“Tucked away on the edge of the New Forest, this funky, fun-filled house for 6-12 is a perfect summer getaway for (extended) families”
Slip out through concertina'd French windows (double glazed, of course) to find raised veg beds, 'twigloos' of willow branches, long lawns fringed with daffs in spring and fresh apples in autumn; and a child-sized gypsy caravan for hours of role play. There's a shingly-marshy beach a mile away, pretty Lymington just beyond, horse-riding at Brockenhurst, and miles of New Forest hiking and cycling ways to roam at will. Best of all, perhaps, is the gastropub next door: superb food and local ales, which you can just bring home if domestic apathy sets in.
- Flexible accommodation (4 rooms in the main house + a separate cabin for 2-4) makes it perfect for an extended family or 2 families holidaying together
- We loved the homely touches: OS maps with favourite routes drawn on, arty knick-knacks, well-thumbed novels, chunky half-burned candles... as soon as you step inside, you feel at ease
- The eco angle is nicely presented: low-watt bulbs, a pre-stocked woodburner and glowing energy monitor invite careful consumption, but don't ram it down your throat
- The gardens are glorious in sunny weather, with a sun-trap patio table, flowers galore, fruit to pick, and a playroom in the stables (horses are welcome too!)
- The kitchen is beautifully appointed: we had great fun whipping up fresh sea bass (from Lym market), home-picked veg bakes and hearty cooked breakfasts
- The house is aimed squarely at families; adult-only groups, such as hen or stag parties, are not welcomed
- Although it can sleep up to 12, the dining table only seats 8 in comfort, the sitting room likewise; so we'd recommend a max of 10 people
- The glass-sided dining room can be a bit chilly in winter - unless, of course, you blow your eco-credentials and plug in the oil radiator!
- Be aware that you're quite remote, and the mobile signal is patchy
Best time to go
Our top tips
If you want to visit Bucklers Hard, avoid the hefty visitors fee by parking at Agamemnon boatyard (the barrier rises automatically when you approach). Or book lunch at the Master Builders hotel and park there.
Before heading out to Hurst Castle you might want to consult the ferry times back to Keyhaven (normally twice hourly between 10am-4pm).”
- House rental
- Self-catering; restaurant next door
- All ages very welcome
- Open all year
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Daily Maid Service
- Towels & Bedlinen
The main house has 4 bedrooms: 2 for adults (1 double and 1 double/twin) and 2 for kids (1 triple bunkroom and 1 attic single). The separate cabin has a further double bed (four-poster) and a small adjoining bunk room for up to 2 kids. Star pupils will have worked out that this means a maximum of 6 adults and 6 children - but give yourself a bonus point if you spotted that our recommended maximum occupancy is 10 people in total, given the size of the living spaces. See also family friendly accommodation for suggestions on how to allocate the rooms.
Moving from maths to art (of which there is plenty), expect bright, funky interiors with quirky decorative touches, such as woollen clouds floating in the dining room eaves, a recycled harbourmaster's sign in the shower room, the odd playful chandelier or gold-framed mirror. Walls are clean and bright, floors are wooden or neutrally carpeted, and big windows - especially in the upstairs master bedroom - let light flood in (though some condensation obscured our woodland views). Beds are super comfy, with fluffy down duvets, soft sheets and stacks of pillows.
When it comes to play time, the snug sitting room has L-shaped sofas for 6, plus 2 armchairs and a giant beanbag if you need it. These are just the ticket for cosying up in front of the woodburner or the flatscreen TV-DVD, depending on your mood.
- Central heating
- Coffee / tea making
- Cots Available
- DVD player
- Extra beds
- Food blender
- Full kitchen
- Hob or stove
- Ipod dock
- Satellite TV
- Washing machine
The superbly appointed kitchen is an object lesson in home economics. You'll find a lovely Belling range cooker (with 5 electric rings, oven and separate grill), a large retro fridge-freezer, a shiny purple kettle, a slender dishwasher, microwave, toaster, juicer and all the cutlery and crockery that is called for. There's plenty of surface space, too, and staples like oil, salt, pepper, tea and coffee are provided. We particularly liked the mismatching vintage plates and light-hearted mugs, which gave the feel of a happy family home.
Shopping in the pint-sized town of Lymington is a pleasure, especially if you coincide with the Saturday street market. We bought fresh sea bass and prawns from the fishmonger, yummy baby carrots and beans from the greengrocer, succulent beef from the local butcher, and a deliciously soft Tunworth courtesy of Hampshire Cheeses. And what a delight not to have any checkout queues. If you need supplies on a Sunday - or any other day, come to that - we can recommend Beaulieu Organic Farm Shop, 1 mile west of Beaulieu on the B3055 towards Brockenhurst: superb local meats, veg, fruit and breads.
But if the thought of all that shopping and cooking is already putting you off, just book a table at the East End Arms next to the house. It's a superb but unpretentious gastropub with an excellent and reassuringly short menu of home-cooked classics. Think slow-roast pork belly, salmon and tarragon fishcakes with homemade chutney, or venison steak with spinach and parsnip puree - all washed down with guest ales from just £2 a pint. You can even get breakfast here if mornings aren't your thing.
- Chef on request
- Coffee / tea making
- Food blender
- Full kitchen
- Hob or stove
- Meal delivery service
- Restaurants nearby
- Vegetable garden
- Tighten your boots or cycle helmet and explore the gentle paths which meander through the New Forest's stands of oak, ash, beech and alder; walk from the house to Lymington (3 miles), cycle to Bucklers Hard and on to Beaulieu, or - if you don't have bikes - hire them in Brockenhurst, then catch the train to Beaulieu Road and cycle back via Denny Lodge
- It's also great horse-riding territory, with endless forest tracks within 10 minutes' ride, and ponds to wash off at the end; if you have your own horses, you can use the house stables by prior arrangement, otherwise there's a riding centre in Brockenhurst
- Wander a mile down the lane to Tanners Beach, a shingly shoreline with marshland and stunted trees where kids can collect shells, watch passing yachts and play hide and seek (not suitable for swimming, though)
- Or walk the windswept shingle spit from Milford out to Hurst Castle, with its 16th-century keep and hunkering armoured wings; it's 1.5 miles each way, or you can jump on a little ferry back to Keyhaven if timetables permit
- Birders should head to the private nature reserve at Needs Ore for a wide range of waders, wildfowl and songbirds; get permits from Beaulieu Estate, and combine it with Exbury Gardens on the way home
- For a change of scene (and pace), take a day trip from Lymington to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight, for gentle coast walks followed by lazy lunch at Saltys or fish'n'chips on the pier
- Or book yourselves into the fabulous spa at Lime Wood for serious downtime - the Sundown package is good value
- Other attractions include the ruined abbey and Motor Museum at Beaulieu, with cars you may recognise from Top Gear; sailing at Lymington, sea-kayaking in the Beaulieu estuary...not forgetting the gypsy caravan and twigloos in your own garden!
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Boat trips
- Garden attractions (Exbury)
- Historical sites
- Horse riding
- Motor museum (Beaulieu)
- Shopping / markets
This is a great house rental for families of pretty much all ages and sizes, who enjoy the outdoors - cycling, hiking, horse-riding, beachcombing, sailing - and just being together in a lovely environment.
The owners, who have 3 children ranging from toddler to teen, have left loads of games, toys, children's DVDs, books, lego, baby equipment and so on for their guests, so you don't need to bring it all from home. The garden, with its diminutive gypsy caravan, twigloos and shady lawns, is perfect for lazy summer play-days. They are also converting the stables into a playroom, with ride-on toys, skipping ropes, old tennis rackets, balls - and we are trying to persuade them to squeeze in a ping pong table too!
Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)
Family friendly accommodation:
The house, including the separate cabin, sleeps up to 6 adults and 6 children (maximum). We think it works best for either an extended / multi-generational family (using the cabin for noisy teens or adventurous grandparents), or for 2-3 families travelling together. In this case, one family could use the upstairs bedrooms (master double with ensuite bathroom, and attic single with space for a cot), while another takes the downstairs rooms (double/twin and bunkroom for 2-3 kids, sharing a shower room). A third family could, at a pinch, use the cabin, which has a four poster and adjacent bunkroom for 2 kids; but the main dining and sitting areas are not designed for more than 8-10, so you would need to have 2 sittings. Of course, you can also come as just 1 family, using the upstairs bedroom for parents, downstairs room/s for kids, and ignoring the cabin.
- Travel cot (BYO linen)
- Stair gates
- Baby cutlery and crockery
- Baby bouncer
- Play mat
- Robust, washable furniture
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Kids Activities on site:
- Playroom in the stables, with ride-on toys & games
- Twigloos in the garden (willow dens; summer only!)
- Wide range of DVDs for children
- Games, books, lego and other toys
- Gypsy caravan for younger kids (move it where you want)
Kids Activities nearby:
- Cycling and gentle hikes throughout the New Forest
- Pebbly beach with woods and marshland (1 mile)
- Horse-riding at Brockenhurst (8 miles; or BYO horses!)
- Bucklers Hard boatyard and museum (5 miles)
- Motor museum at Beaulieu (6 miles)
- Hurst Castle near Milford (7 miles, or ferry from Lymington)
- Steam train on the Isle of Wight (short crossing from Lymington)
Families Should Know:
- The bunkroom in the main house has 3 beds, but the middle one has very little headroom, and the top one is reached by a long steep ladder - so check carefully before committing to using these
- There are only 3 bathrooms, and only one tub (in the upstairs one)
- Shops: 3 miles / 5 km
- Hospital: 4 miles / 7 km