Inside the luxury 4-star hotel that was once a WWI Hospital

Fancy a quick romantic getaway with beautiful scenery or a relaxing spa weekend with your friends? We've got you covered. Barely an hour and a half away from the busy streets of London by train, Balmer Lawn Hotel and Spa in the New Forest has a fascinatingly rich history, jaw-dropping food and their very own version of Casper the friendly ghost.

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For those searching for luxury accommodation within walking distance of the beautiful New Forest, a visit to the Balmer Lawn Hotel and Spa is an absolute must. Conveniently located just minutes away from Brockenhurst station, the picturesque woodland, lakes, wetlands, rivers, streams and ponds make the area perfect for those in search of both an active and relaxing holiday or staycation.

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Visitors to the hotel will be in great company as it has played host to many famous people throughout history including King George V, Winston Churchill and General Eisenhower...

Balmer Lawn Hotel and Spa's history

The Balmer hotel has plenty to offer history lovers. The hotel grounds appear in early documents related to William The Conqueror, while the earliest mention of the hotel's name is found in documents dating back to the 16th century. During the First World War, the hotel was used as a field hospital.

The wounded were transported from Brockenhurst Station on luggage trolleys to the Balmer Lawn. Local residents still remember wheeling injured soldiers up to Balmer Lawn in spite of rain or snow! In the Second World War, the Balmer Lawn Hotel was again repurposed and served as Army Staff College.

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Balmer Lawn Hotel has a rich history

Some of the 'Orders for the Day' were issued from the hotel for the D-Day invasion and during its extensive refurbishment, ammunition was frequently found under the floorboards. For those hoping to encounter the friendly hotel ghost that some guests have reported spotting, I regret to inform you that I did not meet the phantom during my stay.

Nonetheless, the ghost - who according to witnesses appears as a doctor in scrubs complete with a stethoscope - would have a hard time stopping me from ordering another round of the hotel's mind-blowing salted caramel fondant with lemon sorbet. It's out of this world!

Balmer Lawn Hotel and Spa's restaurants and food

Beresford Wine and Dining offers visitors style, elegance, class and cosy lighting. The dress code is smart casual and from the moment of sitting down in the restaurant's comfy chairs to the last bite of complementary chocolate, the hotel mastered the feeling of luxury.

The Chargrilled Watermelon is the most unusual starter on the menu and one definitely worth trying. It surprised me with its non-fruity taste and completely unique flavour. My boyfriend insists that I mention the 8oz Fillet Steak and claims he will be dreaming of it for years to come. As recommended by a friendly staff member, for dessert I opted for a Salted Caramel Fondant with a side of lemon sorbet – and it definitely lived up to my high expectations.

beresford-restaurant
beresford-restaurant

The restaurant offers a wide range of starters, mains and desserts and their menu is updated frequently to ensure the best quality and seasonal foods. With gluten, vegan and vegetarian options available, rest assured there is something to suit everyone's preferences.

Another of the hotel's restaurants, Lodge Kitchen and Bar, is the place for resting after a day's walking, getting cosy and taking in the beautiful scenery around you. The restaurant helps keep you warm in all weather with outdoor heaters and fluffy blankets. Their signature dish is a homemade pizza, handcrafted in the hotel's Gozney pizza oven. It is made right next to the restaurant's sitting area, where guests can witness their orders being prepared. You can also order Italian-style classic pasta dishes.

For those in search of something different, there is Spatchcock Poussin, Pea and Broad Bean Salad and Gnocchi with roasted peppers. The menu also features a selection of nibbles, small bites and children's options.

Balmer Lawn Hotel and Spa's facilities and treatments

An integral part of Balmer Hotel is the Saltus Spa. Guests are greeted by a smiling staff, dim lighting and a distinct essential oil aroma that instantly relaxes and puts your mind at ease. Whether you are looking for a way to recharge, planning a girls' weekend away or a romantic spa getaway with your other half, Saltus is the way to go. Guests can choose from a number of options including a spa day which consists of robes, slippers, towels, a light lunch and use of leisure facilities as well as two treatments of your choice. (£129) Other offers within the Spa include facials (starting from £50), a diverse selection of massages (starting from £50) tailored to your personal needs, age-defying/revitalising treatments, and beauty treatments.

beresford-spa
beresford-spa

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My personal recommendation for those wanting to enjoy a massage with lighter pressure would be a full-body aromatherapy massage (£75). The 55-minute-long massage will revive your spirit and relax your core muscles. Conveniently situated within the main hotel building, the leisure area has several activities to help you relax, detox or exercise. The facilities include a Finnish sauna (70-80C), a cosy indoor swimming pool, an outdoor pool (open seasonally), a powerful hot tub and a well-equipped gym.

Afternoon Tea at Balmer Lawn Hotel and Spa

One of the most unique experiences to have at the hotel is an indulgent Traditional Afternoon Tea (£24.95 per person), held in the comfortable lounge or on the front terrace overlooking Balmer Lawn's gardens. The experience includes a pot of Birchall Tea, freshly prepared finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam and a selection of home-baked cakes and biscuits. Without a doubt, it is a tasty way to make precious memories with your friends and loved ones.

afternoon-tea
afternoon-tea

If you are in the mood for something extra, a more festive option of Champagne Afternoon Tea (£33.95 per person) awaits! Walks and activities near Balmer Lawn Hotel and Spa Walking routes are in abundance in the New Forest. The trails range from 0.3 miles to 34 miles in length and the ability to combine paths means you can take in all the natural beauty that surrounds you. The wide variety of choices includes dog-friendly trails, deer-spotting hikes and bike-friendly routes.

Not forgetting a full menu of different pub walks! For bird watchers, I would highly recommend watching out for the park's famous wetlands which attract wildlife including birds. On my recent adventure, we were very lucky to spot a Treecreeper. They climb up trees in a spiral around the trunk and are a rare sight. If you are overwhelmed with choices and unsure which walk will best fit your hobbies or preferences, the hotel's friendly hotel staff can assist you in finding your perfect match.

This is your friendly reminder to make sure you equip yourself with waterproofs and adequate footwear amid the UK's unpredictably changing weather. The hotel kindly offers a selection of wellingtons for their guests to borrow on a rainy day but please note that there is no guarantee on the size you need being available. Not saying adventures in the rain aren't fun… but having a pair of wellingtons to jump in puddles is certainly preferable to soaking your white trainers.

Rooms at Balmer Lawn Hotel and Spa

Balmer Lawn Hotel has three floors and accommodates 56 rooms, including seven luxury rooms most of which include a balcony and boast traditional décor as a tribute to the hotel’s Victorian heritage. You can check which of the rooms best fits your needs on the hotel’s website in the 'Our Rooms' tab using the 'compare all room features' and 'view floor plan' options.

balmer-hall-inside-room
balmer-hall-inside-room

The rooms' distinctive features include air-conditioning, the presence of a balcony, different bed sizes, window views and the presence or option of additional beds. Each room has a warm interior with a décor typically consisting of dark wood furniture and cosy armchairs or velvet-coated sofa beds, a tasteful nod to the hotel's Victorian past.

Balcony rooms allow you to admire the lawn, cricket pitch and forest beyond. Nothing beats a morning on your balcony watching the sunrise in the hotel's comfy bathrobe with a cup of complimentary coffee or hot chocolate!

Prices start from £175 per night. To book, visit booking.com

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