Sustainability expert and travel writer based in London.

Review of New Park Manor, New Forest

Review of New Park Manor, New Forest

img_6859-e1461833094841.jpg
We spend a lot of time hauling little ones around with us, determined not to make leisure pursuits 100% ‘kid-friendly’ and lose all pre-kid identity. But, sometimes, the most relaxing thing to do is to just give over and head somewhere that caters for your family’s every need. Cue New Park Manor in the New Forest.
The phrases ‘family friendly’ and ‘luxury hotel’ aren’t instantly harmonious in my mind. It’s hard to appreciate the finer things in life when your (or, worst still, someone else’s) toddler is having a melt down or singing Frozen songs at maximum volume. However, once my mindset about luxury hotels (serene, chic, boozy, romantic) had readjusted, (welcoming, enthusiastic, helpful, homely) I realised that New Park Manor offered something pretty special – time away as a family, where everyone gets a proper break.
On a recent road trip to the West Country we stopped off at New Park Manor in the New Forest – the closest property to London, nestled in the heart of one of the UK’s most family-friendly national parks. Just two hours from our front door, we drove up to an unassuming 17th century manor house surrounded by polo fields with pretty gardens and a hefty but complimentary modern extension. After a whirlwind tour we realised killing time at New Park Manor wouldn’t be a problem – several dining rooms, a snug, playroom, cinema room, creche, spa, outdoor pool, indoor pool, chicken coup, mini football pitch, trampoline and tipi were all at our fingertips.
Our family suite was tucked away in the attic of the old house, where two cosy bedrooms and a huge bathroom were well kitted out for a weekend away. Travel cots, a baby monitor, creche details and even milk delivery and a cleaning schedule were all in place – reducing faff considerably. More time for lunch and exploring the hotel…
With so many kids on site, lunch at New Park Manor was a little more lively than anticipated. Tables were set up for kids as much as they were for adults with high chairs, plastic cutlery and huge plates of spaghetti bolognese in view at every turn. It wasn’t until the evening that I realised that dining at New Park Manor is a tale of two halves. At lunch and tea kids rule the show (between 4.30 and 6pm the hotel lay on a very convenient kids tea); after 7pm it’s all about the grown ups – seriously fine food, wine and candlelight with not a beaker in sight.
The activities on offer at New Park Manor far outstripped our 24 hour visit, although our toddler did his best to tick them off – football, horses, tipi, chickens, trampoline, making ice cream sundaes, cartoons, painting and swimming; (that’s about a month’s worth of activities in the space of four hours). During this time, my husband and I managed to sneak away from the creche for full body massages and a wallow in the outdoor Jacuzzi – a magical spot overlooking the fog-filled forest.
If you can drag yourself away from the hotel (2 hours a day of complimentary creche time make it hard to do so), the New Forest is a haven of family-friendly fun. Gentle cycling paths and walking routes weave across wild heathlands filled with roaming deer and horses. Activities on the doorstep of the hotel also provide year-round entertainment, including numerous wildlife parks and the National Motor Museum at Beaulieu. For simple pleasures, Brockenhurst is home to wonderfully old-fashioned tea rooms and sweet shops. For seaside fun head to the pretty harbour town of Lymington for fish and chips and boutique shops and to the huge beach at Milford on Sea for big waves and Solent views.
To book this hotel click here.
For other UK family-friendly hotels click here.
Review of Tapnell Farm, Isle of Wight

Review of Tapnell Farm, Isle of Wight

Islands in the sun

Islands in the sun