Hotel Highlights

  • Elegant country manor that’s more homey than hotel-y
  • An hour and a half out of London
  • Blissfully isolated rural retreat

Overview

RUNNER-UP: BEST SPA HOTEL – SMITH HOTEL AWARDS 2013

Originally a mediaeval hunting lodge way back in the 13th century, this New Forest manor was reclaimed for royalty by the Duke of Clarence in the 1740s. Since then, Lime Wood hotel has had another extravagant makeover, giving this stately pile a serious air of perfection, with primly landscaped grounds, devotedly designed interiors, a super spa and two tantalising restaurants to prove it.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking Lime Wood with us:

A bottle of champagne

Facilities

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Lime Wood Hotel – New Forest – United Kingdom

Need To Know

Rooms

29, including 14 suites.

Check–out

12 noon. Earliest check‑in, 3pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $454.76 (£271), excluding tax at 20 per cent.

More details

Rates exclude breakfast (around £13.50 for Continental; £15 for full English).

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.

At the hotel

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.

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.

Also

Pets are allowed in the outside lodgings – the Coach House, Crescent and Pavilions. In-room spa and beauty treatments can be arranged.

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).

Pet‐friendly

Yes: in the outside rooms (the Coach House, Crescent and Pavilions), dogs stay for £30 a stay: beds and bowls are provided, as well as a Bonio wrapped up in a ribbon.

Food & Drink

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Lime Wood Hotel – New Forest – United Kingdom

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.

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.

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.

Smith Insider

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.

Local Guide

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Lime Wood Hotel – New Forest – United Kingdom
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Local restaurants

At Beaulieu, call in at The Master Builder’s at Buckler’s Hard for lunch or dinner – this elegant rustic pub makes the most of the excellent local produce, turning a recent shoot’s venison into sausages and cooking up comforting Sunday roasts (+44 (0)1590 616253; www.themasterbuilders.co.uk). More locally sourced fare awaits at the Oak Inn on Pinkney Lane in Bank – seafood from Lymington in summer and game from within a five-mile radius in winter (+44 (0)23 8028 2350). For something more Continental, head to Franoi on the high street in Lyndhurst (+44 (0)23 8028 2745; www.franoi.co.uk), an Italian trattoria serving up authentic delights from Emilia Romagna.

+ Enlarge
New Forest’s ancient capital

Lime Wood

Beaulieu Road, Lyndhurst, Hampshire SO43 7FZ, United Kingdom

Set in neatly manicured grounds on the outskirts of the New Forest, near to Lyndhurst, Lime Wood is easily accessible from London and close to Southampton.

Planes

Southampton airport is the nearest, a mere 15 miles away, or 25 minutes' drive. Bournemouth airport is 25 miles (40 minutes' drive) away.

Trains

The nearest station is Brockenhurst, a 10-minute drive (six miles) away) with trains connecting you to Winchester, Southampton, Basingstoke and London – South West Trains (www.southwesttrains.co.uk) can whisk you here from London Waterloo in about 90 minutes.

Automobiles

The hotel is conveniently located just 20 minutes from Southampton and has free valet parking for guests, as well as an additional car park for spa- and restaurant-goers. A car's not essential if you're weekending here, but for longer stays you'll want one to get out and explore.

Other

There's also a helipad (call ahead if you're planning on making a big entrance): N50:51:52, W01:33:11, OS: 196 (SU) 314073.

Reviews

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Lime Wood Hotel – New Forest – United Kingdom

Anonymous review

by Katie Derham , Prom queen

Spotting wild ponies and singing loudly to the Glee soundtrack in glorious evening sunshine isn’t a bad way to pass the time in the mother of all traffic jams. But then this is a Friday evening, and we are heading to Lyndhurst. Yet it is with peckers up that we turn off the Beaulieu Road to Lime Wood. In the style of the best country house hotel arrivals, we approach a suitably p...

Read more

Lime Wood

Anonymous review by Katie Derham, Prom queen

Spotting wild ponies and singing loudly to the Glee soundtrack in glorious evening sunshine isn’t a bad way to pass the time in the mother of all traffic jams. But then this is a Friday evening, and we are heading to Lyndhurst. Yet it is with peckers up that we turn off the Beaulieu Road to Lime Wood. In the style of the best country house hotel arrivals, we approach a suitably patrician Georgian house in golden stone along a sweeping drive flanked by well-tended lawns. Perfection. All we need is a dashingly handsome young man in a slightly self-conscious tweed cap to take our bags. Ah yes, there he is. Next, cheery front-of-housers joke with the children, ignoring chocolatey faces and bare feet. Lime Wood, you do welcomes very well indeed.

The new owners spent five years and untold millions creating a destination that offers the last word in out-of-town indulgence. The kind of place to spend your bonus admiring a beautiful view, pretending to be country types without leaving your freestanding bath. Lime Wood’s setting is stunning, and the building was handsome even before extensive remodeling, which has resulted in a fabulous central atrium with a retractable roof.

Imaginative annexes have been added to the 29-bedroom property, and an enormous spa, more Champneys than Chiva Som, is set to be booked solid by locals. The gardens are not yet mature, but are spectacular, and showcase excellent sculptures. Inside, David Collins’ decor has won awards, and is what I’d describe as Hotel Costes meets Daylesford: lots of silk upholstery in cool subdued colours and rustic touches applied with exquisite taste in Farrow & Ball. There’s even a basement billiard room with cigars and a massive screen for Sky Sports. The place simply reeks of cash.

And here are we with our mismatched luggage, too-cool 10-year-old tomboy and hot-pant-wearing four year old, alongside my exuberant entrepreneur Mr Smith. ‘This isn’t a business venture, this is a trophy asset,’ he decrees in less-than-subtle tones as we’re shown to our quarters. Is it a little house? A maisonette? Or a duplex? I’m not sure of terminology to suit such rarified surroundings, but there’s a rather lovely sitting room with a massive sofabed for the girls, French windows opening onto our own terrace, and the forest beyond. Upstairs, an opulent master suite displays an orgy of cushions on the bed and just as exrtravagant an array of fluffy towels in the bathroom.

After my second glass of complimentary wine, I declare our little corner of Lime Wood ‘New England show home’ in look. White painted slatted walls, exposed eaves, sisal matting, everything gleaming, no detail overlooked. (Actually, they forgot a corkscrew, but the nice tweed-capped chap soon puts that right.) There’s even fresh fruit and reference books to identify the local trees and tips on how to forage for mushrooms. Yes, there are two massive plasma TVs, but the kids are champing at the bit to choose from a rainbow of borrowable Hunter wellies and bikes. As there are not yet child seats or stabilisers, Mr Smith rediscovers the lost art of the ‘backie’ and we’re off.

Enid Blyton would be proud as we pedal away in the early evening sun, our cheery faces glowing as we explore cycle paths galore. A corner of England where sturdy ponies with fluffy hooves roam freely is undeniably special, especially when you can cycle energetically and safely down country lanes. And thankfully, as after 20 minutes our muscles start to burn, when it even promises world-class cocktails within reach.

Mealtimes are when hotels show their mettle, never more so than when they sell themselves as luxury hotels that actively welcome children. This isn’t a nursery tea and babysitters kind of place (though they are available) – no, this is a grown-up environment that is genuinely friendly towards kids. It’s a tricky path to navigate, and I heartily applaud any establishment that succeeds. There are two restaurants – the Scullery, for fantastic breakfasts, lunches and relaxed suppers, and also a full-on posh-crockery formal dining – and unusually, kids are welcome at both.

Dithering over cocktails in the atrium, we munch on olives as big as the gobstoppers we buy the next day in Lyndhurst’s Ye Olde Sweet Shoppe. From the all-adult, well-dressed clientele in the smart dining room, we consider stage exit left to the Scullery. Yet, feeling it our duty to you dear Mr & Mrs Smith reader to sample that tasting menu, we stay committed. Yes, we’re going Michelin-starred all for you. At this point we meet Lime Wood’s star, Cedric, the charming Belgian maître d’. Proffering not just top-drawer amuses bouches, he also suggests that our family might like the best table in the hotel… Seats at the chef’s table in the kitchen – a rare privilege, of course – and the best of the menus accompanied by the theatre of watching the chefs at work. It is a masterstroke of diplomacy and bonhomie.

In the sepia tint of this uncharacteristically clement spring weather, we turn back the clock to 1950, and go crab fishing on Mudeford Quay. Next thing we’re riding horses through the kind of ancient forest that Robin and his merry men would have happily capered about in. How comforting that should the heavens open, we could head back to Lime Wood, settle back against the scatter cushions, book a massage, and order tip-top room service. There’s no question that Lime Wood is a hotel prepared to go to any length to ensure its guests, whatever age, get what they want. It’s not what you’d call understated, and neither – having counted the Porsches and Ferraris in the car park – are its guests. But Lime Wood delivers on its promise of luxury, with genuine friendliness, and a damn-fine melon martinis. Welcome, ladies and gents, to the Nouveau Forêt.

The Guestbook

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel with us, we'll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in Lime Wood's Guestbook below.

 

BlackSmith

Stayed on 18 Oct 2013

We loved

I am not usually a spa person, but Lime Wood's spa is fantastic; you could not get me out! The cocktail bar and staff were excellent, and were happy to make whatever you wanted. The snooker room was also somewhere that was great to spend time.

Don’t expect

I like to choose if I give a tip, not for it to be automatically added to the bill. Although I was happy to pay as the service was excellent, it should still be a choice.

Rating: 9/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 23 Jun 2013

We loved

Every aspect of our stay at Limewood was first class and we cannot wait to return!

Don’t expect

We could not recommend it enough.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 8 May 2013

We loved

Everything! It was the most wonderful and relaxing place to stay and de-stress.What really shone through was the genuine friendliness and willingness to please of the staff.We shall definitely return.

Don’t expect

Nothing.

Rating: 10/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on 9 Nov 2012

We loved

Everything. Such an amazing place for a break. We're still feeling the benefits. I can honestly say that the facial I had at Lime Wood was the best I have ever had and my husband felt the same about his massage. We'll definitely be going back to Lime Wood. I'd have moved there permanently if I could.

Don’t expect

I didn't love having to pay extra for breakfast.

Rating: 10/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on 14 Oct 2012

We loved

We loved this hotel. I managed to book the wrong dates and we arrived too early! It was sorted with tact and efficiency, and a similar room was found very quickly. The food in the Scullery was amazing and room service was good with everything arriving in a wicker basket. The staff were polite and very helpful.

Don’t expect

The only complaint we had was the noise coming from the room next door. The hairdryer sounded as if it was in our room, and I never like to hear other loos flushing!

Rating: 9/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 2 Oct 2012

We loved

We loved the decor, the proximity to the gorgeous forest, the attentive and friendly service. It was all lovely.

Don’t expect

Not one thing!

Rating: 10/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on 19 Jun 2012

We loved

A truly fabulous stay. The hotel rooms are so lovely, we were happy to spend most of our time there. And thanks to the accommodating staff, that’s very easy to do. It's well worth going to the spa too and splashing out (on treatments and not just in the pool). Definitely a highlight of our trip to the New Forest. Looking forward to visiting again next year.

Don’t expect

With Angela Hartnett on board the dining room should reach another level.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 24 Apr 2012


An excellent choice of hotel for my wife's special birthday (or for any other time). Everything surpassed my expectations. The staff were most welcoming, helpful and obliging in every aspect and in all areas of the hotel. The bedroom was superb – clean and comfortable with a great bathroom. The restaurants had a good choice of menus and excellent food (including breakfast). For relaxation, the many lounges and sitting rooms are all decorated to impeccable taste, as is the whole hotel. Unfortunately, the weather was not conducive to taking advantage of the hotel's other facilities, such as the wonderful outdoor swimming pool, sun lounge areas, gym and Nature Trails. We will certainly return and recommend to friends. The position of Lime Wood in the New Forest is also an excellent site for exploring this part of the world. No negative remarks whatsoever.

Rating: 8/10 stars