Living / 9 October, 2023 / Ellie Thompson
The Montagu Arms in the New Forest is a hidden gem for families seeking a wonderful getaway in the heart of nature. Set amidst the lush greenery of the New Forest, The Montagu Arms is 4* hotel offering a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life. The natural beauty of the surrounding area is a playground for nature lovers, and there are plenty of opportunities for family hikes, picnics, and wildlife spotting.
*This Autumn, The Montagu Arms is running a ‘kids stay free offer’ for children aged 16 and under, so I was excited to take the family along for the weekend.
In June, we welcomed a new member into our family – an adorable cockapoo puppy named Paddy. He has quickly become a cherished part of our family, but he does make planning weekend getaways a bit more challenging. Fortunately, The Montagu Arms promised to be family- and dog-friendly!
The five us of us made our way to reception, following the winding walkways that took us through the hotel’s charming landscaped country gardens. Despite it being mid-October, the mercury was in the mid-20s, and we met an array of beautiful flowers in full bloom. We eventually found ourselves in the restaurant garden, where a group of fledgling sparrows danced about from hedge to hedge as fellow guests basked in the sun trap, enjoying a quiet glass of wine. The afternoon was already in full swing.
The hotel staff were warm and welcoming. We checked in, and a porter carried our bags and led us back through the English gardens to our secluded digs. We stayed in Juniper, a Courtyard Retreat with a private outside terrace adorned with table and chairs, overlooking yet another stunningly manicured garden.
Nestled within the original chauffeur garages of the hotel, the Courtyard Retreat rooms are spacious and well-equipped, with high ceilings that add a touch of grandeur while interiors exude an inviting and luxurious ambiance.
On arrival, the kids were welcomed with an activity pack from the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, a homemade gingerbread donkey biscuit, a personal welcome letter and a bottle of Baylis & Harding Goodness Kids Lavender & Chamomile Natural Bubble Bath. The kids’ sofa bed was set out and made up so they could pick their side of the bed and get their teddies organised. Our Queen-sized bed sat next to theirs, and there was also a dog bed for Paddy, with a Beco Pets’ dog hamper. The definition of a pampered pooch!
We’re on the brink of renovating our bathroom after our recent move, and I must admit, the retreat’s bathroom gave us plenty of interior inspiration. With heated wooden flooring, opulent marble tiles and rich green panelled walls, the large bathroom housed a walk-in rainforest shower (that didn’t flood the room after a couple of minutes, like so many walk-in showers seem to do!) and a standalone bathtub, all decked out with traditional fixtures and fittings.
Exploring the quiet little village of Beaulieu, we found an independent chocolate shop just around the corner from the hotel and stocked up on treats, as well as a scoop of mint choc ice cream each in a chocolate-lined wafer cone. Our youngest is four and going through the reluctant-to-walk-anywhere stage, but next to the hotel, we found a riverbank with a large grass area, with free-roaming cows and a family of swans for entertainment. We took a stroll there, went on a hunt for conkers, and sat down on the benches to bask in the late afternoon sunshine.
For families with older children, the riverside walk between Beaulieu village and Buckler’s Hard is two and a quarter miles long (four and a half if you walk back to your starting point). The riverside path takes you past many talking points, allowing you to enjoy a peaceful walk along the river, with a little local history thrown in.
In the evening, we went next door to Monty’s Inn, the hotel’s gastropub, where we tucked into steak and chips while the kids enjoyed fish and chips. The husband was happy as we sat in the bar area and watched the England rugby match. (He wasn’t so happy with the result). There was even an Al Bark menu for Paddy. He dined on beef casserole, which he very much enjoyed – and he’s a really picky eater!
Breakfast for families with dogs is served in the restaurant’s conservatory, just next to the main restaurant, where you’ll find a delicious breakfast buffet. My daughter enjoyed piling muffins, yoghurt and dried apricots onto her place, and she ate the lot. The apricots did come back to haunt her a little later in the day – we didn’t realise how many she’d eaten! Shock, horror.
Tuck into the buffet and/or enjoy a cooked breakfast; nothing’s too much trouble. When the staff realised my son was on a dairy-free diet, they went to great lengths to try to accommodate him, which is tricky when all he really wanted was a pot of Nutella to dive into. He was very patient and waited for his cooked breakfast, and was eventually delighted with sausages and beans!
The stunning natural setting, welcoming staff and beautiful digs make The Montagu Arms an ideal destination for a family-friendly getaway – especially if you have a dog. We can’t wait to return and create more wonderful memories in this enchanting part of the world.
To book, contact The Montagu Arms. Family friendly stays at The Montagu Arms starts from £289 per room, based on two adults sharing on a bed and breakfast basis.
*Kids stay free – usually and outside of the above offer, children aged 3 years old or under can stay for free; however, please note they are unable to stay in the Hay Loft Suites. Children between the age of 3-16 years old sharing a room with adults will be charged at £35 per person per night, including breakfast.