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The ultimate guide to The New Forest: where to stay, what to do and where to eat

We stayed at The Montagu Arms Hotel and Careys Manor - here's everything you need to know

Careys Manor exterior view of lawn with manicured hedges and hotel© Careys Manor
Chloe Ash
Social Media Content Producer
July 13, 2023
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The New Forest, known for its beautiful scenery, free-roaming animals and scenic coastline, is a popular destination for a staycation. But what makes it so well liked? I headed there for three days to find out where the best places to stay were, what to do and where to eat. Here’s my ultimate guide…

The Montagu Arms Hotel

Interior view of The Montagu Arms Hotel in Beaulieu
We spent two nights at The Montagu Arms Hotel, a unique country hotel in the heart of Beaulieu

We spent two nights at The Montagu Arms Hotel, a unique country hotel in the heart of Beaulieu. With 22 bedrooms in the main house, each with a unique design and layout, the interiors really do make this beautiful hotel feel like home away from home. And if you are willing to spend a little more, we’d recommend the Courtyard Deluxe Rooms and Studio Suites, which launched at the end of 2021. These luxury rooms are developed in the original 1920s chauffeur garages of the hotel and all have their own spacious lounge, freestanding bathtub and private terrace. Although part of the hotel, it was lovely to have our own space away from the central hotel.

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A standout of this beautiful hotel is its gardens, where these Courtyard rooms are located. The hotel’s gardener can be seen from early morning until late evening, pruning, planting and making the garden a sanctuary for all guests. Beautiful flowers scatter down the winding walkways as you enter from the car park, and that relaxing atmosphere is only amplified as you enter the hotel.

Scotch eggs on a plate at Montys Inn at Montague Arms Hotel in New Forest© The Montagu Arms Hotel
For a more relaxed dining experience, Monty’s Inn is The Montagu Arms’ delightful country pub

The Terrace restaurant uses produce straight from the restaurant’s organic kitchen garden just a few metres away from our table. We sampled the tasting menu, which offered Monkfish, Lamb and Chicken Liver and Madeira Parfait - each dish was expertly cooked and seasoned to perfection. Just make sure to leave room for the delicious desserts, in fact, I am still dreaming about those New Forest Strawberries and the Chocolate Cremeux weeks later!

For a more relaxed dining experience, Monty’s Inn is the Montagu Arms’ delightful country pub, servicing homemade food and fine local ale. With all the pub classics, there is something for everyone. The menu focuses on local, seasonal and hearty food and we couldn’t recommend the burgers enough! The staff is friendly and the clientele is a mix between both tourists and locals, both there to enjoy the delicious food.

The New Forest, known for its beautiful scenery, free roaming animals and scenic coastline© The Montague Arms
The New Forest, known for its beautiful scenery, free roaming animals and scenic coastline

Careys Manor

Just a short 10-minute drive away is the delightful Careys Manor, where we stayed for an extra night. Although any residents of The Montagu Arms Hotel have access to the spa facilities here throughout your stay. This hotel oozes personality, with each room brimming with character. This 18th century hotel exudes glamour, with the beautifully manicured grounds and three restaurants, including The Cambium where we dined.

This restaurant is seriously special, with the most incredible staff who can’t do enough for their guests paired with the spectacular food! Taking classic dishes from around the world, Head Chef Alistair Craig pays homage to the British countryside and produce throughout. There really is something for everyone, with roast cod on the menu alongside tomato risotto, just be sure to save yourself for their epic desserts. We’d recommend the Lemon and Elderflower cheesecake, perfectly paired with lemonade sorbet.

Careys Manor Cambium restaurant meal© Careys Manor
The food at the Careys Manor was a highlight of my stay

If you’re after a pampering getaway, the world class SenSpa is the place. With an award-winning Thai spa focused on holistic wellness, guests can experience state-of-the-art technology combined with old-age traditions. With a hydrotherapy pool, 18 treatment rooms, thermal rooms, experience showers, an ice room and relaxation rooms, you really will lose yourself and all your worries here.

What to do in the New Forest?

New Forest Adventure Golf is one for the families or competitive couples amongst you - we fell into the latter bracket! We stumbled across this gem when we took a wrong turn heading into Lymington town centre but this fun mini golf course is great for both adults and children. If you are there in strawberry season too, there is a pick-your-own field on-site, and with a cafe for refreshments, this is the perfect wholesome day out.

Swimming pool at Careys Manor SenSpa © Careys Manor
SenSpa at Careys Manor is an award-winning Thai spa focused on holistic wellness

Conveniently located just minutes from The Montagu Arms is the National Motor Museum - a must for the petrolheads. But Beaulieu isn’t just for the motoring enthusiasts, with quaint shops and tea rooms, a wander around the local area is like stepping back in time. Be sure to visit the Beaulieu Chocolate Studio for one of their delicious ice creams (or two!).

The New Forest is the home of beautiful woodland, heaths and villages, with hundreds of walks available online to discover the beautiful forest. And once you’ve explored the local area, there is also the option to head further afield, with a ferry from Lymington to the Isle of Wight taking just 40 minutes.

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So if you’re thinking about heading to the New Forest for your next adventure, do it! With so much to explore, some incredible food and brilliant hotels to kick back after a long day walking, it has to be at the top of your bucket list.

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