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Tucked away in a quiet corner of the New Forest in Beaulieu was the Grade II listed hotel The Montagu Arms. Following a three-hour drive, we parked our car in one of the electric charging bays and gathered our bags, only to be greeted by an oasis of colour and fragrance on the other side of a small wooden gate. Excited to see what lay ahead, we followed the path through a series of gardens and borders, overflowing with flowers in every colour, and wildlife-friendly plants that were a hive of activity. Having reached the hotel, we stepped inside and our senses were hit with a glorious fragrance; the smell of luxury and relaxation. After exchanging pleasantries with the friendly hotel staff, the concierge showed us where we were staying for the night, and fortunately, it was another short walk through the beautiful gardens, and out to the Courtyard.
There are 22 bedrooms and suites in the main house, and a couple of dog-friendly suites located in a separate, more secluded spot on the hotel’s picturesque grounds. We were given the luxury of staying in one of the 1920s chauffer garages which had been recently renovated into a series of Courtyard Suites.
The stylish room came with a spacious lounge area, oversized freestanding bathtub and private terrace. There were beautiful finishing touches; Classic FM playing softly in the background, a decanter of port for a quick nightcap, and a traditional boardgame set of which snakes and ladders would be thoroughly enjoyed in the courtyard with a coffee on Sunday morning.
Having settled in, we decided to go and explore the local area.
Just a stone’s throw away from the hotel was Beaulieu River and Mill Dam, a tranquil location to sit and basque in the last rays of sunshine.
After a quick trip into the local shops, we headed back and swung by the hotel bar to order a couple of drinks, of which the bar staff offered to deliver them to our room instead of us having to wait – a nice touch.
It was then dinner time, and we were excited to experience the award-winning three AA Rosette Terrace Restaurant.
Good food is a focus at The Montagu Arms, and Executive Chef Nathan Eades, is said to offer an unparalleled fine-dining experience.
Having trained in French classical cooking, his menus see British home comforts reimagined in elevated and exciting ways, providing modern and refined yet unpretentious dishes.
The menus also champion seasonality and fresh hyper local Hampshire ingredients, including produce from the hotel’s bountiful organic kitchen garden, so we were expecting great things.
We chose the four-course menu, and between us, sampled all the options. Up first was the crispy duck egg with white bean ragout and smoked bacon and the old Winchester cheese tartlet. We then moved on to our second dish of the evening; hand-dived scallop with tomatoes and pickled cucumber, or line caught sea bass, before rounding off the savoury courses with slow roast guinea fowl.
For dessert, the English raspberry puff pastry with lemon balm was selected, and it did not disappoint. The flavours were powerful and complimented one another perfectly. The selection of local cheeses, on the other hand, with local honey, chutney and biscuits were equally as impressive and completed a perfect meal. The food was sublime, the presentation beautiful and the service was quick and friendly.
The wine menu, although extensive, offered something for every budget. In keeping with local produce, we enjoyed a bottle of white wine from Danebury Vineyards, Hampshire.
Regardless of whether you’re a guest at the hotel, the restaurant alone is worth the trip.
Following a glorious night’s sleep, we woke up to be greeted by another day of sunshine, so we decided to sit outside in fluffy white robes and slippers, enjoying the first sip of coffee and enjoy the sound of nature.
Breakfast was served from 8am to 10am, and we strolled in around 9am, with plenty of tables still available despite the hotel being fully booked.
On offer was a selection of pastries, fruits, meats, cheeses and cereals, or several hot options; full English breakfast, grilled kippers with poached egg and lemon, eggs benedict with ham or smoked salmon, warm porridge, or scrambled eggs with smoked salmon.
The staff were warm and welcoming, and the food was delicious once again.
Although our stay was brief, it was exceptional. From the moment we stepped foot into the gardens, to the couple of hours we enjoyed chef Nathan and his team’s excellent food, The Montagu Arms is the perfect place to escape reality and recharge the batteries.
The Luxury Classic Car Break at The Montagu Arms is priced at £997 for two people in a Courtyard Deluxe Room. The package is bookable with all other room categories (including a Standard Double) starting from £500 per person. Nightly rates vary.
· Overnight accommodation including breakfast in The Terrace or served in your room
· Four-course dinner in award-winning restaurant The Terrace with classic wine pairing by Head Sommelier
· Classic car hire from Beaulieu Garage – choose from a 1966 Jaguar E-Type, 1967 Austin Healy 3000 MK III or the Gardner Douglas 427 Cobra
· Two tickets to the Beaulieu Motor Museum
· A copy of Classic Motoring Magazine
For more information, visit www.montaguarmshotel.co.
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