You have to be deeply relaxed to nod off during a massage, so falling completely asleep, not once, but twice, during my treatment at the Lime Wood hotel spa shows how totally unstressed I was.
This was quite an achievement considering that on the drive through the New Forest to get to Lime Wood, my car’s windscreen wipers packed up just as it started raining and so finding the way up Lime Wood’s winding country drive was a matter of guesswork.
However the warm welcome I received on entering the spa – staff seemed genuinely pleased to see people arriving, which is certainly not true for every spa – went a long way to alleviating the travel tension. Within 10 minutes I was tucked up in a fluffy white robe on a lounger overlooking the indoor pool and well on my way to spa bliss.
Herb House – to give the spa at Lime Wood its proper name – is a constant presence on top hotel spa lists and it’s easy to see why. While it isn’t the biggest of hotel spas, it makes great use of its space and its attention to detail and little personal touches are what you would hope for from the team behind the excellent Pig hotels. The changing room is immaculate; the lockers are stocked with towels, robes and slippers, there are rainfall showers, mirrors, all manner of luxury products and even a room with a tin bath in for that home-from-home experience.
Upstairs surrounding the 16-metre indoor pool are a dozen or so comfy loungers, and staff are very good at clearing away towels thus making sure there isn’t a shortage of spare ones. Outside in the middle of a pretty garden terrace is a large hot tub – lovely and warm in spite of the drizzling rain – and in the summer time the roof, planted with dozens of different herbs – is a lovely spot for sunbathing or some al fresco yoga.
Once I had summoned up the energy to get up from my lounger I discovered an adjoining area which had a steam room, a sauna, a hydrotherapy pool and a caldarium, all with views of the surrounding forest so you felt like you were nestled on the forest floor. There are eight treatment rooms and my massage was in the double one, again with a great view of the trees outside and with its own steam bath and private terrace.
My 90-minute Bamford Signature Facial – an epic pampering session which include deep tissue massage, hot stones, a foot massage, exfoliation and a lot of fabulous-smelling oils. Afterwards, totally spaced out, I floated up to the Raw and Cured food bar to enjoy an extremely healthy juice and a ‘Raw Picnic Board’ – a selection of that day’s salads, root dips, vegetable crisps, crudities and raw bread. In spite of being probably very good for me it was delicious, but those who are having a more indulgent spa day the restaurant also offers beers, ciders, wine and champagne.
There was just time for a sneaky peek at the Lime Wood hotel itself. The main building, a Regency country manor house looked like a larger and grander version of the Pig near Bath – the site of an earlier memorable stay . Inside, the hotel was beautifully laid out with a succession of pleasant lounges, slightly smarter than the rustic shabby-chic of the Pigs. However the air of cosy indulgence was the same and hinted at a beautifully relaxing stay at this boutique country house hotel.
For those looking to have an active day or weekend at Lime Wood, the spa also has a gym, fitness classes, personal training and hosts star trainer Matt Roberts fitness weekends. But for those just wanting to relax and indulge, the Herb House deserves its rave reviews.
Herb House spa
Lyndhurst SO43 7FZ
Spa packages start from £105 for the Sundowner package while custom-made Spa Days starte from £150 per person, which include use of facilities, lunch at Raw & Cured and a treatment of your choice.