Stay at Thatched Cottage for a relaxing break, outdoor adventures and cultural heritage around the New Forest
Brockenhurst, Hampshire has been officially declared ‘Britain’s Most Beautiful Place to Live’ by Leaders Estate Agent due to its “bundles of charm and history.”
This is the largest village in the New Forest, an historic National Park for outdoor sports, natural heritage, wildlife, woodland and waterways, as well as churches, castles and miles of coastline to explore. The name Brockenhurst is perhaps derived from the local habitat of badgers, or brocks, while an alternative source is the Pre-Norman Brocenhyrst, meaning a ‘broken wooded hill’ – a hill criss-crossed by streams.
If you are planning on hiking and biking your way around the New Forest, the best way to travel here is by train with regular services from London Waterloo, Southampton and Bournemouth. The first impression on arrival is like stepping into the film set of an Agatha Christie period drama, as you wander through this quaint English village.
A recommended place to stay is “Thatched Cottage” – just a five minute stroll from the station.
As you can imagine, the 400 year old, Grade 2 Listed, “Thatched Cottage” oozes tradition and character with its low ceilings, timber beams and quirky décor and design. There are fourteen bedrooms – beautifully furnished Historic rooms within the Cottage and modern Chalet-style Garden rooms.
I was allocated Pouchkin, an Historic double on the ground floor which is simply delightful, with pretty chintz curtains, flower paintings, a white wrought iron double bed, soft pillows /duvet, and a collection of antiques and curios, such as a vintage stone hot water bottle.
The en suite shower room is compact in size but offers all necessary facilities such as quality towels and toiletries. Tradition is the theme but expect modern comforts – Tea/ coffee tray with home baked Burley Rails shortbread and bottled water, free WiFi and a Television. On this winter time visit, it was most welcoming to find the radiator was switched on to provide a cosy room, day and night. It’s all very homely.
An Historic Superior Room, Darjeeling, on the ground floor is more spacious, with dressing table, sofa and a bathtub, for a little extra luxury.
Garden rooms have the advantage of a communal kitchen to make drinks and snacks. The two bedroom Suite is extremely good value for a family or friends with lounge and dining areas and kitchenette.
“Thatched Cottage” is a B&B, Tea Room and Gin Bar. Guests and non-residents can indulge in a traditional Afternoon Tea – a feast of sandwiches, scones and cakes after an energetic day out in the New Forest. This can be an alcoholic version with a cheeky G&T on the side!.
The cute little Gin Bar (doubling as Reception desk) offers almost 80 distinctively different gins from across the globe – Caithness to Cornwall, Isle of Wight to New Zealand, from fruity and floral to spicy and Navy Strength. Try a Gin flight tasting session of three gins such as local craft gins to unusual creations , flavoured with Seaweed or Black Tomato. Every gin is served with the perfectly matched tonic, ice and garnish – lime, orange, cucumber, basil and rosemary. A few Cocktails too – such as Gin Martini – as well as wine and beer, so relax over an aperitif or two before going out for dinner.
While there is no in-house restaurant this is no inconvenience whatsoever as you’ll find a varied choice of pubs (Foresters Arms, literally next door), bistros and brasseries (Italian, Indian, Thai) nearby.
After a peaceful and most comfortable sleep, experience a hearty Breakfast each morning. The rather small buffet selection comprises cereals, sliced melon (complete with the rind), yogurt and chocolate chip pastries. Perhaps a little more choice – juices, bananas, citrus fruits, prunes, apricots and croissants?
Tea is served in your own individual pot, while Coffee is only per cup but my server kindly invented a Cafetiere in a tea pot with a jug of hot milk. Sorted!
The selection of hot dishes is excellent – Full English (eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, beans) with a Vegetarian option. The menu offers a choice of Eggs Benedict every which way with meat, fish or spinach. The Eggs Royale was perfectly cooked to order in the theatre kitchen with two soft poached eggs and succulent smoked salmon on a toasted muffin. A perfect start to the day touring out and about.
Cyclexperience located ideally at Brockenhurst station will set you going on two wheels and suggest a variety of routes. The Cycling in the New Forest App is free to download to your phone or check out the routes online, such as Balmer Lawn, Ornamental Woods, Beaulieu and a Seaside Ride to Lymington on the Solent.
New Forest Activities offer outdoor adventures for families, couples and groups of all ages and abilities: wildlife watching – red deer, ponies, birds – canoeing on the Beaulieu River nature reserve, sea kayaking, archery and horse-riding to keep the kids healthy and active.
It is the most representative collection of over 250 vehicles, artefacts and vintage travel posters, relating the history of motoring through every era, with examples of legendary, luxury marques, racing cars and original vehicles from the movies such as Harry Potter’s Ford Anglia which magically flew over the Glenfinnan Viaduct.
The Palace House at Beaulieu, home to the Montagu family since 1538, is a grand Mansion where you can tour the magnificent drawing and dining rooms furnished with antiques and paintings, Victorian Kitchen and gardens.
The owners of Thatched Cottage also run Escape Yachting with exhilerating sailing opportunities on the Solent including Champagne lunch & dinner day trips.
If you want to sail in a sunnier climate, they also organise yachting holidays in Croatia and the Caribbean.
For a great escape, plan a trip to the New Forest to enjoy outdoor adventures, natural scenic beauty and, yes, “bundles of charm and history.”
“ Thatched Cottage has been the best we stayed in – this is our fourth year visiting the New Forest and will return again. We highly recommend this place”. “All the rooms are packed with character and well equipped. The hotel’s unique feature is its gin bar. Nothing was too much trouble for the very attentive and friendly staff. Breakfast was a highlight.” (Guest comments)
Thatched Cottage, 16 Brookley Road, Brockenhurst, Hampshire, SO42 7RR
Tel. 01590 622005
Go New Forest – visitor information: http://www.gonewforest.com