The birds are cawing in the verdant trees, the log fire's burning and there's not a light to dim the brightness of the stars. The treehouse suites at the Chewton Glen – one of the UK's only independently-owned five star hotels – are comprised of twelve spellbindingly conceived and totally private forest retreats featuring all mod cons and design that blends perfectly with their New Forest surrounds.
It's a two-hour drive from London to one of the most charming tranches of the countryside. An old English country house with perfectly manicured, sprawling grounds enveloping croquet lawn, golf course, tennis courts, clay pigeon shooting, indoor and outdoor pools and state-of-the-art spa alongside award-winning restaurant Vetiver, the Chewton Glen is idyllically positioned in the New Forest, a 20-minute woodland walk from the beach.
By buggy we are driven past the walled vegetable garden (where the greens for our dinner are grown and an impromptu part of our yoga class takes place) and around the corner to a wooded thoroughfare where Willow, our treehouse, stands. Past the Hunter wellies and umbrellas in the lobby, the door opens onto a capacious living area with deep tweed sofas, cashmere blankets, kitchenette with complimentary snacks and Champagne, and apt keepsakes – The Children of the New Forest and an owl rattle for our younger guest. Floor-to-ceiling glass doors open onto a decked terrace-cum-observation deck above a nature reserve where a colony of birds flies between the trees, baby foxes skip among the thicket and a family of deer call home. The glass windows span the accommodation through to the king-sized bedroom and giant marble bathroom. Upstairs lies the bunk room – a children's annexe complete with toys and Playstation.
You need never leave these surrounds, nor see another soul, and indeed some don't. A hidden hatch from the lobby enables deliverables to invisibly appear and disappear. After all, these treehouses are far from rudimentary, rustic retreats – an iPad guides you through the suite and offers room service, spa treatment and DVD orders. There are state-of-the-art De Longhi appliances and plasma screens in every room – even over the giant two-person, freestanding bath. It's possible to spend days or weeks in the treehouse without speaking to another soul.
Not for us – our personal Maitre'd sets up an outstanding al fresco supper of locally sourced, melt-in-the-mouth beef carpaccio, garden-grown heritage tomatoes and Dorset mozzarella, Dorset fish pie and lobster curry on the terrace. The next morning I receive one of the standout treatments of my spa life – the aptly-monikered Treetop Tranquility – body brushing followed by face and scalp massage, before hot rose oil is dripped over the body for a deep, undulating massage accented by the call of the birds outside.
Later, we venture to the spa and melt in one of Europe's leading hydrotherapy pools, then take pre-dinner drinks in the clubby bar before supper at the award-winning destination restaurant Vetiver. The effect – just 24 hours after arrival – is of deep, deep relaxation, the city left far behind, mind cleared, inspiration returns. Everything appears crystalline from the forest.