Nestled in the New Forest among the heathland and open pastures where the national park’s wild ponies roam, Careys Manor Hotel is an English country house and spa perfect for a girl’s weekend away.
A stone’s throw from quaint New Forest villages peppered with cream tea shops, Careys Manor was one of the first spas in the UK to focus on Thai and Asian spa influences and offer Zen treatment rooms.
With such an extensive spa menu, I implore you to break away from the classic full body massage and opt for the more individual facials, massages and wraps such as the Lava Shell massage (60 minutes £85), using self-heating Natural Tiger clam lava shells and aromatherapy oils to warm the body.
The Thai Herbal Poultice Full Body Massage (90 mins | £110), uses hot compresses filled with Thai herbs to relieve aches and pains, Middle Eastern hammams offer a perfect unwind and skin softener, while the Nam Water Relaxer (60 minutes £90) begins with a Himalayan Crystal Rock Salt scrub followed by a Vichy shower and relaxing massage with nourishing oils of calendula, sweet almond and wheatgerm to feed the skin.
All guests staying at Careys Manor enjoy complimentary use of the leisure facilities, including the 14m ozone swimming pool, sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi and gym. For an extra £35 guests can enjoy the SenSpa’s calming, candle-lit hydrotherapy pool, experience rooms and showers which include a crystal steam room, herbal sauna, blizzard shower, ice room, laconicum, tepidarium and tropical showers where lights and temperatures douse you with options including ‘Caribbean rain’ and ‘Atlantic storms’.
It’s worth going to the hydrotherapy pool either early or later in the day when its less crowded but for zen vibes, the relaxation room complete with star-lit ceiling and heated mosaic loungers is always a calm oasis.
Just an hour and a half direct train from London, this is one of the few great weekend hotels I can think of where you can walk from the village station to reception in less than 10 minutes, so you don’t have to battle with cars and traffic. A perfect Friday-night getaway, the rooms are well appointed, mid-weight luxurious with a traditional feel and staff and service are excellent.
The trump card, however, is the on-site Cambium restaurant. As it’s the hotel’s higher-end offering of the three on-site restaurants I expected it to be a quality meal, but the newly renovated dining room served up a locally sourced menu as good as any I’ve enjoyed in the New Forest, with an exciting and surprising wine list to boot.
The restaurant’s renovation has been well worth the trouble; after drinks in the cosy, thick-laid wooden bar, we enter the new dining room – an enchanting woodland and forest-inspired venue with mossy logs and natural wooden candleholders as a centrepiece.
A lobster bisque amuse-bouche arrived velvety with delicious tang, my roast haunch of local venison was cooked to perfection with a glossy, sticky jus and the husband’s rack of lamb came pink and crispy skinned. A deconstructed apple tart with deep-fried custard was a playful finale, while the splendid array of local, gooey cheeses proved too much to resist. Micheal, the sommelier is knowledgable, passionate and willing to share all his tips (hoorah!) and together with head chef Alasir Craig it’s a very strong pairing.
The large spa complex may suit girls’ weekends more than honeymooners, but couples looking for an easy weekend and reasonable prices will also find a happy home here, with the Cambium restaurant as a must visit.
Stay from February 16th to 18th, 2017 – Sponsored media visit.
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Brockenhurst SO42 7RH, England