful indoor pool.
The staff are faultless – I’d been to The Grove (near Watford – a similar country house hotel, but a bit more funky in terms of decor) for two nights before this stay, and the staff there had been poor. Really poor. Not just in terms of the level of service they provided, but also in terms of being understood by them. At The Hampshire (as I like to call it) there is a real interest in your stay: whether you’re having a great time, asking you if you’d like to venture out, whether clay pigeon or other activities can be arranged. I felt so relaxed and chilled out after three days, it was amazing.
My suite was very ‘Four Seasons’ – not particularly imaginative in terms of its style, but a great size with a super-comfy bed and lovely bathroom – whereas the communal rooms had more of a design edge. The bar is especially cool. Dining-wise, Seasons restaurant is great – quite expensive, but then most hotel restaurants are. They’re really careful here to use local, seasonal produce and the menu isn’t too out-there. The staff, again, were absolutely adorable. When we asked for a particular kind of wine, our three waiters huddled together and consulted the lengthy wine list to make sure they got our request just right. They did.
Yes, so OK, it’s very expensive, but remember: it’s the Four Seasons. So at least you know your hard-earned cash will be paying for top-notch service within a beautiful hotel.
Dogmersfield Park, Chalky Lane, Dogmersfield, Hook, Hampshire
Tel: +44 1252 853000
Date of review: July 2007.