Burley Manor is an impressive Grade II Listed building dating back to 1852. Located in England’s smallest National Park, the New Forest, it is set within 8 acres of stunning grounds alongside Burley Park – a red deer sanctuary. A former royal manor house, which recently underwent a £1.8million refurbishment, the property offers 40 guest rooms and a restaurant, and is ideally located to explore the New Forest on foot or by bike…I went along to see what all the fuss was about…
No doubt aided by a glorious early spring evening, Burley Manor looked like a charming prospect as I walked up to the main entrance. The signs that indicated the manor was now a hotel were subtle. So subtle in fact that it fleetingly crossed my mind that I might be walking up to someone’s grand abode. But this was just one of its many charms. Being a former royal manor, the building is steeped in history and this becomes apparent as you walk in. The words ‘old-world charm’ spring to mind as I clock a huge fireplace, button-back leather seats and stunning wall décor – and that’s just the reception.
What was great? Beautiful interior touches, sympathetically executed and a very warm welcome from staff.
What wasn’t? Nothing.
Room comfort & quality
Despite the traditional (yet timeless) interior touches in the main manor house, the hotel had certainly got it right on mixing old with new, and my state-of-the-art garden suite didn’t disappoint. It featured a DAB radio, Wi-Fi, Freeview channels galore and one of the most comfortable super king size Hypnos beds (with luxury linen) I’ve ever slept in.
The large bathrooms featured heritage fittings and tiled floors, complemented by framed artwork, and came complete with Temple-Spa amenities and a well thought out ‘emergency kit’. Other plus points were the framed artwork, soft lighting and deep baths. The garden suites open out onto the grounds, with French doors and balconies, to help bring the outside in.
What was great? See above. The highlight being the bed – I just didn’t want to leave.
What wasn’t? I only had one night booked (not something that I can legitimately blame the Manor for, I know)
The grown-ups only, Mediterranean-inspired restaurant, complete with a highly knowledgeable sommelier (trust me, I pushed him!), is a must.
The menu catered to all tastes and the atmosphere was relaxed yet sophisticated. I ordered pitta bread as a starter without realising that bread (with olive oil) is served as standard anyway, so I was a little ‘breaded out’ before the main course came. Nonetheless, the lamb dish that I chose was pretty delicious and I had no trouble polishing it off.
The décor of the dining area, which leads out onto an attached orangery, offers a mix of materials and fabrics, with dark wood paneling and rustic display shelving teamed with an ecletic mix of chairs with wooden tables. It was this unique setup that allowed for an informal, relaxed atmosphere.
The mix of furniture and fabrics make for a cosy and romantic atmosphere with a relaxed, informal vibe. The dining room also leads out onto an attached orangery.
Service was friendly; well, when you end up chatting to the sommelier about topics such as health issues and nationalities, you know you’re thoroughly engaged in conversation.
What was great? The menu, the relaxed vibe and the staff.
What wasn’t? That I was ‘breaded out’. Had I known bread would be served as standard, I
possibly wouldn’t have opted for a starter.
Okay, so how much?
A stay costs as little as £119 per couple in a snug room, based on two people sharing – a great deal given the surroundings and exploration opportunities.
Yes, quite a few things actually. If you’re looking to treat yourself or a loved one to a luxury stay in stunning surroundings, this has to be the place. The area is really accessible and the larger towns and cities such as Christchurch, Bournemouth and Salisbury are within a short drive if the weather isn’t great or you fancy some retail therapy.
An outdoor swimming pool is due to open in summer 2016 – this should be a great addition to an already well-appointed property, and it’s just a couple of minutes walk to the charming village of Burley, which offers bike hire, pubs, shops and the cutest tea-houses. Burley Manor also caters for business meetings, events and weddings, and – luckily for dog owners –welcomes pooches.
One thing I will say about the room – and the property in general – was the thought that had gone into getting the details right.
I frequently visit hotels across the UK and I often think to myself ‘they should supply this for
guests' or ‘wouldn't it be good if they have…' but I struggled to do this at Burley Manor – it seemed to have covered pretty much every eventuality.
Examples are plentiful and include the well-equipped Service en chambre coffer stocked with all manner of teas plus a real cafetière and ground coffee; home-made cookies in the room (compliments to the chef); and umbrellas stacked next to the dining room exit in case of bad weather (there’s a brief walk outdoors to reach the guestrooms). The devil’s in the detail as they say…
I was most definitely inspired by Burley Manor – and I don’t think it was just the ‘back-to-nature’ vibe that I was getting from the New Forest ponies on my two-hour hike the following morning. Next time I go – yes, they’ll be a next time – it’s on my agenda to try out one of the cycling trails… maybe then it will be harder to get lost. Ahem…
For more information on what to do in The New Forest visit: www.thenewforest.co.uk and to find out more about Burley Manor – and to check out its special offers – see: www.burleymanor.com
Disclaimer: I worked in collaboration with Burley Manor to bring you this review. I am always honest in my opinions, regardless of whether or not I was gifted a product or service.
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