Perfect Weekend: 48-Hours in the New Forest with MiniBy Angelica Malin
Looking for an amazing country break? We escaped London for the New Forest with Mini Countryman to discover best places to sleep, eat and relax in this beautiful UK destination. Our brand new 48-guide to the New Forest reveals the very best parts of the New Forest:
New Forest Travel Guide: Why Visit
The New Forest is the perfect place when you just need a break from the Big Smoke. With stunning natural beauty, great local pubs and restaurants, idyllic country hotels and some of the UK’s best spas, the New Forest has everything you need in a relaxing UK break. What’s more, it’s only a 2-hour drive from London, so it makes for the perfect long weekend break this summer.
New Forest Travel Guide: Who Goes
The New Forest really is for everyone. Whether you’re looking for self-catering, luxury or a camping holiday, the New Forest has it all. It’s particularly catered to those who enjoy outdoor pursuits, with award-winning gardens, country manors and wildlife parks – it’s the perfect place to take the Mini Countryman for a spin, as the car is great on rugged terrain with ALL4 all-wheel drive option and high suspension. There’s tons of natural beauty to take in throughout the New Forest with beautiful glades, ancient woodland, heathland and cliff top walks.
New Forest Travel Guide: What to Wear
One word: comfort. The New Forest is all about enjoying nature, so get your comfies on and prepare to get muddy. I’m loving Urban Outfitters jock-style sweatshirts for the ultimate weekend comfort, and a good pair of Spitfire Teddy Boy sunnies for warmer days. For kicks, Nike’s Air Max Thea trainers are always good news – the Pink Glaze ones are great for a girly touch to a weekend break.
New Forest Travel Guide: Where to Stay
There’s so many fantastic places to stay in the New Forest. Our personal favourites are the hotels which combine luxury with a real sense of relaxation and escape:
Chewton Glen is a 5-star luxury country house hotel in Hampshire. Expect real luxury at Chewton Glen; the hotel boasts an award-winning spa and restaurant, complete with its own treehouse suites, surrounded by stunning scenery. A short drive from Highcliffe Castle’s gothic mansion and tearoom, this picturesque country house hotel and spa has great facilities, set on 130 acres of countryside. The spa here is really special with a sauna, steam room, and whirlpool, as is their fine dine offering.
Set in the heart of the stunning New Forest National Park, Lime Wood is laid-back luxury at its best. Lime Wood is the ultimate countryside getaway; perfect for weekend breaks, a dash from the city, or an escape from home. The hotel is a short drive from the small town of Lyndhurst, and represents creative collaboration of talent from around the world. The food at Lime Wood is really special – chefs Angela Hartnett and Luke Holder do the cooking, combining their signature styles, to create Hartnett Holder & Co, a relaxed Italian restaurant. Come here to pamper – at the Herb House Spa you can do yoga on the roof in a herb garden and take in the forest views from the massive sauna.
The Bell Inn is a great New Forest hotel in Hampshire that offers country accommodation with rosette quality dining. The Bell Inn is a family affair, with the perfect mix of old and new – the family has made updates to the historic New Forest hotel without spoiling any of its traditional and rustic charm. With open fireplaces, flagstone floors, elegant reception rooms and two superb 18-hole golf courses, it’s unlike other hotels in Hampshire. It’s great for food, too – their team of talented chefs create seasonal specials, mouth-watering menus, and have unique access to game from the family’s New Forest estate. With only 28 rooms, a stay here really is a personal experience.
New Forest Travel Guide: Where to Pamper
I say a break to the New Forest wouldn’t be complete without a spa day; we totally loved the luxury Senspa at Careys Manor Hotel. The spa is a beautiful Thai-inspired retreat, with world class hydrotherapy facilities, a huge swimming pool and luxury hot tub. Voted ‘Best Spa in The South-East’ four years running, SenSpa is an authentic, charming spa with extensive 5 star facilities focusing on holistic wellness. It’s the perfect place to relax in the New Forest – you can cleanse, revitalise and detoxify the skin in the herbal sauna, crystal steam room, tepidarium and laconicum, then invigorate your senses in the ice room and experience showers. Weekend perfection.
New Forest Travel Guide: Where to Eat
Hartnett Holder & Co is an insanely romantic restaurant at Lime Wood, which boasts a menu of Italian-inspired delights, such as fresh pasta, local fish and homemade arancini. Full of character, yet unpretentious, Angela Hartnett and Lime Wood’s Luke Holder, create stunning locally sourced Italian dishes, with a focus on seasonal produce. It’s all about sharing here, as both chefs are known for their informal, easy style of cooking, and the dishes are totally picture-perfect, as well as a joy to eat. Come for the parmesan gnocchi, stay for the homemade pistachio ice cream, we say.
You can’t miss afternoon tea in the New Forest. One of the great English traditions is, of course, afternoon tea – it’s just so British and lovely. Named after the celebrated naval officer, Captain Marryat, Chewton Glen’s afternoon tea uses the best local ingredients and features sandwiches, cakes, scones, jams and teas that more than do Hampshire proud. Afternoon tea is served between 3pm-4.30pm in the restaurant, or in fine weather, on the terrace, at £29.50 per person. Get involved.
The fishmongers at Verveine has been a family run business for over 50 years, offering an incredible range of fresh, high quality fish and supplying the restaurant kitchen. The fish are sustainably sourced from day boats which work out of Brixham, Devon and the shellfish are harvested from the Solent. Come here for the best quality fish dinner, with an amazing selection of daily fresh fish on offer, including bream, cod, scallops and lemon sole, all with your choice of accompaniments. Don’t skip pudding – their poached Yorkshire rhubarb with bergamot, blood orange, honey and smoked rosemary is divine.
New Forest Travel Guide: What to Do
Walking is an ideal activity in the New Forest as the setting is just so beautiful. For a long walks, try the Avon Valley Path, which is 34 miles, by the sea and more. This walking route will take you from Salisbury – one of the most beautiful cathedral cities in England – to Christchurch Priory and the sea. For something try the Lyndhurst Parish Walk, where you will discover the beauty of the parish, start from the thriving village centre, out to Bolton’s Bench and on into the tranquillity beyond. The New Forest’s tourist website has some great ideas for walks in the area – see here.
There’s miles of off-road tracks and low speed-limit roads in the New Forest, which are perfect for cycling. The off-road cycle network is easily accessible by rail or road so you can bring your own bikes or hire them when you arrive. If you’re looking for a family-friendly ride, Burley to Brockenhurst is 7 miles and you’ll cycle through the picture perfect scenery of Burley along the old railway line to Brockenhurst. For inspiration on longer bike rides, see here.
Man, I love picnics. We stopped by Harrods Food Hall to pick up delights for our picnic, including a selection of cheeses, bread, olives, crackers and gourmet chocolates. You can also pre-order a Harrods food and wine hamper for your picnic here. The great thing about the Mini Countryman is it’s totally made for picnics – the car is great off-road, as well as having a drop-down picnic bench in the boot.