Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Destination Chewton Glen

Perched on the edge of the New Forest in Hampshire, Chewton Glen is an oasis of tranquillity. Surrounded by sweeping lawns, manicured gardens and trees, this luxurious country house hotel, so steeped in English tradition, cleverly manages to inject touches of modernity without losing its homely feel. From the moment you arrive you are treated like a VIP. It’s easy to see why Chewton Glen has won so many awards. The service makes it stand out from the crowd.

My overnight stay at the five-star establishment started with a delicious lunch at its awarding-winning spa. I opted for the buffet which was brimming with healthy dishes, washed down with a glass of organic champagne. Well, it was my birthday!

Afterwards I had the Lomi lomi Hawaiian massage, which was so relaxing I fell asleep. I also made use some of the spa’s facilities. The gym, I thought would be too much like hard work so I went for a dip in the inside pool and then a leisurely soak in the hydrotherapy spa pool. You can even get your make-up done for the evening if you so wish. No wonder so many people come and spend a day at this spa. For golf enthusiasts the hotel has a nine-hole par three course.

Feeling revitalised after my treatments and, as the weather was beautiful, it was time to take a short walk through the hotel’s estate to Chewton Bunny, an ancient wooded river valley which takes you to the beach. There the Isle of Wight gleamed in the distance. The only sound to be heard was the lapping of the waves.

I sauntered up to Highcliffe Castle, about a 20-minute walk along the beach. It was built around 1835 by Lord Stuart de Rothesay as a coastal retreat and today is noted for its elaborate carved medieval stonework.

Chewton Glen’s rooms are well designed with a perfect mix of antique and modern furniture.  Attention to detail is impressive. The hotel had thought of everything including fruit, chocolates and champagne on arrival. There was even a good hairdryer – a rare find when travelling.

Dinner was in the recently refurbished Vetiver restaurant. Decked out in purple, green and black, it comprises five rooms including the Wine Room which is perfect for private parties. The menu is English, seasoned with international spice. The smoked salmon was just how I like it, not too salty, the Dover Sole was grilled to perfection and the mango and raspberry sorbets were really fruity. The wine list is extensive so you will be sure to find something that suits your palette.

After dinner, I retired to the lounge to enjoy my coffee and petit fours. The perfect end to the perfect day.  This was paradise. I’ll certainly be heading back here next time my batteries need recharging.

By Daralyn Danns

Chewton Glen (chewtonglen.com)

Monday, 10 October 2011

Style tips from Kelly Hoppen

         *Kelly Hoppen

The renowned interior designer, Kelly Hoppen recently teamed up with Earth Couture, a luxurious organic fashion label, to create a range for women that is ideal for lounging around the house and is also both stylish and comfortable enough for travelling. Since the collection started a few seasons ago, it has, according to the FT, been worn by Cheryl Cole and Madonna.

I asked Kelly to disclose some of her style secrets.

What do you need to look out for when you are buying clothes to ensure you are not just paying for a name? 

“I always look to quality, the feel of the fabric and the craftsmanship. You can tell straight away if a garment is badly made.”  

What pieces should you invest in and what can you get away with paying less for? 

“I always invest in key pieces, coats, boots, bags etc. A great cashmere sweater mixed with a pair of trousers from the high street – it’s all about mixing it up.” 

What are your top tips when shopping for clothes?

“Don’t just follow trends. Buy items that not only suit you, but also fit you properly.” 

What key pieces should we be buying this autumn? 

“As soon as autumn arrives, for me, it is all about enveloping myself in textures. Great knitwear, layered T-shirts and, of course, clothes for the home.”

You have a unique style when it comes to interior design. How can you translate this into clothes?

“I have maintained my love of neutrals. I think that they work brilliantly in fashion, especially, in the fabrics that I have chosen for the collection. It is about being relaxed and comfortable.”

How can you look stylish without being a slave to fashion?

“Develop your own personal style and update it with new pieces that reflect your style values.”

Many women live in neutrals such as black. How do you inject colour into your wardrobe? 

“As with my interiors, I highlight with flashes of colour. Inject a little spice with a coloured top or perhaps accessories, a great bag etc.”

You have used vintage pieces in design. Do you think that this should translate into fashion?

“Of course, nothing screams style more than a well thought out vintage piece. I have so many dresses from many years ago that still to this day look modern. It’s all about choosing classics. Classics do not date.”

Why did you decide to launch Earth Couture?

 “I decided to partner with Earth Couture as I had always been interested in fashion and when the opportunity arose I was thrilled to accept. The charity element of the brand cemented the deal. With every purchase a mosquito coil is given to a child in Africa.” 

Where do you see fashion heading?

“Fashion will always keep coming around, but with a new twist.” 

*Kelly Hoppen for Earth Couture

By Daralyn Danns

Earth Couture (earth-couture.com)