Hotel Review: Macdonald Elmers Court Hotel & Resort, Lymington in Hampshire
With the greenery of The New Forest surrounding and the waterway to the Isle of Wight in front, Macdonald Elmers Court Hotel & Resort is in a fantastic location. The four star hotel has a wide range of leisure facilities to enjoy as well as two eateries and spacious rooms in which to relax. The jewel in the crown is the tenderly manicured garden, which greets you with colourful flower beds and tall hedges, guiding you straight down to The Solent with views of the island.
It is a short walk to Lymington town centre, across a bridge, and an even shorter walk to the Wight Link car and passenger ferry. Lymington itself has a good mix of high street and independent shops and coffee houses with plenty of places to enjoy a drink or meal out. There are also a selection of picturesque towns and villages nearby and a trip to the Isle of Wight is easy and comes highly recommended (the famous needles are a short drive/bus journey away).
However, if you would rather keep the outside away and enjoy what the hotel has to offer, there is plenty to choose from. Outside there are tennis courts, a children’s play area, a pool and pitch and putt, and inside there’s a pool, sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi, gym, squash courts and pool table.
It’s a little tired in places; outdoor draughts has a piece missing, the dining room could do with a fresh coat of paint and food is best described as decent home cooking. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely place to visit and the 19th century manor house, which holds the restaurant, bar, reception and function rooms is a stunning red brick building with classic features such as wood panelling on the walls and glistening chandeliers.
The Waterford Restaurant, as mentioned, is a little rough around the edges and the menu and décor could do with an update. The menu offers classic, British dishes with great quality ingredients, but presentation could be improved upon and it’s a little old fashioned but will certainly suit some tastes. There is a tendency to stick a handful of rocket leaves with every starter, which isn’t required.
For dinner I started with the ham hock terrine with tomato chutney and toasted brioche, which was delicious and didn’t need rocket (I just don’t like the stuff!) it was a lovely dish with the dense, meaty terrine packed with flavour and nicely complemented with the light, gently toasted brioche and flavoursome chutney. Nick opted for the slow braised pig cheeks with apple sauce and pan jus, which he said was cooked really well. He also threw the rocket aside (not a fan either!) and enjoyed the texture of the pork, which he said pulled apart delicately and was well paired with the traditional accompaniment of apple. He would have liked the dish to be warmer and found it strange that the tepid pork was plonked on the cold sauce.
For my main course I chose the confit duck leg with braised red cabbage and crushed new potatoes. It smelled lovely and also came with some sweet carrots. The duck was delightfully crisp on the outside and fell off the bone with ease. The sweet, fruity red cabbage was nice, as were the herby, crushed new potatoes and the delicious, tantalising flavours on this plate made for a very good main course. Nick chose the slow braised beef with new potatoes and sautéed savoy cabbage and thought this was a good dish. He said the beef had a great texture, simply falling apart. The cabbage was thinly sliced and buttery with sweet flavours in the carrots and gravy and buttery potatoes to finish. He enjoyed a Pinot Noir with this and was pleased with his choice.
Desserts came in the form of a vanilla crème brulee with shortbread on the side. This is where the simplicity of the cooking came into its own. The dish was served in a shallow, wide dish with the smooth, sweet, cool and creamy dessert doing the talking with no unnecessary extras. The small shortbread rounds were crumbly, sweet and buttery and offered a good accompaniment. A sticky toffee pudding with toffee sauce and vanilla ice cream was lovely with a big portion of the sweet, fluffy, dense and dark pudding well paired with a sweet sauce and refreshing ice cream.
Overall the restaurant serves hearty portions of good quality ingredient led dishes. They were all enjoyable but lacked refinement and innovation. We had the three course set meal for £30, not including supplements. The décor of the restaurant is a little tired with an old fashioned red patterned carpet holding thick wood tables and high backed chairs. The bottom half of the walls are painted white, while the top half are burgundy. Wall fittings and chandeliers offer low lighting and large stone windows give off a medieval feel but I would not describe it as a fine dining restaurant and I do not think it does this 4 star hotel very much justice. Staff are friendly throughout and rotate shifts between The Waterford Restaurant, the Tudor Bar and The Scottish Steak Bar, which offers casual dining. Breakfasts are served there, as are lunches, simpler dinners and drinks. There’s a TV to view the news or sport and it is located in the same complex as the pool, in a separate building to the manor house. The big space has a sea theme with props and pictures setting the scene.
Breakfast offered a good selection of crusty breads and pastries, fresh fruits, juices and cereals. There’s also a hot selection (with a few supplements) – the full English and vegetarian cooked breakfast were not winners with us but the boiled egg with soldiers and porridge with honey, berry compote and chopped nuts were nice.
Before dinner we enjoyed a drink in the Tudor Bar, which serves a selection of classic cocktails, Champagnes and wines to a range of single malts. A table by the window offers a nice view of the lawns, fountain and water beyond and the room exudes a classic, refined feel (when you drown out the excited chatter from prom goers in the nearby function room. There are 4 functions rooms, by the way, offering differing sizes and styles.) Ornate wood panelling lines the walls and a stone fireplace and large wood bar add to the grandeur of the space, which reflects the grand manor house itself. Cosy armchairs in soft patterned red and gold fabrics and gold chandeliers, along with ornate plasterwork on the ceiling, complete the room.
One of 42 courtyard bedrooms, separate to the main house, our room was spacious with a sofa and small kitchen area (fridge, cupboards, kettle, two chairs under a breakfast bar). You can keep yourself to yourself with an outdoor entrance and the rooms are more holiday lodge than hotel bedroom. Images of boats sat on the walls in gold frames and a wardrobe with mirrored front and a chest of drawers offered sufficient storage space. A brown, velvet sofa, desk and cushioned chair and an ivory tiled en suite finished the room, which was clean, tidy and comfortable.
In a nutshell
A gorgeous manor house with classic features in beautiful grounds, Macdonald Elmers Court Hotel & Resort is not short of things to keep you occupied. There are areas, however, which could be updated to be in keeping with the four star host.
Address: South Baddesley RoadHampshireSO41 5ZB / 0344 879 9060