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Careys Manor Hotel in The
This is one of the most beautiful and unspoilt corners of
the British Isles. The New Forest is an area in southern
England with an expanse of open pasture, heath and forest and it covers
south-west Hampshire, south-east Wiltshire and on to east Dorset.
The New Forest was created as a royal hunting ground by William I, the
chap who came over in 1066. His dedication to sport has allowed these
acres (380 km2) to remain relatively unchanged, and the roaming cattle
and horses add to the charm. Yes, those animals are fearless in the
face of traffic, adopting a strategy of making eye contact with car
drivers whilst continuing to nibble the grass verge with a minimum of
two hooves on the tarmac.
Two of the top hotels in the New Forest National Park have been awarded
the Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence 2012: Careys Manor &
SenSpa in Brockenhurst and its sister hotel The Montagu Arms in
Beaulieu have both received that honour, and one can see why.
The Careys Manor we see today was built in 1888 on the site of former
buildings named after John Carey, who was given the original Manor in
the mid-1600s by Charles II as a reward for his service. The present
owners bought the hotel in 1975 and
later the pub at the front of the hotel which was renovated and
transformed into Le Blaireau, the French Bar and Bistro, giving hotel
visitors even more dining choices.
This casual dining option tempts locals as well as hotel guests. Its
menu offers French classics in an informal setting that will raise a
smile. The walls are covered with Parisian tiles, the tables are
marble-topped, there is a 2CV embedded in the wall, and an alley from
Marseilles has been imported for your Francophile delight.
The changes didn’t stop with the bistro. In 2004, the Health Club
underwent extensive updating and was transformed into the award-winning
SenSpa. It has a pronounced Thai theme with teak carving and mirrors in
the exercise studio, black fabric and bamboo in the areas dedicated to
meditation and quiet. One doesn’t even have to move far from the
swimming pool to enjoy authentic Thai food: the Zen Garden Thai
restaurant has hand-decorated columns and exotic foliage that will
convince the visitor that they have stumbled upon a rather classy
corner of Bangkok.
Back in the main hotel, the Manor Lounge has a wood-vaulted ceiling and
was added to the main building in 1983; it is the area of choice on
cold wintery days. The huge fireplace and soft sofas make the lounge
perfect for, well, lounging and reading the papers, and possibly dozing
near those blazing logs.
The main entrance of Careys Manor is just what one would hope for in a
former Victorian hunting lodge. Its reception is oak panelled with an
inviting open fire. The imposing staircase sweeps guests up to their
rooms, which are well appointed with all the amenities befitting the
Manor’s 4-star status. The Victoriana is picturesque, but one will
appreciate the electricity, TV, hot showers, and all the other benefits
of the 21st century. There is something comforting about staying in a
country house hotel: one finds a timeless quality and a genteel
elegance. Careys Manor is one of the finest of these characterful
hotels, and it’s the attention to detail that has guests returning.
Quality continues in the dining room. Low ceilings, cornice mouldings
and wall-lights contrive to make this an intimate experience. The
tables are well-spaced, the service friendly but unobtrusive, and the
food is outstanding. The menu changes frequently to take advantage of
the freshest of local produce from land and sea, and all dishes are
presented with flair and a touch of innovation. This is British food
with a little French je ne sais quoi, each dish prepared by executive
chef Chris Wheeldon, who deserves his two AA Rosettes.
Careys Manor is a hotel for all seasons and for all occasions. Its
setting in the New Forest is ideal for long walks and for visiting
Beaulieu and other historic villages, as well as Lyndhurst with its
traditional high street and tea rooms. But the Manor has the advantage
over other hotels in the neighbourhood: it has its celebrated SenSpa
which is a destination in its own right. I have visited many excellent
spas in the UK, Europe and Asia but SenSpa is outstanding with its
pool, steam rooms, treatment rooms, and gym. It’s available for the
enjoyment of hotel guests but it’s also appreciated by non-residents
who just want day membership.
Careys Manor is whatever you want it to be – relaxing,
healthful, or indulgent. Its setting is striking but it will
be hard to pull yourself away from these superb facilities; so come for
a few days and then you might even find the time for an outing to visit