Ironically, the New Forest is anything but. This area, abundant in open heath and grassy plains grazed by native ponies, was first established as a royal hunting ground by William the Conqueror in the early 11th century.
It’s a place that’s packed with history, character, and the most compelling natural charm.
Visitors seeking luxury hotels in the New Forest really are spoiled for choice, and can opt to stay in various locations.
Where to stay in the New Forest
New Milton. Starting in the west of Hampshire, Chewton Glen is one of the finest hotels in the entire country and is located close to the beaches at Barton-on-Sea and Highcliffe.
Brockenhurst. Usually referred to locally as ‘Brock’, it is the New Forest’s biggest village and home to several luxury hotels.
With a railway station running regular trains to London and other destinations, it is ideal for those leaving the car at home. A local company hires out bikes from the station itself too.
Lymington. A smart town by the sea, Lymington is home to an attractive harbour, cobbled streets, saltwater baths, cosy pubs, and a gold post box marking local resident Sir Ben Ainslie’s Olympic achievements.
Lyndhurst. Found inland, Lyndhurst is a compact town offering lots of independent shops and eateries as well as great amenities.
Burley. More of a village and located on the eastern side of the New Forest. Ponies often wander through the streets here, and there are lots of lovely walking trails around the area.
There are several witchcraft-themed shops in Burley that are interesting to browse, as well as tea rooms, pubs, outlets selling ice cream, and a good bike shop.
Dotted with beautiful towns and villages, it can be tricky choosing where to stay in the New Forest.
From the unashamedly upmarket Chewton Glen and Lime Wood to the cosy Montagu Arms, coastal stay Mayflower or central Crown Manor Hotel, this guide pins down what makes each of these deluxe properties stand out.
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10 best luxury hotels in the New Forest
1. Lime Wood Hotel
Best for: Living it up in the most laid-back way
Location: Near Lyndhurst
If your idea of living it up in the lap of luxury leans more towards the unpretentious sort of place, then Lime Wood Hotel could be your ideal place to stay.
It’s housed in an elegant regency building on Beaulieu Road, about a mile-and-a-half south of Lyndhurst.
There’s a sumptuous spa, a restaurant overseen by celebrity chef Angela Harnett, some serious artworks on the walls, and complementary use of the hotel’s Hunter wellies collection.
The fact that there’s a helipad on site should give you some idea of how upmarket this place is, yet I love how laid-back it feels.
Particularly in Holder, Hartnett and Co, where the food is hearty and the decor verges on the rustic.
Choose to be pampered like a prince or princess at the spa, or head out on one of the hotel bikes to explore the local tracks.
The Lime Wood will let you do it all in a relaxed – yet luxury – style.
2. Chewton Glen
Best for: A bucket list stay with buckets and spades
The Chewton Glen Hotel repeatedly wins accolades and is heaped with praise for its idyllic combination of traditional country house and contemporary hotel.
An ivy-covered main building is more old-school in appearance, while the clutch of treehouses in the grounds have a more modern feel.
An award-winning spa, both formal and relaxed restaurants, Europe’s largest hydrotherapy pool, and proximity to local beaches add even more appeal to this luxury hotel.
Inside, rooms combine cutting-edge technology with decadently comfortable beds and elegant decor.
With two staff for each guest at the Chewton Glen, service is as attentive as it’s possible to get.
A visit to the Kitchen across the grounds can make a refreshing change, serving up wood-fired pizzas and juicy burgers. It’s also home to a cookery school.
Chewton Glen is one of those bucket list places to stay – a once-in-a-lifetime deal for most of us ordinary folk.
If you don’t mind flashing the cash, a stay in this palatial property close to the coast should see you making some very special memories.
3. The Pig
Best for: Foodies who want country house charm
If you’re put off by the hefty price tags of Chewton Glen and prefer laid-back luxury, The Pig offers a more relaxed take on the country house experience.
Tucked a little way down the road to Beaulieu, it’s close enough to wander into central Brockenhurst when you feel like it, yet secluded enough to feel as if it’s further away than it actually is.
This was the original Pig hotel, with the others that followed being modelled on a clearly winning formula.
The kitchen garden at The Pig is one of its big draws. It is undoubtedly one of the best restaurants in the New Forest.
During the growing season the greenhouse practically bursts at the seams with the fresh, colourful produce that can later be devoured at the restaurant.
Guests can book into rooms in the main house or stable yard, or bag a cabin or lodge set among the sprawling grounds.
Each has its own unique shabby chic style, with idiosyncratic little details scattered here and there.
With truly world-class food, The Pig is the perfect place for foodies to stay. It’s also my personal favourite on this list of luxury hotels in the New Forest.
4. Burley Manor
Best for: Loved-up couples seeking a romantic retreat
Location: Near Burley
Occupying an eight acre site, Burley Manor is just a stone’s throw from the village. The fact that it’s reached via a lengthy drive adds a sense of occasion to any arrival.
This luxury New Forest hotel has 40 rooms, a spa, an outdoor pool, and an elegant restaurant. There’s also a large bar area with a cosy atmosphere, and lots of squishy sofas and plumply padded chairs.
The spa has a divine scent, which can even be bought in bottles for when you want to recreate the setting at home.
You’re highly likely to spot deer as well as the local ponies during your stay, as they love to graze among the grounds.
Every room has a unique interior, too, with items like retro radios, antique furnishings, and pops of colour adding character.
The setting of Burley Manor is just magical. It makes the ideal place for two of you to stay.
From fine dining to forest or village strolls, a refreshing dip in the pool or a pampering experience at the spa, this lovely and laid-back hotel is packed with charm.
5. Montagu Arms
Best for: Classic car fans and committed foodies
With a pleasant path winding its way between the National Motor Museum and the Montagu Arms, there isn’t a better place to stay in Britain than this historic country pub in the centre of the village.
The food is fabulous and the grounds and interior are delightful. Classic car devotees may also get lucky, as there are often several cars parked out front for automotive fans to fawn over.
As well as the rooms in the hotel, there are two luxury suites out in the grounds. These have a pleasingly private feel, yet are just steps across the courtyard and lawn to the main building.
There are two restaurants here: The Terrace and Monty’s, which has an Insta-worthy facade worth capturing on camera.
The Montagu Arms is a must for anyone who loves automotive history. It’s also perfect for committed foodies who should not miss sampling the wares at Beaulieu Chocolate Studio (just around the corner).
It’s a great base for exploring all the many things to do in the New Forest.
6. Careys Manor
Best for: A sumptuous spa stay in the village centre
The acclaimed SenSpa and a choice of three interesting restaurants are among the attractions of this hotel in the heart of Brockenhurst.
Should you tire of Thai, French or fine dining, there are plenty of pubs and cafes just a short stroll away.
Cross your fingers for sunshine during your stay, as the grounds provide the perfect place in which to relax with a book or newspaper.
A Thai theme runs throughout the superb spa. It boasts a comprehensive hydrotherapy suite with a herbal sauna, experience showers, a crystal steam room, and more.
Trained Thai therapists can expertly unknot tense muscles to provide a sensation of total relaxation.
Or borrow some of the hotel’s wellies so you can take an invigorating march through the forest to earn you tonight’s decadent dining experience.
Careys Manor is a must for spa fans. Luckily, prices are somewhat less eye-watering than those at some other luxury New Forest hotels.
The location is also pretty unbeatable when you want access to village amenities, walking trails, and even a train station.
7. Crown Manor Hotel
Best for: Savouring the best of both town and country
With its imposing mock-Tudor facade, the Crown Manor is not easy to miss when passing through Lyndhurst.
The luxury hotel is located right in the heart of this bustling New Forest town, and is perhaps surprisingly stylish and modern within.
If you like being close to a smorgasbord of cafes, pubs and restaurants, this is the place to book. There is also a smattering of interesting independent shops nearby.
The Crown Manor’s public areas are elegant and welcoming, and include the lounge and library as well as the bar and grill.
At the back there is a large car park, which is a rather unexpected surprise after seeing the property only from the front.
Staff are incredibly helpful, and there’s a supply of magazines and board games in the library to wile away any rainy days.
Serving delicious food, hosting a daily happy hour that actually lasts for three, and with around 50 rooms featuring quirky little touches, this is the perfect place to stay if you want to sample town as well as the country.
8. Rhinefield House Hotel
Best for: A unique family stay in ornate surroundings
Location: Near Brockenhurst
Located on Rhinefield Ornamental Drive, the approach to the Rhinefield House Hotel is almost as imposing as the building itself.
Inside as well as out, it’s not for those who favour modern minimalism. Think crenellations and embellishments a-plenty along with gushing fountains, an outdoor pool, and a vast orangery.
The interior, meanwhile, boasts original wood panelling, ornate carved fireplaces and friezes, and even a bejewelled dining room.
Food at Rhinefield House can be a highlight. In my opinion, this is one of the New Forest’s finest venues for an afternoon tea.
Staff are super helpful, while rooms feature marble bathrooms, plump beds and lots of soothing neutral, natural tones.
It’s a great place for families to stay, as there’s a maze, indoor and outdoor pools, tennis, games on the lawn, and even bike hire.
To stay at Rhinefield House is an experience quite unlike any other. Make sure you don’t miss seeing the breathtaking Alhambra – all glittering mosaics and glass that’s modelled on the original in Granada, Spain.
9. The White Buck
Best for: Outdoor types wishing to unwind after an active day
Location: Near Burley
The White Buck is, quite simply, a hiker or cyclist’s paradise. A peaceful countryside setting allows you to hit the trails as soon as you’ve dumped your bags in the room.
While later on, you can enjoy the hearty pub fare to fuel all that exercise. If you do want more in the way of shops, pubs and eateries, central Burley is just a 15-minute walk away.
For a pub (owned by Fuller’s), this place is pretty grand. Mock tudor plasterwork and broad bay windows give the exterior visual appeal.
Inside you can expect to see wooden beams, panelling and flooring, as well as thick Turkish carpets and classic Chesterfield sofas.
There’s an adventure play park for kids, and water and dog biscuits are provided for any four-legged friends.
Food-wise, you can choose refined dishes or opt for a pizza baked in the outdoor oven.
Good food and drinks, welcoming staff, thoughtful touches, and lots of space make The White Buck a great bet for active singles, couples and families.
10. The Mayflower
Best for: Seafaring types who appreciate a stylish town
If you hanker after a coastal location as well as all those acres of forest, then booking into The Mayflower means access to the best of both worlds.
Lymington is an upmarket south coast town, with a smart high street, cobblestones and a yacht-lined quay.
As you might expect, a nautical theme runs throughout; even the mock tudor facade is painted in greys and blues.
Inside, cosy fireplaces create a convivial atmosphere. With just half-a-dozen rooms, The Mayflower has an intimate feel.
And you only have to glance at the guest book to see what sort of service to expect. Local, seasonal ingredients inspire the menu, and guests can wash their dinner down with Cask Marque ales as well as fine wines.
The spacious rooms are also decorated in cool, seafaring hues. They feature Nespresso machines, luxury eco-friendly toiletries, fresh daily milk deliveries, and high thread count linens.
This stylish hotel makes a great luxury base for discovering the New Forest and Hampshire coast – plus the attractive town of Lymington itself.
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