I love the New Forest. Having spent many blissful summers there, picnicking beside the ponies as a child, it’s officially my happy place. So this autumn, when I had about 24 hours spare for a mini break, I knew where I should go.
It’s around an hour’s drive from home but feels like a million miles away. Pull off the motorway and once you’re over those cattle grids, there’s another world waiting for you – ancient woods, heathland, streams and miles of coastline to enjoy.
I’d heard a lot about Careys Manor from friends and was keen to check it out for myself. It’s also my aunty’s ‘go-to’ place when she needs a break; high praise indeed!
So, after setting out just before lunchtime on a sunny autumn Sunday, we were greeted by some of the friendliest staff you could hope to meet at Careys’ reception. We had the details of our spa break all confirmed and were promptly shown round to Zen Garden for a spot of lunch on the terrace. We tucked into a delicious and authentic two-course Thai lunch here, surrounded by spa-goers in fluffy robes and slippers. Straight away we could feel our muscles relaxing in this tranquil space.
Then into our bathers and to SenSpa for some chill time (at which point I was regretting piling the rice on my plate). Time seemed to stand still here, we felt like we had endless hours to enjoy the hydrotherapy pool, storm showers, steam rooms and saunas, before being led to the beautiful treatment rooms for a traditional Thai massage.
Dressed in my ‘Thai Pyjamas’ I was pulled, stretched, rolled, bent and pummeled – utter bliss! Having pretty much toured the world in terms of alternative treatments, I have to say that this was one of the best massages I’ve ever had. Back to the spa and poolside for a bit more relaxing, and catching up on Mr SW’s very first massage experience. The verdict: success!
Tired and slightly wrinkled, we checked into our gorgeous garden suite, where our bags were waiting for us, and decided to go for a wander. We paddled in a nearby stream, stopped to say hello to the ponies and walked through pretty Brockenhurst village.
After walking back to the hotel, we had time to share a bottle of Prosecco on our patio overlooking the well-manicured garden and a cocktail in the bar.
There was a huge choice of regional French dishes on the menu, not to mention the seasonal specials. I tucked in to a colourful Assiette du Jardin followed by a perfectly done steak frites while Mr SW tackled Escargots De Bourgogne and a delicious lamb rump. There was no rush in Le Blaireau and we enjoyed a few drinks more while chatting to the lovely staff.
Back to our spacious suite for a restful night, a cup of tea on the terrace and on to Cambium for breakfast. I’d heard great things about this restaurant, particularly since the arrival of head chef Alistair Craig, and will be sure to return for dinner one evening. Breakfast was divine. With an emphasis on locally sourced food, the cooked breakfast menu helpfully explained who the producers were and why they were chosen.
I returned to the spa for a short while before heading to work for the day – and even had time to join in an Aqua Aerobics class (which left me in fits of giggles). I couldn’t leave before picking up some gorgeous SenSpa products to take home with me too. This place had an unbelievable effect on me – I couldn’t anticipate how rejuvenated I would feel after just a short time.