I had one of the best weekends ever last month and I need to tell you ALL about it so that you can be tempted to try it out too. I’m a massive fan of impromptu trips to the countryside and the New Forest area is one of my favourites as there’s so much to explore. I find it’s one of the most peaceful places to visit when busy city life is getting on top of me. And I don’t even have to get on a plane! I often prefer long weekend staycations because it means less time travelling, more time relaxing.
So, let me break down all the places we went, where we stayed, what we did and what we loved.
Where did we stay?
We stayed at Careys Manor, it is a gorgeous 4 star manor house hotel in Brockenhurst dating back to 1888. It is also a spa retreat (more on that in a minute).
Is it easy to get to?
One of the reasons this trip felt really enjoyable and totally stress-free was because Brockenhurst is really easy to get to. It’s a quick and inexpensive journey from London Waterloo to Brockenhurst station (I think it was about an hour and half on the train). I don’t mind sitting on trains, especially if I have a bunch of podcasts downloaded or a book to read. Once you arrive at Brockenhurst station there’s no need to faff or spend money on a taxi – Careys Manor is a 10 minute walk from the station. It’s a nice walk too, we even stopped off for a drink at one of the local pubs that you pass by on the way. We dipped into a few of the pubs and our favourite was the Huntsman. The interiors are cool, you can grab a wood-fired pizza to eat and it had a really family-friendly vibe. It helped that the sun was out the weekend we were there.
What was the room like?
The room was lovely and airy with a much welcomed view of GREEN things! Trees! Grass! Plants! I love London but my view is a concrete jungle. It was nice to look out of the window and be reminded that you are in the countryside. The grounds of Careys Manor make you feel happy, safe and relaxed. The bathroom is gorgeous too and we were treated with some SenSpa body wash and moisturiser and White Company mini shampoos. Also the bed was huge, which is always a welcome bonus.
What was the food like?
I must say, I was totally blown away by the restaurant. I wasn’t expecting it to be so amazing – hotel food is hardly ever the main attraction of a stay. The hotel has three dining venues (which in itself is awesome, to have so much choice) Cambium is a fine dining restaurant, La Blaireau -is a traditional Brasserie and Zen Garden is a Thai restaurant with a more relaxed vibe, you are welcome to sit there in your post-treatment robe for example.
We had a three course dinner in Cambium and it was incredible. The booths were comfy so you felt relaxed and the staff were super helpful and friendly. It felt informal enough not to need to necessarily “dress up” but it definitely felt like a fine-dining experience, for example, having a sommelier on hand to help us pick a wine. Paul had venison, I had the roast squash, hake and rainbow chard. The bread selection was exceptional (fresh soft loaves with olives in). The menu is updated fairly often and you can view the current menu here. I can’t recommend it more. It was one of the most relaxed delicious meals I’ve had in years.
Any stand-out features?
THE SPA. This, again, exceeded expectations. Some hotels have a pool, and maybe even a steam room, but this was on a different level. All guests at the hotel have free access to facilities including an ozone treated indoor swimming pool, sauna, jacuzzi, steam room and gym. For an added cost you can also enjoy the hydrotherapy pool, SenSpa treatment rooms and relaxation areas. Paul & I experienced an hour long couple’s massage (The Essential Relaxation Massage) which was a full body therapeutic treatment using Swedish massage techniques with organic oils. We were both floating out of the room afterwards. The therapists were brilliant and also recommend you bespoke products to suit your body type and stress levels. The tropical “experience showers” were my favourite. You can pick a setting such as “Atlantic Ocean” and enjoy being caught in a warm storm with different lightning settings. Bliss. If you need any other encouragement, it was also voted ‘Best Spa in The South-East‘ 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015.
What else can you do in the area?
Something that we really enjoy doing when in the New Forest is going on a nice walk. From Careys Manor you can go on a 30 minute walk down to The Pig, a gorgeous restaurant/hotel in the heart of the country, to grab a drink or lunch. You can go on a longer walk too if you prefer and Careys Manor reception has a big book of recommended walks for you choose from. For longer walks, it might be a good idea to bring a car so you can have more freedom in where you choose to walk and explore.
Would you go back again?
100%. All in all, literally the most perfect weekend ever.
**Thank you Careys Manor for hosting our stay. I’ll be back!**