As the shops flood with red chocolate hearts and over-sized cards, trying to put a different twist on Valentine’s Day can be tricky.
Couples spa breaks are always a romantic option but because my boyfriend James had a preconception that they were for ‘girls’ I wasn’t too sure if he would embrace the experience as much as me.
But then I stumbled across the perfect present – a luxury spa stay in a treehouse.
Retreat in the trees: The 12 treehouses – in the grounds of Chewton Glen – were completed in 2012
It’s every boy’s childhood fantasy to
live in a treehouse – and this was just a five-star adult
version, swapping creaky floorboards for underfloor heating.
The 12 treehouses – in the grounds of hotel Chewton Glen – were completed in 2012 and are
the only luxury suites of their kind in the UK.
The 18th century house is just off
the M27 in Hampshire’s New Forest and as we drove over a small
bridge in the hotel’s grounds and the grand country house came into view, we
knew luxury was the order of the day.
Showcase: Floor-to-ceiling windows flood the treehouses with light, giving guests panoramic views of the tree canopy and valley beyond
At reception our keys were swiftly whisked away and our bags were taken from the car. Then a golf buggy drew up, much to the delight of James. We climbed in, and with heaters on
full blast (it was a top-of-the-range limousine golf buggy) we were
chauffeured to our treehouse, which was built in a clearing in the
A large wooden bridge linked the
buggy trail to our new home on stilts and, as we stepped inside, the instant
feeling was one of space.
The floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall
windows flooded the treehouse with light, giving us a panoramic view
of the tree canopy and valley beyond. Costing £7million to build, no expense has been spared on the interiors which have been designed using natural materials.
Midnight dip: Sitting back and sipping champagne while watching snow fall on the treetops was a truly unforgettable experience
Every room had a flat-screen TV with Sky and James gave an approving nod when he saw
that next to the large freestanding bath there was another television set built into
the bathroom wall.
The attention to detail was particularly nice; in the
small kitchenette, there was an expensive coffee machine as well as
chocolate buttons and marshmallows for the perfect hot chocolate.
Treehouse with a view: Floor-to-ceiling windows await guests in the bedroom
The fridge was well-stocked with
alcohol including the obligatory champagne and local cider and there
were a variety of freshly-baked cakes and fruit to graze on.
After running around the tree-house
like a pair of excited children we (somewhat reluctantly) headed back to
the main house for our spa treatments.
I selected the Ila Manipura Massage
(£87 for 60 minutes) which was designed to energise tired, lethargic bodies –
while James had a back massage.
Grown up’s playground: The hydrotherapy pool in The Orangery
Taking a dip: The neo-classical 17m indoor swimming pool – there’s a traditional stone outdoor pool for more summery days
Couples can arrange to have a
treatment side-by-side on the balcony, but as the snow fell outside, I
was glad to be cocooned alone in the warmth of the heated massage table.The experience was truly relaxing and warm herbs wrapped in a muslin cloth were placed over certain pressure points.
After the treatment, we were
guided to the relaxation room where we lay down with tiny twinkling
ceiling lights recreating the night sky as we listened to music on headsets.
After a buffet lunch in the
restaurant which overlooks the pool – less sausage rolls and
more smoke salmon, prawns and couscous – we headed to explore the rest
of the spa.
We had a swim in the neo-classical 17metre indoor swimming pool but there’s also a traditional stone
outdoor pool for summer days.
Adjacent to that, in the orangery, is a hydrotherapy pool. With six different areas and an array
of water pumps it is designed to simulate circulation – but my
spa-convert boyfriend described it as an ‘adult’s water park.’
The spa also has an outdoor jacuzzi with saunas and steam rooms in the changing rooms.
That evening we enjoyed a drink at
the bar before dinner at the award-winning Vetiver restaurant – it
stretches across five rooms, including a wine room and conservatory.
Mod cons: Every room had a flat-screen TV with Sky…even the bathroom
While James had oysters and a rack of
lamb, I opted for a souffle starter, followed by mushroom brioche and
coconut sorbet – the menu was great for vegetarians.
Our golf buggy took us
back, now truly stuffed, to the treehouse and even though it was gone midnight we decided to
make the most of the balcony hot tub.
The minus two temperatures made me
slightly apprehensive, fearing that it would take a while to warm up and
may have the odd fly hiding in there, but to my delight when we pulled
the lid off the water was crystal clear and the steam was rising off.
Sitting back and sipping champagne while watching snow fall on the treetops was a lovely experience.
Food glorious food: Chocolate buttons to make a hot milky drink with marshmallows and right, the breakfast hamper packed with continental delights
We left the curtains open – after all
you are dozens of feet high up in the trees – and watched the stars as
we fell asleep on our king-size bed.
In the morning, I awoke feeling refreshed and excited at the prospect of finding our ‘secret’ breakfast.
In the corner of the kitchen was a white cupboard connected to the indoor hallway.
A butler had arrived at 7:30am, opened a hatch and slid a breakfast hamper through straight into our kitchen cupboard.
The hamper – a fancy wooden cool-box –
was packed with continental delights ranging from smoked salmon, fresh
bread and croissants to freshly squeezed orange juice and yogurt.
Difficult to beat next year: Jill went in search for a Valentine’s Day present and ended up with a stay in a luxury New Forest treehouse
We laid out the treats and, with a
fresh cup of coffee, we settled down to
read our morning papers, as snow continued to fall outside.
After breakfast, we headed out for a walk down to the beach. The hotel might feel as if it is in
the depths of the country but take a short walk through the extensive
grounds, across a busy road and along a footpath and you come to a small
beach with views across to the Isle of Wight.
Hunter wellington boots are provided for guests and they certainly came in handy as we trudged through the snow.
On our return we reluctantly packed
our bags and handed in our keys at reception but just as we were
waiting for our car to be brought to the front, the receptionist offered
us two bottles of water and biscuits for the journey home – a truly
luxurious retreat from start to finish.
Now, let’s see if we can put our house on stilts…