“The ultimate country-house hotel: pure luxury, friendly service and an exceptional spa”
Interior design is by David Collins, so perfectly balanced. Classical features meld with contemporary traces: lots of Portland stone and oils paintings but you’ll also find colourful splashes, warm silks and inverted chandeliers. Look up from the central courtyard to a giant retractable roof - a bit of technology and hey presto, you’re alfresco. Best of all, service is friendly, not formal. Staff wear smart jeans and smiles; porters dressed like stable boys will stoke your fire in winter. Sublime.
- Beautifully styled accommodation - rooms, suites and lodges - with lots of places to hide away and unwind
- Their Herb House spa is one of the very best in the country, we left our latest revisit feeling wonderful
- ...And you can eat to suit your mood: finely in their stylish Hartnett Holder & Co restaurant or healthily in the Raw & Cured spa cafe, plus an especially good cocktail bar
- New Forest walks and horse riding on your doorstep (borrow the Hunter Wellies), plus you're not far from the coast
- A great sense of homeliness but within a grand setting, and superb quality throughout
- Luxury doesn't come cheap, though you are utterly, utterly spoilt here
- Some might like a tennis court, but you can't have everything
- Occasionally the snug library is blocked off for private hire but there are plenty of other spaces to find
- Getting our head around the room's light-dimming system after a good dinner was a little challenging!
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Hotel
- Restaurants and bar (open daily)
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Concierge Service
- Pool Table
- Snooker Table
- Bicycles Available
Rooms are spread between the Main House and garden lodges: the Coach House (an Italian loggia-style building), the Crescent (a Franco, Scottish-New England influenced style) and the Pavilion (enchanting Charles Morris design).
Some come with four-posters, some with roll-top baths, some with wood-burning stoves. The important thing is that all are superbly comfortable; there are simply no duffs. Stay in the Main House if you want less of a stagger after dinner, but stay in one of the lodges to get closer to the forest.
We were delighted to stay in a Forest Suite, which had just been decorated by Susie Atkinson, with no expense spared. We loved it all. The charming sitting room with an open fireplace and comfy chairs was brimming with quirky detail: coffee-table books including 'The Joy of Less' and 'The Swedish Art of Balanced Living'; a jaunty modern painting of a dog; a spotty lamp, and a rainbow-coloured bound collection of Jane Austen novels. Our bed was sublimely comfortable (you can throw open the door into a private garden to see the forest and hear birdsong), and the gorgeous limestone bathroom couldn't have been nicer, with a vast walk-in shower and deep roll-top tub. As for the minibar... full-size bottles of top-class spirits, cut-glasswear, vintage teacups, even fresh ice. We were seriously impressed.
But wherever you stay you can expect great beds, big bathrooms with walk-in rain showers and Bamford toiletries, and a quality feel that comes from finely tuned attention to detail and deep pockets. There are not one but 2 nightly turndown services: the first turning on lamps and leaving a divine Bamford pillow spray; the second popping a heated spacemask.com on your pillow, along with a Shavasana essential oil blend for your pulse points. Utterly spoiling!
More rustic in style are the Forest Cottages, Cabin and Lake Cabin. These all have living areas including kitchens, so they're perfect for a family or longer stay. We saw the secluded Lake Cabin and it's hard to imagine a more romantic bolthole for a special occasion. It has a stunning pink and grey mosaicked floor, a beautiful green velvet Chesterfield, and the most romantic terrace overlooking the lake, complete with an alfresco bathtub and wood-burning stove.
- CD player
- Cots Available
- DVD player
- Extra beds
- Ipod dock
- IPod Nano
- Plunge pool
- Safe box
- Satellite TV
Lime Wood's food formula encompasses everything from super-cool to super-healthy, boosted by seasonal fare from their herb garden, smoke house and spoils foraged from the forest. The restaurant, Hartnett Holder & Co, is a joint venture between Lime Wood’s Luke Holder and high-profile chef Angela Hartnett. Their menu is Anglo-Italian; the decor an eclectic mix of bright leather cocktail chairs, chandeliers and fine art.
We loved our amuse bouche of arancini balls with rosemary, along with homemade sourdough. A porcini tart for starters had perfect pastry and incredible mushrooms, but its gremolata was sadly overshadowed by far too much parmesan. A red-mullet main with crab on toast was divine, though rather too tall atop its mountain of rather bland beans. Best of all was a fig and hazelnut tart for dessert, accompanied by an incredible fig leaf ice cream. (A much better choice than the 'ginger custard', whose oat crumble was so gingery I couldn't eat it). Needless to say we adored the bergamot truffles and cognac sticks that accompanied our fresh-mint tea. We tried their own-brand new wines too, which were jolly good.
Breakfast is a picturesque buffet in the delightful Scullery, the long table groaning with poached pears, New Forest yoghurt, plump fresh strawberries and parma hams. There are oranges for squeezing; tiny quails eggs for poaching. Be sure to order something cooked, too - we were tempted by the French Toast with blueberries, but as always went for poached eggs with avocados, chillies and lime on sourdough.
For healthy options, try the Herb House spa's Raw & Cured. Our imaginative fresh rhubarb, plum and ginger juice completely hit the spot.
- Children's meals
- Organic produce
- Room service
- Inspired by forest surroundings, you could spend days immersed in The Herb House spa's 10 treatment rooms, mud house, hot pool, indoor pool, outdoor pool, Caldarium and steam room, and rooftop sun deck and meditation area, as well as partaking in yoga, pilates or personal training sessions. As for treatments, you name it, they've got it. Divine
- Book a cookery course at the outstanding kitted-out cookery school: Hartnett Holder &Co Backstage. They offer a wide variety of relaxed, hands-on courses including 'Beginners Bread', 'Charcuterie' and 'Feel Good Food'. Max class size is 10; full- and half-day courses available (book in advance)
- Borrow a pair of Hunters and walk out into the New Forest; borrow bicycles for a bike ride or ask the concierge to arrange a horseback trek
- Make use of your in-room foraging book or spend time with Lime Wood's own forager who can tell you how to harvest hedgerows for wild salads, and find vegetables, fruits, berries and nuts through all seasons
- Luxuriate in the sublime surroundings. Let everyone else run around whilst you relax and read in the drawing room, play games in their snuggery or have a snooker competition
- Visit pretty seaside Lymington (25 minutes' drive), Highcliffe beach (16km) or quiet coastal Keyhaven, with sailing clubs overlooking the Solent
- If you can't resist, play a round at the New Forest Golf Club (5 minutes' drive) or Brockenhurst (15 minutes' drive)
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Historical sites
- Horse riding
- Plantlife / flora
- Pool table
- Shopping / markets
Lime Wood is chic but not too chic for kids. It actively welcomes them (the rainbow of Hunter wellies in the hallway also includes children's sizes). But it has a distinctly smart if homely feel, so you feel best behaviour when mixing with other guests is expected.
The in-room 'pantry' drawers have treats aimed at children, though we couldn't resist the Sherbet Fountains ourselves!
Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)
Family friendly accommodation:
All Generous rooms and above can hold an extra bed or baby cot. We'd particularly recommend the 2-storey Forest Lodges (each with a second twin bedroom or single bedroom) and the Forest Cottages and Cabin, all of which have a double bedroom plus a set of twin or bunk-beds, as well as simple kitchenettes. Most also have their own entrance, making them hassle-free
Babysitting is available for an additional charge (minimum 4 hours). Our sitter couldn't have been more lovely; our 4-year-old daughter adored her
Baby monitors are available but don't reach everywhere within the hotel. Book in the Main House if you want to be sure
- Baby cots
- Baby bedding
- High chairs
- Bottle warming
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Children's menu and half-sized, half-price kids' portions available on request. Child-friendly cafés nearby; plenty of takeaways and nearby restaurants, too
Kids Activities on site:
- Games consoles, board games and toys (age 4+)
- Scooters, wellies and bikes
- Outdoor playground
- Children's DVDs
- Indoor heated pool (time restrictions in place for children)
Kids Activities nearby:
- Beaulieu car museum
- The New Forest, its ponies and its wildlife centre
- Paultons Park (Peppa Pig theme park)
- Marwell Zoo
Families Should Know:
There are ponds (canals) behind the Main House and a lake in front of the house which are unfenced, so children should not be left unsupervised. Take care by the pool as the wet tiling is very slippery
- Medical facilities: 10-minute drive
Lime Wood is in the middle of the New Forest in Hampshire, south England, just outside the town of Lyndhurst.
Southampton (22km) and Bournemouth (28km) the closest, though Bristol and London airports are also with a few hours' drive. The hotel offers transfers. Alternatively, you can arrive by helicopter, straight into the hotel grounds by prior arrangement; please enquire when booking.
It's a 90-minute drive from London and 2 hours from Bristol, there hotel offers a valet service and free on-site parking. If you want to hire a car, see our car rental recommendations.
Ashurst station is a 10-minute taxi ride away. Trains take 1 hour 40 minutes from London. See National Rail for links throughout the UK.
Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.
More on getting to the UK and getting around
- Southampton 22.0 km SOU
- Bournemouth 28.0 km BOH
- Beach 33.0 km
- Shops 2.4 km
- Restaurant 5.0 km