Spa retreaters, weekending urban escapees, beach-bound families, roving gastronomes, lovers of old-school luxury and fans of contemporary boutique chic – with so many people wanting such different things, no hotel can get it right for everyone.
Except, it seems, Chewton Glen. Halfway between the New Forest fringes and the edge of the ocean, the Hampshire hideaway has made a habit of ticking every box on the traveller’s wish list, winning awards for everything from its spa to its service, topping a heap of hotel hotlists and generally wowing the socks off everyone stepping inside its ivy-clad walls.
But Chewton Glen has never been one to rest on its laurels; last year TV chef James Martin turned up to put another feather in the hotel’s well-plumed cap, in the form of The Kitchen Cookery School. Martin’s involvement is no coincidence – he honed his skills in the hotel’s kitchens back in his twenties, so, this is in many ways, a triumphant return to his alma mater.
Here in a new, purpose-built and still-gleaming building that also houses the Kitchen’s buzzy brasserie, Martin takes charge of school development and whites up regularly to lead the headline classes, while chef-tutor Rob Cottam is at the helm of the day-to-day course calendar. Much like Chewton the hotel, the cookery school’s syllabus is carefully crafted to include something for everyone, and is especially good for children and families, with multi-day cookery camps to coincide with school holidays. Martin has also brought his mega-chef mates into the fold, and the Kitchen maintains a steady stream of gastronomic royalty to take over tutoring duties, including guest appearances by the likes of Tom Kerridge, Jason Atherton and Sabrina Ghayour.
Just one year after opening, the Kitchen has rocketed up the cookery-school rankings to become one of the best in the South – yet another stand-out ingredient in Chewton Glen’s recipe for success.