From the New Forest, its crowning glory, to the South Downs, Hampshire is stuffed full of indie treasures to champion.

Hampshire beckons, and its hidden gems. Just an hour from London, this vast county juggles the most lavish of accommodation alongside low-key boutiques and restaurants with foraging menus. Close enough to the capital to feel (quietly) cosmopolitan, far enough to have picture-perfect scenery, Hampshire is like nowhere else.

Instead of heading for the predictable mainstream, hunt a little harder to discover independent shops, restaurants and hotels in Hampshire. From Winchester to Hungerford, Brockenhurst to Stockbridge, these are some of the very best shops, eateries and hotels that go the extra mile to make you feel at home.

If you have a business you’d like to nominate for inclusion on this guide, tag us on Instagram with the hashtag #GWGbestof.

Where To Shop

The Hambledon

No shopping trip to the bijou city of Winchester is complete without sparing a good hour, or several, for browsing The Hambledon. With no less than three floors, this airy and bright independent lifestyle store is, quite literally, a stone’s throw from the historic cathedral. Of course, the shop has won many awards; this is not provincial fashion. Ex-London mothers, art students and tourists rave about its interesting homeware, curated fashion and lifestyle items. Shop the collection here.

Jax Jeans

Perched on the outskirts of pretty Hungerford is Barrs Yard Artisans Collective, a shopping courtyard of independent businesses including a deli, fashion shop, art gallery and garden antiques shop. Hampshire’s best dressed rely on Jax Jeans, a natty boutique selling jeans in every format (high waisted, low waisted, different washes and brands) and the prettiest of tops, cashmere jumpers, jackets, jewellery and shoes. Shop the collection here.

The Long Barn

Overlooking the lavender fields of Alresford (close to Winchester), much-loved Long Barn is a one-stop shop for your home and wardrobe. Casual yet elegant, it’s the perfect place to meet friends for lunch, buy clothes or edible cupboard delights and reconnect with nature in the flower shop. Come the festive season, look into their Father Christmas grotto, (the best kept secret in the hood) but you must book early to avoid disappointment. Shop the collection here.

Where To Eat

The Pig Brockenhurst

The conservatory restaurant, which is part of the first ever Pig hotel, is tucked away in the heart of the New Forest. Food-wise, the chefs run a field-to-fork ethos. This is code for obsessive gardening and foraging home-grown food and local produce within a 25-mile radius. Plot to plate, indeed. Book it here.

The Wellington Arms

What’s not to relish about the Wellington Arms, an 18th century former hunting lodge on the edge of the Duke of Wellington’s estate. This award-winning pub has its own pigs, bees, and a kitchen garden that is fuel for fantasies. Michelin inspectors describe the cooking as ‘generous and satisfying’ while villagers bulk buy the sourdough and homemade chutneys. Really special. Book it here.

The Greyhound on the Test

During covid, this 15th Century Stockbridge restaurant went beyond the call of duty hosting outdoor dining with a street food vibe under stretched riverside tents. Inside, it’s all characterful oak beams with roaring fires in the winter. Warmer months put the pizza oven in high demand. Try it: maybe even make a weekend of it, book a bedroom and go fly-fishing. Book it here.

Kyoto Kitchen

If you’re craving sushi and sake and find yourself in Hampshire, book a table at Kyoto Kitchen in Winchester. ‘Authentic Japanese dishes are prepared with care and there’s good detail in the execution,’ high praise indeed from Michelin. More good news. Their new sister restaurant Bangkok Bistro serves delicious Thai cuisine cooked by Thai chefs. Book it here.

Where To Stay

Heckfield Place

One can but dream. For supersonic spoiling, book a night at Heckfield Place, unashamedly the county’s shiniest and most talked about new country house hotel. Opened to much fanfare in 2018, this high-end stately hotel and eco-friendly estate is enchanting. Guests revel in the Little Bothy spa, the onsite cinema (smartest in the hood by a mile) and a menu whipped up by Skye Gyngell of Petersham Nurseries fame. It’s dazzling. Book it here.

Lainston House

Hampshire hotels are a pretty high calibre, what with Limewood, Four Seasons and Heckfield Place. Ranking alongside these institutions is the lesser-known Lainston House. This 17th century hotel is opulent and lavish with wood panelling, velvet and freestanding tubs galore. The cookery and falconry school, hosted in the 63 acres just outside Winchester, is highly thought of. Book it here.

Daisybank Cottage Boutique Bed and Breakfast

Off the radar, but worthy of a staycation booking, is Daisybank Cottage Boutique Bed and Breakfast nestled in the sweet spot that is the New Forest. This award-winning hideaway is a renovated 1901 Arts and Crafts house. It’s smart and affordable, and also close to Lymington’s yacht-filled marina, Beaulieu Abbey and the Isle of Wight ferry. Book it here.

By Annabel Jack
June 2021

The Best Of North Norfolk
Best of The South-West: Devon and Cornwall
Best of Wales

Annabel Jack

Contributing Editor

Annabel is a regular contributor to The GWG, with a taste for finest in food, fashion and interiors.