You have to be deeply relaxed to nod off during a massage, so falling completely asleep, not once, but twice, during my treatment at the Lime Wood hotel spa shows what an incredibly relaxing spa treatment it was.
This was quite an achievement considering that on the drive through the New Forest to get to Lime Wood, my car’s windscreen wipers packed up just as it started raining and so finding the way up Lime Wood’s winding country drive was more stressful than it should have been. By the time I arrived at the spa I was a bag of nerves.
Arriving at Lime Wood hotel spa
However the warm welcome I received on entering the spa – staff seemed genuinely pleased to see people arriving, which is certainly not true for every spa – went a long way to alleviating the travel tension. Within 10 minutes I was tucked up in a fluffy white robe on a lounger overlooking the indoor pool and well on my way to spa bliss.
Herb House – to give the spa at Lime Wood its proper name – is a constant presence on top hotel spa lists and it’s easy to see why. While it isn’t the biggest of hotel spas, it makes great use of its space and its attention to detail and little personal touches are what you would hope for from the team behind the excellent Pig hotels. The changing room is immaculate; the lockers are stocked with towels, robes and slippers, there are rainfall showers, mirrors, all manner of luxury products and even a room with a tin bath in for that home-from-home experience.
Upstairs surrounding the 16-metre indoor pool are a dozen or so comfy loungers, and staff are very good at clearing away towels, making sure there isn’t a shortage of spare beds to relax on. Outside in the middle of a pretty garden terrace is a large hot tub – lovely and warm in spite of the drizzling rain – and in the summer time the roof, planted with dozens of different herbs – is a lovely spot for sunbathing or some al fresco yoga.
Exploring the facilities at Lime Wood hotel spa
Once I had summoned up the energy to get up from my lounger I discovered an adjoining area which had a steam room, a sauna, a hydrotherapy pool and a caldarium, all with views of the surrounding forest so you felt like you were nestled on the forest floor. There are eight treatment rooms and my massage was in the double one, again with a great view of the trees outside and with its own steam bath and private terrace.
My 90-minute Bamford Signature Facial was an epic pampering session which include deep tissue massage, hot stones, a foot massage, exfoliation and a lot of fabulous-smelling oils. It was one of the most relaxing spa treatments I’ve ever had and was just gutted later on that I’d fallen asleep (twice!). Afterwards, totally spaced out, I floated up to the Raw and Cured food bar to enjoy an extremely healthy juice and a ‘Raw Picnic Board’ – a selection of that day’s salads, root dips, vegetable crisps, crudities and raw bread. In spite of being probably very good for me it was delicious, but those who are having a more indulgent spa day the restaurant also offers beers, ciders, wine and champagne.
Inside Lime Wood hotel
There was just time for a sneaky peek at the Lime Wood hotel itself. The main building, a Regency country manor house looked like a larger and grander version of the Pig near Bath – the site of an earlier memorable stay. Inside, the hotel was beautifully laid out with a succession of pleasant lounges, slightly smarter than the rustic shabby-chic of the Pigs. However the air of cosy indulgence was the same and hinted at a beautifully relaxing stay at this boutique country house hotel.
For those looking to have an active day or weekend at Lime Wood, the spa also has a gym, fitness classes, personal training and hosts star trainers on occasions such as Matt Roberts. But for those just wanting to relax and indulge, the Herb House deserves its rave reviews.
Hotel information and to book Lime Wood hotel spa
Herb House spa
Lyndhurst SO43 7FZ
Check with the spa for its range of spa day packages.
Check out these other great places to stay in the New Forest: Burley Manor hotel in the New Forest: relaxing, country charm; Chewton Glen hotel, New Forest: luxury from spa to treehouse; Montague Arms, Beaulieu: a New Forest feast; Boutique luxury at Daisybank Cottage, Brockenhurst