Refined design and sustainability meet in a high-end biodynamic hotel in Hampshire, England.
Baptized by FT as “UK’s most delayed hotel”, Heckfield Place opened its doors to guests after six years of postponements. Owned by American billionaire Gerald Chan since 2002, the Georgian property received the permission for refurbishment in 2009. Several official opening dates came and went, starting with the original one, set for 2012. Over the years, the team behind the first biodynamic hotel in the UK changed continuously, until the arrival of designer Ben Thompson who understood the style vision of owner Gerald Chan. With manager Olivia Richli and Michelin-starred chef Skye Gyngell on board, the high-end retreat finally opened officially, in 2018. And guests who have visited the hotel since say the wait has been worth it.
Set on an estate that spreads over 400 acres in the English countryside in Hampshire, only an hour away from London, Heckfield Place is located in a Georgian country house that dates back to the 1760s. The building offers access to spectacular views that include wild lakes, woodland, gardens, and a certified biodynamic farm. Designer Ben Thompson refurbished and transformed the interiors to create a stylish and sophisticated but also welcoming country house retreat.
Elegant and thoughtfully designed rooms.
The high-end retreat has 45 rooms and suites. Every space in this biodynamic hotel, from the reception to the bathrooms, features bespoke furniture and carefully chosen decorations and accessories in a subtly rustic but contemporary style. Original fireplaces, Persian rugs, and English oak flooring give an unmistakable warmth to the interiors. Other features include artworks from the owner’s private art collection, hand-painted wallpaper, curated book selections, and more. Modern amenities include Bang & Olufsen speaker systems, Apple docks, and free WiFi. Guests can also relax in the spa, swim in the infinity pool or the two lakes, and wander through the gardens. A stylish underground cinema room with soft leather seats is also available, along with a space designed for culinary and art workshops, events, and more.
A hotel with a biodynamic garden.
One of the highlights of Heckfield Place, and the reason it has received the biodynamic hotel certification, is a large farm and garden where the ingredients for the hotel’s restaurant grow. Biodynamic refers to agriculture that exceeds EU organic standards. Here, the garden is organized under the guidance of award-winning chef Skye Gyngell and head gardener David Rowley. Unlike traditional agriculture, that puts the health of the crops above all, at the expense of the surrounding nature, biodynamic agriculture doesn’t use any type of chemicals or fertilizers.
The concept dates back to the 1920s. While similar with organic agriculture, it stands apart from it as biodynamics also puts the focus on integrating animals and nature in the growing process. At Heckfield Place, the biodynamic garden and its greenhouses can grow a huge variety of vegetables, fruit, herbs, and flowers. As a result, this biodynamic hotel can serve farm to table meals to guests in three restaurants.
Apart from its biodynamic garden, the hotel also applies principles of sustainability elsewhere. For example, the rooms are plastic-free and feature natural materials and handmade objects where possible. The bathrooms feature the hotel’s own range of all-natural products, made with ingredients sourced from the property. The hotel also has composting bays and a biomass energy system for water heating.
An estate as gorgeous as the hotel itself.
Staying at Heckfield Place provides access to the picturesque grounds of the old estate. Guests can walk through the fragrant walled gardens where lavender and roses grow alongside wild plants and heather. The property also has two lakes and ancient woodlands that date back to the 18th century. Other activities range from wine tasting and cocktail making classes to trail runs, bird watching, and meditation walks. Hiking and cycling trails run around the estate, but this landscape is probably best enjoyed at a slow pace. Photography© Heckfield Place.