Tucked away in the heart of the New Forest, in the small village of Burley, is Burley Manor. There has been a substantial house on this site since the 12th Century. The current building was constructed for Colonel William Clement Drake Esdaile in 1852, a Magistrate and Verderer: a Custodian of the Forest. Although clearly built in the style of an Elizabethan Manor House, typified by the facade, internally, it has the generous proportions and high ceilings favoured by the Victorians. It became a hotel in the mid 1930’s, was then briefly requisitioned by General Montgomery in World War 2, before reverting to a hotel again.
It’s beautifully situated, in parkland, on the edge of the village, which itself merges into the surrounding heath and woodland of the New Forest. Autumn is a great time to visit, with fall colours in full flow, and ancient oaks predominating. The hotel has lovely open views of the parkland to the front, with roaming herds of deer.
The reception highlights the Victorian feel of the place. A log fire burns welcomingly in the hearth and a stags head looks down on guests, as they check in and survey the interior, assessing the success of their choice, whether by recommendation, pot luck or a special offer.
The reception rooms are spacious, stylish and comfortable, with plenty of private sitting areas for quiet conversations and chat.The grounds are well maintained and blend seamlessly into the open parkland at the front of the house. There is a also a spa and an open air swimming pool. The dining room is light and airy and opens onto a pleasant conservatory with views over the wide terrace and parkland beyond. Breakfast was to a high standard and the service excellent, under the watchful eagle-eye of the manageress, careful to ensure everything was just as the guests wanted, with a smile and an iron hand.
There are many beautiful villages to visit in the New Forest, such as Lyndhurst and Beaulieu (with its classic car museum), and autumn is definitely one of the best times to come, with few crowds and little traffic.
Lymington, perhaps one of Hampshire’s best known small coastal towns, facing the Isle of White, with its picturesque marina, is a must to visit.This whole stretch of coast is a mecca for sailors, enjoying the delights and challenges of sailing the Solent, with Cowes opposite, Southampton and Portsmouth not far away to the east, and Bournemouth and Poole to the west.
If you want a relaxing break at a quality hotel in beautiful surroundings, with easy access one of Britain’s oldest forests, picturesque coastline, and quintessential English villages, then Burley House is a must.