Hotel Review: Burley Manor, Ringwood in Hampshire
The New Forest is a stunning corner of the country, where ponies and livestock roam free and ancient forest stands proud beside quaint historic villages. It’s the perfect place for a relaxing break away from everyday life and, with countless hotels dotted across the 220sq mile forest, there are plenty of places to stay.
Burley Manor is a grand house and gardens on the edge of Burley village, a stone’s thrown from Brockenhurst to the east and Ringwood to the west. The four-star hotel is a beautiful bolthole against the scenic forest backdrop.
Burley Manor has been home to foresters, brigadiers and cricketers before a Colonel demolished the original building and built the current manor house in 1852. It became a hotel in 1935 and, after a £1.8m refurbishment, the Grade II listed manor house, today, welcomes hotel guests, diners and spa visitors.
After a few hitches at check-in we were soon climbing the stairs and opening the door to our room. Compact yet comfortable, the hot summer sun was flooding through the large sash windows which provide a portrait of the long drive and parkland below.
Antique furniture and cute, vintage features such as the old phone and radio remind you of the history of the building while an abundance of mod cons and luxury touches make you feel at home. We relaxed with homemade cookies and a coffee before venturing out for a walk around the grounds.
The adult-only hotel may not welcome children under the age of 13, but does welcome dogs of all ages and breeds. Our rescue dog Sammy joined us for our stay and enjoyed exploring the gardens and bounding across the recently cut hay fields. Dogs are made to feel at home and each dog-friendly room provides special treats, which Sammy wolfed down!
While we stayed in the main house, the garden suites are the perfect home away from home for guests travelling with their four-legged companions, with terraces opening right out onto the lawn. All sizes are welcomed with open arms – during our stay we met a pair of Chihuahuas no bigger than a small bunny as well as a duo of Leonbergers, each the size of a small pony!
They say the kitchen is the heart of the home. At Burley Manor, the kitchen is the heart of the hotel. Guests can dine in the restaurant or conservatory but, with Sammy in tow, we were shown to a table in the bar area. We settled in our armchairs with cocktails while we watched the herd of red deer head home for the night (the hotel overlooks a deer sanctuary).
The bar offers a varied wine list, as well as a delicious cocktail menu and local ale choices. Our friendly and informative waitress brought us sour dough bread with rosemary and garlic oil and fig balsamic (a great combination that I definitely recommend trying!) while we perused the menu.
The menu wasn’t quite what we expected with a slightly odd mix of tapas dishes and main entrées. But we opted for seafood to start, with tiger prawns and deep-friend monkfish with garlic aioli. The fish was deliciously fresh and juicy, and the prawn marinade and garlic dip were flavoursome without overpowering the star of the dish: the seafood.
I chose the pasta of the day for the main course – a goats cheese and tomato pasta – which was warm and rich, in fact too much for me to finish! My husband opted for the lamb loin stuffed with pistachio and apricot, a sweet and tasty summer dish showcasing the best in seasonal produce and a delicious combination of flavours. We ended the evening with a fluffy, light chocolate and mint fondant which was beautifully presented with colourful, edible flowers and white chocolate ice cream.
The whole hotel – including the kitchen – has a relaxed, Mediterranean way of life which inspires the food, the service and the overall atmosphere. We arrive at Burley Manor during the heatwave (fitting for the Mediterranean vibe) and the lawn is dotted with guests sunken into deckchairs enjoying the sun.
In a quiet, secluded corner of the garden is the main attraction for this beautiful hotel during the hot weather: the pool. The sun-drenched spot provides the perfect escape from mundane Monday routine for me as I soak up the rays and enjoy a quick dip.
The hotel has been beautifully decorated with details and finishings that complement the history of the building. Sun floods into the gentrified lounge through the BM monogram window and rainbow colours dance across the room through the huge stained glass feature window. Woollen knit cushions and pastel plaid furniture warm the space, an ideal setting for afternoon tea or a quiet spot to work.
Through the grand entrance hall with sweeping wooden staircase is the bar which has a relaxed boutique ambience for guests to enjoy drinks and snacks. The beautiful weather meant we were able to enjoy our breakfast out on the terrace with Sammy by our feet. We watched the red deer who call the sanctuary home head out to pasture as we tucked into our breakfast.
Burley Manor caters to all tastes and requirements, and the vegetarian breakfast was fresh, delicious and filling. We sipped on cool orange juice and hot, rich coffee before heading off to the spa – our own sanctuary for the morning.
The calm, tranquil treatment rooms provide a haven from the hustle and bustle of the popular hotel, restaurant and adjoining wedding venue. I settled onto the massage table for a 55-minute treatment which was firm but soothing. Feeling relaxed – and covered in oils – I headed out to jump in the pool and enjoy the unusually warm weather.
The bumblebees buzzed in the poolside flower beds as the breeze rustled through the trees and the birds chirped. At Burley Manor you really are at the heart of the New Forest and all of the nature and beauty it has to offer.
They were aiming to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere with simple style at Burley Manor. A homely hotel that celebrates the rich history of the New Forest and the manor itself – and they’ve done just that.
Stays at Burley Manor start from £159 per room per night on a B&B basis.
Address: 1 Ringwood Rd, Burley, Ringwood BH24 4BS
Phone: 01425 403522