Tucked away in the heart of the New Forest, on the outskirts of the small village of Burley, is Burley Manor. There’s been a substantial house on this site since the 12th Century. The current building was constructed in 1852, for Colonel William Clement Drake Esdaile, who was 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 briefly requisitioned by General Montgomery during World War II, before reverting to a hotel once again.
Beautifully situated, it has open views of parkland and roaming herds of deer, behind which is Burley village, which itself merges into the surrounding heath and woodland of the New Forest. Autumn’s a great time to visit, with fall colours in full flow from the ancient oaks that predominate.
The reception highlights the Victorian feel of the place, with heavy wood on the bannisters and reception desk and a period tiled floor. A log fire burns welcomingly in the hearth, and a stags head gazes 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 stylish, spacious and comfortable, with plenty of private sitting areas for quiet conversations and chat.The grounds are well maintained, blending seamlessly into the open parkland in front of the house.
There’s also a spa and an open air swimming pool, although that’s closed during winter. The dining room is contemporary, light and airy and opens onto a pleasant conservatory with views over a 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, Lyndhurst and Beaulieu (with its classic car museum) perhaps the most well known, and autumn’s definitely one of the best times to do so, 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.
This whole stretch of coast is a mecca for sailors, enjoying the delights and challenges of sailing the Solent, with Cowes, Southampton, Portsmouth,Bournemouth and Poole all within easy reach.
If you want a relaxing break, at a comfortable country hotel, in beautiful surroundings, with easy access one of Britain’s oldest forests, picturesque coastline and quintessential English villages, then Burley House is well worth a visit.