Set in the heart of the New Forest, near Lyndhurst and just an hour and forty minutes away from the centre of London by road, Hotel TerraVina is perfectly located for those after some blue-sky thinking away from the office. Hotel TerraVina is the vision of husband and wife team, Gerard Basset OBE (renowned World Champion sommelier, Master of Wine and co-founder of Hotel du Vin) and Nina and pays homage to vibrant colours, contemporary yet comfortable design and local crafts and produce.
TerraVina boasts 11 individually designed rooms named after sweet wines from around the world or methods of making wine - a lovely touch which reminds you of Gerard's passion for wine. Each room has its own quirky style (love it or hate it a few of the rooms even have the bath situated in the bedroom) but all feature an espresso machine, free wi fi, a flat screen TV, air conditioning, lovely locally made lavender toiletries and a rubber duck to boot! Three of the bedrooms are located on the ground floor and have outside patio space (one of which is specially designed to accommodate guests with wheelchairs comfortably) and eight upstairs with a total of four of the rooms having roof terraces - perfect for enjoying the New Forest surroundings and relaxing after a meeting!
The Rutherford Bench, as the main conference room is called, is found on the ground floor and can accommodate up to 24 comfortably for a meeting. As with the whole of the hotel, it is ideal for smaller sized meetings and events such as Chocolate Apprentice, Cocktail Making and The Bigger Picture. The room opens out onto its own private terrace and is next to a smaller lounge area, both the outside terrace and lounge work well as breakout areas for team building events and facilitated training events.
The Rutherford Bench can be hired out for a half or whole day or there is an eight hour delegate rate which includes plenty of tea, coffee and sustenance for hard workers! Guests can choose to opt for a two course lunch in the restaurant or to select one of three working lunches available in the meeting room. For private dining the Rutherford Bench can accommodate up to 36 guests.
Food is one of the most important factors when considering a venue for a corporate event so we made sure to do a thorough test by sampling a few items from the three course menu. The evening menu is changed seasonally and the lunch menu is changed on a weekly basis in order to offer regular guests variety and to make the most of local seasonal produce. The restaurant has full length windows down one side which open out onto a covered terrace and look out over the garden - perfect for a summer's day.
To start we chose pork belly with three bean stew and bacon crisp and potted smoked salmon with pickled salad and toasted bread. The pork belly was served in a breaded crumb which although unusual was crisp and delicious, complimenting the tender pork nicely. The accompanying three bean stew was homely and rustic leaving the diner (me!) feeling very satisfied! There was a surprise in store when the potted salmon arrived, as although beautifully presented, it came with a somewhat alarming bright green jelly. On closer inspection the jelly proved to be a delicious cucumber concoction which went beautifully with the salmon and was definitely worth the brave first bite.
For mains, we opted for pan fried hake with black olive, sun blush tomato, potatoes and curly kale and corn fed breast of chicken, creamed leeks and parmentier potatoes. As with our starters, the food was well presented and of a good size - filling but not overwhelming (very important in our opinion!). Both the fish and the chicken were cooked well and particular mention must go to the crushed new potatoes with sun blush tomato and black olives - this was unique and very tasty, although the quantity of butter involved doesn't bare thinking about! The Sommelier was kind enough to recommend the Bellefontaine Chardonnay to accompany our main course which was very fresh, light and fruity.
To finish we had a selection of cheese and the ginger parfait with yoghurt sorbet and ginger cake. The cheese selection is sourced from Hampshire and delicious. There was a good variety which included a very strong Old Winchester and creamy Isle of Wight Blue - highly recommended. The yoghurt sorbet was very zesty and fresh but worked surprisingly well with the ginger cake which can never be bad!
All in all it can be said that the food is very tasty with excellent portion sizes - something that can often go awry. The option of using the Rutherford Bench room for private dining is always there as only parties of up to 12 are catered for in the restaurant.
Like TerraVina itself the grounds are small and perfectly formed. The hotel boasts a heated outdoor swimming pool (open during summer months only) which residential guests can enjoy, as well as two lawns. The lawn areas although small would work well for a variety of country pursuit activities to revive guests after a meeting or for outdoor team building events such as Team Challenge or The Box. With its forest location, and close proximity to a number of outdoor spaces, guests of TerraVina could also easily take part in New Forest Treasure Hunts, motorised events and water based activities on the Solent.
Overall TerraVina is a superb option for smaller corporate groups, its location and facilities would cater well for meetings, entertaining and smaller team building events. The general feel of the hotel is contemporary chic but welcoming and friendly - demonstrated well by the TerraVina fabric dogs which act as do not disturb signs in the guest bedrooms and the fact that unoccupied bedrooms are left open so that guests are free to have a good nose around and pick out their favourite room for next time!