During the last 12 months the word ‘Staycation’ has become a reality. It has shown many that within the UK there are areas of extreme beauty and history which until now have just been accepted as being there without any of us visiting them. One such area is the New Forest National Park covering 219 sq. miles of Hampshire and Wiltshire, an area that boasts an abundance of Birch, Beech and Oak, wildlife and animals. During normal summer months hotels, guest houses and camping sites are full to capacity, occupied by those who have already discovered this fascinating area. But what of the forest in autumn when the crowds have gone, for many this is a time to discover the area and see it at its best. The leaves falling in colours of yellow, gold, red and shades in between creating a carpet of colour, roads free of heavy traffic allowing you time to stop and admire the wildlife and animals that freely roam the Forest.
There are many excellent residences in the area to choose from but my choice was Careys Manor Hotel at Brockenhurst in the heart of the forest, a hotel that meets the highest standards and has much to offer. The original house built in the 1700’s was demolished to make way for the existing building erected in 1888 since when it has been extended. During the Second World War, the Hotel accommodated the 2nd Battalion Welsh Guards, the Canadians came to the village in 1943 and an HQ contingent occupied Careys Manor. The manor still retains the original large wooden balustrade staircase, wood engraved paneling and fireplaces, lounges and public areas exude an air of quality, tastefully furnished with quality seating and fittings which is matched by the service.
My bedroom on the 1st floor looked out over the well tended secluded front garden where flowers and shrubs add contrasting colours to the trees and grass. The room is tastefully furnished, large comfortable bed, bedside cabinets topped with bedside lamps, comfortable 2 seater settee, table, chair, amenities including iron and ironing board, tea coffee making facilities, hairdryer and the largest flat screen tv I have found in any bedroom. The bathroom with large bath, powerful shower, soft towels on the heated rails and quality toiletries from the Flowers collection by The White Company. Eating is always an important part of any hotel stay and here Careys Manor excels with choices of French, Thai or English but before this how about a visit to the SenSpa, treat yourself to a vast choice of body treatments, massages, facials or one of the traditional ‘Thai Rituals’ to rid yourself of the daily rigours and prepare you for dinner. The spa is home to the large swimming pool and relaxation areas plus a gym for those wishing to unwind with a workout.
Time for dinner but where, Le Blaireau in the hotel grounds offering authentic French cuisine and of course a French wine list, Zen Garden with its authentic Thai cuisine or the main traditional restaurant, The Cambium, decisions, decisions, but finally Zen Garden wins and what an excellent choice this turns out to be, some of the best Thai food I have sampled in a long while.
The following night I dine in the hotel main restaurant the Cambium, a large room decorated in soft pastel colours, modern recessed ceiling lights, wall lights highlighting modern paintings making the area cheerful and bright. Following a starter of tasty sardines on toast, tapenade, caper and parsley salad this was followed by slow cooked lamb shoulder and grilled chop, root vegetables, beans and crispy anchovies with a side of glazed carrots with maple syrup and caraway plus buttered new potatoes, leeks and hollandaise sauce all washed down by a delightful glass of Rosé.
The Cambium also serves as the breakfast room offering a good selection from the menu including avocado on rye, eggs florentine, eggs benedict and kippers, from the buffet select all the items for a ‘Full English’ where everything is personally served.
Using Careys Manor as a base the close locality is a myriad of venues and attractions to visit. One of the most famous being the National Motor Museum. Founded by the 3rd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu, beginning life with just 5 motor cars on display at the official opening of Palace House and Gardens in 1952. Over the last 55 years the exhibition has grown to what it is today, a collection of 250 vehicles manufactured since the late 1800’s accompanied by books, journals and films from around the world. Other attractions include the Monorail, rides on a veteran bus or in a vintage car and having done all of this there is the restaurant to eat and relax in. Also visit the Palace House much of which is now open to the public together with the partial ruins of Beaulieu Abbey. Open every day with the exception of Christmas Day this is worth a visit winter or summer.
Lyndhurst less than 3 miles away, dubbed by many, ‘The Capital’ of the New Forest, is an area that over the years has become a favourite with tourists and visitors alike. Enjoy the tea rooms, craft shops, restaurants and much more. Whilst in Lyndhurst visit the New Forest Centre, open 7 days a week and a venue where all your questions on the New Forest will be answered. Whilst in the area visit the church of St. Michael and All Angels where is buried Alice Liddell, Lewis Carroll’s inspiration for Alice in Wonderland.
From Careys Manor so many locations are possible on a day trip, Marwell Zoo, Monkey World as featured on the TV series ‘Monkey Life’, Corfe Castle, Stonehenge, The Isle of Wight and Lulworth Cove. This is an area that is special whichever season you choose to visit.
Finally, the Forest itself, dating back to time immemorial, an area of heath, woodland, lakes and streams, teaming with animals and wildlife where artefacts going back to the Bronze Age have been found indicating the existence of dwellers going back centuries. The first records show that in 1079 King William 1st designated the area as his hunting ground. The Forest is looked after and tended by Verderers and Agisters, Verderers, of whom there are 10, are concerned with the management of the Forest whilst Agisters are full time employees who look after the welfare of the wild life and animals that roam the Forest. Year upon year the number of animals inhabiting the Forest increases with numbers for 2017 totalling nearly 13,000, ponies and cattle making up the majority but a plus to this figure is around 2,000 deer of which there are 5 species.
Situated only 14 miles from Southampton this is the perfect place to stay if embarking on a cruise, relax in the spa and enjoy a relaxing dinner on your night before boarding, wake fully refreshed for the short drive to the docks where your ship awaits, what could be better.
For more information:
Alan Fairfax -
YOUR HOLIDAY TV
Alan also writes for
Atlantic Print Media with regional papers across Kent with high circulations and regular holiday & travel sections
in all editions
and is Assistant Editor for
Your Holiday & Cruise Magazine
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Published November 2020