Nestled amongst the charming, rolling, fern-covered hills of the New Forest in Hampshire, just a few minutes drive from the picturesque village of Lyndhurst sits Lime Wood Hotel. One of the finest country retreats, the hotel features a world class spa, restaurant and idyllic rooms, making it the perfect spot for a weekend of relaxation, pampering and dining.
Set in 145 miles of ancient heathland where wild ponies, deer, pigs and cattle roam, the tranquil setting is the perfect fresh air space from the city, despite only being a few hours by car or train from London. The countryside is ideal for exploring, especially armed with the Hunter wellies, waterproofs and bicycles all provided in the hotel’s complimentary ‘boot room'.
Every bedroom is sumptuous and incredibly calming. Thick oak doors and painted neutral interiors, each fitted with low level lamps, classic bathrooms, beds you soak in to and log burners to all help you feel every inch at home. The main house is decorated in a contemporary country manner style; rural scenes in oil paint hang on lemon and navy corniced walls, while other rooms feature Tracey Emin drawings and art deco lights.
The bar is underneath a million-pound retracting glass roof, where pastel velvet chairs surround a courtyard focusing on a bar that has an excellent drink choice – from the classic Negroni to a contemporary elderflower concoction, they are all curaterd with care. Snugs around the bar house a billiards table, grand piano, several huge fireplaces and an entrance to the gardens which are home to giant copper swings, ponds and fountains. All the interiors are incredibly tasteful and understatedly-luxurious, but on a small and intimate scale that feels welcoming and full of charm.
The main restaurant, Hartnett Holder & Co. is run by Angela Hartnett who trained with Gardon Ramsey before opening her own Michelin starred restaurant Murano in Mayfair. The food is rustic and hearty – game bolognaise, duck sausages, fresh sea food and so on, all accompanied by a world class wine list. The setting is informal for somewhere offering such a refined menu, in fitting with the laid back atmosphere of the entire establishment.
There is also a raw food café in the spa, a smokehouse, cookery school and afternoon tea offering so it is impossible to go hungry. Breakfast sees a huge spread of local organic cheeses, fresh fruit, on site baked pastries, and cooked options with everything locally sourced and free range. It was easily one of the beautiful and tasty spreads we have ever seen. The staff also know their product inside out and are hugely proud of it. It’s the perfect way to set yourself up for a day of adventures.
The Herb House spa offers an array of pools, from those who wish to do laps in peace, to hydrotherapy jets and a huge outdoor hot tub. There is an on site gym and treatment centre offering a myriad of ways to unwind. The whole spa is enclosed is new-build but old feel barn conversion that has huge glass walls looking right in to the thick of the forest, making you feel simultaneously outside and in. A roof top herb garden is the perfect spot to relax and soak in the sun with a cocktail, should Hampshire's weather be kind enough.
If you’re after a country break and want to be thoroughly relaxed and looked after in a beautiful setting, you can’t go far wrong with Lime Wood. It subtly combines period charm with all the contemporary trappings of a luxury hotel, and whether you want to pop in on your helicopter for a quick lunch or romp through the spring woods for a weekend, it offers the perfect spot. It might just be Candid's favourite country retreat.
Lime Wood Hotel, Restaurant and Spa, Beaulieu Road, Lyndhurt, Hampshire, SO43 7FZ. Rooms start from £330 room only.