The Hollies is a house for all seasons. In the summer, it puts its seersucker shorts on, trims its lawn and invites you to sip a Pimm’s from the terrace while you gaze upon the greenery. In winter, you’ll gather round the crackling fire and discuss how hard it is to leave. If The Hollies didn’t have foundations, you’d probably take it with you.
It’s easy to see why The White Company, Laura Ashley and Joules have been drawn to this heavenly corner of Hampshire to photograph their campaigns. Sitting in an easy chair by the wood burner, drink in hand, you’ll feel like you’re an extra in a glossy magazine shoot.
The lawns are big enough for inquisitive muntjac deer, so they’re certainly big enough for football. The reception rooms suggest family film nights, cards or charades. And the fireside will be disappointed if you haven’t brought armfuls of novels. Cosy up, get close again, and remember what it means to be a family.
The lawns sweep down to the house’s very own woodland, thick and tangled with adventure. The woods are crying out for Easter egg hunts, hide-and-seek or den-building, as your kids travel back in time to an era of scuffed knees and rosy cheeks.
On clear nights the cedar-wood hydro hot tub sits invitingly beneath the twinkling sky, offering a front-row seat to a majestic celestial performance. Just add champagne. Keep quiet and you might hear the rustle of a badger, the creeping of a fox or the easy passage of the muntjac deer through the trees.
You’ll want to explore, too, because the five acres of grounds come with a five-a-side football pitch. Look further and you’ll even find a zip line (supervision required). Play lawn games in summer, stomp around the woods, then, as evening descends, slip into your robe and gather round the 12-seat table for a round of nightcaps.
Beyond the boundaries the majesty continues on the edge of the Meon Valley National Park, a magnet for trail walkers and cyclists.
This is the place to dream and hide from the world. The cosy, immaculate interiors will have you waiting impatiently for a milestone birthday, or to celebrate 25 years of marriage, so you can return once again to relax with a drink and a book and gaze into the flames of the crackling fire.
Gorgeous period panelling, cornicing and a fireplace big enough to live in are married with modern touches that gently remind you you’ve not slipped back in time. So tasteful and elegant are The Hollies that The White Company, Laura Ashley, Joules and more stop by for photo shoots.
So, you’ll be living life on location. There’s a grand scale to things at The Hollies, too. Yet, despite its size, the house stays close and relaxed. Maybe it’s the two open fires, the pair of wood-burning stoves and the radiance of the Aga. Or maybe it’s just because The Hollies is a warm and welcoming place to be.
There’s space here to escape or to mix. Come together in the three reception rooms with their plush sofas, in the huge reception hall, ripe for a singalong with the baby grand in the corner, or in the den with its DVDs and games console. Or maybe just gather round for tales, films or games.
The kitchen is large and an Aga pours forth heat to keep you snug and to do your tagine to a turn. Choose where to eat: the breakfast room has space for 12, and the dining room 16. Or maybe you’d prefer al fresco in the 12-seat entertainment area, with the deer sidling past and the garden in full bloom.
Wherever you eat there’s space enough for everyone to get together, break bread, sip wine and swap stories. But if it’s a special occasion and rustling up a roast seems like a step too far, call up our chefs. We’ll do you proud and even deal with the dishwasher afterwards.
Head to Bishop’s Waltham’s Medieval high street, home to local favourite Josie’s, famous for their freshly brewed coffee and legendary Eggs Benedict; or cosy up by a roaring fire in The Crown with its original low beams, great local beers and fabulous food. For a taste of France, there’s wine and cheese tastings on offer at The Three Choirs Vineyard.
Down the road in Winchester, take your pick from Chinese to Nepalese and everything in between, as well as Rick Stein’s fish restaurant, his first venture outside Cornwall. And The Black Rat serves up fare far more appealing than its name and has a coveted Michelin star to prove it.
The Hollies sleeps twelve people in supreme comfort in six spacious bedrooms that include three super-kings and three twins. The twins come with shared bathroom replete with super-sized bath. And there’s one zip-and-link, giving you the flexible option of four doubles and two singles.
En-suites are suitably luxurious and the master offers a roll top bath for candlelit soaks, plus a separate shower. The downstairs den comes with a sofa bed, too, for sneaky midnight movies (keep mum on this, kids), and there’s a shared bathroom with large bath and shower attachment.