|Jim Strong and his wife, Kay, joined a host of top chefs, celebrities, dignitaries and past guests to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Chewton Glen in New Forest, England.|
Clear blue skies, a chill in the air, calm seas and a gentle breeze; this was January 15 in the New Forest of southern England, quite unexpected and welcoming. My wife, Kay, and I were guests at Chewton Glen, the quintessential English country house hotel, for their 50th anniversary party. The skillful managing director, Andrew Stembridge, had assembled a culinary dream team, a host of celebrities, dignitaries, past guests and team members, but most of all, exuberant fans of Chewton Glen to indulge in an anniversary feast.
The black tie evening began with a champagne reception followed by an artful display of fireworks, as guests made their way along the hotel gardens to the ballroom. Well-timed remarks were made along with a viewing of an emotional, walk-down-memory-lane video of the hotel before we enjoyed a seven-course meal. Noted chefs, Luke Matthews, Pierre Chevillard, James Martin and Jean-Christophe Novelli, were given the task to create our culinary experience. They had the challenge of pleasing a tough crowd that included TV personalities Merry Berry and Chris Evans. Owners of Chewton Glen, the Livingstone brothers, who also enjoy ownership of Cliveden House, which has relished in a great renewal, announced the acquisition of the historic Lygon Arms country house in the Cotswolds. The evening was completed with music and dancing, followed by carriages at midnight.
|The Treehouses at Chewton Glen stand on stilts and offer panoramic views of the surrounding forest.|
During our extraordinary 48 hours at Chewton Glen, we enjoyed a delightful meal at The Three Tuns, a thatched-roof pub / restaurant; a walk on the beach to Highcliffe Castle, the elaborate beach home of Harry Selfridges; and, most of all, a glimpse of the inspiring Treehouses at Chewton Glen. Located in the forest, the Treehouses are six pods of rooms, built on stilts, that offer a perfect setting to disconnect from the world and escape into the lap of luxury.
|Chewton Glen’s anniversary party was a black-tie event, which began with a champagne reception. Shown here are Jim and Kay Strong.|
We allowed ourselves some additional indulgent time in London at The Lanesborough, which has just completed an expertly designed refresh of gracious six-star hotel standards. With the help of enlisted friends, who live in London, we set out to examine the bars of the Shangri La, Rosewood London, Claridge’s and the Connaught. I am happy to report that they all passed with flying colors. We also took time to entice lady luck at the casino at Ritz Hotel, which was great fun.
Our visit to the city coincided with Lumiere London, a stunning visual art display throughout the city, which happens each year in mid January for just three nights. There were a total of 31 installations in a variety of locations; most notable were a display of light and color on the façade of Westminster Abbey, and Les Voyageurs (the travelers), a setting of several white human figures, floating above the city streets of the St. James’s area.
Any occasion is the perfect time to visit the city of London or the countryside, as no one presents stately indulgence like the British.