Just a couple of hour's drive from London, the Lime Wood hotel nestles in the New Forest where ponies roam freely and where the national park is perfect for rambling walks and cycling.
Originally a 13th century hunting lodge, Lime Wood has undergone £30 million renovation. Now this honey-coloured country house has a sympathetic but opulent interior revamp as well as a network of terraces, creeper-covered walkways and fish-filled ornamental ponds.
A range of recently-built outbuildings gel well with the original building - these house extra guest accommodation as well as Lime Wood's spa, Herb House.
We stayed in one of the Crescent suites (there are 14 bedrooms and 15 suites). Separate from the main house, our suite was vast with two floors, a generous living room, open fires (the staff will light them for you), and a stone staircase from the entrance area to the first-floor master bedroom. There's a second bedroom and bathroom downstairs. The main bedroom has a comfortable four-poster bed and a balcony overlooking the forest. Two flat-screen televisions and a Bose iPod dock with an iPod already loaded with music take care of the entertainment.
Two fridges are packed with complimentary bottled water, as well as a mini bar, and a Nespresso machine – tea lovers have to order room service as there is no kettle.
The en-suite bathroom has a free standing bath, a giant walk-in shower, and full-sized bottles of organic aromatherapy Bamford product. The movement sensitive floor lighting is a lovely touch.
A gate yards from the suite opens directly onto a forest trail. Map cards in the rooms offer a varied selection of walks and cycle routes – bikes are available at the hotel. You can borrow Hunter wellies from Lime Wood's 'boot room' .
The Spa comprises indoor and outdoor pools as well as a glass-fronted sauna overlooking the forest. There's a rooftop gym too
For dinner there's the choice of The Dining Room, which does a seven course tasting menu as well as a la carte options, or the less formal Scullery.