Written by Belinda Archer
Lime Wood is a beautiful new luxury 5-star country house hotel surrounded by 17 acres of grounds deep in the heart of the New Forest in Hampshire. All is infinitely tasteful and stylish, contemporarily designed rather than old-style stuffy or chintzy with lovely modern twists, from designer furniture to state of the art facilities.
The spa experience:
The Herb House opened in November 2010 and it is immense – 20,000 sq ft of gorgeous pampering. I checked in at reception and was ushered downstairs to the changing rooms, which are rather more hotel suite than anything municipal and grim, complete with designer fittings and individual changing cubicles, as well as private bathroom kitted out with a chrome bath. I then went and sat in a stunning relaxation area where I filled out a consultation form, was met by my therapist who discussed it all with me and was then taken upstairs to the treatment room for my treatment, A Bamford De-Stress.
The spa is a super-stylish, restful haven, its colour palette light and muted, with lots of organic, natural materials like stone, English limed oak, leather and rope being used throughout. It feels almost Scandinavian in its bleached coolness and makes great use of the surrounding beautiful forest with lots of forest views and outdoor facilities. Also, being the Herb House, it exploits a herby theme everywhere – the walls are adorned with antique herb prints, there is a giant herb garden planted on the roof which supplies herbs for many of the treatments, a basket of herbs is placed under your face-hole on the bed in the treatment rooms for you to breathe in while enjoying your treatment, there are potted herbs throughout and a sprig of herbs is hung on each treatment room door to indicate there is someone inside. There is also a food bar in the spa called Raw & Cured which serves freshly made salads, smoothies. raw fish and juices, and uses herbs in many of its offerings.
Lime Wood should be known as Sublime Wood – it is a supremely tasteful 5-star country retreat, with a modern twist. The porters all wear leather jerkins and flat caps, and transport your belongings to your rooms in old-style rattan carts, but there are designer furnishings throughout, including plum sofas and grass green chairs, modern art on the walls, and thoughtful touches such as a boot room full of Hunter wellies for you to borrow and free mountain bikes lined up outside for you to jump on and scoot off on, into the surrounding New Forest.
There are 14 bedrooms and 15 suites at Lime Wood, divided between the main house and several garden lodges. Some have log fires or wood burning stoves, many have free standing baths, but all are roomy and indulgently luxurious, filled with a mix of antiques, designer furniture and Bamford toiletires. There is complimentary wifi, an iPod docking station, satellite TV and, of course, deeply fluffy bathrobes.
There are two restaurants, The Dining Room, which offers a smart fine dining option, and The Scullery, which is more brasserie and informal, the feel more Downstairs as in Upstairs Downstairs, with the walls lined with giant plate racks and a vast selection of home made pickles and chutneys that you can help yourself to. Both offer organic produce and source forest food ingredients locally – there are plenty of wild mushrooms, garlic, local venison and home-reared beef and lamb on the menus. It is all good hearty British fare, the brainchild of head chef Luke Holder.
On the spa menu:
Treatments include a full range of natural and Ayurvedic massages and beauty treatments using boutique products by Bamford, from Daylesford in the Cotswolds (this is the only spa to use Bamford spa products outside of the original Daylesford Hay Barn Spa), the Ayurvedic Tri-Dosha, the family owned Irish brand Voya and British brand NUDE, pioneers in high performance skin care. They embrace everything from hot stone therapies to NUDE smoothing facials, body massages, scrubs and wraps to luxurious hand and feet treatments. There is also a range of fun treatments for two, which take place in the Bath House double treatment room.
The 90-minute Bamford Body signature treatment which combines a Swedish full body massage with aromatherapy to relax mind and body. It also includes a heavenly foot wrap and a stress relief Indian scalp massage.
Total spa and resort area:
22,000 sq ft on three floors
The Herb House has 10 treatment rooms and a workout studio with gleaming, state-of-the-art Technogym equipment, an immense sauna with forest views (and what sauna has any kind of view?), a caldarium with heated benches and an indoor hydropool with jets. One of the treatment rooms, the Bath House, is a private double which has its own indoor pool and steam room, as well as outdoor copper bath, and there is a Mud House rasul for special mud therapies as well as a steaming outdoor Hot Pool, a giant hot tub where you can sit and enjoy the forest views. There is also a good-sized indoor lapping pool with drench showers, opening onto a garden sun terrace.
Hotel and spa packages:
There are day packages limited to a maximum of eight people per day including Scrubbed & Polished (£185) which includes a Bamford body scrub and VOYA rehydrating facial, and Perfectly Chilled (£195) which consists of a Bamford De-Stress massage followed by a NUDE smoothing facial. Hotel guests can use the spa facilities and there is a membership policy for non-guests costing from £150 per month which gives 10% off treatments as well as off food, beverages and accommodation in the hotel.
There are nine bedrooms and seven forest suites in the Main House, several suites and one bedroom in The Crescent, a crescent-shaped outbuilding, two bedrooms and three suites in the separate Coach House and three bedrooms in The Pavilions.
Lime Wood is located in the heart of the New Forest just 1.5 miles from Lyndhurst and an hour and a half’s drive from London.
A perfect country house retreat that combines laid-back luxury with lovely doorstep country walks and an out of this world herb-inspired spa. Go now.
Belinda Archer is a luxury travel journalist and editor, contributing to various publications and on-line outlets including The Times, Financial Times, Harper’s Bazaar, Conde Nast Traveller and i-escape.com. She specialises in luxury hotel and spa reviews, skiing, city breaks and cruising.