Take the 10-minute walk northbound from Brockenhurst railway station and you’ll reach Careys Manor Hotel, a haven of tranquillity nestled amongst wooded land in England’s New Forest. This establishment is all about making a great first impression – from the imposing Harry Potter-esque façade to the stately entrance hall filled with old-world sophistication and warm, welcoming staff. With your bedroom key in hand, you’ll stumble into a quiet and traditionally-decorated haven away from it all – ours in the annexe overlooked scenic manicured gardens, and the waffle bathrobes, ultra-comfy bed and White Company amenities were just what we needed after a lengthy commute from the Big Smoke.
If like us, you’ve an insatiable appetite for creative culinary experiences, dinner will be nothing short of spectacular at Cambium. Elegant nature-themed interiors complement a menu inspired by the hotel’s surroundings; the venison was cooked to melt-in-mouth perfection while the hake on its bed of brown crab and barley was as tender as they come – topped off with a sweet glass of 10-year-old Graham’s port, any meal here is worth its weight in gold. Just as indulgent is the Zen Garden restaurant, where traditional décor sets a lovely setting for light lunches and afternoon tea – we treated ourselves post-spa session to a two-course menu infused with sublime levels of flavour and spice, and the Thai green curry was certainly worth building up an appetite for.
Although so much works in this hotel’s favour, the SenSpa truly stole the show during our stay. It’s a self-proclaimed home of world-class wellness facilities, and it far from disappoints even the pickiest of seasoned spa-goers. Consistently voted the Best Spa in the Southeast between 2012 and 2015, its clean and comprehensive Thai-inspired facilities haven’t lost any of their shine. A full-day’s access is just the ticket; we found ourselves relishing every second of our time, dreading the final countdown before we were due out of our swimwear and back to reality.
It really is all about finding holistic peace as you recline on a lounger by the pool or enjoy a soak in the Jacuzzi. We upped the ante with access to the hydrotherapy facilities, and discovered a delicious world of warmth by way of hammam rooms, a Rhassoul mud room, experience showers, a laconicum, a tepidarium and a large hydrotherapy pool with jets and underwater loungers. Most divine was the herbal sauna, which diffuses a pleasant aroma as you sweat your cares away, while we also loved letting go of any remaining stresses beneath the gentle spinning of overhead fans in the relaxation room – where a complimentary tea station invited us to enjoy a hot beverage in-between catching a few Zs.
You’d be very wrong in thinking you’ve reached your optimum state of bliss by this point: book yourself in for a treatment, and you’ll soon agree that no stay at Careys Manor Hotel would be complete without a traditional Thai therapy. Missing out on the herbal poultice back massage is out of the question (or perhaps the full-body alternative, should your limbs be in need of TLC). Using a steamed compress filled with lemongrass and ginger, my expert masseuse instantly relieved deep-set aches and pains before treating me further to a nourishing oil massage – my main task was to not succumb to sleep before the end of the hour-long session, after which I was gifted the compress to take home and use again. It was little touches such as these that made us realise this property’s strongest feature: attentive, unrelenting service comes as standard here; alongside the modern and beautifully kept facilities, it is quite certainly what has its loyal guests coming back for more.
Images by David Griffen photography