If you’re looking to spend a luxurious weekend in the New Forest, then Burley Manor is a great option. This Grade II listed building has recently reopened after a £1.7 million refurbishment, and we were lucky to experience it a few weeks before the official opening.
Driving through the picturesque village of Burley towards Burley Manor, we were surprised and delighted to see horses in the road. Of course, the wild ponies of the New Forest are well known, but we hadn’t realized that there were horses too, and that they frequented the villages as well as the moorland. Apparently there are also wild pigs in the area too but sadly we didn’t see any during our stay.
It’s a beautiful Victorian building that dates from 1852, with many original features still intact and a welcoming open fireplace in the lobby. The first recorded owner of the land was Forester Roger de Burley in 1212, hence the name of Burley Manor. The present day house was built by Colonel William Clement Drake Esdaile, who had the original building demolished. Upon our arrival, the staff were particularly friendly and we instantly felt at ease.
The rooms in the main house are charming, and a great mix of classic and contemporary style.
Our room was a suite in the annexe, and had the advantage of being the furthest one from the main house but still a very short distance from reception. It meant that no one overlooked us and if the weather had been better, we could have sat on our balcony completely unobserved. Burley Manor bills itself as a restaurant with rooms, yet the accommodation is second to none and there’s a very boutique hotel vibe.
There’s a flat screen TV, excellent free wifi and a very comfortable bed, plus lovely views over the gardens.
There’s a really cosy lounge area with a bar area, don’t forget to try their speciality gin! The open plan design gives a real feeling of spaciousness and it’s a dog friendly place.
An outdoor heated swimming pool will really come into its own in warmer weather, and during your stroll around the 5 acres of land, you might be lucky to come across some of the native red deer, as we did.
The dining area has been artfully designed with deliberately mismatched chairs, interesting art prints and a beautiful polished wood floor. Burley Manor pride themselves on their wine list, and have recently appointed Carlos de Barros as their new sommelier, who will adapt the wine list for each season. We particularly appreciated the opportunity to sample some of the fine wines in one-third of a bottle carafe, in fact we mixed and matched our wines to each course.
The food in Burley Manor is something rather special. Executive chef James Forman is a proponent of the Slow Food Movement, the leading organisation that links the pleasure of food with a commitment to the community and the environment. They have also partnered with the renowned River Cottage to offer apprenticeship opportunities to young people. There’s a wood-fired oven in a separate room that’s available for private dining.
Serving up natural, seasonal food, its an unpretentious environment that makes you want to linger. I started with a healthy chickpea and garden salad with tomato hearts, farm beets and sesame. Mr Luxe went for a delicate pan fried squid with fresh borlotti beans, chopped rocket and chilli. I also enjoyed my main of gambas al pil pil with pimenton, chilli oil and flatbread. However the stand out dish was undoubtedly Mr Luxe’s spinach, butternut squash and ricotta tortellini – the best that either of us have ever eaten.
For dessert I chose delicious roasted plums with sour cream and Amaretto zabaglione, whilst Mr Luxe opted for the savoury local cheeses – Tunworth, a Winchester Mature blue cheese and my favourite, a Rosary goats cheese with honey from Burley village, all served with poppy seed thin biscuits. We later stocked up on the honey at the local cider pantry shop.
Served in the light and airy conservatory with views over the garden, this was a somewhat leisurely affair though I’m sure that the service has speeded up since the official opening.
There was a good selection of freshly baked pastries, hams, cheeses and homemade jams laid out on a stylish farmhouse table. That was just the start as a full cooked breakfast awaited us afterwards – I particularly enjoyed the Eggs Benedict with local trout making a welcome change to ham or smoked salmon.
Right next to the manor house, there’s a local stables which isn’t affiliated to the hotel but is a great place to arrange horse riding in the local forest. Mr. Bean was rather irresistible!
Plus there’s a Cider Pantry where you can buy scrumpy (aka traditional and very strong!) cider, apple juice, cheese infused with cider and all manner of other treats.
If you have time, it’s also worth visiting nearby Lyndhurst, a pretty town whose New Forest Centre houses an interesting museum, visitor centre and gift shop.
I couldn’t resist taking a look around the Ferrari and Maserati dealership, they really do have an impressive number of sports cars including this Lamborghini Gallardo.
Have you ever been to the New Forest and if so where would you recommend visiting?
Burley Manor, Ringwood Road, Burley, New Forest, Nr Ringwood, Hampshire, BH24 4BS