Tucked away in the heart of the New Forest, Careys Manor & SenSpa offer elegant English tradition combined with contemporary oriental sophistication.
As a destination I hold close to my heart, returning to the New Forest often feels like coming home. I have many childhood memories of summer holidays spent cycling the forests, feasting on picnics and camping with friends. With the prospect of a weekend of sunshine ahead, I took the opportunity to escape to the New Forest; boyfriend in-tow, to it’s blossoming heath-land, wild ponies, cosy pubs and an oasis of relaxation at Careys Manor & Senspa.
Making a swift exit out of the City, miraculously missing any Friday night traffic, we were greeted by the setting sun as we travelled up a meandering gravel drive towards Careys Manor. I can only describe the view of Careys Manor as something out of a quintessential English novel. Immaculate lawns, trimmed hedges, tudor chimneys and air of history. Nestled under the bows of the trees is an outdoor bar and comfortable sofa setting, the perfect place to start your weekend with a glass of Provencal as the sun begins dip behind the trees.
Upon arrival the concierge were friendly and efficient, quickly handing over our keys and securing our table bookings at the award winning hotel restaurant Cambium. The helpful young woman at the front desk, talked us through our itinerary of spa treatments before showing us to our cosy Knightwood room (2 nights B&B from £418).
We quickly settled into our room, contemporary in style with a locally handcrafted double bed, flat-screen television and en-suite bathroom. We freshened up and headed for the bar. It didn’t take long for the barman to woo us with his skills and wonderful offering of bespoke cocktails, local ales and a selection of wines (sold by the glass and bottle) from Italy to South Africa and beyond.
Having arrived a little late, the sommelier and restaurant staff kindly accommodated us and organised a beautiful table. The Cambium boasts a relaxed, yet refined dining experience with something to delight everyone. As my boyfriend is Vegan, we often find it difficult to find something to suit us both. This was not the case at Cambium, the chef was more than happy to whip up a selection of Vegan dishes. I enjoyed three delicious courses, including sustainably sourced Loch Duart salmon, beef cheek from a smallholding called Pond Head Farm near Lyndhurst and the most divine dessert of ginger sponge, chocolate orange mousse, white chocolate ice cream and orange shards. Tummies full and a bottle of wine down, left us feeling suitably ‘marinated’, but not quite ready to call it a night. Getting comfortable in the quiet room, we settled in for a game of Scrabble accompanied by G&T’s – its the simple things!
Well-rested after a beautiful nights sleep, we decided to enjoy a delicious New Forest breakfast in the hotel’s Zen Garden Restaurant. The sounds of traditional Thai chimes and moving water filled the air, leaving us feeling calm, fresh and ready for the day in the forest.
Close to the village of Brockenhurst and short stroll from a rich tapestry of New Forest landscape, we were spoilt for choice. Feeling a million miles from the city we set off by car, parking up not far from Lyndhurst and headed out into the forest. We delighted in watching herds of grazing New Forest ponies, highland cows and the odd donkey. We managed a decent 2-hour trail before looping back through a boggy marsh… of course fooled by the weather, I was in the wrong footwear; my converse used to be white you know…
Arriving back at Careys Manor, we had a light lunch at the French bistro Le Blaireau, where you can enjoy simple classics like steak frites, moules, escargot and croque monsieur. Letting our food settle we headed in to change before our Senspa massages.
Creaking staircases and beamed ceilings juxtapose the Thai decor and relaxing cents of zesty lime, palmarosa and bergamot that fill the air. Tranquil settings and award winning Thai spa facilities, this is where the real treasure of Careys Manor can be found.
We were welcomed with a relaxing tea before being escorted to our chosen luxury treatments (SenVitalising massage and SenSpa Lava Shell Massage). The SenSpa Lava Shell Massage is a relaxing 60-minute treatment using self-heating Natural Tiger clam shells. These eco-friendly shells come from the south-pacific and are powered by lava gel a mixture of minerals, algae and dead sea kelp which, when mixed with sea water, generates its own heat. The warmth of the shells combined with the deeply relaxing massage techniques and relaxing oils were simply heavenly as I felt the stress of the week melt away.
Reluctantly showering off the massage oils (note to self use the hydro-pool before your massage treatment) we indulged in some Sauna/Steam room time, before taking the plunge and continuing the relaxation in the hydrotherapy pools.
Whether you are staying for the day or enjoying a weekend break, the traditional Thai hospitality, revitalising treatments, heavenly spa facilities and New Forest backdrop will have you regularly fleeing the city for some Thai escapism in the heart of the English countryside.