Summer in the UK: The beautiful South
In the last of the series, Simone Kane suggests how to stretch out the final days of the season in the southern counties
Sunday 05 September 2010
The Isle of Wight's only Michelin-starred restaurant and hotel, The Hambrough (01983 856333; thehambrough.com) in Ventnor, has just expanded, and is now offering a five-bedroom self-catering property, Villa Lavinia, to complement its rooms.
A stylish refurbishment has retained features such as gothic-style carved staircases and ornate plasterwork. With five double bedrooms and three bathrooms, the property is in nearby Alexandra Gardens, overlooking the town's beach and harbour. Hambrough breakfast hampers and private chef services are available.
The Dorchester Collection launches its latest property on 24 September, when country-house hotel Coworth Park (01344 876600; coworthpark.com) opens its gates. Set in 240 acres of parkland near Ascot, this is the only UK hotel with its own polo field and equestrian centre, with stabling for 40 horses. Country pursuits are the order of the day. But there's also an eco-luxury spa and three restaurants overseen by Michelin-starred John Campbell.
The historic Dorset town of Shaftesbury has a new fine-dining restaurant, The Greenhouse, at the recently opened Hotel Grosvenor (01747 850580; hotelgrosvenor.com). Award-winning and Michelin-starred chef Mark Treasure celebrates local produce with his menu of "traditional European food for the modern palate". Expect to see Simon Harvell's Aberdeen Angus beef or the soft mould-ripened Gold Hill cheese from nearby Cranborne Chase.
Indian chef Dev Biswal has overseen the birth of an unusual restaurant experience in the Hannah Dining Suite, at Quex Park (01843 842168; quexpark.co.uk), home to the renowned Powell-Cotton Museum in Birchington, Kent. A refurbishment has warmed up the ambience of the former catering hall and, thanks to Biswal and head chef Patrick Beach, diners can enjoy an "around Britain" gastronomic tour of classic British dishes with a fine-dining twist.
Opening later this month in a riverside setting in Reading, Berkshire, the latest branch of Tampopo (tampopo. co.uk) – the first in the South-east outside London – offers a variety of East Asian street cuisines under one roof. Tastes of Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan and Korea will be served in a location that's perfect for enjoying the late summer sunshine.
Drink in the delights of Sussex this autumn on a Southern Ale Safari (01273 204200; southernalesafaris.com). The one-day or three-day guided tours and itineraries include chauffeured travel between brewery visits, lunch stops at traditional pubs serving local beer and food, and b&b accommodation. Tours can also include an organised ale-tasting session and other activities. Dates are available throughout September and October.
Under wraps this summer for extensive repair work, the Old Gaol Museum (01280 823020; mkheritage.co.uk/ogb), a landmark in the historic town of Buckingham, is again open to visitors. In celebration – and as part of Heritage Open Days – it will throw open its gates for free on Saturday 11 September, between 10am and 1pm. Free guided walks will also take place themed on the subjects of the architect of the Old Gaol, Gilbert Scott, and the town's industrial past. Book ahead.
Whitstable Castle (01227 281726; whitstablecastle. co.uk) on the Kent coast, reopens this weekend after major restoration work to the folly and its gardens. Improved facilities include access to all floors for people with disabilities, the new Orangery Tea Rooms, a pirate-themed play area and the Roof Garden. From here, visitors can admire the same sunsets over Whitstable Bay that were a favourite subject of the artist Turner.
An initiative in the New Forest aims to help more people explore the area's natural beauty on two wheels. Yellowbike (01489 866 652; yellowbike.biz) is offering electric bikes rental at four locations – Lyndhurst, Brockenhurst, Beaulieu and New Milton – allowing visitors to experience the freedom of cycling without the hard work.
Still on two wheels, Visit Wiltshire has launched 10 off-road cycle routes, many of them connected by the Wiltshire Cycleway (visitwiltshire.co.uk). The downloadable trails include instructions, as well as the locations of pubs, facilities and points of interest. Anyone who finishes a route is invited to submit a review and update directions.
For more ideas go to visitsoutheastengland.com
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