With summer finally showing itself, you’re likely scouring airline websites and reading hotel reviews in a bid to book the ultimate vacay. But before you start looking overseas, why not consider a staycay instead? We’re spoilt for choice when it comes to luxury properties and boutique hotels in the UK, and no one does country retreats better than us Brits. When it comes to a quintessentially English break complete with spa, nature, and seriously good food, it doesn’t get much better than Lime Wood.
Nestled in the stunning woodland of the New Forest, it offers peaceful seclusion just an hour and a half’s drive from London and everything you could possibly ask for when it comes to r&r. Originally a 13th century medieval hunting lodge, it was reclaimed by royalty in the 1740s before being restored and renovated into one of the best country destinations in the UK. So, naturally, we had to see what all the fuss was about. Here, Hip & Healthy reviews the laid-back, luxury hotel that is Lime Wood. Which, we can safely say, more than lived up to the hype.
There’s a reason why people travel to Lime Wood just to eat, and that’s thanks to the hotel’s impressive dining options. Boasting not one, but two award-winning restaurants on-site, it’s just the place if you’re after a bowl of artisanal handmade pasta or a raw, vegan salad.
The culinary star is Hartnett Holder & Co (which is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year) from Angela Hartnett and Luke Holder, which serves up delicious, seasonal British cuisine with an Italian twist. Think: gnocchi baked with parmesan, kale and breadcrumbs, Lake District veal tartare with truffle oil, roasted celeriac salad with pickled walnut ketchup and dandelion, and prawn risotto with spiced shellfish butter. Just be sure to save room for pudding. One word – tiramisu.
On the flip side, if you’re looking for something lighter pre-yoga sesh or woodland walk (more on that in a moment), Raw & Cured is just the ticket. Overlooking the spa’s stunning indoor pool and Lime Wood’s sun-splashed herb garden, its menu is jam-packed with delicious and nutritious meals and snacks to keep you going throughout the day. There’s everything from fresh juices and energy balls to mixed grain bowls and sharing plates brimming with homegrown pickled veg and smoked mackerel pâtés. The raw Rocky Road is not to be missed.
The rooms at Lime Wood Hotel are nothing short of magnificent, with each one featuring unique decor and luxurious amenities. From the sumptuous beds to the plush robes and slippers, guests are treated to the ultimate in comfort and relaxation. The attention to detail in each room is truly impressive, with every aspect of the design carefully considered to create the most inviting of environments. Working alongside leading architects and interior designers, each room has its own spin on the hotel’s country-chic style, from the smaller (but by no means less impressive) cosy dwellings, to the secluded forest lodges and over-water lake cabin.
Managing to stay true to tradition without being stuffy and dated, it’s not hard to see why Lime Wood has become the poster child for English countryside hotels. A mix of antique furniture, sumptuous fabrics and playful patterns, open fireplaces, wooden floors, roll-top baths and four-poster beds, don’t be surprised if you end up with a new Pinterest board after you checkout.
No staycay is complete without a spa, and – of course – Lime Wood nails it with its three-storey Herb House Spa offering. Not only is its hydro-therapy area second to none, but its indoor pool, outdoor hot pool, and thermal area (complete with sauna and steam room) boast breathtaking views out across the hotel’s foliage-filled gardens. Although the treatment area isn’t big (there are just 10 gorgeously cosy rooms with white-washed wood walls and exposed beam ceilings), the spa menu is seriously expansive. Working with the very best British boutique beauty brands, there’s everything from de-stressing Bamford massages to bespoke Sarah Chapman facials and detoxifying seaweed wraps from Voya.
For a spa treatment like no other, book in for one of the recently launched GROUND experiences. Just as its name suggests, it will leave you grounded and restored, with a blend of gua sha, facial massage and sweeping massage movements focused on the head, face, and décolleté. Customised to your needs, it’s all about intention, purpose, and touch, combining holistic therapies with breathwork and touchpoints to promote deep relaxation while helping alleviate a whole host of mental and physical issues – anxiety, insomnia, and digestion included. All with a 100% natural aromatherapy body oil handmade in Ireland to boot.
Talking about total rejuvenation, Lime Wood offers an array of retreats and workshops throughout the year that include Pilates, guided nature walks, meditation, and sound healing sessions. Whether you check in for a retreat programme or not, the spa facilities, state-of-the-art gym and array of fitness classes are there for whenever you need to work up a sweat or an appetite (one word – tiramisu).
Or simply embrace the English country setting, grab a pair of wellies from the boot room, and go explore the best of what the New Forest has to offer. A stone’s throw away and you can enjoy a Solent Way stroll, and there are bikes on hand if a good cycle is what you’re after. But, if that all sounds a bit much, we won’t judge you for simply switching off and doing nothing. When on holiday, right?
Book your stay at Lime Wood
words by Frankie Rozwadowska