The latest country house hotel to open in the UK: Heckfield Place in Hampshire. The 47-room Georgian family home was scheduled to open in 2012, but launch dates (and staff members) came and went. The reasons for the delay were reported in the Financial Times this past spring, but this September, according to general manager, Olivia Richli, Heckfield Place is finally open for business and—judging by the images we’ve seen of the interiors—those who have held on to their bookings will not be disappointed. Take a look.
All photography courtesy of Heckfield Place
The interiors have been designed by Ben Thompson, the 34-year-old former director of Studio Ilse. Thompson and his team were initially asked to revive a derelict country pub close to the estate (the idea being that guests could make their way across the 400 acres to the inn). “The presentation went well, and we were asked instead to help out on Heckfield,” he says, modestly.
Heckfield Place is owned by the Chan family, who purchased the property 16 years ago. The building was being used as a corporate training center when they took ownership, but not a hint of that sterile, strip-lit interior remains, thanks to Thompson’s approach to the project. “Our main objective with the interior was to connect the buildings to the landscape and context, to add character and warmth through local materials, local craft, and antiques relevant to the buildings’ history,” he says.
Thompson’s involvement began three years ago. “We jumped on board to help edit, redefine, and create a more connected place,” he explains. “At the time, the interior felt very alien to Hampshire—it had a more international hotel aesthetic that didn’t feel honest or believable.” Where possible, sparkling surfaces and mass-produced furniture and fittings were replaced with natural, considered materials and handmade pieces that imbue the interiors with a kind of hushed luxuriousness. In their own words: “Heckfield is a place to feel in awe of and at home in.”
“It has been our job to work hard with craftspeople rather than larger suppliers to ensure everything feels very considered and handmade,” Thompson asserts. The floors are made of a hard-to-find English oak that is rich in character. The walls are done in lime plaster and have “an amazing depth to them—far from flat, they absorb the light beautifully and really cocoon you.”
There are six room types to choose from at Heckfield Place, from the out-of-this-world Long Room (which costs up to £10,000 a night), to the Friends Rooms (which start at a still-very-treaty £350 a night). Thompson describes the smaller rooms “as perfect little pockets” with layered natural materials and fastidious attention to detail. By contrast, the Long Room is a vast space “to entertain, with a beautiful oak and marble kitchen, two terraces, and a dining and sitting room with huge fires.”
Thompson has used the sun to guide guests through the day: “morning papers and a coffee in the pure bright morning room; afternoon cake in the darker, more patterned and alive drawing room, through to the final drink of the day in the Moon Bar.”
The three restaurants at Heckfield Place are overseen by culinary director Skye Gyngell of London’s elegant Spring restaurant in Somerset House. (See her kitchen at In the Kitchen with Skye Gyngell, London’s Chef du Jour).
More English country estates, available by the night: