10 of the best New Forest hotels and accommodation for families
Enjoy the New Forest's woodland walks, wild ponies and Peppa Pig World at your own pace, with our round-up of the best family-friendly places to stay, whatever your budget
Famously beautiful, with an appealing mix of family attractions, rich wildlife and quaint spots for afternoon tea, the New Forest is an appealing break for families, whether you're planning an easy weekend break or a fun-packed summer holiday.
With thousands and thousands of cows, sheep, donkeys, pigs and ponies milling about the 140-acre National Park, the area feels like one giant farm, set in the unique landscape of ancient woodland, heather-covered heath, rural farmland, meandering streams and picture-postcard villages. Its proximity to the coast means there are also plenty of beaches nearby.
Located about 6 miles from Southampton, the New Forest is ever popular with cyclists, horse riders and hikers, making it at fantastic destination for families with older kids in need of activities. It’s also a magical part of the world for families with younger children looking for some wind-in-the-hair, climb-some-trees kind of fun.
As well as all the fresh-air antics you can get up to, the New Forest and its surrounding areas are fit to burst with paid attractions that your kids will love – Peppa Pig World, Beaulieu Motor Museum, New Forest Wildlife Park, Buckler’s Hard and Longdown Activity Farm, to name a few.
Whether you’re visiting for a minibreak, a week’s holiday or a longer family getaway, you’ll need somewhere to stay. There’s a huge array of large and boutique hotels, B&Bs, farmstays, camping sites, glamping sites, self-catering properties, lodges, converted barns, yurts, treehouses and other types of accommodation that you could use as a base.
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Here, drawing on the experiences of MadeForMums parent testers as well as local knowledge, we have rounded up the best places to stay, with young families in mind.
10 best family hotels and holiday properties in the New Forest stay at a glance
- Best for babies and young children: New Park Manor, from £300
- Best for large family groups: Sandy Balls Holiday Village, from £72
- Best kids club: Chewton Glen, from £705
- Best for animal lovers: Pyesmead Farm, from £600
- Best hotel with a pool: Balmer Lawn Hotel, from £260
- Best self-catering lodges: Headlands Farm, from £84
- Best luxury family break: Lime Wood Hotel, from £405
- Best glamping with hot tubs: Stud Farm Glamping, from £130
- Best dog-friendly hotel: Master Builder’s House at Buckler’s Hard, from £101
- Best for stargazing: Forest Park Country Hotel, from £113
Here’s our pick of the 10 best family hotels and holiday properties in the New Forest
1. New Park Manor, Brockenhurst
— Best for babies and young children
Type of property: Hotel
Key info: Price Family rooms from £300 per night (B&B) | Number of bedrooms 25 | Swimming pool Yes | Parking Free on-site car park | Dogs welcome Yes | Brockenhurst Station 2.3 miles | Email firstname.lastname@example.org to prebook crèche sessions
Nearby attractions: Paultons Park, home to Peppa Pig World, is a 20-minute-drive away and The New Forest Wildlife Park is 15 minutes away. Check out MadeForMums’ full list of the best family days out in the New Forest.
New Park Manor has seemingly thought of everything to make parents’ lives stress-free while staying here. MadeForMums Consumer & Reviews Editor, Christy, who visited with her 3- and 5-year-olds said, “It’s a brilliant marriage of luxury travel with the real-life practicalities of young children.”
Got a baby? Rent out a video monitor and use the listening service; make use of the cot, nappy bin and changing mat provided; and gratefully receive the free morning and evening milk or pureed baby food delivered to your room. Got a toddler? The hotel can provide essentials such as a potty and bed guard; the restaurant starts serving dinner early, from 5pm; and you can make use of the toddler bike seats and wagons from the hotel’s local provider if you want to go out exploring.
If you have a child 5+ order from the menu specially designed for little ones – think pizza, pasta with meatballs, plaice goujons, even a ham sandwich with Pom-Bears; set them loose in the games room to play table tennis, foosball, Nintendo Wii or board games; and drop them off in the cinema room, which plays films daily at 6pm and 8pm (with popcorn provided!) while you enjoy your dinner in peace.
If you choose to dine with the kids, there’s no need to worry if they’re a little squirmy/disruptive. As Christy appreciated: “I loved how this really felt like an environment where you can cosy down without stressing if your little ones aren’t always on their best behaviour.”
On top of all this, the complimentary crèche – the Den – offers 90 minutes of free childcare for every night of your stay (at select times), for children aged between 12 weeks and 8 years. As well as having playhouses, dressing-up clothes, toys and books to keep children occupied, themed activities are organised, like biscuit decorating, leaf wreath making, picture bingo and mocktail making.
Pros: Childcare included, gorgeous pool and spa, a lot to keep kids entertained, kid-friendly menu options
Cons: Beds are quite high for young children (but you can book a bed guard at the hotel), deep bath might make bathing a baby tricky
Read the full MFM New Park Manor Review
2. Sandy Balls Holiday Village, Fordingbridge
— Best for large family groups
Type of property: Holiday park
Key info: Price Family rooms from £72 | Number of properties 70 | Swimming pool Yes | Parking Free on-site car park| Dogs welcome Yes | Salisbury Station 12.3 miles | Some activities and facilities are seasonal – check here for details
Nearby attractions: Arniss Equestrian is a 2-minute drive away and the Dorset Heavy Horse Farm Park is a 15-minute drive. You can reach The New Forest Water Park in 5 minutes.
There are so many activities on offer for the family at this welcoming holiday park – even through the winter season – you might be hard-pressed to fit them all in. For starters, there’s the Superhero and Fairy Academies. Then there’s archery (for little ones there’s mini archery, which uses a child-friendly bow and ‘arrow’), target axe throwing, laser tag, Nerf challenge, disc golf, woodland survival, caching, catapult building and bug-hotel building. Next up, there’s all sorts of arts and crafts activities, like pottery painting, a slime workshop, creating bird boxes and constructing mini cars to ‘drive in’ to the outdoor cinema. Note that all of these activities cost extra. Use of the indoor and outdoor swimming pools, arcade, adventure playground, soft play and evening entertainment are included in the cost of staying here.
The type of accommodation varies to suit different budgets – with anything from a basic caravan to a fancy lodge, complete with hot tub and woodland views. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for, so the bigger your budget, the more pleasing your accommodation will be. You can choose self-catering or give yourself a break from the kitchen in one of the on-site restaurants.
Some holiday parks dictate what days you have to arrive and leave – Sandy Balls operates an ‘any-day arrivals’ policy, which is great. You know what else is great? The Alpaca & Prosecco Walks with Archie, Diego, Siri and their furry friends.
Pros: Many activities on offer, the on-site shop is handy for supplies, wide choice of accommodation to suit your budget
Cons: Some of the caravans are a little dated, not all bookings include free towels, no Wi-Fi in the accommodation (just village square)
3. Chewton Glen, New Milton
— Best kids club
Type of property: Hotel
Key info: Price Family rooms from £705 per room, per night | Number of bedrooms 58 rooms, 14 treehouses | Swimming pool Yes | Parking Free on-site car park | Dogs welcome Yes (in the treehouses only) | New Milton Station 1.7 miles | See The Beehive timetable here
Nearby attractions: Longdown Activity Farm is a 30-minute drive, Mudeford Quay (a great place for crabbing) is a 10-minute drive and Highcliffe Castle (which has fab grounds for little ones to run around and often hosts various kids’ activities inside the grand castle) is a 7-minute drive. If you don’t want to get in the car, a 20-minute woodland walk from the hotel will take you to the beach between Highcliffe and Barton on Sea.
While luxury and comfort spring to mind at the 5-star hotel, its unstuffy and welcoming approach to families means there's plenty for little guests to enjoy while parents unwind. Nature-based activities include duck-herding, sheep walking, goat grooming, pony pampering or owl handling.
Don’t worry if animals aren’t really their thing though – there are plenty of other activities on offer, such as foraging expeditions, art classes, archery, air-rifling, axe throwing and clay pigeon shooting. Obviously, some of these activities have age restrictions, and they do all cost extra.
There’s also the excellent Beehive kids club. Set in a treehouse-style den, it takes children aged 5 and over and runs so many different activities, including treasure hunts, games, quizzes, sports-day-style races and arts and crafts, giving you time to explore the incredible spa.
As you’d expect from a luxury hotel frequented by the likes of Elton John, Gwyneth Paltrow and Kate Moss, a stay at Chewton Glen is on the pricey side. There are a range of family rooms and suites to choose from, but if you really want to push the boat out, treat yourselves to a stay in one of the private treehouses, nestled in the woods, and complete with a bubbling hot tub.
Access to the treehouses is buggy friendly and they are perhaps even more luxurious than the rooms inside the main hotel. Tripadvisor reviewers described the treehouses as fun, comfortable, very private and a real treat. They also loved the delicious breakfast delivered through the hatch.
Pros: Luxurious, good food, lots of activities, lovely grounds to explore, excellent kids club, unique accommodation choices
Cons: Many activities cost extra, expensive
4. Pyesmead Farm, Romsey
— Best for animal lovers
Type of property: Self-catering barns
Key info: Price Family rooms from £600, per week | Number of bedrooms 4 | Swimming pool Yes | Parking Free on-site car park | Mottisfont & Dunbridge Station 7.5 miles
Nearby attractions: Paultons Park, home to Peppa Pig World, is a 10-minute-drive away. Marwell Zoo is a 30-minute drive away, as is the Army Flying Museum.
“Idyllic” and “a little slice of true heaven” is just some of the praise for Pyesmead Farm from previous guests. But don’t worry about your children spoiling the peace and quiet – little ones are very much encouraged to stay at this family-run working farm. Children will love making friends with the working dogs Reggie, Skip and Bryan, the affectionate farm cats, chickens, cows and sheep. If you time your trip for around April, you might even be lucky enough to hit lambing season. Cute is an understatement.
As well as adorable animals roaming around, the site also has 2 private fishing lakes (well-stocked with carp), a heated indoor swimming pool, a playground and a sit-on stationary tractor – guaranteed to be a big hit with toddlers.
You can choose to stay in one of the 4 charming barn conversions, set in a courtyard, sleeping between 2 and 7 people. Cots, highchairs and stairgates are available on request. Each barn has underfloor heating and offers self-catering facilities, but if you’re not in the mood to cook, you could eat at the nearby Rockingham Arms or The Shoe Inn, or get a takeaway from The Royal Jaipur.
Pyesmead Farm is a real family affair, run by David and Tina, and their son Robert. There are unanimous reviews on Tripadvisor calling the hosts lovely, friendly, welcoming, and couldn’t be more helpful. The farm itself is an ideal base for exploring the delights and sites of the New Forest, whether on foot, bike or horse.
Pros: Friendly owners, peaceful, cute animals, good location for exploring the forest, good for large groups
Cons: No children’s activities on-site
Book at: Pyesmeadfarm.co.uk
5. Balmer Lawn Hotel, Brockenhurst
— Best hotel with a pool
Type of property: Hotel
Key info: Price Family rooms from £260 per night (B&B) | Number of bedrooms 54 in total, 10 designed for families | Swimming pool Yes | Parking Free on-site car park | Dogs welcome Yes | Brockenhurst Station 1.2 miles
Nearby attractions: The New Forest Heritage Centre, which has various interactive exhibitions, is a 10-minute drive away. The Sammy Miller Motorcycle Museum, which has a children’s play area and resident chickens, goats, donkeys and alpacas, is a 20-minute drive.
The ‘welcoming committee’ here includes New Forest ponies grazing on the large lawn at the front of the hotel. Other features sure to be a hit are the 2 swimming pools, a zipwire in the garden, table tennis table and ‘Brockenhurst Beach’, which sits next to the hotel. Here, the shallow stream is just begging to be splashed in, jumped in, paddled in and swung over on the rope swing suspended from a tree. During the school holidays, the hotel sets up a games room, complete with games consoles, colouring sheets, board games and many more activities, such as activity trails. They also screen movies.
There are various room options for families, some with bunk beds, some with adjoining rooms, some with enough space for an extra cot, which is available on request. If you’re planning a slightly longer stay, the 3-bedroom, self-contained Lawn Lodge – adjacent to the hotel – is a lovely option. Kitted out with a selection of books and games, it also has self-catering facilities. Guests are still welcome to use the hotel’s facilities though, which includes a fabulous restaurant with a kids’ menu. The Lodge Kitchen & Bar is also a fun dining experience. In the winter, it’s decked out as a ‘ski lodge’ and in the summer it’s a ‘beach lodge’, adorned with surfboards and flip-flops hanging from trees.
If you or your family are interested in history, take a walk along the corridor outside the Club Room, where you’ll find wartime documents – some marked ‘MOST SECRET’ – that had been stashed under the floorboards here by a soldier during the war, and were unearthed during refurbishment work in 2015. MFM reviewer Katherine says, “My 9-year-old son is fascinated by World War II and thought these letters were ‘really cool’.”
Pros: Beautiful setting, good food options for kids, interesting history, lots of indoor and outdoor activities, choice of accommodation options
Cons: Kids’ games room only available during school holidays
6. Headlands Farm, West Wellow
— Best self-catering lodges
Type of property: Lodges
Key info: Price Family rooms from £84 | Number of bedrooms 6 | Swimming pool No | Parking Free on-site parking | Dogs welcome Yes | Romsey Station 4.3 miles
Nearby attractions: Paultons Park, home to Peppa Pig World, is a 10-minute-drive away. Sir Harold Hillier Gardens and National Trust’s Mottisfont are both about a 15-minute drive away.
Relax from the moment you set foot in your lodge at Headlands Farm, where the welcome-hamper service allows you to pre-order milk, bread, eggs (and not just ‘normal’ ones – duck and goose eggs, too), salad, homemade jams, chutneys and fudge, locally produced honey and – most importantly – tea from the New Forest Tea Company. Enjoy a cuppa on your terrace every morning as you watch the ducks swim by and the chickens waddle past. You can also order all kinds of meat and barbecue coals.
Choose to stay in either Willow Lodge, Pine Lodge or Oak Lodge, all beautiful and right by the lake’s edge. Each one has child- and dog-friendly decking with a picnic table for alfresco feasting, as well as a firepit perfect for toasting marshmallows, plus a lawn area where kids can run free. Each lodge has 2 bedrooms and can accommodate 4 guests. Inside, there is a TV and DVD player, with a selection of DVDs.
The on-site coffee shop serves all-day breakfast, lunch (children’s portions are available), homemade cakes and New Forest Ice Cream. Oh, and milkshakes using said ice cream, which go down very well with children (and, let’s face it, adults as well). For a change of scene, head to Carlo’s Ices ice cream parlour and tea rooms just up the road for your sweet fix.
In terms of activities, there’s a fishery next door to the lodges, which doesn’t require membership. The Top Lake needs to be booked but, as long as you have a rod licence (children under 13 don’t need a licence), you can just show up and fish at the Bottom Lake. Guests at the lodges get a half-price rate. If you want to explore further afield, there’s an Ordnance Survey map provided in each lodge that is handy for discovering local walks.
Pros: Peaceful, great on-site coffee shop, welcome hampers available
Cons: No activities on-site, no swimming pool, lakeside position means children need to be watched at all times
Book at: Headlandsfarm.co.uk
7. Lime Wood Hotel, Lyndhurst
— Best luxury family break
Type of property: Hotel
Key info: Price Family rooms from £405 a night | Number of bedrooms 33, including 14 suites, 2 cottages and 2 cabins | Swimming pool Yes | Parking Free on-site car park | Dogs welcome Yes (but not in the main house, spa or restaurants)| Beaulieu Road Station 2.6 miles
Nearby attractions: The New Forest Reptile Centre (which is open seasonally) is a 10-minute drive away and the Bolderwood Deer Sanctuary is a 15-minute drive.
Whilst you might not expect somewhere with velvet sofas, a state-of-the-art rooftop gym and a food bar called Raw & Cured to be super child-friendly, the 5-star Lime Wood Hotel is actually a gorgeous retreat for families with small children. We particularly recommend it for first-time parents looking for a little luxury in their sleep-deprived lives.
If you’re able to swap ‘baby duties’ with your other half, spend a couple of hours in the Herb House Spa – lazing in one of the 3 pools, doing yoga in the rooftop herb garden and indulging in one of the many treatments on offer. If you’d like to enjoy the spa (or anything else, for that matter) as a couple, the hotel works with various local babysitting services and nannies in lieu of having a kids club.
Although the Herb House Spa is designed to be a serene haven for adults, it does allow children in the lap pool at certain times: Monday to Sunday from 8am-10am, Friday to Sunday and bank holidays from 5pm-6.30pm. The Little Nippers Policy states that under 3s must wear a neoprene nappy as well as a swimming nappy (double security!), which can be purchased at reception if you don’t have one.
Food-wise, there’s a children’s menu in the ‘Italian-influenced’ restaurant, with the price of dishes varying quite drastically. The Somerset Saxon chicken Milanese will set you back £20, while sausages and beans cost £9.50, and a bowl of Heinz tomato soup coming in at a whopping £6! Colouring sheets and pencils are available, and there are highchairs in all the restaurants.
When the fresh air is calling, you can borrow wellies, kids’ bikes, adult bikes with toddler seats attached and scooters. There are plenty of walking and biking trails nearby, from which you’ll probably spot ponies, cows and – if you’re lucky – donkeys and pigs. If you’re a kid, life doesn’t really get much better than this.
Pros: Fabulous spa, babysitting service, able to borrow wellies/bikes/scooters, children’s menu
Cons: Expensive, children only allowed in pool at certain times, food can be pricey
Book at: Limewoodhotel.co.uk
8. Stud Farm Glamping, Lymington
— Best glamping with hot tubs
Type of property: Shepherd’s huts
Key info: Price Huts from £130 per night (includes welcome breakfast hamper) | Number of bedrooms 6 | Swimming pool No | Parking Free on-site parking | Dogs welcome Yes | Sway Station 1.2 miles
Nearby attractions: Lymington Sea Water Baths, which has a fun inflatable obstacle course, is about a 15-minute drive away. The ferry terminal over to Hurst Castle is also 15 minutes by car.
Make the children’s bathtime far more appealing with a soak under the stars in the River Side shepherd’s hut, complete with alfresco bathtub. Alternatively, opt for either the Meadow or Orchard hut, with indoor baths, as well as outdoor Scandinavian wood-fired hot tubs. These are fitted with a hydromassager, LED lights and wine-glass holder – heaven for parents in need of some serious relaxation.
Each heated shepherd’s hut boasts incredible views, with a stream and plenty of wildlife nearby – deer are frequently spotted ambling through the peaceful area. There’s a Wendy house full of toys for children to play in, located in a secure, fenced garden area in front of one of the huts, and when the sun sets, the firepits are fun for toasting marshmallows on, which the farm owners provide.
Apple trees, a vegetable bed and a herb garden are on-site and guests are welcome to help themselves to whatever is available to use in the huts’ small but perfectly formed kitchens. It’s worth noting there is no Wi-Fi available, but 4G works just fine for most network providers and there’s a solar USB charger for phones if needed. Not that you’ll necessarily want to be using the internet or your mobile – Stud Farm is the perfect place to go off-grid and simply get back to nature.
Pros: Beautiful surroundings, relaxing hot tubs, firepits to toast marshmallows
Cons: No WI-Fi, accommodation can feel cramped, no swimming pool
Book at: Studfarmglamping.co.uk
9. Master Builder’s House at Buckler’s Hard, Brockenhurst
— Best dog-friendly hotel
Type of property: Hotel or cottages
Key info: Price Family rooms from £101| Number of bedrooms 26 | Swimming pool No | Parking Free parking a short walk from the properties | Dogs welcome Yes | Beaulieu Road Station 6 miles
Nearby attractions: The Beaulieu Motor Museum is a 10-minute drive away and Exbury Gardens & Steam Railway (which is open between March and October) can be reached in 15 minutes.
Ever heard of Henry Adams? Us neither. But if you stay at the Master Builder’s House at Buckler’s Hard, you’ll be laying your head where he once did, and expanding your local knowledge to boot. The master shipbuilder was responsible for building many famous warships during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and a wing of the hotel (his former home) has been named after him.
Described by Tripadvisor reviewers as “a wonderful, fascinating, historic building” and “a hidden gem”, the Master Builder’s House is just one of the Buckler’s Hard accommodation options. The others are adorable self-contained cottages with beautiful views of Beaulieu River, all with gardens for the kids to play in. Note that only some of the bedrooms in the hotel can accommodate children, and an additional charge of £25 per child, per night will be added.
Part of the 9,000-acre Beaulieu Estate, Buckler’s Hard is a small hamlet with a wealth of fun (and educational) things to keep children entertained and engaged. The museum and river cruise (on which you might spot deer and kingfishers) are paid attractions, whereas The Shipwright’s Cottage, St Mary’s Chapel and Captain’s Table are free to enter. Under 5s probably won’t get much out of the maritime museum but older kids will enjoy the quiz trail and interactive activities. If your kids need some extra space to run about, you’ll find it in abundance. The 2-mile riverside walk to Beaulieu village is a lovely activity for tiring the kids out – and it’s buggy-friendly.
And let’s not forget your 4-legged member of the family. The Master Builder’s House is not just dog-friendly; it’s uber dog-friendly. In fact, it was awarded ‘Dog Friendly Hotel of the Year 2021’ by The Good Hotel Guide and provides comfortable dog beds, bowls and a special treat for your pet.
Pros: Lots of activities on the estate, historical and educational, delightful setting, very dog-friendly
Cons: None of the properties have a lift, extra charge for children in some hotel rooms, no swimming pool
10. Forest Park Country Hotel, Brockenhurst
— Best for stargazing
Type of property: Hotel
Key info: Price Family rooms from £113 | Number of bedrooms 38 | Swimming pool No | Parking Free on-site car park | Dogs welcome Yes | Brockenhurst Station 1 mile
Nearby attractions: Goodall’s Strawberry Farm, which allows you to pick your own, is open from May to October and is a 15-minute drive away. Forest Arts Centre has various workshops and shows for kids and is also around a 15-minute drive.
“Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.” Sound advice from former US president Theodore Roosevelt, who stayed at Forest Park Country Hotel in 1910. Come night-time, we suggest you push the little one's bedtime back a few minutes and step out onto the large lawn to do just that; the minimal light pollution in the New Forest means the skies are dark and the stars bright. In fact, the New Forest is the 7th darkest national park out of England’s 10. In the daytime, the lawn – complete with relaxing deckchairs and garden swing seat – is a safe area for kids to have a runabout.
Inside, children can order from the Young Diners menu in the restaurant, which uses many ingredients that have been sourced from within 10 miles of the hotel – including locally made Giggi’s Ice Cream. The 5-star Tripadvisor rating (with more than 900 reviews) speaks for itself. One happy guest called the hotel “paradise in Brockenhurst”, while many others raved about the food – the fish and chips in particular come highly recommended – and the “amazing, friendly, fun, caring, efficient staff”.
There’s a choice of family rooms for either 3 or 4 people, each with a beautiful garden or forest view. And, once you’re fully rested, the whole family can head off on the 10-minute walk from the hotel to Brockenhurst Village – the perfect place to explore what the region has to offer, on foot or on hired bikes.
Pros: Brilliant staff, big garden with deckchairs, nice kids’ menu, good location,
Cons: No activities on-site, no swimming pool
How we tested
When compiling this list of best family hotels and holiday properties in the New Forest , we wanted to provide a range of different properties that would appeal to families with young children. Whilst we included a selection of options – self-catering places, converted barns, shepherd’s huts – the majority of the list consists of hotels, both big and small. We know what facilities and services are important to families and have highlighted them – particularly whether an establishment has a swimming pool and welcomes dogs. We drew on the experiences of various people who have visited the properties, as well as the author, who lives nearby and has explored the New Forest with her family thoroughly.
About the author
Katherine Bebo is a freelance writer with more than 15 years’ experience. She has written many books, including 111 Places in Poole That You Shouldn’t Miss and 111 Places in Bournemouth That You Shouldn’t Miss. She is mum to two adventurous boys, aged 9 and 7, who love exploring, climbing trees, getting muddy and collecting sticks. So. Many. Sticks.
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