PUBLISHED: 00:16 12 January 2011 | UPDATED: 21:41 20 February 2013
From leafy forest hideaways to ultra-sleek sleeps; Natalie French plumps the pillows in a bid to find the most sumptuous hotels
The forest hideaway
Lime Wood Hotel, Lyndhurst, New Forest
Lime Wood is an indulgent hideaway in the heart of an ancient English forest. Forget archetypal country house stuffiness this heritage hotel has blown away the cobwebs and its fresh and contemporary ethos makes it a little bit sexy.
After a five-year refurbishment, this 13th Century Regency house has been lavishly restored with 16 bedrooms, 11 sumptuous suites and two generous guest rooms in additional buildings, plus a glamorous Dining Room and cosy bar perfect for sipping Martini cocktails. The chic styling is down to ber-designer David Collins who created the elegant interior of Claridges Bar.
Fancy sipping bubbles on your private topiary adorned terrace overlooking the magical New Forest? If so, book into a Coach House suite situated over two floors, the shabby-chic interior has a splash of nautical, unique and quirky furniture and mood lighting conveniently controlled from bedside buttons. Expect perfectly plumped pillows, crisp white linen, and an in-room iPod loaded with chilled-out tunes.
For a truly indulgent experience book a Together in the Forest treatment at Lime Woods newly opened Herb House Spa. This Arabian affair commences in the Mud House with a slathering of mineral-rich mud from the Austrian Alps. Wallow on heated benches whilst the mud dries, before a fragranced steam rehydrates your skin leaving it silky soft. After a personalised Ayurvedic massage, you can both float in your private hot tub.
Together in the Forest treatment, 210 minutes costs 380.
Coach House room from 295
The seductive sea view
Westover Hall Hotel, Milford-on-Sea
Perched on the edge of the ocean in the seaside village of Milford-on-Sea, Westover Hall is a Victorian Mansion with buckets of character. This 15-room beach boutique boasts impressive stained glass windows, a minstrels gallery and a mass of wood panelling.
Despite its grandeur, the atmosphere is down-to-earth and friendly enhanced by the resident half Manx cat, Lancelot, who commands you cosy up with him in the sumptuous lounge. For optimum comfort, plonk yourself in an armchair in front of the log fire and admire the magnificent William de Morgan tiled fireplace, eclectic decor and abstract artwork.
For stunning views of the Isle of Wight check into the Alexander Siemens room. Named after the first owner of Westover Hall, Siemens was also responsible for bringing electricity to England. If you can pull yourself away from the panoramic ocean vista, marvel at the half tester wooden panelled bed with canopy and luxury linen.
For more splendid sea views book a window table at One Park Lane restaurant. Much of the mouth-watering menu is sourced from within a 50 mile radius, so expect seasonal food at its best. The five-course fine dining menu (42) offers gastronomic delights such as: a quirky mini fish and singular chip amuse-bouche; an appetiser of Smoked Cheese and Wild Mushroom clair; a surprising sangria ice lolly refresher and a main of Ballotine of Guinea Fowl with Wild Boar. With three exquisite dessert menus to choose from, its no surprise to hear that the pastry and dessert chef, Mike, used to work at Heston Blumenthals Michelin starred restaurant, The Fat Duck.
A Superior Room DBB costs 350.
One for the boys
Aviator Hotel, Farnborough
From the super-slick design to the ultra-modern architecture the Aviator hotel is definitely designed for men. Behind the corporate looking exterior lies another world lit with vampishly cool UV; silver and glass lanterns and an indulgent sprinkling of candles. Built in the shape of a propeller, the centrepiece is a stunning white staircase that curves up to the reception. For extra glamour, take the leather-lined lift up to the Sky Bar to sample the cool collection of cocktails.
Sleek, masculine and fit for pilots the Sky Studio Air room provides the perfect place to retreat from the world. It offers all the boy-toys you would expect: from the LCD Television with surround sound and movie library, to the all-inclusive mini-bar and aviator memorabilia just kick back on the L-shaped comfy sofa and relax. Sound-proofed, floor-to-ceiling windows are perfect for watching private planes take off and land at Farnborough Airfield. The walk-in wardrobe, array of lamps and the odd orchid add a flutter of femininity but its the sleek, dark tiled bathroom with end-of-tub LCD TV and rainforest shower which is guaranteed to get all pulses racing.
Join the high flyers (literally) by booking the Loop the Loop package. Take to the sky on a one hour flying lesson for one guest, including two take offs and landings with a qualified instructor at Blackbushe Airport. Return to the hotel afterwards for a night in a king size bed, a welcome drink on arrival, three-course dinner and an Aviation cocktail to allay any post flight adrenaline.
Loop the Loop costs 385 per couple. Double Aviator, 505 for Sky Studio Air
The blow the budget country house hotel
Chewton Glen Hotel & Spa, New Milton
Situated on the edge of the New Forest, this sumptuous hotel and spa is just a short saunter from Highcliffe beach. The likes of Cate Blanchett and the Rolling Stones have all driven up the impressive windy road, through the 130 acre grounds, in order to retreat to this boutique beauty. A-listers aside, the hotel also boasts a vast collection of awards and accolades yet the staff remain down-to-earth and welcoming.
Check into the Masterman Ready Suite for a sumptuous mix of modern and antique. The plush and elegant bathroom offers his and her sinks, huge mirrors, a rainforest shower and a free standing bath with plasma screen TV and bath-side remote. Once youve wallowed away a few hours in the tub, throw on a fluffy dressing gown and stroll out onto your very own sun deck complete with loungers a perfect place for sipping bubbles while marvelling at the beautiful gardens or for a spot of star gazing at night.
Once youve finished relaxing in the award winning spa, why not try your hand at an essentially English sport. Chewton Glen offers a cupid-inspired, 90-minute archery lesson for 250 perfect for those with good judgement and a level head.
Masterman Ready Suite costs
1,031- 1,147 room only.
Quintessentially British town house
Hotel du Vin,Winchester
Just a stones throw from Winchester High Street this Georgian hideaway exudes understated chic. All 24 rooms are named after world-famous vineyards such as: Veuve Cliquot, Beringer and Pommery and contain unique artefacts and emperor-sized beds. The hotels intimate appeal extends to the cosy Hotel Du Vin Bistro and Champagne bar, as well as the pretty walled garden and candle-lit leather smoking bothy.
For a truly indulgent night, lock yourself away in the Taittinger room. Sleek and sexy with lashings of glamour, the elegant black four poster bed takes centre stage, topped with silky smooth Egyptian cotton sheets. The only place you would rather be is soaking in the freestanding Victorian bath or hanging out in the heavenly his and her monsoon showers. Just dont miss the full cooked breakfast with black pudding its definitely worth getting up for.
The Drawing Room is the perfect place to cosy up for the evening with a bottle from the extensive wine list. This elegant room benefits from ambient candle light and comfy leather sofas, period furniture, mountains of magazines and comfy cushions. The centrepiece however, is a huge buffalo head which keeps a beady eye on the proceedings. And if you fancy drinking like a true connoisseur, call hotel Chef Sommelier, Bastian Fischer, at least two hours prior to your arrival and he will happily help you select the perfect red, ensure its at the optimum temperature and decanted ready for you to quaff.
Taittinger Suite from 245 B&B
The regal retreat
Four Seasons, Dogmersfield, Hook
This exquisitely grand and elegant Georgian manor, with sympathetically built additional wings, boasts 133 contemporary guestrooms and 22 suites and a backdrop of sweeping English countryside. Dogmersfield Park has a rich history, dating back long before the Four Seasons opened its doors in 2005.
King Henry VIII met the first of his six wives, Catherine of Aragon, here in 1501.
Parents who struggle for a stolen moment, will be pleased to hear that the hotel prides itself on being child friendly offering a babysitting service day or night, adjoining rooms and a complimentary programme of activities at specific times on weekends for children aged 3-14.
Enjoy your own royal rendezvous by reserving a Grand Manor Room with signature marble bathroom. One youve explored your spacious room and sovereign-sized bed, you can cavort like king and queen in the roll-top bath with captivating views of the estate.
A visit to the 500-acre Dogmersfield Park would not be complete without saddling up for a half hour hack in the English countryside (90 for two). For a truly romantic rendezvous, why not ride out to The Cabin where a Champagne picnic will be laid waiting (50 per person).
Grand Manor room 365 (All prices exclude service charge)