This Countryside Estate Is the English Manor of Our Dreams

Credit: Helen Cathcart

Lime Wood is best described as a quintessentially English dreamscape. It’s hidden away in the misty sylvan New Forest, a former hunting ground of the British royals and a designated National Park. Ponies, hares, ducks, chickens, owls, and badgers make it seem more like a Beatrix Potter fable than a retreat for the southern English glitterati. But that’s all part of the charm. Despite its firm reputation as one of the UK’s best country house hotels, the beauty of staying here is that it lacks the diva attitude of its rivals, from Beaverbrook to Heckfield Place. 

Credit: Helen Cathcart

The ethos is simple. This butter-cream-coloured pile of Georgian bricks is a place to get lost in rather than be seen in. How so? Lime Wood has an ease about it that doesn’t feel at all stuffy or pretentious. The key to its success, perhaps, lies in the narrative of its style and character. The petite façade is by no means gaudy or foreboding and instead is a vision of lilac wisteria, urns, and expertly trimmed hedgework that overlooks the forest and farm. 

Credit: Helen Cathcart

The inside is much the same. While stylish, it’s cleverly restrained and tastefully classic. Gilded frames and portraits line the dinky entrance hall crowned by a period table teeming with florals cut from across the estate. Black and white checkerboard tiles lead all the way through into a cavernous regency-style atrium court and saloon designed by Martin Brudnizki, which, since it opened over a decade ago, kickstarted the tangerine bar stool craze we’ve all come to love (and secretly loathe). Elsewhere, books pile up over numerous swathes of coffee tables, and virtually every wall glitters with works of art from the likes of Tracey Emin and Jean Cocteau. Outside sculptures, pergolas, greenhouses, and manicured lawns prevail, with ponds, farmland, and the woods serving up all the tantalisingly dreamy countryside views. 

Credit: Helen Cathcart

The rooms and suites deliver, too. There are 33 rooms to choose from, ranging from the bijou Eaves Rooms and Cosy Rooms to the spacious Forest Suites and the Scandi-esque Lake Cabin. The set-up is very much the same in each: large roomy beds, clawfoot tubs, large showers, butt-swallowing couches, and if you are staying by the forest, living rooms complete with cosy fire (a godsend come the cold English winters) and ample storage space for your wellington boots. All the rooms are cutesy, and for those really intent on getting the perfect ‘gram, rack up the virtual likes better than your average solitaire whizz. 

Lime Wood Hotel sauna and pool
Credit: Helen Cathcart

But the real star of the show is the Herb House spa, a magical emporium of indoor and outdoor pools and saunas made with downtime in mind. Couples and house members especially descend on the house for restful weekends and massages, regularly and religiously. Their new spa partner, GROUND Wellbeing, rustles up expert muscle poundings using locally sourced ingredients handmade in small batches in Cork, Ireland. Treatments vary according to bespoke needs, but full body massages working on particular problem areas skilfully weave out all the knots and tension gathered by the horrors and stresses of everyday modern life. Some reflexology, head, and facial massage are also included on request, too. 

Credit: Helen Cathcart

And then there’s the food. Italian restaurant Hartnett Holder & Co – by Angela Hartnett and Luke Holder – is a destination favourite in its own right. City folk from across southern England flock to it, along with avid locals in search of Italian home cooking. Homegrown estate veggies feature on the seasonal menu heavily. Cornish cod, hake, chicken, beef, or pork are spun into handmade fresh pasta, all complimented by an extensive and very expensive wine list. Elsewhere Raw and Cured serves up more hearty British staples – the thick fries are a must – and it’s also where guests and day visitors indulge in the great British pastime of afternoon tea. Breakfast is also a grand feast with a generous buffet filled with warm and dusty pastries and full English fry-ups. 

Credit: Helen Cathcart

Overall, Lime Wood is a place to escape. Simplicity trumps the competition, and in a world so complex, the hotel succeeds in reminding all those who check in to embrace the art of slowing down and good old-fashioned TLC.

Top Takeaways

Location: Lyndhurst, Hampshire, England. 

Rating: Five-star.

The vibe: Slow living amongst the endless fields, trails, and farms of the New Forest. You go here to get lost and not be seen. Think of it as the perfect reset. 

Food + Drink: A chance to indulge in classic British gourmet staples and, perhaps, one of the best Italian restaurants outside of London. 

Amenities: restaurant, gym, spa, pool, hot tubs, boutique, bar. 

Our favourite thing about the hotel: The location. There are so many long walking trails that it’s a prime spot to just go off-grid and fill your lungs with fresh country air. 

Nearby attractions: The New Forest and the charming little village of Lyndhurst. 

Room count: 33

Closest international airport: London Heathrow. Direct trains run to Lime Wood from London Waterloo station. 

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