Heckfield Place and The Bothy spa
Heckfield Place is one of a new breed of luxury country house hotels that’s been luring wealthier wellness seekers to its Hampshire home and eco-friendly estate since 2018. Already offering natural spa treatments, Bodyism personal training and movement classes at Little Bothy, its long-awaited bigger boutique spa sibling The Bothy by Wildsmith has just ‘gently opened its doors’.
Sitting between the M3 and M4 near Reading it’s easy to reach by road, and Winchfield station is just a short cab ride away.
Londoners looking for a breath of fresh air, couples, soloists, foodies, wellness seekers, wild swimmers, country lovers, families, dogs and anyone looking for a calming, restorative break. It’s also a good choice for anyone having a secret rendez-vous as access to the hotel is pretty exclusive and dining tables are well-spaced too.
Firstly, Heckfield describes its new offering as a ‘wellness space’, not a ‘spa’ – a sign that they like to do things their own way, preferring to herd sheep, not act like them. That, and that an establishment of this calibre rarely comes without any hint of pretentiousness.
The new Bothy is centred around a serene indoor pool and has a distinctly natural, minimalist feel. Think wood floors, lush green plants, stone, and bare concrete. Heckfield Place’s own range of skincare products, Wildsmith Skin, also subscribes to this nature-embracing vibe, letting natural ingredients sing. There’s also a brand-new gym from partner Bodyism which continues the aesthetic and offers expertise and a host of shiny facilities to fine-tune your body alongside your mind.
The Bothy’s new pool space is light and open-feeling and a far cry from a subterranean city spa. Located through the hotel’s walled garden, natural daylight floods the extended former gardener’s cottage, and the outside is invited inside through floor to ceiling windows. Other facilities include a sauna with a view over the grounds, a steam room and outdoor hot tub, surrounded by nature.
Designated a phone-free zone, this screen-free approach demonstrates the importance placed on mental, as well as physical wellbeing, and emphasises that the experience is more about feeling good than looking good. Plus, it has the added bonus of reducing your chances of accidentally ‘going viral’ in your swimsuit in the background of someone’s impromptu pool shoot. You’re also asked to remove your shoes to further remove yourself from the outside world, and immerse yourself in the sound of birdsong.
Personalised wellness rituals and journeys are offered in favour of spa treatments at Heckfield, making you feel more engaged with the experience, and less like a passive recipient. And it seems like wellbeing has almost come full circle, with cold bucket showers and banya-style twig thrashing replacing hi-tech treatments.
Guests are encouraged to listen to their body and recognise their own role in healing and relaxation through simple practices like breath work. Treatments look to ancient healing wisdom from a variety of cultures to treat and soothe intuitively and are bookable by ‘time’ rather than pre-choreographed sequences.
There are six calming treatment rooms at The Bothy, including two doubles, and each has its own shower.
Master Practitioners, both resident and visiting, share their wisdom and expertise in areas like naturopathy, myofascial release, Reiki and osteopathy.
What you put in your body is as important as what you put on your skin at The Bothy, with a creative plant-based menu available in the spa, conceived by Heckfield’s beloved superstar chef Skye Gyngell.
Little Bothy will continue to offer tailored Wildsmith natural treatments, plus steam room, yoga, Pilates, outdoor fitness and wellbeing sessions, alongside its new big sis.
We love the sound of the personalised wellness rituals and the Biodynamic Thai Massage and will report back when we’ve had the chance to experience one of these treatments.
There are 45 beautifully designed rooms and suites on the estate, each with a contemporary but homely style and finely finessed touches like the carefully curated selection of books and original art. Heckfield’s owner is a passionate art collector and this is beautifully evident throughout the hotel.Rooms are located in the main Georgian house and in the adjoined ‘corridors’, the former being grander and more opulent with more boujee bathrooms, the latter rocking a more cosy, homely vibe. All are lovely. For maximum relaxation vibes, we recommend the Ochre Room, with its beautiful marble bathroom and roll-top bath, providing a luxurious setting to enjoy the complimentary Wildsmith Skin bathroom products. And for blow-out minimaluxe, the Long Room is a stand-alone apartment with vaulted ceilings, a private terrace and glass balcony overlooking the lake.
Heckfield Place welcomes families and is actively dog friendly. Check with the reservations team for details and room suitability.
Adapted rooms are available and both restaurants are accessible.
wining & dining
Heckfield Place is home to two great restaurants, Hearth and Marle, overseen by Skye Gyngell of Petersham Nurseries and Spring Restaurant fame. Food at both restaurants is focused on making the most of quality, seasonal ingredients, with much of the produce sourced from Heckfield’s own farm and biodynamic market garden.
Hearth Restaurant is a cosy, relaxed dining space with exposed brickwork and centred round an open fire. It offers simple, ingredient-led dishes including next level sharing platters. Fire up your appetite for T-bone with Chimichurri and plump burrata, quenching your thirst with a fresh fruit bellini from the bar.
Marle is more formal but equally unstuffy. A light-filled, orangery-style space with marble tables looking out towards the lake, and again making the most of its fresh farm-grown ingredients. The menu at this green Michelin starred restaurant isn’t fancy, but is fabulous, with menu highlights including the likes of farm vegetables with baked polenta and sour cream and red mullet with slow-cooked fennel. And you can enjoy dining on the flower-filled terrace on warmer days
For drinks, the moody and mirror-balled Moon Bar serves great cocktails shaken with the freshest of fresh ingredients, and garnishes from the hotel’s gardens. You can also have smaller/lighter bites here. Cue Heckfield’s celebrated cheese toastie.
4pm is tea and cake o’clock for hotel guests. The cakes are seriously good and a different one is served each day.
why so spavellous?
Heckfield Place and The Bothy by Wildsmith make the most of their beautiful location, offering guests a calming and naturally nurturing, if not cheap, all-round experience.
One of the new breed of upmarket country house hotels with wellness, along with The Newt in Somerset and Thyme in The Cotswolds, it offers true escapism, quality dining, beautiful grounds and relaxing experiences, and you’re pretty much guaranteed to leave feeling holistically better than when you arrived. Attention to detail and service is up there with the best of them, and the whole experience nourishes body and soul.
Book soon, the long-awaited Bothy is only open to hotel guests and promises to be popular. Think about booking Marle while you’re at it, which you can do up to three months ahead.
Remember to let friends and followers know that you’ll be offline for a day or two.
Pack country chic, but no need to bring wellies as you can borrow Hunters from the welly line-up by Hearth.
Make time to peruse the charming potting sheds and loll around by the lakes if the weather permits.
And finally, don’t leave without trying one of those legendary cheese toasties.
‘A slice of hotel heaven with a serene spa and the comfiest of robes.’
‘The pool’s the prefect temperature and it’s the calmest of spaces’.
‘the spa limits the number of guests so it has a calm and exclusive feel’.