Carey’s Manor Hotel and Senspa
I have just returned from an overnight stay at the Carey’s Manor Hotel which is a luxury 4 star hotel in the heart of the New Forest. Its website promotes the place as a traditional elegant English hotel with facilities that are top notch. There is a Hotel Spa attached and the place has actually been voted Hotel Spa of the Year by the British Beauty Awards. The hotel has three restaurants, 79 recently refurbished luxury bedrooms, conference facilities and a £6 million Thai Spa. I am aware that this review is long in length but I believe the length of review is directly related to how much there is on offer at this hotel.
Like I said the hotel is in the heart of the New Forest, which is not far from Bournemouth in the south of England. You can choose to drive there or alternatively you can hop on a train and get off at Brockenhurst station. According to Carey’s Manor the hotel is a short taxi ride from the station. For those travelling in a car and using Sat Nat you need to type in the postcode SO42 7RH. We were taking a leisurely drive from London so it took us a little over 2 hours, although beware if you are approaching that way the traffic through Lyndhurst can take a while.
We pulled up outside and drove past a very grand looking Mansion House complete with red carpet and two dapper looking men. Typically we drove past them and parked the car ourselves taking a short walk back to the main entrance. The two men greeting us were mortified that we hadn’t allowed them to take our bags. However, they ushered us into the reception of the hotel which was very old and traditional looking. A very friendly woman on reception welcomed us to Carey’s Manor and asked whether we were ready to check in. She took us through the check in procedure which was quick and painless. She was very detailed and thorough in explaining breakfast times and where the spa was situated. She also explained that although there was a wedding at the hotel that day there should be no interference with our stay. A young looking chap then took our bags and showed us to our room. Not only did he show us our rooms, he gave us a quick tour of where the spa was and how to reach it from our room.
My sister and I were very impressed when we were showed our room. When I first arrived I was a little worried that the rooms would be dated as the hotel had a very old and traditional feel to it. Luckily they have kept the rooms reasonably traditional but completely modern in terms of room requirements. We were allocated a ground floor Knightwood Garden Room and the first thing we spotted was the door which led out to a very pretty garden area. We also had a table and two chairs to sit on and have tea on in the morning whilst relaxing in the peace and quiet! There was a three part wardrobe, room safe, kettle and lots of tea and coffee choices (yippee), flat screen TV with Freeview, hairdryer (a proper one) and an ironing board and iron. The room was immaculate and upon first jump of the bed, we realised that both the bed and the pillows were wonderful. The bathroom was a great size with full size bath, a very strong power shower, sink and toilet. They also provide miniature size bottles of shampoo, conditioner and shower gel.
~The Health Facilities~
Once we had unpacked we were keen to go and have a nose round at the spa facilities so we meandered over to the very ‘relaxed’ are that was the reception of the spa. Luckily it was a 30 second walk from our room and along the way we passed many people in robes and slippers. The girls on reception were very helpful and only too happy to explain all the facilities. Behind the reception area was a glass wall which we could see through to the swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. I was shocked to realise that these weren’t the Spa facilities, merely the standard health facilities which can be used by all resident hotel guests. The Hydrotherapy part of the spa could be accessed through the standard pool area. They also had a gift shop, gym upstairs along with a beautiful seating area next to reception. We decided to pass on the Spa for now but tried out the standard facilities which were all fantastic. The pool was very pretty with comfortable loungers dotted around the pool with the Jacuzzi at the far end of the room and the sauna and steam room situated along one side of the pool area. We did spot the door leading through to the hydrotherapy spa but figured we would contain our excitement and wait until the following day.
~Restaurants and the Bar~
Following our leisurely swim we mooched back to our room and relaxed before getting dressed for dinner. Dining options are varied at Carey’s Manor and they have an AA rosette starred restaurant in the Hotel named The Manor. They also have a French Bistro, Le Blaireau and Thai cuisine at the Zen Garden Restaurant. We had opted to dine at The Manor and were told upon booking that they do have a dress code which includes no denim, trainers or T shirts. We had a table booked for just after 8 and decided to check out the bar around 15 minutes before dinner. The bar area was a typical hotel setting but again had a very traditional feel with huge stately looking sofas which were extremely comfortable. We parked ourselves at one end and were just deciding what to get from the bar when we actually received waiter drinks service. We ordered three glasses of wine and a soft drink and stupidly I offered to get the drinks. The drinks were not cheap at an eye watering $30/£17 for the round. As we sipped our extortionately priced drinks we were approached by a very smart looking lady who brought us menus. We were then asked to browse the menu at our leisure and the lady would take our orders prior to entering the restaurant. We made our choices and at 8pm we were shown through to The Manor.
~The Manor Restaurant~
We were shown into a beautiful room with a gentleman playing a piano in the background. The tables were beautifully set and the lighting was just perfect. As we walked in I felt like we had stepped into a very classy place and the atmosphere was fantastic. There was that lovely hum of chatter, with lots of people looking very happy and yet there was a great calm to the place. We were seated and brought a small dish of butternut squash with compliments of the chef. As we made small talk and our dishes were very discretely cleared away we were brought our starters. The food here is not cheap, having said that it is also not the most expensive place I have eaten (but working in Mayfair in London that isn’t hard). A starter was around $13/£8 and the main dishes started at around $25/£16 and went up to $45/£28. I had a pork dish to start and lamb for main. I am by no means a food connoisseur, but I can tell you that the food was amazing with a capital A. The portion size, presentation and taste were first class and I could not find fault with one thing. We spent a very enjoyable 2 hours in the restaurant and the staff were unfailingly polite and charming. The meal for 4 people all with starters, mains and 2 bottles of wine worked out at around $60/£40 per person and I can tell you it was worth every penny.
I wanted to add this section in because I know how important a night’s sleep is for hotel guests. I can tell you that I slept like a baby and I am a notorious light sleeper. Not only was the bed comfortable but even with the window open the only noise you can hear is the wind breezing around outside. We heard no noise from the adjoining rooms and not even the sound of a door shutting. Perfect!
~Rise and Shine~
I like my food, so when I awoke the next morning all I could think of was breakfast. Breakfast is included in the price of the stay and is served in The Manor restaurant where we had eaten the night before. On a Sunday breakfast is served between 8am and 10am (if memory serves me correctly) and we went around 8.45. The restaurant is big enough to cater for all types of party’s including couple rights up to groups of 8. Again the food was faultless. They offer every option available including fully cooked English Buffet Breakfast, cereals, fresh fruit, yoghurts, pastries, nuts and seeds and all types of bread. The breakfast buffet was served out of very old fashioned stainless steel round dishes and were replenished what seemed like every ten minutes. One of the things that Carey’s Manor is proud of is the fact that they use a lot of local, free-range and organic products. A lot of their dishes will be marked up as having suppliers that carry the New Forest Marque, which identifies the products come from the New Forest. Once again breakfast was perfect and the staff faultless.
I admit I was excited to finally get to use the Spa. We had paid to stay in the hotel as a bed and breakfast guest. Because we hadn’t booked a spa-break if we wanted to use the Spa facilities (excluding treatments) then there was a fee. We paid $40/£25 per person for full use of the Hydrotherapy area of the spa between 9am and 1pm. I think the cost of full day use was $55/£35. The Spa itself really is a whole different review as there is so much there but I will only highlight the details of it. Essentially when you arrive at the spa reception you are given a card that gives you access to the spa pool and you can move freely between that area and the standard pool as much as you wish. We were shown to the dressing rooms where there are lockers (you need a £1 which gets returned), showers, changing cubicles, huge mirrors and hairdryers. Once through the normal pool area you enter the hydrotherapy pool area which is instantly calming.
The pool itself is not huge but there are 4 main areas of hydrotherapy. The pool area has water jets which work and massage different parts of your body. In addition to the main pool you have a herbal sauna, crystal steam room, lanconicum (gentle thermal room), tepidarium, Jacuzzi, ice room, experience showers and health showers. I admit I didn’t have a clue what half of the benefits were of each room but they were fun to try out. The experience showers and the ice room were favourites as you stand underneath jets of water which feel like a harsh Atlantic Ocean rain along with the thunder and lightning sound effects.
We spent a very relaxing and enjoyable 2 hours using the various rooms and pools and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. There are plenty of other treatments available but unless you are a flush with cash you may want to check out the prices. You can also book specific spa breaks which offer deals on treatments which are included in the package. I felt that the $40/£25 we paid was plenty to keep me entertained and relaxed more importantly. The facilities were beautiful as well as clean and made for a very peaceful afternoon.
The checkout time is 11am and as we were using the spa we put our stuff in lockers and just used the showers to change when we finished up in the spa just before 1pm. The lady on reception gave us details of the charges (we put the spa bill on the room to save paying in cash) and thanked us for staying. The process in this hotel seems to be totally focussed on customer satisfaction and I have never been to a place where the staff were so welcoming and polite at the same time.
~Things to do~
Although we only stayed for one night and stayed within the hotel grounds, the New Forest is awash with things to do. Lymington Market is held every Saturday; there is the National Motor museum and Palace House in Beaulieu, Hurst Castle as well as the New Forest Wildlife Park. The hotel can provide many more attraction details but in a place this scenic you would rarely be stuck for things to do.
Prices for Bed and Breakfast start at $295/£188 per room (based on two sharing) and go up to $530/£338 per room per night. You can choose the dinner option as well and essentially you get $60/£40 per person towards dinner at The Manor restaurant. There are also spa breaks available but the prices are so varied so may be better if you are interested to check the website directly.
Although this certainly wasn’t a cheap overnight stay this is the best hotel I have had the pleasure of staying at in this country. I could not find fault with a single element of the trip and found everything about the place excellent, the staff, the hotel itself, the accommodation, the food and the spa. I feel that the price paid was definitely reflected in the standard received and would not hesitate to either re-visit myself or recommend to someone else.
Thanks Carey’s Manor for a fab stay!
Carey’s Manor & SenSpa
Brockenhurst, New Forest, Hampshire, SO42 7RH
Switchboard: +44 01590 623551 | Reservations: +44 01590 624467