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The Forest Lodge Hotel was built in 1820 and was used as a hunting box by King George IV. The hotel retains much of its Georgian architecture and stands in its own grounds. It is located on the outskirts of the village of Lyndhurst in the heart of The New Forest in Hampshire. It is part of a chain of 4 hotels that come under the banner of New Forest Country House Hotels. This means that each hotel can be centrally booked and have the same cost and promotions. The guests have use of the other hotels facilities but this is not that relevant as, even though they are all in The New Forest, they are not exactly round the corner from each other and anyway the facilities are much the same in them all.
My family, including two small children, stayed half board within a midweek break promotion. This meant that the children were accommodated free as they stayed in our room (where else would they stay?) and there was no family room supplement. Also on departure we were given a voucher for a substantial reduction on the price of a return visit. Unfortunately the expiry date of the voucher was not very far in the future so it would not be possible to use it and therefore was not of any benefit to us.
The hotel is easy to find and it has just about enough parking spaces within easy reach of the entrance. However it is set on one of the main roads into Lyndhurst and we would get caught in traffic jams when trying to get to and from the hotel. Coming from a big city at the time, it was surprising to experience this in the country but we were used to such occurrences and were not bothered by it. It was only a short walk down the road to go into the village and this would be the recommended means if that were where you are heading. There is a big one-way system in operation and it can take awhile to get round it with all the congestion. Then again, right opposite the hotel we could see New Forest ponies so, for us, it was a nice, convenient spot.
We stayed in a comfortable family room with space for an extra bed for the older child and a cot for the baby. It was nicely furnished and included an en-suite bathroom, colour television and hot drink making facilities. However, our room was located about the furthest possible distance from reception up a flight of stairs and along a maze of uneven corridors and separating fire doors. So it was quite a trek there and back with all of our luggage and without any assistance. There are some ground floor bedrooms so wheelchair accessibility is fine. However these ground floor bedrooms are not family rooms.
The main feature of the hotel that attracted us was the indoor, heated swimming pool. It is a good size with an interesting mural on one wall. The pool is mostly too deep for the kids to stand but with armbands and supervision they are perfectly safe. This was a lovely place to relax in for an hour or so before dinner after a day out in the wonderful countryside. It was easily accessible down some steps in the centre of the hotel. There is also a sauna and fitness room but since we didnt get the opportunity to use them, I cannot comment further.
Breakfast and dinner were served in the elegant restaurant, which was laid out with plenty of room between tables. It was good food, just a bit too posh and fancy for the kids who would have enjoyed simpler food set more to their tastes. We found it was best to get to the lounge outside the restaurant early for dinner in order to order our meal before entering the restaurant. This was to get served as soon as possible to minimise the length of time spent with impatient children at table. (Our children usually eat earlier than their serving times so were pretty hungry by then.) A big breakfast buffet is laid on each morning plus the option of cooked English breakfast. We adults could thus stock up in order to last right through until dinner and then we only had to be concerned for the childrens lunches.
There is a pleasant bar area and another lounge area where there were board games and puzzles available for all guests. We enjoyed playing with them before and after dinner. This simple but effective little touch was a valuable contribution to keeping our children entertained. In fact we bought junior monopoly on our return home after road testing it here!
Reception had lots and lots of leaflets advertising places to visit in the surrounding area. This was very useful in giving us plenty of ideas of things to do that we were not previously aware of at home before our visit
We had a lovely stay at this hotel. It was a good central base for our daily, outside activities in The New Forest area
The Forest Lodge Hotel, just on the edge of the town of Lyndhurst is one of a group of four hotels called collectively, the Care Hotels. The other three in the group are the Beauleiu, which is situated in the heart of the New Forest, isolated form all the humdrum of life, The Bartley Lodge Hotel, situated at Cadnam, on the main Southampton to Lyndhurst road, and the Moorhill House Hotel, at Burley near Ringwood. All four hotels are RAC and AA three star rated. My husband and I have stayed twice at the Forest Lodge, so this opinion will concentrate on that hotel, although my daughter assures me that the Beauleiu is just as good! The group call themselves the Care Hotels, due to their "green" influences. Being in the heart of the New Forest, they are very aware of conservation, and as such have a policy of recycling and preservation. All waste is saved in recycling units, and everything is set up for minimum wastage. As many of you will already know, I make jam. During my visits I asked the waiters if I might have the empty individual jam jars left at breakfast time. Not only did they save them for me, they washed them and packed them up ready to transport home. How to find the Forest Lodge. You really need a car to access this hotel, as the nearest main station would be Southampton, some 15 miles away. Beaulieu station is about 4 miles into the New Forest, but is so out in the wilds, I doubt they would have a taxi service! And a car is also necessary to explore deep into the forest whilst there. By car, one needs first to get to Southampton, then take the road to Lyndhurst. It is well signposted. As you reach Lyndhurst, the hotel itself is well signposted, and lies back from the road, on the right. The rooms. Our room on both occasions was spacious and comfortable. We had tea and coffee making provisions which were replenished regularly, an en-suite bathroom with shower, and toilet, de
sk, hairdryer, towels which were changed whenever they were left in the bath for that purpose, and extra bedcovers and pillows should we need them. We went in February, during a bitterly cold spell, and found the room warm enough without needing the extra covers. The restaurant. Nothing was too much for the staff in the restaurant. At breakfast time, you could help yourself to just about anything from the buffet, whilst they prepared your cooked breakfast to order. The apricots in juice containing cinnamon sticks were divine! There were several types of cereal, yoghurts, prunes, grapefruit, cheeses, croissants, just about anything you can think of, including four different kinds of fruit juice. For the cooked breakfast you could have the full English, or any combination from the menu, including eggs cooked how you wanted, or boiled eggs, poached eggs on toast, smoked haddock and kippers! Hubby usually had the full whack, while I tended to be slightly more restrained, having bacon, sausage, beans, tomato and hash browns! Then followed the toast and preserves; as much(or as little!) as you wanted, brown or white. Tea and coffee was replenished as required. The evening menu was table D'hote or a la carte. Being a plain food lover myself, I couldn't fault the fillet steak (well done) with a mixed salad (no dressing!) and new boiled potatoes! One night I experimented with the rolled pork fillet in herbs with saute potatoes, baton carrots and baby peas. It was delicious! Hubby, being more adventurous tried the venison steaks, and a stuffed chicken dish, and pronounced them both wonderful. My favourite desert was brandy baskets filled with fresh fruits. I'm drooling right now! I made the mistake one night of ordering cheese and biscuits. I received a basket of biscuits, a bunch of grapes, an apple, and about a pound of cheddar cheese! Oh, and celery sticks too! The Facilities. There is a fi
tness room for guests to use, together with a steam room, sauna and swimming pool. We only used the pool, which, although small, was adequate for a leisurely dip before dinner. Towels were provided, so you did not have to take your room towels with you. There was also a shower in the ladies changing room (and the men's I presume!) with shower gel, shampoo etc, so you could change before going back to your room. There was a bar in the cellar, and a bar next to the restaurant. Tea and coffee after the meal could be served in the visitors lounge. There was a bookcase full of best sellers and plenty of games if you wanted to challenge any fellow guests to a Trivial Pursuits match. The surrounding area. The Forest Lodge is on the edge of Lyndhurst, which in itself is worth a visit. My favourite shop is a Spanish Lace shop where I stock up on tablecloths etc each time I go. They are a real bargain at around £10.00 each. It is also on the edge of the New Forest, and we have had many a walk alongside the Ponies which run free in the Forest. Strangely enough, so do pigs, although they tend to be close to the small farms dotted about the forest. Only 15 minutes away by car is the coast, where you can watch the ferry leave Lymington for the Isle of Wight, and gaze across to the Needles. The Cost. The usual cost of a double room is £110 per night (2 people bed and breakfast) plus £21.50 per person for a 3 course table D'hote dinner. However, just before and just after Christmas, for the last 3 years, they have run a special offer of £29.99 per person for bed breakfast and evening dinner, minimum 2 night stay! This sometimes rises to £39.99 at weekends. Believe me, the evening meal alone is worth that! Check out their website: www.carehotels.co.uk Here you will find details about all 4 hotels, and any currently running specials. We will certainly be going again!