My first taste of self-catering was as a 7-year-old and it did rather taint my expectations of that style of holiday for the following half-century. It was a ‘chalet’ (3-metre square prefab) in Sackets Grove. It had a wealth of ornithological interest, being situated next to Clacton’s municipal dump which was the feeding ground for seagulls.
Ivy Roost Cottage is a world away from that first experience. This idyllic place has modern luxury writ large. It is thoroughly contemporary but retains its 400-year-old charm. It sleeps up to 9 people which make this an ideal retreat for a large family group, or for several couples who want to enjoy all the tranquillity of the New Forest.
The New Forest is an expansive and ancient area of woods, heath and pasture in the south of England and isn’t ‘new’ at all. It was a royal hunting estate and was created in 1079 by William the Conqueror, who won the Battle of Hastings in 1066. It was first recorded as “Nova Foresta” in the Domesday Book in 1086.
Those historic acres begin just beyond the garden wall. A cattle grid keeps the famous roaming ponies and cattle away from the roses, and the views of unspoilt heath are memorable. There is truly nothing between you and the wildlife, and the rejuvenating country walks start at the front door.
Ivy Roost is a large thatched cottage dating back some 400 years. It has secluded gardens that are immaculate with lawns, borders and fruit trees. There are paved terraces for sitting and taking traditional afternoon tea, corners for enjoying some sun in the company of that best-seller, and a delightful al fresco dining room shaded by a leafy pergola. A swing will be fought over but the losers of that confrontation can cheer themselves with a soak in the hot tub. That’s a worthy consolation prize!
This cottage has been extended and restored to the highest of standards. It takes advantage of all its original features and they add so much to its character. There are beams, doors and alcoves that have remained part of its fabric throughout the centuries but there is nothing gloomy and dusty here. The walls are an oyster-white and the woodwork is in various shades of pale heritage neutral colours. Yes, contemporary finishes but they work so well with the rustic walls and windows in the older parts of the cottage.
One might worry that all those guests would feel a little confined in a cottage. There are no such concerns here. It has a wealth of rooms to suit every purpose, even on those days when the weather does not cooperate. The younger members of the group will gravitate to the first floor: the upstairs living room is light and bright with doors onto a striking furnished roof terrace with the best views in the house. That terrace will allow you a closer look at the iconic thatch. The kids might not be so interested in the scenery when they realise that there is a play station indoors, with a library of games.
There is a study on the ground floor for those who can’t afford full work disconnection. The cottage has wireless internet access so you will be able to keep a finger on the business pulse, although the view of the garden from the desk will tempt you away from emails.
Next to the study is an intimate sitting room that will be the magnet for adults on chilly evenings. Ivy Roost is a cottage for all seasons. It has an inglenook fireplace and a box of logs. There is nothing like the flicker of a real fire to create a calming ambiance and sense of wellbeing, but there is fully functioning state-of-the-art central heating in this and all other rooms. This ‘snug’ provides your after-dinner late-night-film-watching sanctuary although it’s likely you will be dozing before the end credits roll. There is a surround-sound system for the TV, DVD/CD, iPod dock and radio tuner.
You will have cooked the aforementioned dinner in one of the best-equipped and most thoughtfully designed kitchens. I am a food writer as well as a travel writer and I was taking notes: high-end appliances, practical features and plenty of space. The two ovens, a microwave, a 5-ring hob, dishwasher and full-height fridge make this a kitchen to give joy to even seasoned food professionals.
The dining table seats a dozen and is at the heart of what makes this cottage work. It has triple-aspect windows looking over the garden, and a high beamed ceiling. This is a true entertaining dining room providing a venue for your most memorable celebrations.
So you have had some lovely walks and enjoyed all that the local villages have to offer. You have tucked into a sumptuous cottage-cooked dinner and it’s time to retire. All of you will have well-appointed bedrooms; there are four of them and each one is different but all are stylish and comfortable.
The master bedroom has views over the New Forest, a dressing area and en-suite shower room. There are two further double rooms with their own shower room on the first floor, as well as a three-bed room and full bathroom on the ground floor. Everything has been carefully chosen to create rooms that are attractive and restful.
Ivy Roost Cottage sets the benchmark for self-catering accommodation. It has quality of furnishings and attention to detail that is hard to find even in 5-star hotels. It presents a luxurious home-from-home for relaxing and entertaining, and I recommend it highly.
Ivy Roost Cottage is found on a quiet country road in East Boldre in the New Forest, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. East Boldre has a village shop, an organic butcher and farm shop, and two excellent pubs are within easy reach.
It is only 90 miles from London and the journey is usually accomplished in about 1½ hours.
The Isle of Wight ferry is 5 minutes away.
The cottage is only a short drive from the small town of Lymington on the coast.
Beaulieu village and Motor Museum are just a few miles away.