Many of us are in the same boat this summer; family holiday plans cancelled, not quite comfortable with international travel yet, but absolutely itching to get out there exploring the world again. As soon as the government announced we could start travelling in the UK, I was straight on it, and the first place on my list for a family getaway was luxury family hotel New Park Manor in the New Forest.
One of five hotels in the Luxury Family Hotels group (the others located in Suffolk, the Jurassic Coast, Cornwall and near Bath), New Park Manor is a stunning former hunting lodge nestled between miles of magical forest near the quaint villages of Brockenhurst and Lyndhurst.
Surrounded by the area’s famous woodland, the country house hotel has quite a story, from being King Charles II’s favourite hunting lodge to being used by the Lord Warden of the Forest in the 17th century. Many of the lodge’s original features can still be found throughout the hotel, including fireplaces and the unique acorn and oak-leaf patterned doors.
The hotel is surrounded by nature, so don’t be surprised if you wake up to deer grazing outside, or playful rabbits hopping around. And of course, you most likely won’t spend a day there without spotting a famous New Forest horse or two.
The hotel is both a perfect base to go off and explore the wonders of the New Forest, or as a not-going-anywhere resort with its on-site restaurant, kid-friendly activities and luxurious spa. Have a drink or afternoon tea in the Rufus Lounge or the sunny terrace while the kids play outside on the lawn. The complimentary crèche caters for kiddos from three months to eight years, and the cinema room with table football, video games and board games is perfect for the older ones to chill out.
After a morning hike through the forest and lunch on the terrace, spend a family afternoon in the outdoor pool, and then when the kids aren’t looking, sneak off to the grown-up area of the spa for a few hours of parent-only RandR. Swim in the pool with panoramic views of the forest; enjoy a glass of bubbly in the steam room, sauna or sanarium; or relax in the outdoor hot tub before popping in for an Elemis Total Escape treatment, or maybe a hot stone massage. Or maybe both. Food and drinks are available in the spa and around the pool for both kids and adults, so there’s really never a need to leave.
The 25 rooms at New Park Manor are all tastefully and individually styled, with suites and interconnecting rooms for families, and even your fur babies can come along and sleep comfortably.
The largest suite, Muntjac, sleeps up to seven and has a shared roof terrace, separate room for the kids and a large master bedroom. Baby in tow? The hotel can provide all the baby and toddler equipment you need. Potty? Check. Nappy bin? Check. Bottle warmer? Yep, that too. Changing mats, bed guards, you name it, you don’t have to bring it with you. You can also take advantage of the hotel’s complimentary video monitoring service, so you can have a peaceful dinner for two and keep your eye on the little ones.
All rooms have everything to make your stay as comfortable as possible, with TVs and DVD players (films available at reception), bathrobes for the adults and lots of space for the kids to spread out. Bathrooms are timelessly classy and feature luxury toiletries and plenty of big, fluffy towels.
We stayed in one of the hotel’s Family Suites with a master bedroom and separate room with two twin beds for the kids. The room had breathtaking views of the fields and forest surrounding the hotel, and was decorated in traditional English style. As a family of five, it’s difficult to find a hotel that can accommodate us all in one room, and when we do find one, the room is almost always cramped, most of the time really cramped. Not at New Park Manor. The separate bedroom for the kids was big enough for two beds, their luggage, a comfy chair and their mess of messiness they like to bring with them, while the larger master area fit a king bed with a full-size pull-out bed for the teenager. It was like Goldilocks and the Three Bears; it was just right.
Food and drink
One of the best parts about New Park Manor is that the kids can eat at normal kid time in the family restaurant, and then you can enjoy an adults-only meal a bit later in the Stag restaurant. There’s plenty of yummy things for the children to choose from, and when they’re done, they can dash out the double doors of the restaurant to play on the life-size snakes and ladders game, or try their hand at croquet while mums and dads relax.
When the kids are tucked in for movie night in the cinema room, or are snug upstairs in your room, enjoy a three-course meal for two paired with delicious wines. How about local venison from the nearby woods, accompanied by fresh vegetables and herbs from the hotel’s own gardens? I recommend the beetroot, walnut and New Forest Rosary goat’s cheese carpaccio to start, and then splurge on the chateaubriand for two, with roast field mushrooms, and truffle and Old Winchester cheese fries.
To finish, the delectable New Park Manor mess with meringue, chantilly cream and Sopley Farm strawberries was my dessert of choice, and of course it wouldn’t be holiday without a liqueur coffee to end the evening.
The breakfast menu is full of scrumptious choices, and even the pickiest of eaters will find something they like, from dippy eggs with soldiers, to French toast with cinnamon and maple syrup, and of course a full English or classic eggs Benedict.
The hotel has also just launched its Beatrix Potter-inspired Afternoon Tea, a lovely take on the author’s beloved stories and illustrations, including Benjamin Bunny’s carrot cake, Mr McGregor’s stolen vegetables, chocolate mousse and chocolate soil, and Jemima Puddle-Duck’s mini eggs.
New Forest National Park
If your family is at all like my family, a bunch of trees and cool sticks and hide and seek in the forest is your idea of bliss, which makes the New Forest heaven on earth. Once a hunting ground for William the Conqueror, the forest covers an area of over 500 square kilometres, with over 1,000 ancient trees recorded in the park, some over 10 centuries old! Besides being the best place for hide and seek, you might spot deer, horses, owls, otters and even wolves.
Looking for some excitement for the kids that’s more of the man-made variety? Take a day trip to Paultons Park, home of Peppa Pig World. There’s plenty to do for all ages (it’s not just for little kids), from roller coasters to meerkats. There’s also a mini water park to keep the kids cool on a hot summer’s day.
National Motor Museum Beaulieu
Less than 20 minutes from New Park Manor is the world-famous National Motor Museum, part of the Beaulieu estate which features the museum, Palace House, Beaulieu Abbey and the World of Top Gear. A fabulous day out for the whole family.
The New Forest Tour
This open-top bus tour takes you through New Forest National Park, where you can view the magical landscapes and listen to audio commentaries telling the stories of the people and places of the New Forest. You can hop on and off as you go to explore the forest, villages or just to stretch your legs, and catch another bus later on.
New Forest Activities
For outdoor adventure seekers, New Forest Activities is a must-do when in the New Forest. Take to the water with canoeing or kayaking along the Beaulieu River Nature Reserve, or try your hand at bushcraft or archery on dry land. There’s also a ropes course and Battlefield LIVE (a bit like paintball but with no projectiles), or you can hire a bike or join one of their Woodland Adventure Days.
Rooms at New Park Manor can be booked from £179 per night for a family of four (bed and breakfast).
Address: Lyndhurst Road, New Forest, Hampshire SO42 7QH
Phone: 01590 623467