The New Forest is the largest remaining woodland in south east England and is a great destination for nature lovers and gourmets alike. Originally a royal hunting preserve, today the New Forest in Hampshire is 145 square miles of green fields and open heathland, dappled glades and shady streams. All of the properties in the Chic Retreats collection of boutique hotels in the New Forest put food at the heart of what they offer. THE PIG Hotel near Brockenhurst is really a restaurant with rooms. There’s a walled garden and vegetable garden and chef James Golding works closely with Garry the forager and Mike, his kitchen gardener, to provide fresh, homegrown produce each day. You’ll find hammocks dotted among the trees for lazing about in the summer and roaring log fires inside in winter. Alternatively, right on the edge of the forest, near Southampton, we recommend Hotel Terravina a boutique hotel with 11 rooms, an outdoor heated pool and a California-style restaurant overseen by owners Nina and Gerard Bassett (the latter is a sommelier, so as you’d expect, the wine cellar plays a big part at dinner).
Activities in The New Forest
The New Forest is teaming with wildlife, from the ponies and cattle grazing at the side of the roads to the birds in the trees. One of the most popular activities to do here is horse riding but you can also cycle and hike the area’s off-road trails and tracks, many of which start in or around the pretty village of Brockenhurst. Children may enjoy seeing snakes and lizards at the New Forest Reptile Centre or bigger animals at nearby Marwell Zoo near Winchester. Choose between exploring pretty villages or bustling seaside towns. Inland, you’ll find the ancient village of Beaulieu, which is most famous for its Abbey and the National Motor Museum and Palace House, home to the Montagu family (the motor museum is a real draw for car fanatics as it houses a collection of over 250 vehicles and motorbikes).
Lyndhurst and Lymington are perhaps two of the best-known towns in the New Forest. The former is a coastal town with cobbled streets and a busy quay and marina (if you’re there on a Saturday, don’t miss the market on the high street); the latter is full of cosy tearooms, old world pubs and home to the pre-Raphaelite church of St Michael and All Angels where you can visit the grave of former resident Alice Liddell, the inspiration for Alice in Wonderland. You can wander along a Victorian pier at Hythe, see a working tide mill in action at Eling and learn about smuggling legends in the traditional village of Burley.
When you’re not eating at the excellent restaurant at THE PIG Hotel or Hotel Terravina, why not head to Hartnett Holder & Co, the upscale eatery run by chefs Angela Hartnett and Luke Holder at its sister boutique hotel Lime Wood in Lyndhurst. The food is British but the approach is Italian, which means home-cooked dishes such as lamb saddle with stuffed courgette flower or red mullet with crab puttanesca. The emphasis, they say, is on fun dining, not fine dining.
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Hotel TerraVina has received great acclaim from the off. With sommelier Gerard Basset and Nina at the helm, this is a wine-lovers paradise in Hampshire's New Forest. This boutique hotel has good food, great service and a lovely natural setting.
Although THE PIG has 26 wonderful rooms and suites it is more of a fantastic restaurant with shabby chic rooms than a boutique hotel. Situated in the New Forest, Hampshire it makes the perfect relaxing getaway for those who love great food.
Set in the heart of the New Forest, Hampshire, Lime Wood is the best luxury boutique hotel and spa to have opened in the New Forest, just 1.5 hours from London. Perfect for romantic breaks, a mid-week dash, or time away with the family.