On hindsight, spending two days in Hampshire was certainly not enough. It’s simply beautiful—especially in summer—and the expansive fields, wildlife and country lifestyle are a dream for kids. We used Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire, England as our base and couldn’t imagine staying anywhere else.
The centuries-old estate is a steeped in history, serving a variety of purposes until Four Seasons lovingly restored it to a classically-styled house with modern hotel comforts. It’s one of the most special properties I’ve ever been to and felt like we were in a modernized version of Downton Abbey, which makes sense because the show is filmed at nearby Highclere Castle.
We enjoyed falconry, equestrian, a picnic by a lake, fishing, croquet, bikes rides into fields, a pub dinner, and did most of the things you should in the English countryside in just 48 hours—though I wished we had stayed longer.
Where Is Hampshire, England?
This stunning part of the world is located to the south of London and borders the English Channel. The county of Hampshire includes Southampton and is famous for a long maritime history as well as being the birthplace of Jane Austin and Charles Dickens (among other things). Hampshire is often abbreviated as “Hants” and the Four Seasons is in a lovely Hants village called Dogmersfield Park.
Most people take the roughly one-hour train from London’s Waterloo Station, however, due to the amount of luggage in tow and the fact that our trip was already full of planes and trains, we arranged a driver through Blacklane to pick us up from Four Seasons Hotel London at Canary Wharf and deliver us to Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire.
How long the drive takes depends on where you are in London. From Canary Wharf, we were told it normally takes about 90 minutes, but due to traffic it took nearly an hour longer though none of us really minded. We were so used to taking the Tube that it was nice to see London from above ground, plus our car was quite posh. Our return journey to St. Pancras station to catch the Eurostar took exactly the estimated 90 minutes.
If you’re flying in to Heathrow airport, it’s only a 35 minute drive to the hotel so you might want to consider visiting Hampshire in the beginning or end of your trip.
Hampshire Day 1: Arrival, Bike Rides and a Pub
Once you arrive to Hampshire from bustling London, it’s like entering another world.
Oliver the Resident Dog
Oliver Beckington, the resident black labrador, came to greet us the second our car pulled up to the estate.
Life as a hotel dog isn’t a hardship. He receives (and brilliantly tolerates) attention from adoring guests of all ages. You can arrange to accompany him on his daily walks where his cheeky personality shines. Apparently, he likes to dive into estate ponds to swim and catch fish. His bed and bowls remain at all times in the lobby where he is able to sleep through activity with seemingly no problems.
He has full range of the property but sticks close to home as he, like most dogs, knows where he’s fed and loved.
A Beautiful Suite and Flowers
The English-style decor is inline with country living. Our one-bedroom suite had a plush sofa, dining table, lots of storage, a very sizable bathroom and a view over the little fishing pond where we later picnicked. A rollaway bed had been placed in the living area for our daughter along with some sweet treats. The suites are an excellent place to kick-up your feet after a long day.
Of course, beautiful flowers grace the entire hotel. This horse topiary was quite something and taller than me!
A Late Lunch at Bar 1086
We settled our bags, changed and collapsed into Bar 1086’s comfy chairs for a late lunch of sandwiches as well as local cheese and charcuterie to quickly map out an itinerary in between scheduled activities. I imagine this is a fantastic place to unwind with a cocktail at the end of the day as it’s reminiscent of a nice living room and does have outdoor seating.
Country Bike Rides
With trail maps in hand—the estate is 500 acres and there is a lot to see—my husband set off for a leisurely jog around the canal while my daughter and I headed to the spa to check out complimentary bikes and helmets.
You can literally ride, walk or run almost anywhere on the estate from paved road to off-road. My city daughter even asked, “Are you sure?” as we dropped our bikes within eyeshot and ran into the fields to check out wildflowers, horses and cows along the way.
Slightly dirty and a bit sweaty… as long as you’re safe and enjoying yourself it doesn’t matter how you return to this luxury hotel really, which is nice.
Dinner at The Exchequer Pub
There are also a number of English pubs nearby for hearty or healthy meals, local beers (or even a craft cocktail) and a casual ambiance. The concierge desk thought The Exchequer Pub would suit our need for pub food nearby and they were completely right.
Our meal at was outstanding from the melted brie appetizer to my husband’s lamb burger with goat cheese. They have gluten-free and kids’ menus, too. I opted to splurge on fish and chips. When in England…
Taxis arranged through the concierge desk can be billed to your room, too.
Hampshire Day 2: Equestrian, Falconry, Croquet and a Really Cool Picnic
Buffet English Breakfast
Fans of hotel breakfasts, we headed to the buffet at Seasons restaurant first thing. It was set up sort of like a Farmer’s Market with a variety of fresh breads, fruit, meats, charcuterie, cheese and then some. You could create your own beans on toast (another English favorite of mine), a proper English breakfast, lox and bagel or order a variety of hot items from your server that were included.
A Fun Walk with Oliver
We joined Oliver for his scheduled 9:30 a.m. walk and it was fun to have him escort us to the Equestrian Centre along the way. His toy lobster was in his mouth most of the time. It was clear that he’d been there many times, but he really wanted to go in the pond (which had recently been fitted with a little above-water house for the ducks) and dug his feet in when asked to walk in the opposite direction. Very, very funny.
Own a Pony
A quintessential English experience, I enrolled my daughter in the Own a Pony program. Designed for kids ages 7-12, they really do learn what kind of responsibility is required to own a horse by bathing, feeding and caring for it before and after a ride. If your kids are asking for a horse, then this program is a must. Even my jazzed daughter admitted that there is a lot that goes into prepping a pony for a ride… or hack, as they say in England.
My daughter’s pony was called Scooby which is also our dog’s name. After fetching him from the field, giving him a thorough bathing and assembling his tack, her program guide led her on a hack around the estate while teaching her basic riding skills.
Quick Lunch at The Bistro
Both The Bistro and Bar 1089 seem to serve the same menu of sandwiches, salads, light bites and mains with an English twist so we opted for the first option to try a new seating area. Famished from a long walk, my daughter took down an entire burger (portion size for kids is very generous), while I opted for a delicious pork chop and my husband enjoyed a steak sandwich.
A Private Hawk Walk
The other special experience I’d arranged in advance was a private hawk walk with the Estate’s falconer. In addition to the red-tailed hawk flying from one of us to the other, the walk provided an opportunity to see the estate in a different light. We walked gardens we may not have otherwise gone to and our falconer was like a walking historian, shedding new light on the Estate’s history upon every turn.
At the end of our walk, he flew a falcon that he’d recently rescued in the massive grassy area in front of the Estate. It is so impressive that the birds are free to fly basically wherever they want and that they would always return.
A Quick Game of Croquet
I mean, we couldn’t leave without playing a game of croquet! On the Estate is a lovely croquet lawn (open from April to September from sunrise to sunset) that is also used by a Hampshire croquet club. I had arranged mallets and balls to be placed on the lawn for us but thank goodness one of the club’s members who was observing a round her friends were playing, stepped in to remind us how to play. It was so fun but we couldn’t play long as we had a picnic to get to.
An Impromptu Picnic by Belvedere Pond
I have a habit of studying the in-room dining menu first thing and I’m so glad because I noticed the picnic offerings. With several hours of advance notice, in-room dining will pack a luxurious picnic and deliver it to where you’d like on the Estate.
We ultimately chose scenic Belvedere Pond. The little cottage here has a dining table, too, should you want to dine inside. Of course, the picnic was set up with formal Four Seasons flair with every detail taken care of, which we loved. We chose the Ploughman’s picnic boxes that was a generous amount of delicious food as well as a nice bottle of Rioja.
We arrived as the picnic was being set up and were told that the concierge could arrange for fishing rods to be delivered so, of course, I said, “Sure!”
None of us are expert fly fishers so next time, I’ll arrange a lesson (which is another offering guests can take advantage of). But, my daughter didn’t mind just chilling on the side of the pond with a line. A clever swan swam here throughout the duration of our stay and was keen to see if we caught anything.
After this full day, we were exhausted but managed to stop by the onsite chicken coops to have a look and see Oliver before turning in. One of the reasons why were we able to pack in such a full day is that daylight was in our favor as the sun was setting at 10:00 p.m.!
Hampshire Day 3: Check-Out and Goodbyes
After another buffet breakfast, we said our goodbyes to Oliver and ran around the Estate one more time. Just running through the fields was so much fun for my daughter. She assembled a little bag of wildflowers to make into a popurri of sorts. Then our driver took us back to St Pancras station in London so that we could catch the Eurostar back to Paris.
On Our List for Next Time
It might seem surprising but there are many other activities at Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire that we did not have time to do.
- The Highwire Adventure zipline and ropes course looked incredibly fun as guests navigate from treetop to treetop, across bridges and the like above ground.
- I would have loved to have enjoyed a proper afternoon tea in The Library, a treatment at the spa and a game of tennis with my daughter.
- I forgot to mention clay pigeon shooting to my husband so this is definitely on our list for next time.
- We could have used another bike ride.
- We’ll take fly fishing lessons.
- The pretty Basingstoke Canal runs through the Estate and it’s possible to book a cruise on a luxury canal boat. Next time.
Things to Do Off of the Estate
If you can bear to leave, there is quite a bit to do within driving distance of Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire including:
- Highclere Castle
- Winchester Cathedral
- Peppa Pig World
- Stratfield Saye House (Home to the Dukes of Wellington since 1817)
- Windsor Castle
- Bombay Sapphire Distillery
- Hampshire Farmer’s Market
One of the hotel’s Extraordinary Experiences is an exclusive Downton Abbey-themed tour of Highclere Castle. You’ll even be driven over in a Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith.
Good to Know
(The sky was really that blue on occasion. Beautiful.)
You can get quite a bit of exercise here, so I was grateful that bottled waters were available all over the hotel. Coffee, tea and newspapers are available at Seasons restaurant in the morning though we did have a coffee maker in our room.
Two nights was simply not enough time for us, but I think it’s because we were to keen to take advantage of everything the estate had to offer. So, if you aren’t often in Hampshire and can swing a longer stay, I’d recommend it.
While jogs and leisurely strolls through the countryside are a sure way to unwind, I highly suggest that you book as many of the special experiences on offer at the estate as possible. They allow you to truly experience English country life. Many are at an additional cost (like falconry, picnic and equestrian) but so worth it.
Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire is a (pardon the pun) four-season resort. While the long summer days allowed us to pack in more activities, people do come in winter and are able to do most activities because most of the onsite facilities are still open.
(Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire is one of the luxury hotels I can book for you with agent-exclusive amenities that will enhance and add value to your stay. Please send me your dates and I’ll tell you what’s on offer.)
It’s very, very peaceful here. You’ll love it.
Have you been to Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire?
Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire, England
Chalky Lane, Dogmersfield
Hampshire RG27 8TD
+44 (1252) 853000
*Thank you to Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire for a media room rate!
Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).
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