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Balmer Lawn Hotel & Spa, Brockenhurst, New Forest
This historic hotel is in an idyllic spot, right opposite Brockenhurst's informal village cricket pitch. A family-run, four-star hotel, it boasts stylish interiors, but not so stylish that four-legged friends are turned away. Instead the main bar, with its roaring fire, generally has a number of dogs curled up at their owner's feet. And it's no surprise they choose here, as Balmer's Lawn itself is actually 500 acres of low lying land in the middle of the New Forest. Food in the restaurant is very good and has earned two AA rosettes. Rooms are mostly refurbished and some have their own balconies, while facilities include a relaxing spa with Espa treatments, an indoor and outdoor pool, squash court and children's games room during holidays.
Brock beach is a sandy patch where the River Lymington cuts under the main road from Brockenhurst to Lyndhurst, right next to the hotel. In summer, it's like walking into an Enid Blyton novel as people paddle, fish and picnic on the banks.
The hotel is in the middle of the New Forest, surrounded by country walks, and woodland with wild ponies and deer.
By car: Balmer Lawn Hotel is 2 hours 15 mins from London, 2 hours 30 mins from Birmingham and just under 3 hours from Cambridge.
By train: London Waterloo to Brockenhurst takes 1 hour 30 mins. The station is a 5-minute taxi ride from the hotel. thetrainline.com
Style & Character
The hotel has period proportions: lofty ceilings in the public rooms and feature windows. It's hugely popular with dog owners who come to enjoy the acres of forest walks around the hotel, and love the warm welcome, while families welcome the lack of set times in the pool.
Service & Facilities
Wellies and walking maps are available from reception, encouraging you to get out for a romp in the forest. Twelve rooms are dog friendly and dogs are also welcome in the bar area. A water bowl, daily treats and an outdoor washdown area and towel are provided.
- 2 swimming pools
- Treatment rooms
- Free parking
- Free Wi-Fi
- Family rooms
Room 14 has its own astro-turfed balcony with uninterrupted views of the village green. We sat at the window and watched a herd of about 100 deer pass in front of the hotel.
Small Standard, Standard, Superior, Luxury, Family
Facilities include: double bed, ensuite bathroom with shower, luxury toiletries, TV, tea and coffee facilities
Food & Drink
We love the rounds of fresh homemade bread presented to the table on wooden boards with salted butter. In the summer ask to dine outside on the terrace, where the atmosphere is vibrant and you can look out across the lawn in front of the hotel.
Beresfords: 2 AA Rosette fine dining and Bistro-style all-day dining, steaks, sandwiches, pub classics, Afternoon Tea. Open daily 12-9pm. Mains from £15. Tasting menu 6.30-8.30pm, £50pp.
The Lodge: al fresco dining, wood-fired pizzas, outdoor bar. Open weather permitting.