Everything about Lime Wood hotel feels right. Maybe it's the idyllic pastoral location on the brow of a hill, with a calming backdrop of England's untamed New Forest and a constant gentle tweeting of the old-fashioned feathered variety. Maybe it's the eco-friendly yet luxurious and contemporary interior by David Collins, set within a grand Regency facade. Then again, it could be the locally sourced, creatively used ingredients featured on the restaurant menu many are foraged literally on the doorstep of the kitchen of chef Luke Holder (formerly of famed Michelin three-star Dal Pescatore Santini in Lombardy, Italy). Certainly, after a rejuvenating bask in the vast outdoor hot tub of its exceptionally chic and well-thought-out Herb House spa, it's difficult not to feel like Lime Wood is England's 21st century arcadia.
Discovering an aromatic herb garden on the roof of the spa typifies the hidden gems that make this more than just another country-house retreat for stressed out urbanites. So do the infinity hydrotherapy pool that seemingly reaches into the trees and the opulent treatment rooms offering lulling forest-themed ayurvedic remedies.
The bedrooms are a sophisticated take on country chic in white, oak and cream and feature sybaritic details from gorgeous carved headboards to underfloor lighting that comes on gently and automatically when entering the bathroom. Standout public areas include a library with real log fire and plenty of inspiring reads, the billiard room, a vast elegant conservatory with retracting roof where afternoon tea is served, and an elegant morning room for perusing the newspapers. More delightfully eccentric are the boot room, where guests can borrow a pair of colorful Wellingtons for a forest walk, and a scullery with French doors that lead to a garden where a stupendous breakfast buffet is served. In many ways, the layout of Lime Wood Hotel reads like a playful take on the board game Cluedo and holds a similar sense of anticipation.
Miss Scarlett would, no doubt, be most taken with Lime Wood's drinking and dining options. The spa has its own Raw and Cured bar with a smart, secluded outside terrace serving up enticing healthy dishes including home-cured bresaola beef, pickled wild mushrooms, local Lyburn cheese and smoked haddock from the hotel's own smokehouse. The main restaurant, known simply as the Dining Room, offers up the likes of Orkney Isle hand-harvested scallops, Cornish cod and Somerset lamb, served in a swank setting of chandeliers and ash paneling. After your meal, head to the bar, which offers a splendid array of over 100 kinds of cognac.
For more details, see limewoodhotel.co.uk. Rooms are available from about $550.