From the moment we pulled up the long, sweeping drive and caught a glimpse of Limewood Hotel in all its glory, I knew we were in for a special few days.
We were lucky enough at the end of last year to be invited to the wonderful Limewood, nestled away in the depths of the New Forest, to celebrate my parents 30 year wedding anniversary along with my brother and his girlfriend. It’s not somewhere that Toby and I would be able to check into on a random weekend ourselves, so this was the ultimate treat. With the weather getting gloomier and a busy festive period about to hit, we couldn’t wait to escape the everyday and tuck ourselves away in pure luxury.
Luxury is exactly what Limewood is. Surrounded by the glorious New Forest, with miles of nothing but green space and wild landscapes around, this country haven made us feel right at home as soon as we walked into the cosy yet grand entrance, decked out with real log fires and some of the best Christmas decorations you’ll ever see.
We’d started off our first day in the New Forest on a high already, having paid a lunchtime visit to The Pig, Limewood’s sister hotel just 15-minutes or so down the road. Having feasted on one of the best pies and mashed potatoes I’ve ever eaten in my entire life (and I thought Dad’s mash was good), we’d spent some time wandering the gardens and allotments before driving over to our new home for the next two nights.
One of the best things about Limewood is it’s homey feel; each bedroom is completely different to the next, with its own quirks and features. Our room was like nothing we’ve ever seen; decadent, huge, immaculate, with the biggest four-poster bed you’ve ever seen and a bathroom that was easily the size of our kitchen/dining room put together back at home. Complete with a huge monsoon shower, separate living space and the best-stocked mini bar going – with cut-glass tumblers and countless bottles of first-class spirits – this was the room of dreams.
The management at the hotel knew we were there celebrating a special occasion, so on our first night they set us up to eat in the Library, meaning we got our very own private dining space to experience the amazing tasting menu. In all honesty, I can’t remember everything we ate that night (there was plenty of wine involved), and I didn’t take my camera with me to dinner (bad blogger) but what I can tell you is that we had some of the best food we’d ever eaten. Sat around the table with my family, good food and flowing wine, I couldn’t have been happier.
The next day was a dream: I took a morning yoga class with my Mum and Georgie before tucking into a delicious breakfast in the Conservatory-styled restaurant; we took a long country walk in our wellies to a cosy pub in the middle of nowhere, before trekking back to head toward Limewood’s spa; an oasis in the middle of the New Forest. We swam in the hydropools; the girls had facials while the boys enjoyed massages; we sat in the outdoor jacuzzi and sweated away any stress in the sauna. We stayed in the spa until our fingers were wrinkly and we had no choice but go back and get ready for dinner. Tearing myself away from that steamroom wasn’t easy.
Another delicious meal awaited us that night, before we retired to the Drawing Room with boardgames in hand and a cheese board ordered. Shoes off under the table, and cocktails in hand, I felt completely at home.
Yet more walking awaited on Sunday, along with yet another amazing meal before we had to make our way home. My parents were treating themselves to one more night and as they waved the four of us off as we drove away, back down the long, sweeping drive, I possibly would have given anything to spend just one more night at Limewood.
It’s amazing: you really don’t have to go far to find luxury. There was me thinking that paradise couldn’t simply be around the corner, that it only existed in island form in the middle of the ocean, or tucked away on the other side of the world. But Limewood has proven me wrong. Just a couple of hours’ drive away, and there lies a sanctuary, designed to take you away from everyday life and make you feel truly special, taken care of and disconnected from the real world.
While I doubt we could afford to go there again any time soon, it’s without a doubt become my favourite place to stay in the UK. One day, I’ll go back, just Toby and I, for a romantic getaway. In the meantime, I can keep dreaming about Limewood: the New Forest gem that stole my heart.