Tag Archives: spa

Burley Manor hotel New Forest: relaxing country charm

The first time I visited Burley Manor Hotel in the New Forest I had absolutely no expectations – not because I thought it was going to be terrible, but because it had never even crossed my radar before. It turned out there was a reason for this: while the original building dates back to 1852 and has been a hotel since 1935, Burley Manor has had a succession of owners over the last decade which doesn’t usually help a hotel build up a solid reputation.

burley manor hotel new forest
Burley Manor was recently refurbished at a cost of £1.8 million by its new owners

Hopefully for Burley Manor, it is now under steadier ownership. Bought by New Forest Hotels in April 2015, it promptly underwent a £1.8 million refurbishment and reopened with a whole new look, styling itself as a ‘brand new, yet very old, restaurant with boutique rooms.’ I’ve now stayed at the hotel twice and both times had a really pleasant stay – excellent staff, food and rooms – and the second stay I felt the hotel was relaxing into its own personality, which is that of a grand country house but with a fun, informal air.

burley manor hotel
Burley Manor dates from 1852 and become a hotel in 1935

Aimed at adults – children over 13 are allowed though – I was pleased to see that the hotel retained many of its traditional features, such as the open fire in the entrance hall, the 164-year old carved wooden staircase and the ornate lettering round the front of the brick building: ‘Welcome the coming friend; speed the parting guest.’ There was no chance of us speeding on our way, though: we lingered so long over breakfast the next morning that it was half past eleven before we reluctantly left the pleasant dining room conservatory to pack up and check out. Continue reading Burley Manor hotel New Forest: relaxing country charm

Cliveden House hotel and spa: an luxury classic with a scandalous past

Throughout my stay at the rather fabulous Cliveden House Hotel, there was one question which I found almost impossible to answer. Would Cliveden still be as fabulous if it wasn’t, well, Cliveden?

Would it seem as special if it were just a very nice 17th century country house in which Winston Churchill and Noel Coward hadn’t stayed, for example? Would its gardens still be as pretty if you weren’t thinking that Lady Astor had strolled these very grounds with George Bernard Shaw and Charlie Chaplin?

And would the beautiful outdoor swimming pool in the walled garden still be quite as marvellous to swim in if – well, you get the idea.

cliveden house hotel reviews
It’s Cliveden House Hotel, and it’s rather grand

The thing about Cliveden is that it is almost impossible to judge it on its own merits by separating it from its quite incredible past. The Great Hall with its portraits and grand fireplace is stunning, but it feels even more so because you know that some of the most accomplished people in recent history have discussed art and politics over cocktails exactly where you are sitting.

The swimming pool would be a talking point in its own right, but it is particularly amazing to swim in because you know it is where John Profumo met Christine Keeler and precipitated a whole chain of events which scandalised the nation and eventually led to the fall of the Government. Continue reading Cliveden House hotel and spa: an luxury classic with a scandalous past

Chewton Glen hotel, New Forest – luxury from spa to treehouse

It isn’t often you plan on spending the night at a rather grand country house hotel and find yourself sleeping in a treehouse on stilts in the middle of a forest. But the treehouses at Chewton Glen, the five-star hotel and spa located deep in the heart of the New Forest in Hampshire, are about as far removed from the rickety wooden contraptions of one’s childhood (or Bart Simpson’s) as you could get.

chewton glen treehouses
Chewton Glen has 12 luxury treehouses hovering above the forest floor

In fact, they probably shouldn’t really be called treehouses at all, but maybe ‘luxury forest lodges’ probably didn’t sound, well, as much fun. The hotel’s own blurb describes them as secluded and romantic with the ‘exterior architecture in perfect harmony with the surrounding treescape’ and ‘on stilts, delicately balanced between the valley and tree canopy.’

I would probably describe them as ‘a really posh and gorgeous set of rooms which for some reason are plonked in the middle of a forest.’

chewton glen treehouses
Each treehouse has its own wood-burning stove, private balcony and hot tub

They might be on stilts but thankfully they didn’t feel at all delicately balanced and indeed once you were inside, it was easy to forget that you were hovering several metres above the forest floor.

Continue reading Chewton Glen hotel, New Forest – luxury from spa to treehouse

Time for some serious pampering at Ockenden Manor hotel and spa

Walking into a really gorgeous hotel room can be such a bittersweet moment. There is the initial reaction of ‘Wow! This is really, really nice….!’ and delight that this is actually all yours for the next 20 hours or so. Then there is the sudden realisation of ‘Oh, but then I’m actually going to have to leave here and go home…’ Followed by: ‘Why can’t I live here forever?’

Such is the effect of walking into a room at Ockenden Manor Hotel and Spa, a 17th century old country house set in nine acres of land, which has a first-class luxury spa facility neighbouring the hotel.

ockenden manor hotel and spa
Ockenden Manor – the spa is a separate building a short walk away

While the rooms in the hotel itself are older and more traditional, I was staying in ‘Clara’, one of the newly-done up rooms above the spa itself. The room instantly gave off a feeling of impeccable luxury, but in a nice, comfortable, relaxing way, rather than a starchy, soulless, hotel sort of a way. Continue reading Time for some serious pampering at Ockenden Manor hotel and spa

A luxurious country escape at Bailiffscourt hotel and spa, West Sussex

If the holiday season left you feeling in serious need of a relaxing break with country walks, a first-class spa and restaurant and cosy rooms to hide away in, then Bailiffscourt hotel and spa is the place for you.

Tucked away down a little country lane on the south coast between Littlehampton and Bognor Regis, Bailiffscourt hotel is a little haven of calm, surrounded by green fields and just a short stroll from the sea at Climping beach.

Bailiffscourt Hotel
Bailiffscourt has the feel of a medieval country house but was built in the 1920s

Built in 1927 in the medieval style for Lord Moyne, who was then Walter Guinness of the brewing family, and his wife Evelyn, architect Amyas Phillips reportedly searched the country for original stone, woodwork, doors, windows and fireplaces which give the hotel its 500-year old feel.


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There are low ceilings and tapestries and winding staircases and narrow corridors and a whole rabbit warren of rooms downstairs which all make you feel as if you have gone back in time. Thankfully the service, food and essentials of life (such as bathrooms) are all very modern, so what you get at Bailiffscourt hotel is an old-fashioned country house atmosphere from a building which has actually been a hotel since 1948.

Bailiffscourt Hotel
The courtyard is a beautiful place to dine in the summer months

There are nice little touches too, such as board games and magazines dotted around the place, a map showing local walks and even a tiny bar. We arrived just in time for Sunday lunch, and were served a lovely meal of roast beef and roast lamb in the stone-walled dining room overlooking the courtyard. Continue reading A luxurious country escape at Bailiffscourt hotel and spa, West Sussex