Travel: Postcard from New Forest

Kate Finney and her family head to Lyndhurst for a spot of rural relaxation

As the weeks turned to months, it began to dawn on me that my newborn daughter Charlotte was no longer very new at all, and that some time away from home was long overdue. I was on the lookout for somewhere that welcomed children – and babies in particular – so, after a bit of research, we opted for Lime Wood Hotel.

Hidden away in the New Forest, it was an ideal distance from London, and the promise of ‘laid-back luxury’ and a few hours in the Herb House spa were just what our sleep-deprived little family needed.

Kate and her daughter Charlotte

We dropped off our toddler with my parents and headed off with a newfound sense of freedom, only for Charlotte to scream most of the way there. She perked up during check-in, however, when she found herself surrounded by five cooing attendants. I was half tempted to leave the baby at reception, but we took her up to our room where we found a good-sized travel cot with an extra mattress, and a beautiful marble-clad bathroom. Things were looking up!

Despite the grand exterior, Lime Wood feels informal and intimate. We spotted a few children about the place, but with the stunning gardens and the New Forest on the doorstep, they mostly seemed to be heading out. With no kids’ club, families are encouraged to come and spend time together, exploring the forest, swimming, playing games – something I agree with wholeheartedly.

However, on this occasion, I will confess to heading straight to the Herb House, solo. My Bamford De-Stress Massage (£95 for 60 minutes) was sublime. The therapist worked wonders on my aching back, and had lots of good tips for post-pregnancy wellbeing. In the summer, the spa offers yoga classes on the roof garden, and there’s both an indoor pool and a large outdoor jacuzzi.

The Herb House spa is the ultimate retreat for a spot of rest and relaxation

I lingered in the spa, admiring the trees through the glass walls of the sauna, marvelling at how peaceful it all was. We managed to convince Charlotte to sleep in the buggy while we enjoyed lunch in Raw & Cured, the Herb House’s café, and wondered why on earth we hadn’t escaped the city when the baby was four weeks old instead of four months.

In the evening, the restaurant, Hartnett Holder & Co, could not have been more baby friendly – even giving us a table where the baby monitor worked, and explaining that babies in prams were welcome if things didn’t go according to plan.

We crammed so much into our short stay, it felt like we’d been away for a week. The whole experience reminded us that lovely hotels and young babies can indeed mix, if you choose the right one.

Want more? Read our postcard from Cornwall