This south coast haven hides its virtues like a Victorian bride. All you see from the A337 into Lyndhurst is a French bistro and a few hedges dividing it from the college campus next door. A short drive into the greenery and you’re presented with a country house where a wood-panelled reception gives way to long 70s motel-style corridors.
But it’s at the rear where this former hunting lodge comes into its own. A £6 million upgrade in the mid 90s added a sizeable — and award-winning — oriental spa.
It’s staffed by smiley Thai therapists, packed with a pot pourri of themed areas such as a crystal steam room and an ice room in a swish tiled maze of a building.
Spa-breakers and business types rub along nicely; the former enjoying breakfast in their bathrobes to Asian tones piped into the appropriately named Zen Garden while the latter enjoy the full English in a large, airy dining room.
There’s a green feel to the place. Staff offer advice on walking and cycle routes through the forest around Brockenhurst and there’s even a discount for those who leave the car at home and use the train (they’ll pop out and get you).
The rooms have a fairly unpretentious feel, are decent four-star quality and many have balconies or French windows leading to a communal garden.
The bistro at the front has a quirky feel, with a private area to the side complete with Parisienne mural and vintage Citroen rammed into a wall in pop arty a sort of way. Just don’t go on a Friday. The local language club meet for coffee, croissants and a serious natter en français.