MANY hotels claim to be doing their bit to help the environment, such as encouraging guests to reuse towels. However, it’s usually just a token gesture to tick a green box. But Heckfield Place has taken its green commitment one step further and truly embraced the meaning of sustainable living.

The hotel is like no other. It screams luxury from the attention to detail and décor - which includes an impressive, contemporary collection of British art - to the 67-seat private screening room and the attentive, personal service given by the team of dedicated staff.

Basingstoke Gazette: Heckfield PlaceHowever, while opulence and luxury are ubiquitous throughout the hotel, it follows an environmental philosophy that comes from a far more simple way of living.

The Georgian grandeur of the house is set within a beautiful, secluded estate that is blooming with life and colour, offering guests the chance to reconnect and rediscover in peaceful, natural surroundings. Activities on offer include fishing, foraging, woodland walks, and wildwater swimming in one of the hotel’s lakes.

But it is Heckfield’s food offering that makes it truly special. The hotel believes that the very best-tasting food is locally and responsibly grown. It stands by this concept so truly that it has its own organic home farm, market garden and orchard within the estate, which supply fresh, daily produce for the two restaurants.

The dairy products used in Heckfield’s two restaurants – Marle and Hearth – come from the hotel’s herd of Guernsey cows; fresh eggs from its flock of chickens; and fruit and vegetables are grown on-site using a sustainable, biodynamic farming approach, whereby organic, usually locally-sourced materials are used for soil and conditioning and everything is done by hand.

Basingstoke Gazette: Heckfield PlaceIt is this outstanding sustainable and eco-friendly culinary practice for which it achieved a green Michelin Star at Marle – awarded to restaurants that reduce waste throughout every step of the supply chain.

Guests can really appreciate this green philosophy during their stay with a visit to the farm and kitchen garden.

Keen to find out more during a visit to the hotel, I made use of Heckfield’s collection of Hunter wellies and raincoats to gear up in wet-weather attire for our trip to the farm on a rather drizzly day.

Basingstoke Gazette: Heckfield Place

I didn’t think a visit to a hotel could educate and inspire me, but Heckfield invites its guests to discover and learn during their stay. Staff are proud and knowledgeable about the hotel’s green credentials, eager to share their wisdom without preaching.

Tom, who introduced himself as Heckfield’s shepherd, took a small group of us on a tour of the farm, which was both insightful and entertaining. We cooed over the adorable new-born lambs – one of which Tom had been taking home to bottle feed every night, something that must surely be going over and above the requirements of his job role – and see the gorgeous Gurnsey calves finding their feet, balancing precariously on their spindly legs just days after being born.

Basingstoke Gazette: Heckfield PlaceI was interested to learn that the milking parlour was converted from an old potato lorry, with plans in the pipeline to upgrade the facility and install electronic tags on the herd to allow them to choose when they want to be milked.

The market garden was equally as impressive and fascinating. Gardeners were preparing large trenches to plant asparagus; a vegetable that takes three years to grow before you can enjoy the fruits of your labour. The polytunnels showcased a spectacular display of tulips in vibrant spring colours, which are used inside the house in stunning fresh, floral displays, bringing the natural beauty of the outside estate indoors.

Basingstoke Gazette: Heckfield PlaceBack at Marle, which is overseen by culinary director Skye Gyngell, we sat at a table in the restaurant overlooking the gardens and lake.

As I spread the creamy, yellow butter onto a slice of soft, freshly baked bread, it was incredibly satisfying knowing that the milk to make the butter had quite possibly been collected fresh just that morning. I have never been to a restaurant where you can experience such a thrilling immediacy of food served straight from the estate onto your plate.

We sampled some of the dishes from the menu, which changes regularly depending on what is in season. The scallop starter with cauliflower puree, blood orange and rosemary dressing was fresh and light, packed full of flavour and presented beautifully in a riot of colour on a crisp white plate.

For my main, I tried monkfish with green asparagus, lemon butter and capers, accompanied by sides of the crispiest, fluffiest potatoes I have ever eaten served with leek top aioli. Heckfield believes that the very best-tasting food is locally and responsibly grown. You can’t get fresher than in-season asparagus hand-picked from the estate where it was planted in the soil three years earlier, cultivated by a team of dedicated gardeners. Nothing compares to the flavours of fresh food that has been hand-grown on the surrounding land with such care and attention.

Basingstoke Gazette: Heckfield PlaceFor dessert, we shared a selection from the menu including the trio of ice cream and sorbets and a sweet and delicious rhubarb and crème fraiche semifreddo. Struggling to identify the flavour of one of the ice creams, a helpful waiter informed us that it was ewe’s milk, which gave a unique, tangy taste, unlike any ice cream I’d tried before. However, it was the blood orange sorbet that was the star of the show. Bursting with flavour, freshness and tanginess, it was the perfect finale to a showstopping meal.

Heckfield is a hidden gem just a 15-minute drive from Basingstoke, but somewhere enjoyed almost exclusively by its overnight guests. While a night at the luxury five-star hotel might be outside of many people’s budget – rooms start at around £600 a night and go up to £1,150 plus - the restaurants are not. For those looking for somewhere to visit for a special occasion or an unforgettable meal out with a loved one, you would struggle to find anything better than Heckfield without travelling to a city. And it is right on our doorstep here in Basingstoke.

What’s more, the hotel offers those living nearby the chance to enjoy a ‘Friends’ scheme. Exclusive offers are available to friends along with access to film screenings, assembly walks, talks and workshops that make the most of its 438 acres.

To find out more visit