Home Hotel reviews The Bell Inn New Forest – cosy coaching inn with rooms

The Bell Inn New Forest – cosy coaching inn with rooms

by Sarah Bridge
The Bell Inn New Forest

A stay at The Bell Inn New Forest

There’s a warm glow which comes when reading a newspaper article called ‘Cosiest pubs to stay in this winter’, and realising  you are heading off to stay in one of those featured that very day.

This happened to me recently when about to head off to The Bell Inn in the New Forest. Reading the paper over my morning coffee I found that it had been singled out as the perfect place from which to enjoy bracing country walks, and to return to for post-walk drinks by its log fire.

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the bell inn new forest exterior

The Bell Inn is an 18th-century former coaching inn in the New Forest national park

Expectations were high therefore as I took to the road and thankfully I wasn’t disappointed – The Bell Inn is a charming place and I was fortunate enough to stay for two extremely cosy nights.

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Arriving at The Bell Inn

Having previously spent a considerable amount of time driving through the New Forest itself to get to various hotels I was surprised at how handy The Bell Inn is to get to – it was literally just a few minutes off the M27 so you don’t waste a moment snarled up in Lyndhurst traffic before getting stuck into some serious relaxing.

the bell inn new forest interior

Local food and drinks are served in the light and airy bar as well as the adjoining restaurant

The Bell Inn has been in the Crosthwaite Eyre family for hundreds of years (since 1782 to be precise). Much of the food served in the restaurant has either been grown or raised on the family’s New Forest estate  – some also comes from the family’s estate in Scotland – so the pub is very much a local enterprise and during my stay was preparing to host a dozen local suppliers in its annual Christmas fair.

While the building might be old, inside it has the look and feel of a more modern establishment, with immaculate carpets, newly-painted walls, cream wood cladding around the bar and much smarter than the  uneven flooring, low ceilings and generally rickety feel that I was expecting, given its age.

bell inn new forest bar

The bar looked much more modern than I had been expecting (but had still kept its original charm)

Bedrooms at The Bell Inn New Forest

My room, number 12, was on the first floor overlooking the large garden which would be a great spot for some al fresco dining in the summer.  The room itself was extremely spacious, containing a smart bathroom with bath and separate shower (and a range of posh toiletries) and the bedroom itself had plenty of room for a king-sized bed, sofa, writing desk and lots of storage space.

double bedroom at the bell inn new forest

My room overlooked the garden and was very spacious

the bell inn new forest view of the gardens

The view of the large beer garden from my bedroom window

As you’d expect from a coaching inn there was the slightest sound of passing cars from the road (which doesn’t bother me anyway) but other rooms are completely insulated and you can’t hear a thing.

It was all very smart and ideal for a country stay and couldn’t be faulted, although if I’m being picky I think it would be nice to have had some additional touches in the rooms unique to The Bell Inn which would have made it feel a little more personal and a ‘home away from home’ feel.

Food and drink at The Bell Inn

Downstairs in the bar which was filling up with locals (always a good sign) I enjoyed a pre-dinner half of Double Drop from the Flack Manor brewery just a few miles away.

the bell inn new forest beers

The Bell Inn does a great range of local ales

The local theme continued into the restaurant where there was an excellent ‘food map’ on the reverse of the menu showing where the food had come from: eggs from Ringwood, fish from the estuary, game, meat and poultry from nearby Swallowfields Farm and herbs from The Bell Inn’s own herb garden.

the restaurant at the bell inn new forest

The restaurant at The Bell Inn has a pleasantly rustic feel

the food map of suppliers to the bell inn new forest

On the back of the menu was an informative food map of where The Bell Inn sources its food

The food was a cut above your average pub grub, with an extensive menu ranging from ‘nibbles’ and salads to the full works, with daily special and gluten-free and vegetarian options. My pan-seared scallops with black pudding soil (I think soil needs to disappear from menus soon though) and fennel and pea puree was excellent, as was the Hampshire lamb with slow-cooked shoulder and crispy belly and roast loin.

pan-fried scallops with fennel

My starter of pan-fried scallops with fennel and pea puree and black pudding soil…

Hampshire lamb with slow-cooked shoulder and crispy belly

….followed by Hampshire lamb with slow-cooked shoulder and crispy belly

I was even able to sample a tiny portion of cheese which was just as well as the Isle of Wight Blue was fabulous. (Full marks for a detailed and well-chosen cheese list).

cheese menu at The Bell Inn New Forest

Cheese menu at The Bell Inn New Forest

cheese with biscuits at The Bell Inn New Forest

The cheese selection was delicious

A walk to Rufus Stone

The Bell Inn is a great place for country walks and a trip to the Rufus Stone made for an ideal way to walk off dinner and the hearty breakfast the following morning, It was well signposted from The Bell Inn and made for a pleasant half hour stroll along a winding lane.

the rufus stone in the new forest

The Rufus Stone is just a short walk from The Bell Inn and commemorates the spot where William II was accidentally shot and killed while hunting

This part of the world isn’t short of country pubs either; the William Tyrrell pub is on the way to the Rufus Stone and if you fancy a change from The Bell then the Green Dragon just across the road does a very nice pint of Wadworths rum-infused Swordfish ale.

Wadworth beer in the New Forest

Sampling some more local ales at The George pub across the road from The Bell Inn

Golf enthusiasts only need to walk round the back of The Bell Inn to find not one but two 18-hole courses at the Bramshaw Golf Club  (owned by the same family) including the Forest Course which is the oldest course in Hampshire. And for those who are slightly less activity-inclined – well, there’s always that roaring fire…

More info and to book the Bell Inn

The Bell Inn,
Brook nr Lyndhurst,
Hampshire SO43 7HE

Book The Bell Inn on Booking.com

Read more reviews of The Bell Inn on Tripadvisor

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