Tucked away in the depths of the New Forest is Rhinefield House, often known as the “jewel in the forest’ to many of its guests. The AA four red star hotel is grand and gothic with a Tudor exterior full of narrow corridors, secret rooms and grand chandeliered halls.
Its ornamental drive sits just off the A35, and is notable for its beautiful tall trees and wild horses roaming the woods. The forest-side setting of this beautiful manor house, part of the Hand Picked Hotels group, is the perfect backdrop for its 50 bedrooms including three feature suites, one of which was our home for the night.
The Munroe Suite contains many of the houses original features including a traditional fireplace and wide arched window. It also comes complete with its own separate private lounge and large bathroom, so if you are looking for plenty of space this room is definitely for you.
The interior is covered in rustic rich wooden panels whilst the furnishings are that of a more contemporary style, with accents of lavish purples and maroons creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. As for the bathroom mirror… you won’t find one much bigger!
The hotel is very family friendly, provided for us during our stay was a travel cot and blankets for our three-month-old son Leo, which sat just in front of the window overlooking the Canadian Redwoods on the front lawn.
We also loved the teddy bear provided which acted as a do not disturb sign during the stay, a unique touch. Luckily for us Leo wasn’t old enough to want to take it, however, they are also available to buy upon departure should your little ones grow attached!
After settling in we just couldn’t wait to explore the grounds. With Leo loaded into the baby carrier we set off. The house is stunning to look at with its steeply pitched roof, redbrick chimneys and leaded windows. The gardens ornamental ponds, fountains and terraces bring the place to life; we spend a good hour roaming, viewing and instagramming!
There is plenty to do in and around the hotel – next on our agenda was to hit the health club. From swimming to gyming or a quick pamper session at the spa, the health club has it all. You can even hire a bike to explore more of those scenic pathway treks into the forest.
After taking Leo swimming, it was time for a quick rest followed by dinner. There are two restaurants, the 2 AA Rosette Armada, perfect for romantic or celebratory meals and the Conservatory, which is less formal. For extra special occasions there is also the bejewelled and glittering Alhambra.
The service is formal yet friendly and the menu is mouth-watering. Whilst the room may be impressive the dishes are unfussy and full of British classics.
For starters I opted for the Jerusalem artichoke tortellini with baby onions and rosemary, the flavours were delicately balanced and the dish looked almost too pretty to eat. My husband decided upon the South Coast crab with seafood bisque, chicory, charred red peppers, it didn’t last long, which is always the sign of a good dish.
Service was quick and before we knew it the main dishes arrived. Being a veggie I selected the smoked aubergine, tomato ragu, roast onion, pearl barley. It was nice to have something a little different and I really enjoyed the smokiness of the aubergine.
Whilst I tucked into that, my husband ordered the poached salmon with confit fennel, chervil potatoes, spinach cream, he was raving about the dish for many hours after.
Finally onto dessert… as big chocolate fans we were both glad to see a few of our favourite sweets. Whilst I indulged in the chocolate mousse with white chocolate and cherry, my husband couldn’t deny himself the warm chocolate fondue (to which I allowed him the cooking time in return for a bite)! It was heavenly.
Sufficiently full we retired to the room with Leo who had accompanied us to dinner and luckily slept the whole way through. I have to say I was feeling a little anxious about bringing a baby to dinner, however, the staff couldn’t have been more accommodating and reassuring.
After sleeping like a princess in the large oversized bed, it was time for breakfast, which again was served in the Armada restaurant. The usual options were on offer including a cold buffet along with options for a cooked breakfast.
With a baby on my lap I had become really good at eating boiled egg and soldiers one handedly, so whilst I dipped into that, my husband went full throttle and ordered the full English.
For me, being a new mum, it wouldn’t have been a satisfying end without a trip to the hotel spa to enjoy a quick 25-minute massage. I enjoyed a little bit of me time, something I had not had for over three months! I loved the smell of the ELEMIS products and the treatment rooms were really cosy.
As we checked out a wedding party started to arrive. Rhinefield House looked wonderful in all its glory for the lucky couple and their guests. A stay here makes a memorable occasion no matter what the reason for your visit is.
Address: Rhinefield Road, Brockenhurst, Hampshire, SO42 7QB, England
Phone: 0845 072 7516