Lainston House: Hampshire

In the heart of the dramatic Hampshire countryside, minutes away from the historic city of Winchester, Lainston Country House Hotel sits in a perfect location from which to explore for a countryside get away.

I was escaping from the city for a girly weekend retreat with the idea of lounging around, enjoying wine with good conversation and treating ourselves to a well-deserved break but once we arrived we were overwhelmed at how much there was to do. It almost felt like a waste to not take part in the traditional rural activities on offer so we abandoned our plans for a restful weekend and got outdoorsy!

The country house hotel has a fabulous selection of country pursuits – hunting, shooting, fishing or falconry. Although we were tempted by these adventures we decided it would be nice to spend the afternoon enjoying the beauty of the grounds and headed out for a walk.

In the hotel’s entrance wellington boots are lined up in front of the fireplace for guests to use during their stay.  I was instantly drawn to the Hunter Original Brit Boots that featured a distressed Union Jack flag print on waterproof linen material and luckily there was a pair in my size.

We pulled our wellies on over our socks and explored the grounds of Lainston House. They were ideal for keeping dry in style during our rainy walk, especially with my Jones & Jones white dress and New Look straw boater hat. The famous mile long avenue of lime trees made a beautiful stroll and we discovered a 12th century chapel ruin on our walk which was overgrown with wild flowers.

During our visit the weather was a bit grey but if the sun is shining you can order a luxury hamper from the kitchen, borrow a rug from reception and enjoy a picnic on your walk.

As we returned to the hotel we were offered a tour of the new cookery house which we eagerly accepted. The school is housed in a renovated 17th century well house and is just a stone’s throw from Lainston’s brimming kitchen garden which supplies the kitchen and the cookery school with the finest, freshest ingredients.

Classes are as diverse as the perfect dinner party, show-stopping meat dishes, classic cake making, knife skills, vegetarian cooking, chocolate masterclasses and many more. I thought it sounded like the perfect present for a loved one so I’m planning on treating my mum, who likes to cook, to a master class at Lainston for Christmas this year.

After a long walk and tour of the cookery school we returned to our room, a little tired, to unpack. All 50 bedrooms in the hotel are individually styled and designed so that no two are the same but our room, the Olive suite, was particularly lovely. With outstanding comforts, our own restful seating area and an abundance of space it felt more like our own apartment rather than just a hotel room! The antique bed, vintage upholstery and richly decorated decor only added to the homely feel of the place.

The staff were so warm and friendly that it was clear they wanted to ensure we had a good night’s sleep and all the little extras in the room certainly helped. There was a pillow menu placed on our bed but we thought the hotel had already chosen the softest, fluffiest pillows so we decided not to choose an alternative. The tea caddy was well stocked with teas, coffees, hot chocolates and we only had to ring reception for fresh milk to be brought to our room.

There are lots of little touches like these that make a stay at Lainston House special. If you’re visiting for an anniversary or celebration (or even just a break away from it all like me) you can enjoy chocolates, a bottle of chilled Champagne and some chocolate dipped strawberries in your room. My favourite service on offer is the option to have a gorgeous bouquet of flowers from the garden sent up so you can enjoy the scent of summer to your room.  Before dinner we pampered ourselves in the bathroom and read magazines in bed with a cup of tea -the perfect girl’s weekend!

The a-la-carte menu was varied and offered many dishes that neither of us had had the fortune of trying so we decided to test our taste buds and order quail and wood pigeon to start. I felt that the menu really reflected the connection with nature Lainston House has and it was a delight to try the ingredients and individual flavours from the hotel’s own garden.

The secret garden lies behind an old wooden gate, discreetly sheltered in the grounds of the elegant 17th Century mansion of Lainston House.  It supplies the kitchen with fresh herbs and vegetables for their restaurant.

The highlight, for me, was the coconut parfait which was served with chocolate mousse, caramel, banana and passion fruit. All of the flavours managed to compliment, but not overpower, one another to make a delicious finale to our meal.

After our three course meal and sharing a bottle of white wine we knew we would both sleep well so as we drifted up the stairs yawning we agreed to have an early night. Whilst we were at dinner someone had turned down our room so that the shutters were closed, the bed prepared for sleep and a calming lavender balm had been placed on our pillows. The comfortable mattress was topped with gorgeous duvets wrapped in handmade covers so we enjoyed a very cosy night’s sleep.

When our wakeup call stirred us from our sleep we got out of bed to pick up our complimentary newspaper and took it with us to breakfast. As well as a buffet full of fresh fruit, juices and pastries the morning menu had some scrumptious dishes. I chose the Eggs Benedict to enjoy with my coffee whilst my friend ordered the pancakes with maple syrup. They were served in small individual round portions, which I hadn’t seen done before, and made a light alternative to a usually very stodgy breakfast option.

If you’re thinking of treating yourself, or a loved one, to a weekend away then venture out of London to Lainston House. It’s just an hour on the train from Waterloo to Winchester then the taxi from the station is a short 10 minute journey.

I was sad to leave Lainston House as one night hadn’t really felt like enough but as I waved goodbye to the concierge from the taxi I knew I would be back again.

Why not treat yourself? You can book a room for your holiday here: Lainston House.

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