What is it?
The clue is in the name – the New Forest is a beautiful forested National Park with lots of walking, bicycle trails and outdoor activities on offer, as well as plenty of attractions for families with children of all ages. If you’ve got kids and fancy a bit of pampering, the New Manor Park Hotel is the perfect place…
Where is New Manor Park located?
A four-star hotel, New Manor Park is situated on the edge of the New Forest, dating back to the time of William the Conqueror. What makes this hotel so special is it’s all about kids, ensuring a family stay here is stress-free. The hotel has its own free car park on site, and, if you want to make finding the hotel as easy as possible, enter SO42 7QH into your Sat Nav…
Who is the hotel best for?
The hotel suits most age ranges of families, but it’s especially great for tired parents of young children who want to spend some quality time together. Two hours free childcare a day is included in the price of a stay, for little ones aged 12 weeks to 8 years, in the hotel’s supervised crèche, giving adults a two-hour break. For older children, facilities include a Wii, cinema room, football goals and a large trampoline, providing plenty of stuff to keep them entertained. The hotel also has walking maps, and bikes are available to hire.
When’s the best time to go?
The New Forest is great all year round, and if it’s raining New Manor Park has tonnes of toys and games to keep kids occupied. The hotel often has term-time deals for pre-school families and couples so it’s worth checking its website for special offers.
How is the journey?
The journey from our flat in south east London by car took around 2 hours 30 minutes via the M3. We stopped en route at Fleet Services, a pit stop recommended to me by lots of mums for a day trip to the nearby Paultons Park. The nearest main town to the hotel is Southampton, about a 30-minute drive away. But we didn’t need to venture that far as we were on the edge of the New Forest and close to the villages of Brockenhurst and Lyndhurst, both of which have a few cafes, restaurants and pubs.
The hotel is 16 miles from Bournemouth International Airport and 18 miles from Southampton International Airport. It also has its own helipad on site. Much to my boys’ delight we actually saw a helicopter take off while we were here.
Why did you choose to stay at the New Manor Park Hotel?
There are plenty of family-friendly places to stay in the New Forest. With over 20 campsites in the area, and a range of holiday villages, hotels and B&Bs, there’s something to suit all budgets, but we were after a spot of luxury, and for us, as parents to spend some quality time together. The New Manor Park Hotel was perfect. They really do have childcare totally sussed out there.
The hotel has 25 rooms and is quite literally any parent with young children’s dream. Pretty much everything is taken care of for you – from baby equipment free of charge to a complimentary crèche, baby listening service, a child-friendly menu, play areas and toys galore.
What will a stay at New Manor Park cost you?
Prices vary depending on the time of year, type of room, and if you choose a weekend or midweek stay. Late checkout at 12pm is available for an extra £20. Currently the hotel is offering an autumn special – a two-night midweek stay including breakfast and a two-course dinner, for two adults each evening from £339, valid Sunday to Thursday from 4th September 2017 to 8th Feb 2018.
What is there to do in the area?
One of the main attractions is the New Forest itself – 193,000 acres of forest and heathland, great for walking, cycling and fresh air fun, and you can hire bicycles from the hotel.
Paultons Park, home to Peppa Pig World, is a 20-minute drive away.
New Manor Park also has its own spa so grown-ups can indulge in a bit of me-time while little ones are entertained.
The top activities with newborns
1. Forest walks are popular for families with young babies. Routes are accessible from the hotel grounds without going onto any roads, and have gravel paths making them suitable for pushchairs.
2. The hotel swimming pool is kept around 29 degrees, ideal for young babies to swim in.
3. Babies from the age of 12 weeks upwards are entitled to two hours free supervised childcare a day in the hotel’s den, giving exhausted new parents some much-needed respite.
The top 3 activities for little ones aged 1-5 years
As above, the den is a firm favourite with young children and parents. Activities are tailored to suit the ages of the children in each session, and change each day.
Long Down activity farm is just a few miles from the hotel. Kids can feed the animals and run around in the indoor and outdoor play areas that include a trampoline barn and soft play. Plus, they can go for a ride on a real-life tractor.
The top 3 activities for kids aged 6-12 years
Hire bicycles to explore the New Forest. The hotel offers a range of adults and children’s bikes. It costs £10 per adult bike for 1/2 a day and children’s bikes are free of charge.
Moors Valley is popular with older kids. There’s a treetop trail, play trail, Gruffalo Spotters trail, adventure park and endless walking and cycling routes.
Local beaches and quays are great for crabbing. Guests can borrow crab lines and buckets from the hotel and pre-order a picnic. The reception team can provide tips and maps for where to go.
The top 3 activities for teens
New Forest Activities is a great day out for teens. It offers a number of different water sports including canoeing and kayaking, as well as archery, bush craft and family combat games.
Horse riding is available in many of the local villages. Stables offer anything from a 30-minute trek in the forest for beginners to a full day hack for advanced riders.
Go Ape at Moors Valley, 10 miles north of Bournemouth, is suitable for children aged over 10 years and is ideal for active adults and teens. It has over 1000 metres of tree crossings and features zip wires, rope ladders, a Double Tarzan Swing, Skateboard Zip and Pendulum Pass.
What were the highlights of your trip?
As busy parents of two toddlers (Ellis 2.5 years and Theo 17 months) we rarely get a moment to ourselves, so it was blissful to get a couple of hours to ourselves each day. Whether it was using the spa facilities or simply going for a coffee, it gave us the chance to just relax in each other’s company. Meanwhile, the boys were having a brilliant time in the crèche.
Admittedly it was a struggle to tear ourselves away from the hotel but we had to explore the New Forest as it was literally on our doorstep. We had a failed attempt one late afternoon, when the boys found a mud puddle before we even made it to the edge of the New Forest, but our second attempt was far more successful. Hiring bikes from the hotel we cycled through the forest and the boys sat next to each other in a trailer behind their Dad. We chose a really easy cycle route of about 30 minutes to Brocklehurst village.
And Peppa Pig World…
As Paultons Park was only a 20-minute drive away we had to take the boys to Peppa Pig World – definitely a family highlight. Ellis turned out to be a mini thrill-seeker and loved the rollercoasters built with toddlers in mind. Theo was just a bit too short to go on them, as all the rides are by height rather than age, and watched enviously from the sides. Good enough reason to visit again when he’s a bit bigger!
Another highlight for me was the rare opportunity to indulge in a spa treatment back at the hotel. I had an ELEMIS hot mineral body boost massage, and after a full-on day of Peppa Pig at Paultons Park it was exactly what I needed.
Is there anything to watch out for?
If, like me, you’ve got hungry toddlers who can’t quite grasp the meaning of waiting, you might want to pre-order your food. All the dishes are freshly prepared, which is great, but they did take a long time to cook them.
Fancy a spa treatment? Just make sure you book it well in advance, especially at weekends, as the spa gets very busy. And, book any crèche sessions in advance, as again these may get very busy.
If you want to hire bicycles and have young babies or toddlers, the hotel only has one bike with a trailer – the others have seats for children – so it’s advisable to book it in advance.
Are there other sister locations you can visit?
New Manor Park is part of the Luxury Family Hotels group that has five other hotels in the UK. I have friends with very young children who have stayed at The Ickworth in Suffolk and Woolley Grange near the Cotswolds and both had equally a relaxing stay as we did.
What is the room like? Does it have facilities?
We stayed in Munjac, a two-bedroom family suite that sleeps two adults and up to five children. It was almost as big as our flat in London. Sharps and I had a huge country house-style master bedroom with an extra large king-sized bed. Rooms have kettles, along with a selection of teas, coffee and hot chocolate, so you don’t need to worry if you need to make up bottles. Ellis and Theo were fascinated by the wooden beams over our bed, adorned with little wooden black birds.
What also made our room so special were the views — the boys thought it was magical to wake up and see horses in the fields outside. We had our very own patio area, decked out with chairs and beanbags, the ideal spot for some child-free chilling out on a sunny day.
Ellis and Theo had a room all to themselves, inter-connected to ours via the bathroom. It had two single beds in it, both decorated with cute rabbit cushions. And there was space for the two travel cots they slept in.
Our bathroom was fully equipped with ELEMIS toiletries, nappy bins and changing mats, which was brilliant. As well as a powerful rain shower, the bathroom also had a freestanding bath. I even managed to luxuriate in a long soak myself.
How kid-friendly is it?
Where to start? New Manor Park hotel is a dream for kids and their parents.
As well as the complimentary creche, the hotel has a baby listening service – a bit like using a baby monitor, so once your little ones are asleep you can go to the restaurant for dinner and hear if they stir. Alternatively, you can make the most of the hotel’s flexible dining options and choose, like we did, to have a family dinner together at 6pm. The chef can even make pureed baby food from 7am to 9.30pm for your little ones, if you so choose.
We didn’t need to worry about bringing lots of toys to keep the boys happy either as the hotel is well stocked. Older kids can hang out in the cinema room – daily screenings are at 5.45pm. Or they can play on the Wii and try their hand at table football.
Outdoors there’s just as much to keep kids busy with two trampolines, ride-on cars, hula-hoops, a mini playground and even resident chickens.
Is it an animal-friendly place?
The hotel has its own resident dog and guests’ dogs are welcome for an extra £15 per night. This includes a doggy welcome pack. Dogs aren’t allowed in the restaurant but the reception team are always happy to ‘dog sit’ at the front desk. The hotel also has its own chicken in a coop outside, and guinea pigs and chicks in the kids’ den.
Are the restaurants child-friendly?
The hotel has a specially designed children’s menu and the chef is happy to accommodate any dietary requirements or requests. Ellis has lots of allergies, which can make going away quite stressful. Thankfully it wasn’t a problem. The chef came out to speak to us to find out the type of foods Ellis can eat, and likes, and made dishes especially for him. We mainly ate in The Stag restaurant where there’s an option of the children’s dinnertime at 5pm or adults-only after 7.30pm.
At mealtimes we were provided with plastic plates, cups and cutlery, bibs, highchairs with removable trays, colouring pads and pencils and anything else you might need to feed and entertain hungry toddlers.
Are the grounds well-kept?
All areas of the hotel grounds are well kept and fenced off so children are free to run and play without worrying about getting lost or going too far. The trampolines, climbing frames and football goals are all visible from areas of the lounge, vinery and outside terrace making these a great place to sit and have a cup of tea whilst being able to watch your children play.
The vinery, cinema room, den and spa are all located on the ground floor. Wheelchair and pushchair access to the gardens is via the cinema room or vinery. Hotel staff are happy to help with carrying pushchairs upstairs or they can be left in reception.
Is there a sitters service?
The hotel operates a baby listening service and has the free crèche service for children aged 12 weeks to eight years. Supervised slots run from 10am to 12pm or 3pm to 5pm. Or, on a Sunday, there’s an 8 – 9.30am slot at the breakfast club so you can indulge in a lie-in. From 12.30pm to 2.30pm little ones have access to the den with their parents for some family fun. All sessions need to be pre-booked.
This was the main reason we chose to stay at New Manor Park, as Sharps and I never have any alone time. The boys settled in quickly and loved drawing and playing with all the toys while we got to relax for a couple of hours in the spa or go for a coffee, chat and hear ourselves think. There is also a babysitting service available when staff can babysit for £10 per hour.
What do you think of the pool?
The hotel spa has a 16-metre UV filtered pool. It’s great if you want a family swim but if you fancy doing some serious laps, or are after some peace and quiet lying by the pool, bear in mind there will be kids about. For some child-free downtime, we made our way outside to the hot tub and decking area. The hotel also has its own outdoor pool, heated to 29 degrees, open from Easter until mid-October.
What are the facilities for parents like?
The hotel has its own spa with a selection of luxurious treatments. If you’re staying at the hotel you get free use of the spa facilities (otherwise a day pass costs £40). These include thermal rooms, a hydrotherapy and spa pool, a foot spa, a hot tub and the swimming pool, which children can use too. But treatments cost extra and I’d definitely recommend booking these well in advance. I left it till two days before we were due to stay and everything was totally booked up for the entire weekend and the following Monday. I was super lucky as the spa managed to squeeze me in at 6pm on the Friday evening for a 60-minute ELEMIS hot mineral body boost massage, £65. Pricewise the treatments are good value – it’s worth checking the hotel’s website for special offers and spa packages. A 60-minute treatment with use of the spa facilities from 10am – 6pm and afternoon tea or a spa lunch costs £95.
Is there Wi-Fi access all around the hotel?
Yes. The hotel has free Wi-Fi for all guests.
Manor Park Hotel often has deals on its website so it’s worth checking to see if you can get yourself a bargain.
For more info, and to book a stay at New Manor Park, visit www.newparkmanorhotel.co.uk or call 0844 482 2152.
Check out www.thenewforest.co.uk to find out more about the New Forest.