- Style Mannered modern manor
- Setting New Forest’s ancient capital
RUNNER-UP: BEST SPA HOTEL – SMITH HOTEL AWARDS 2013
A stately pile fit for a royalty, the Lime Wood hotel in New Forest has a history dating back to the 13th century, where it began life as a hunting lodge. In the 1740s, the manor was reclaimed by the Duke of Clarence. Since then, it has had an elaborate makeover, with exquisitely designed interiors, an indulgent spa, fantastic restaurants, and gorgeously landscaped grounds.
Need to know
- Rooms 29, including 14 suites.
- Rates Double rooms from $416.26 (£254), excluding tax at 20 per cent.
- More details Rates exclude breakfast (around £13.50 for Continental; £15 for full English).
- Facilities Library of books and DVDs, pool, snooker and billiards, mountain bikes and wellies for guests, walking and running trails, valet parking, helipad, free WiFi throughout. The Herb House Spa has an indoor pool. In rooms: flatscreen TV, CD/DVD player, preloaded iPod, free bottled water and Bamford bath products.
- Check–out 12 noon. Earliest check‑in, 3pm.
Children Little Smiths are well looked after at Lime Wood – cots are £10, extra beds are £30; there’s a children’s menu and bikes and scooters on loan. Babysitting with a local nanny costs £55 an evening (48 hours’ notice required).
- Also Pets are allowed in the outside lodgings – the Coach House, Crescent and Pavilions. In-room spa and beauty treatments can be arranged.
In the know
- Our favourite rooms For honeymoon‑perfect privacy, go for Pavilion 1 – it’s separate from the main house and has a dramatic black vaulted ceiling, four‑poster bed and a roll‑top bath in an alcove overlooking the green pastures outside. The bedrooms in the main house are also high on romance, thanks mainly to the elegant Italian marble bathrooms in soft grey and white – Rooms 1 and 2 have bath tubs beneath wide sash windows, and Room 11 has double sinks and an enormous bathroom. If you like a quirky attic abode, plump for an Eaves room.
- Packing tips Leave sensible shoes and coats at home – there’s a whole range of wellies and waterproofs to borrow.
- Also The Herb House spa is spread across three floors, with assorted treatment rooms (eight single, one double with steam room and garden, one bath house with indoor pool and steam room), a mud house, sauna, steam house, indoor pool, outdoor pool, sun deck with herb garden, a café offering uncooked or preserved food only and a bar serving juices straight from the garden.
Food and drink at Lime Wood
- Hotel restaurant Chefs Angela Hartnett and Luke Holder (who have a formidable Michelin pedigree) plunder their British and Italian heritage, forage for fungi in neighbouring woods, hand rear their meat and cure it in the onsite Smokehouse to bring refined comfort food – on small, less formal plates – to Hartnett, Holder & Co. The dining space mixes aristocratic eccentricity with trattoria bric-a-brac, including an espresso machine, oak bar and Tracy Emin artwork; or guests can get cosy on a velvet corner sofa and split a sharing dish for more intimate affairs. Adjourn to The Courtyard for alfresco afternoon tea or opt for a leaner, but no less delectable, salad at Raw & Cured, the Herb House Spa’s café.
- Dress code There’s a grown-up manor feel, so clean off the country muck before dinner.
- Top table Pick a quiet table for two by the window, or ask to dine at the chef’s table in the kitchen.
- Last orders Breakfast is served in the Scullery between 7am and 11am. Lunch is available all day in the Scullery, and between 12pm and 4pm in the Dining Room. Dinner is 7pm–9pm.
- Room service An excerpt of the Scullery menu is on offer 24 hours a day.
- Hotel bar Max’s Bar is a relaxed, sophisticated spot, manned by Max himself – a Sicilian barman who has expertly mixed drinks since he helped out in his dad’s watering hole as a child.