Craving some fresh air with your loved one? Need a break from the city life? Surprise them with a short trip to the southern English coast, just a quick hour and a half drive from London. It’s the perfect place sure to please all nature lovers (beach and forest alike!)
Morning stroll on the Beach
Start the morning at Hengistbury Head by taking the ferry from the Mudeford quay. On your stroll you will find quintessential beach huts, beautiful scenery and an oasis of tranquility. Be sure to take a moment to watch the yachts on the harbor, the families crabbing and the waves rolling in gently from the sea. No matter the weather, it’s charm is sure to win you over.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite head over to The Pig in the New Forest for lunch.
Lunch at The Pig
The Pig or “country house restaurant with rooms” as they like to call themselves, is exactly what you would imagine if you closed your eyes and pictured an English country escape. It is a 30 bedroom country house that perfectly mixes luxury and homely charm. A gentle stroll around the premises will likely lead to many surprises such as the smoke house, kitchen garden, greenhouse, paddocks and wild flower orchards – truly exemplifying the definition of “farm to table”. For those seeking to immerse themselves a bit further, the house is surrounded by the New Forest. A fantastic place to wander after a meal!
Tip: Plan to arrive a half hour before your reservation (recommended!) and enjoy a cocktail by the fire before your table is ready. This is a great way to relax and take it all in before going into the kitchen garden for your meal. The Pig is particularly well designed and the decor is sophisticated and welcoming. Everything is in the detail, and the details are impeccable.
Once your table is ready, head into the restaurant which has a stunning greenhouse-conservatory feel. The menu changes often and all meals are freshly prepared only using ingredients the forager finds or the kitchen gardener deems to be in perfect condition. In line with the hotel name, the menu is “perfectly porcine” including items such as piggy bits. The ever changing menu is also “vegetarian-friendly” offering sections such as “forest bits” and “picked this morning”. The Pig truly is a food-lover’s paradise with top notch and friendly service.
Afternoon walk in the New Forest
After your meal, take your love by the hand and adventure into the New Forest (fun fact for history buffs: it was declared a royal hunting ground by King William). On your stroll you will likely see wild ponies, cows and sheep grazing among other wild animals. It is the perfect place to take in the fresh air and enjoy the afternoon away from the city chaos.
Dinner at Lime Wood
After the stroll through the New Forest, head on over to Lime Wood, The Pig’s sister restaurant. The hotel has a history dating back to the 13th century where it began its life as a hunting lodge. It is now a chic hotel with top-notch design, luxury spa and mouth-watering restaurants.
Start off at the charming and cozy Courtyard hotel bar – a great place to socialize before dinner. The bartenders are very friendly and the space manages to be beautiful yet unpretentious. The cocktails are delicious and their wine list is extensive (and sure to impress any wine connoisseurs you may be with!).
For dinner, head on over to Hartnett Holder & Co, a stylish restaurant one door down that focuses on Italian locally sourced dishes. While a bit fancier than the hotel bar, the restaurant manages to keep a very down to earth feel, which is often unexpected when the restaurant is run by world renown chefs (Angela Hartnett and Luke Holder). Many of their dishes are easily shared so be sure to choose a selection with your partner to get the most out of the experience. Don’t be afraid to take the sommelier up on some wine pairing suggestions – you will not regret it!
Similar to The Pig, every bite tastes incredibly fresh (per the menu warning label “Please be aware that all game dishes may contain shot”). The flavors are exquisite and truly a unique experience! Once you’ve had some dessert, or “pudding”, finish off the evening with a nightcap by the fire in the library to end your wonderful day in the country.
In just 24 hours, you may feel relaxed enough to go back to tackle the hustle and bustle of the city…
Words and images by Hana Benkirane.
Ms Zigzag says: 24 hours of quaint, English countryside bliss! I’m looking forward to reading more romantic travel stories from our shiny, new writer at the Polka Dot Bride blog, Hana Benkirane.
About Hana Benkirane: Hana is a citizen of the world, holder of three passports and a modern nomad. She has moved to a different country every three years of her life and was bitten by the travel bug at a very early age.