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New Forest spa hotels 2023: Where to stay for a relaxing Hampshire break

Lizzie Pook finds the best spa hideaways in the New Forest

Lizzie Pook
Friday 24 February 2023 13:59 GMT
Relax and recharge in the New Forest
Relax and recharge in the New Forest (istock)

Life moves as slowly as cold honey in the New Forest, where wild ponies trot through picturesque woodland, while farm-to-table restaurants draw in frazzled Londoners looking for a countryside escape.

Encompassing parts of Hampshire and Wiltshire, stretching out towards east Dorset, the national park in England’s southeast is home to 193,000 acres of woodland, 40 miles of sun-speckled coastline and charming villages such as Brockenhurst and Lyndhurst, which offer up some of the finest spa hotels around.

A visit to the New Forest is bound to have a restful and rejuvenating effect, as you take in the surrounding greenery and tranquility. That feeling can only be enhanced by a relaxing spa break that will enable you to enjoy all the pampering you want (or need). So, we’ve put together a list of our pick of the area’s best accommodation options where you can truly unwind in style.

The best spa hotels in the New Forest are:

Best for award-winning treatments: Chewton Glen

Neighbourhood: New Milton

Go Grecian at Chewton Glen
Go Grecian at Chewton Glen (Chewton Glen)

Relaxation is huge business at Chewton Glen, where the soothing ozone-treated indoor pool is flanked by ornate Grecian columns and lined by mosaic tiles as blue as the Med. The award-winning spa offers a contemporary, holistic approach to wellness, with treatments such as oxygen detox facials and reiki carried out by magic-fingered therapists using Oskia and Natura Bissé products.

The hotel is also home to Europe’s largest hydrotherapy pool, pine-scented aromatherapy saunas and crystal steam rooms in the swanky changing rooms. But if the thought of kicking back quite that much makes you angsty, there are more high-energy pursuits on offer, including tennis, golf, archery and, for the budding agriculturalist, duck herding.

Best for bespoke facials: Lime Wood

Neighbourhood: Lyndhurst

Lime Wood: "a haven of tranquility"
Lime Wood: "a haven of tranquility" (Lime Wood)

Ever the haunt of wearied Londoners looking for a place to unwind and detox, Lime Wood – which dates back to the 13th century, when it started life as a hunting lodge – is a little haven of tranquillity set among manicured lawns and towering forests. The refined, glass-encased Herb House spa is a delightful place to succumb to knot-busting Bamford de-stress massages and bespoke Sarah Chapman skincare treatments, and the luxury continues with wood-burning stoves and deep roll-top bathtubs in the rooms and lakeside cabins. You’ll also find a swoosh-worthy hydrotherapy and steam pool circuit on site. For food, Raw & Cured serves up salads, cured fish and meat from Lime Wood’s own smoke house.

Price: From £495

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Best for outdoor swimming: New Park Manor

Neighbourhood: Brockenhurst

Enjoy a dip in New Park Manor's (heated) outdoor pool
Enjoy a dip in New Park Manor's (heated) outdoor pool (New Park Manor)

This 17th-century country house hotel was once King Charles II’s favourite hunting lodge and the place where his mistress Nell Gwyn, a famous comic actor of the Restoration period, resided. Now, there’s significantly less animal slaughter and adultery, and a lot more family-friendly spa fun. The on-site creche keeps kids entertained while parents chill out in the swimming pool, thermal rooms, foot spa, experience shower and outdoor hot tub. There are also thermal pools with panoramic countryside views and treatment rooms where frangipani salt scrubs and blemish control facials are carried out by flickering candlelight.

Best for exploring the countryside: Rhinefield House Hotel

Neighbourhood: Brockenhurst

The imposing exterior of Rhinefield House Hotel
The imposing exterior of Rhinefield House Hotel (Rhinefield House Hotel)

For a truly good-looking take on wellness, Rhinefield does mock Tudor on an epic scale – think towering turrets, pristine topiary, carved fireplaces dusted with history and the Armada dining room, the walls of which are covered with impressive carvings of naval fleets. Oh, and it’s all within leaping distance of the forest. There’s plenty to do here beyond the exquisite Elemis hot stone massages and age-defying facials in the two treatment rooms, including croquet and giant dominos on the gleaming lawns, a dizzying Hornbeam maze, heated indoor and outdoor pools, tennis, and rental bikes. Pack a picnic and explore the winding paths of the New Forest at your own pace.

Best for cosy couple’s massages: Balmer Lawn Hotel and Saltus Spa

Neighbourhood: Brockenhurst

Balmer's pool
Balmer's pool (Balmer)

The historic corridors of this fascinating family-owned hotel have played host to kings, queens and generals for hundreds of years. Not only is the land that it stands on mentioned in the Domesday Book, it’s also gone through multiple incarnations since as a hunting lodge, a First World War army hospital and the place where General Eisenhower issued orders for the D-Day Landings. There’s history hanging on the walls, with framed Second World War documents and beautiful antique furnishings lending an air of import to the terracotta-brick property. The Soltus spa is soothing without being showy, with reclaimed wood furnishings, ESPA facials and aromatherapy massages in six treatment rooms, as well as a cocoon-like couples’ treatment area for detox wraps and salt and oil scrubs.

Best for Thai treatments: Careys Manor & SenSpa

Neighbourhood: Brockenhurst

Careys Manor
Careys Manor (Careys Manor)

This pretty manor house hotel has an award-winning jewel in its crown: an indulgent Thai spa that defies you to be stressed on departure. SenSpa offers up all the traditional massage options, as well as more alternative wellbeing therapies, from Rhassoul mud treatments to AlphaSphere Deluxe, where you recline in your own private pod to be soothed by sound and colour therapy, aromatherapy and vibration. At the heart of the spa is a large, still, ozone pool, together with a whirlpool tub, sauna and steam room. Next door, there’s a tranquil hydrotherapy area with a herbal sauna, crystal steam room, laconium (dry heat treatment), tepidarium (warm, radiant heat), health showers and ice room.

Best for a warm welcome: Passford House Hotel

Neighbourhood: Lymington

Passford (Passford)

This is a real ‘make yourself at home’ hotel – slightly shabby in parts, but as welcoming as a pair of worn-in slippers. The former home of Lord and Lady Arthur Cecil, Queen Victoria’s private secretary and his wife, this 16th-century coaching inn is steeped in history, replete with claw-foot armchairs, panelled ceilings, gilt mirrors and grand fireplaces with stories to tell.

Hole up in the bijou massage room for bamboo stick massages and Ayurvedic face lift facials, or take a stroll around the bloom-filled Monet garden, complete with lake, fountain, sundials, a model Concorde suspended from the trees and a cemetery of the former owner’s pets, including Ben the donkey, who departed this mortal coil in 1905. There are also more traditional tennis courts, fitness classes, a putting green and a gleamingly manicured croquet lawn.

Best for foodies: The Pig

Neighbourhood: Brockenhurst

The log burner in Pig Lodge 1 is perfect for keeping cosy on cool nights
The log burner in Pig Lodge 1 is perfect for keeping cosy on cool nights (The Pig)

It’s a sneaky entry, this, because there is no designated spa at The Pig. But there are brilliantly quaint Potting Shed and Shepherd’s Hut treatment rooms at the bottom of the walled garden, where best-of-the-best therapists from (the often fully booked) Lime Wood down the road come to administer bespoke massages surrounded by glowing lanterns and the gentle hum of the on-site beehives outside.

Guests at this glorious country house hotel – as loved for its well-stocked kitchen garden as it is for its forest hideaways and snug rooms – are also welcome to use the Herb House Spa (a 10-minute drive away) for a small fee, before returning for gin cocktails and “piggy bits” (posh crackling, sausage rolls and Scotch eggs) as the sun goes down.

Read our full review of The Pig

Price: From £295

Book now

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