& Why You Should Head There
Last weekend was my first time in New Forest.
Surprising as already so many of my friends have been there and for years have been telling me how great it is.
We visited for two nights. On the approach, I could see the wild horses – it seemed so wonderfully full of wildlife and peace. Everywhere you looked there is greenery, open space and nature. Ponies, donkeys and deer are everywhere here and all completely wild. There’s something so incredible about seeing them in their natural habitat and it’s lovely to see how important preserving this is in the New Forest.
New Forest is around 90 mins by train from London or around a two hour drive. For us, a car came in super useful as we wanted to explore the area and each of the different trails on offer.
The area is brimming full of ancient woodland, heathland, open moors and glades. The walks are the main attraction so take a pair of comfortable shoes. Wellies came in really useful despite the lovely warm weather.
There are also loads of stunning garden, wildlife parks and museums too. People who visit regularly always comment on how much they love to see the area in each of the changing seasons.
Where To Stay
We stayed at the gorgeous Bell Inn, a hotel where comfort and good food are top of their priorities. It’s budget friendly and worth booking in advance. Like some hotels in the area, they’re dog friendly too so go ahead and bring your pet!
The Bell Inn
The Bell Inn is a gorgeous family run hotel with rustic charm, giving guests a warm welcome from the moment they arrive. Inside the decor is modern but still with an old country charm. You can expect lovely old paintings on the wall paired with soft grey couches and farmhouse green tables.
The restaurant and bar area boast open fireplaces, flagstone floors and spacious eating areas and littered throughout are areas to sit and relax. Or in my case, wait downstairs for Daniel to do his hair while he’s up in the bedroom. It’s pure elegance and there are no nasty surprises here like you get in some hotels. There are no smoke and mirrors.
In addition, outside for golf enthusiasts there are two superb 18-hole golf courses. Whilst popular among many golfers, it’s nice that it doesn’t feel like you’re on top of one another.
At The Bell Inn they’re really cosy yet contemporary. We stayed in the charming Estate room (£169 a night) which was a gorgeous oatmeal, grey and navy colour with plenty of soft furnishings to ensure a good nights sleep. The cute bathroom had a great power shower and a sweet little ledge to sit and moisturise.
Overall there are 28 en-suite bedrooms. In total, there are 5 types of room: Snug, Classic, Forest, Estate (where we stayed) and a Manor room. Dogs are welcome in some of them so check in advance. Expect everything you’d need from a premium hotel in the room including a huge TV, dresser, hairdryer and tea/coffee. Every time we went back to our room it’d been cleaned – which is fabulous when you are sharing with a messy guest (Daniel). There’s Egyptian cotton bed linen and super soft duvets. If you need anything extra you can just call down to reception and they’ll pop it up. I love that extra touch.
Whether you’re eating inside the bar, the Oak Room of The Garden Room which goes out to the country garden, the food is equally delicious and one of my favourite things from the whole weekend.
It’s no secret on the blog that I’m such a huge fan of food. Especially good British grub. So when I read that they specialise in simple, locally sourced ingredients for some sumptuous great British dining, I couldn’t wait to eat. The lunch menu is similar to the dinner menu with the exception of cobb rolls and salads. The Lyburn cheese cobb is must have for lunch – especially with the skinny fries and post walking through the forest. For those not looking to drink during the day, their ginger mocktail is delicious. It has ginger beer, almond syrup, lime juice and cranberry juice all poured over crushed ice. Yummy.
Food is served daily from 12pm-3pm and 5.30pm-9pm.
Breakfast & Dinner
We arrived Friday evening and enjoyed the minced beef and onion homemade pie from the ‘favourites’ menu. With fresh green vegetables and some super creamy mash it was the ultimate Friday night comfort food. The next morning, after enjoying The Times in bed we headed down to a gorgeous á la carte breakfast menu with a great selection of pastries and cereals from the buffet. It certainly set us up for a day of walking and exploring. Later that evening, we enjoyed a three course meal; a beef hash fritter to start followed by a tasty steak and seasonal veg. There’s so much to enjoy.
Why I’ll Be Returning
With only 9 weeks to go until our wedding, it was a really welcomed break that we both looked forward to for a long time.
The area is super romantic and the long country walks offer the perfect escapism for long chats and deep heart to hearts. You feel totally hidden away from the real world and everyone keeps themselves to themselves. Of course you’ll see the occasional scouts trip whilst out on your walks and it’s great to see the kids so enthusiastic about the countryside.
The Bell inn is also close to Paulton’s Park ‘s Peppa Pig World – so great for families with young children too. There are also day trips at Exbury Gardens and Beaulieu Motor Museum to check out.
For Daniel and I, we’ll definitely be returning to New Forest. It’s true what they say, when you breathe the fresh air and see the natural wildlife, it’s hard to stay away.
* Take a warm coat and plenty of layers. The weather changed frequently when we there as it typically does in Britain.
* Wellies are always a good option, particularly if like me you enjoy walking through the little streams and brooks.
* Trainers and other comfortable shoes are also a must. Keep them in the back of your car with a plastic bag as it can get a bit muddy.
Have you been the New Forest? Have you stayed at The Bell Inn? Xx