Approaching through the countryside, you are struck by nature in all its beauty with the ancient trees, open spaces, unenclosed pastures, heathland and roaming animals, all of which add to the magic and wonder of the New Forest. Not far from Lyndhurst (which in old English meaning ‘wooded hill growing with lime-trees’) you find the discreet sign for Lime Wood, a hotel at which we would be spending the night. Turning off the road, you follow the drive, passing over a cattle grid and by the former gate lodge. As the drive rises on either side, grassy parklands with shrubs and mature trees greet you. Alongside the road there are newer trees which in the future with growth will provide a grand avenue. The drive continues to rise and then you see in front of you the impressive building that is Lime Wood.
The current building dates from the 19th century and in the past it has been a private estate, a school and now a hotel. A careful refurbishment and restoration, with the addition of new facilities, has been completed in recent years and the complex, now called Lime Wood, operates as a luxury country house hotel. The design of Lime Wood has been done by the renowned David Collins Studio, who are the leading architects and designers for luxury interiors.
Driving up to the front of Lime Wood, we were greeted by one of the staff who took the luggage from our Land Rover. The vehicle was then parked for us in the nearby main car park. All the staff wear stylish forest-coloured uniforms to match the natural feel of Lime Wood and those who greeted us were dressed in the lovely uniform of tweed jackets and country style clothing. In the lobby we were greeted by Kenneth, the Hotel Director, who warmly welcomed us like old friends returning to the homely Lime Wood. After checking in we were then taken to our suite by Faye, who later showed us around the Hotel.
The suite consisted of a lounge, large bedroom and bathroom, all welcoming and fitted out to a high standard. The lounge area had two settees with a large window that overlooked the grounds to the front of Lime Wood. The bedroom was double aspect with one window again looking over the front of the hotel and the second looking to the side over the vast grounds and on to the open country side. The four poster bed was incredibly soft and luxuriant and there was also a day bed to relax on. The room provided more than adequate storage, with nice touches like leaf shaped handles on the wardrobes to reflect the country house feel. The bathroom was splendid with a full size bath, from which you could also see the lawns and grounds in the front of Lime Wood with a large shower and separate toilet. There is a nice touch of ambient lighting at night in the bedroom, also motion sensitive lights in the bathroom, which is useful in the dark.
On our tour of Lime Wood by Faye, we were shown the grand staircase and the specially designed chandelier which looks like branches and leaves linking to the location in the New Forest and the surrounding countryside. There is central atrium that was recently converted which makes a wonderful area to meet friends or have pre-lunch or dinner drinks.This has a retractable roof and on sunny days you can unwind and enjoy the warmth of the sun. There are also a number of lounges where guests can relax and unwind. Throughout the main building old paintings are juxtaposed with more modern works of art which works very well. Throughout the decor is subtle but inviting and warm giving a homely feel.
Outside there are extensive, manicured lawns, gardens, magnificent trees, ponds, winding pathways and seating areas. To add to the idiosyncrasies in the grounds are statues of animals, fish and other objects and there is the smoke house which is used to prepare delicious food served at Lime Wood, which we would be enjoying later.
Around the original house are located several buildings which contain additional rooms and apartments. These are far enough away to feel private but near enough to take pleasure in all the facilities that Lime Wood has to offer. In all there are 15 rooms in the main hotel and a further 16 in the buildings near the house. Also in the grounds, the two gate houses and a log cabin offer more secluded accommodation and which are ideal for larger families and pets as dogs are welcome too. A golf buggy is available to transport guests to and from the gate lodges and the log cabin so they can enjoy Lime Wood to the full. The Herb House Spa is located conveniently near the front of the main building, easy for Her Ladyship to find and indulge in a spot of relaxation.Her Ladyship and I decided to go for a late afternoon walk in the extensive Lime Wood grounds to enjoy the autumn sunshine only to find we had not brought our boots with us. Not a problem! Lime Wood have available to borrow a wide range of Hunter wellies in all sizes and various colours and patterns, with something to everyone’s taste. It was then we discovered that they also have reading glasses available to borrow, very thoughtful and nice touches. After the walk, it was then time to refresh ourselves for our evening at Lime Wood which consisted of dinner in the Hartnett Holder & Co restaurant.
In the morning, after good nights sleep, we were awoken by Dani delivering our morning tea, which was very welcome and refreshing. We had breakfast in the Scullery, which has an extensive menu and, to keep off the autumnal chill, it had an open fire. Alternatively, breakfast can be served in your room if you wish. To invigorate ourselves we had another walk around the delightful grounds. Her Ladyship could not resist playing on the wooden swing which hangs from a branch of a large mature oak tree and I indulged in my passion of photography taking pictures of the autumnal leaves and interesting sculptures in the grounds.
It was then sadly time to leave. Our Land Rover was brought to the main door for us by the ever helpful staff and the luggage was also loaded by them. We said our farewells to Kenneth and his team. As a nice touch we were given bottled spring water and sweets for our journey home. Throughout the Lime Wood experience, the staff make everything special and the feeling you are staying with friends rather than at a country hotel make you feel rejuvenated and ready to return to your daily life.
Lime Wood Hotel
Hampshire SO43 7FZ