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How to spend a weekend in the New Forest with Macdonald Elmers Court Hotel and Resort

LLM travel editor Natasha Heard spends a weekend in the sunny south of the New Forest.

By Natasha Heard  |  August 4, 2022
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A beautiful and bountiful retreat on the south coast of England, The New Forest is the perfect place to head to when you want to slow down and take pleasure in some restful time. Perfect for a long weekend and easy to reach from London and the surrounding areas, this almost 220 sq. mile area comprises coastline, countryside, the 120 sq. mile New Forest National Park (one of the UK’s 15 national parks), a range of inviting towns and villages and plenty of opportunities to enjoy the surrounds.

Known for its forests, heathland, roaming native ponies as well as a range of other wildlife, and renowned for being William the Conqueror’s ‘new hunting forest’ as well as the place where King William II was fatally wounded, it’s safe to say that there is a lot to keep visitors occupied. Village inns, boat trips, spa hotels and great restaurants are in good supply here, and it also happens to be the gateway to the Isle of Wight, so if you’re looking to combine a trip to both areas, then the New Forest is a great place to begin.

New Forest nature
The New Forest is known for its forests, heathland, roaming native ponies as well as a range of other wildlife

You’ll need a welcoming place to base yourself, boasting plenty of amenities to keep you occupied during your down time, and Macdonald Elmers Court Hotel and Resort offers a good spot to do just that, especially if you’re planning to visit the Isle of Wight as well. Sitting on the outskirts of Lymington, on the south coast and with incredible views looking down to the Solent between its garden’s tall, manicured hedges, the hotel hosts a spa, restaurant, bar, classic décor and a range of accommodation options to suit your stay.

Here’s how to enjoy a relaxing break in the New Forest with Elmers Court.


Arrive in the historic port town of Lymington and find Macdonald Elmers Court Hotel and Resort on the outskirts, just past the ferry port for the Wightlink ferry service to Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight. It’s within walking distance to the hotel so visitors can enjoy days out to the island with ease, there’s also a train service directly to the pier, which brings you to there with one change from London Waterloo, though bringing a car will allow you to explore the forest with ease.

cottage at elmers court
Cottages on site at Elmers Court provide comfortable self-catering accommodation

Check in to your accommodation at Elmers Court – there are 42 en-suite bedrooms, from standard rooms to super deluxe suites, and also one, two and four-bedroom suites; cottages that provide home from home, especially when enjoying a long stay. The accommodation isn’t the most super luxe, but if you’re looking for a place to base yourself while you visit the local, Elmers Court is a great option.

I stayed in a cottage, which could sleep six across a double and twin bedroom and a lounge that could be closed off to create another room. A bathroom and two shower rooms provided plenty of spacious, well-lit places to get ready and the kitchen is fully equipped for the meals to be enjoyed around the dining table. There was also a little garden area to enjoy, looking onto the grounds with bistro set with four chairs and an umbrella, which provided a quiet, cool spot in the summer heat.

Be sure to explore the grounds of the 23-acre estate and make the most of the leisure facilities available to you, which include an inviting spa which uses Elemis products, an indoor and spacious outdoor pool. A terrace makes the perfect spot to enjoy an al fresco drink and I saw the area being set up for a wedding during my stay, with the gardens making for a perfect backdrop, no doubt.

Elmers Court
Inside Elmers Court there’s an abundance of beautiful wood panelling, ornate ceilings, and decorative fireplaces that transport you to a different time

The hotel itself is grand, and a beautiful building with grounds that are clearly well cared for and with a great view down to the Solent. Inside, there’s an abundance of beautiful wood panelling, ornate ceilings, and decorative fireplaces that transport you to a different time. The décor is a little tired in places and I’m told there’s a renovation due to take place later in the year, so I’m sure that with a little care and attention it will be looking smart again.

Make sure you enjoy a meal at the Waterford restaurant during your stay. With great views, a setting inside the grand, Tudor style building and dishes that are sure to please, this makes for a good spot to relax with good drinks and tasty food. I devoured a starter of a twice baked goats’ cheese soufflé – it was gorgeous, a hot day in June, but I couldn’t resist it and was so glad I chose this dish, and its fluffy texture and mouth-watering flavours were a delight.

A main course of rib eye steak with fries was nice, a little disappointing as it was overdone, but I was happy again by dessert as a chocolate torte with blood orange ice cream and profiterole was well balanced, oh-so delectable and a wining end to the meal.

souffle the waterford
The starter of twice baked goats’ cheese soufflé at The Waterford restaurant comes highly recommended


After breakfast in your cottage or in the breakfast room, which is housed within the same building as the leisure centre, head off on a day exploring the New Forest.

You could stay local and explore the Georgian market town of Lymington, stopping off at the shops and enjoying a bite to eat at one of the local cafés or pubs for lunch, or even head off for the day as a foot passenger to the Isle of Wight, making your way down to the famed Needles.

If you don’t fancy the trip to the island, head to local village Beaulieu and make the most of the cycle route, wander the 16-century high street and spot the ponies walking freely. Fine dining enthusiasts should book themselves in for dinner at The Terrace Restaurant at The Montagu Arms Hotel for a Saturday night treat, while vintage vehicle fans should add a visit to the National Motor Museum to their lists. A short distance away is Buckler’s Hard, a hamlet on the banks of the Beaulieu River – park up, enjoy some food, walk along the riverside path, take a boat trip and expand your mind at Buckler’s Hard Maritime Museum.

Lepe lighthouse
The Beaulieu River Millennium Beacon also known as Lepe Lighthouse at Lepe

Those who like to get active can go horse riding, kayaking, paddle boarding, hiking or take a guided walking tour from various starting points and the slower pace of life will surely appeal to most looking for a break from their busy daily lives. Burley, Brockenhurst, Lyndhurst, Milford on Sea, Ringwood and the beach at Lepe Country Park are all worth a visit as is Exbury Gardens and Steam Railway, and New Forest Wildlife Park.  


Following a leisurely breakfast in your cottage, get ready to check out of the hotel, but before you do make sure you pay a visit to the spa to indulge in a treatment at the hands of one of the experienced spa therapists. Using the utterly delightful and effective Elemis products, choose from a range of massages, facials, body treatments, and let the lotions work their magic and your muscles soothe under the hands of your therapist. The 25-minute back and shoulder massage was a great way to start a Sunday morning during my visit, the perfect way to unwind and set myself up for a relaxing day.  

On your way home, why not stop off at one of the towns or villages that you didn’t have the chance to experience the day before? There are so many blissful places to visit in this expanse of land, many of which provide visitors with a moment to reflect, relax and enjoy the treasures that this place so abundantly provides.


Address: South Baddesley Road, Lymington, Hampshire, SO41 5ZB
Tel: 0344 879 9060

Check Availability

And Book Online

Macdonald Elmers Court Resort
LLM may receive some revenue if you click BOOK NOW & book a stay via See terms of use.

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