I wanted a hotel in the New Forest with spa facilities as a birthday treat for mum so chose this hotel as it was recommended in a well-known magazine. On arrival I asked the friendly receptionist to contact the spa and book a treatment, and she was happy to do so, saying they would call me back. However having been away from the room, about an hour before the time we requested, I checked with a different (and more sullen) receptionist if it was booked, who said they couldn’t do it from there and would have to enquire myself (!!). So I duly went down the 30-odd steps to the spa but no-one was there. I returned later about 20 mins before the treatment was due to start and was told nothing had been booked. I was surprised, but this was probably for the best considering that when I asked if there was a lift down to the area for my disabled mother, she said no (about half the steps are steep and narrow and would have been too much for arthritic knees). I later saw an outside entrance for guests with mobility issues, but wasn’t told about this, and don’t think it looked practical anyway.
I just re-read the hotel’s accessibility webpage and I think it’s a tad misleading. It mentions 3 lifts: one from the description I take to be a stannah-type affair down a short flight to the lounge bar, and there was a wheelchair ramp down another. I didn’t notice any others however, and certainly not the conventional type. There are also around 25 steps (albeit shallow) up our suite, the Munro, to which the receptionist confirmed there was no lift: my fault I guess; I’ll be sure to ask specific questions before booking next time.
Similarly, we saw one loo halfway between reception and the Lounge bar, which was reserved for disabled guests. A sign on the door said others should use those by main reception, though we didn’t see any, or signs for any either. Perhaps they were in the cloak room – if so this was down another steep flight of steps!
Our room was nice – it’s the mullioned bay over reception on the front – but I would struggle to call it a suite: 2 small tub chairs squeezed in the bay behind the dressing table (from which a large TV pops up at the press of a button). The bed was large and comfortable, and a there was a good choice of teas and coffees. An original stone & wood fireplace was in the corner and there was panelling around and above, but that was the only antique/original piece of furniture I could see. The bathroom was lovely and modern: big with a huge sink, recessed bath, and large shower with side jets. Bathrobes were provided but if you are on the chunkier side I recommend you bring your own! The bedroom (if not the bathroom) was warm and quiet at night though I heard people above moving about the next morning; could even hear their touch tone phone.
The hotel itself is typically late Victorian gothic – dark and heavy in places with requisite creaky floorboards; more airy Edwardian in others, and of course with modern extensions. There are also numerous timeshare apartments. Afternoon teas are served in the Lounge Bar: quite Corporate looking but comfortable with nice views over an ornamental pond. The girl behind the bar was polite but struggled to understand English and got the order wrong. Afternoon tea was nice: finger sandwiches, small (if dry) scones with jam and cream and a few petit fours. It was filling and we both felt this was better value than the 3 course meal that evening: nouvelle cuisine which however beautifully presented and served, if put together on one plate would struggle to make a single meal (it didn’t come with vegetables for instance) – definitely not one for rugby players! Breakfast was better value and I can recommend the vegetarian platter.
We had a few strolls around the garden. We stayed in February so it was quite bare, but the views were nice and the aspect over the rear garden is definitely better. Sadly we didn’t see any wildlife like other reviewers, just a few birds. Perhaps a walk through the forest would be required, as might a longer summer break. I also like the idea of archery or horse riding which the hotel can help arrange, but this stay was too short for that.
To sum up, it was a nice place and I would recommend it, but maybe better for explorers or those happy to sit back and do nothing rather than those with mobility issues or wish to be active on site.
Finally, beware the Forest rangers on the narrow bumpy drive up through the forest approach: they travel in packs, at speed, and don’t give way!
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- Also Known As:
- Rhinefield House Hotel Brockenhurst
- Rhinefield Hotel Brockenhurst
- Rhinefield House Brockenhurst, New Forest National Park