Overall score: 4.5
Good hotel for kids: 4.5
Good hotel for parents: 5
Value for money: 4
Adequate/suitable facilities: 4.5
Overall family-friendliness: 4.5
What’s New Park Manor like?
Lovely! From the moment we drove up the impressively long driveway, to our one last swim in the pool, we had an absolute blast. I had high expectations from New Park Manor, having stayed at another Luxury Family Hotels property (Polurrian Bay in Cornwall) last summer. And it didn’t disappoint.
This high-end hideaway is in the heart of the New Forest, between picturesque Lyndhurst and cute-as-a-button Brockenhurst. It has plenty of modern features, but the building was once King Charles II’s old hunting lodge, so it feels pretty grand and historic.
As well as a fab, pony-packed location, the hotel itself is perfect for families who need some TLC. Everything is geared around managing and enjoying time with your little ones – from the impressive outdoor playground and the friendly creche, to family-focused mealtimes and DVD/games room. As well as making family travel that bit easier, 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 (definitely thinking of dinnertime here, lol!).
How much does it cost in 2019?
Rates vary depending on the type of room and time of year. As you’d expect for a luxury hotel, rooms aren’t cheap, but you can find good deals. For example, you can stay for a bargain-friendly £79 per room (including breakfast) on Sunday and Thursday nights when you spend a minimum of £75 on food and drink. Of course, staying in one of the largest rooms (like the Muntjac) or during peak periods, will push the price up (around £379 for a family of 4 in August 2019).
Are any discounts or special offers available?
Yes, the hotel offers several packages, whether you’re looking for a deal to include dinner or a spa treatment, or even tickets for Peppa Pig World.
What are the facilities at New Park Manor:
New Park Manor may be family-friendly, but it certainly doesn’t scrimp on luxury. There’s a gorgeous spa complete with a juice bar, pool and sauna facilities, plus an outdoor pool, two restaurants, a lovely cosy lounge bar and stylish décor throughout. It also has a lovely play area outside. We made full use of everything throughout our stay!
What does it offer for families with young children?
Our entire visit was packed with services and facilities to make a hotel stay with little ones fun and easy. To help the kids get excited, the hotel posts them a special educational pack with a local map, quiz and information about their stay.
We arrived to find a welcome pack (including bubble bath and a cute rubber duck!) and cookie by their beds, a nappy bin in the bathroom, child-friendly menus – they really have thought about what it’s actually like to stay away from home with young children, and how to provide everything you might need.
One of the highlights was use was how easy they made mealtimes – there are several options to make feeding time at the zoo a more manageable experience. You can feed your little ones at high tea (served for children at 5pm), or dine as a family between 6-7.30pm. If you’d prefer to eat your food without risk of toddler interruptions or meltdowns, you can book in dinner for two a little later and use the baby-listening service or request a babysitter (£10 per hour, minimum 2 hours) in advance.
What is there for children to do at the hotel?
- The DVD room (where your kids can watch regularly screened movies on a big screen) has plenty of comfy beanbags, books, table football, and giant versions of games like Connect 4 and dominoes. Our girls loved lounging on the floor playing games with their dad while I went to the spa and this was a great space to enjoy once we’d checked out of the room
- As well as toys in the lobby (perfect for distracting little ones during check-in and check-out), there are plenty of cosy sofas and seating areas around the hotel, meaning you’re not confined to your room with your little ones on a rainy day. For example, to reach our room we walked past a fun nook with a table, sofas and lots of board games
Is there any outdoor space for children?
Yes, if it’s not raining, check out the outdoor play area at the back of the hotel. We headed here as soon as we arrived to stretch the kids’ legs after the car journey. It’s a lovely spacious play area covered in grass.
The girls headed straight for the wooden play equipment to test out the slide, swing and climbing frame, but soon spotted the large trampoline. They bounced for a good 20 minutes in the biting November wind before remembering their real reason for visiting: the pool! My two (3 and 5 years) loved it, but I think older primary school children would also enjoy this space, and there were baby slides, a swing and bouncers for younger guests.
The area is fenced off from the surrounding fields, but the fence doesn’t spoil the beautiful view of woodland and ponies beyond. It’s a really pleasant setting.
Is the hotel suitable for children of all ages?
We saw babies and toddlers, up to older primary school age children during our stay, and they all seemed to be having a good time. While older children and teenagers won’t need the creche, the spa, pool and cinema room should keep them entertained.
Does New Park Manor have a kids’ club or creche?
Yes – and your booking includes 2 free hours of childcare every day for under-8s at the hotel creche – choose from 10-12 or 3-5pm. Score! Don’t forget to book it in advance though.
If you want to enjoy all the fabulous toys and crafts without leaving your child, head over between 12.30-2.30 for the parent-accompanied family fun session, which doesn’t need to be booked.
Our girls were keen to try the Sunday morning session, and they really enjoyed it. It’s in a large, light-filled room on the ground floor, with a gated-off outdoor space. From the door (which has a little enclosed area where you can register and wait to enter), the kids could see all the room has to offer. This was great as my two were both a bit nervous, but they couldn’t wait to run in and explore the crafts, dressing up box, toy kitchen and so on. While we settled them in, we noticed a cot and lots of baby toys too. The session was run by 2 staff, who were very friendly and made time to welcome our girls even as they managed the crying babies who arrived at the same time. My youngest was clingy but after 10 mins she was happy to stay. The smiling faces of parents as we all skipped away to enjoy an hour or 2 of peace made me chuckle!
How was the spa?
Amazing! There’s a nice reception area with space to chill out, but we were with the kids, so headed straight through to change and discover the pool area.
The pool is a decent size for an indoor hotel pool. The water temperature was quite cool – our girls didn’t mind at all, but young babies might find it a bit cold. There’re also loungers, and a Jacuzzi and sauna (not for kids) in the pool area, so if you’re with another adult you could take turns to use them. Although we visited on a Saturday and Sunday, there weren’t many other guests using the pool, and the girls really enjoyed having loads of space in the water.
You access the pool via some steps, so they could both enter by themselves, but from there it’s definitely too deep for non-swimmers to play without an adult. A splash pool, or shallow area, would have made our pooltime even better, but even so we had a brilliant time.
MFM tip: The changing rooms are off the same corridor as the treatments rooms, so it’s worth explaining to young children that they’ll need to be extra-quiet as you walk through to change.
What are the spa treatments like?
There’s a good selection of treatments. I was booked in for a 30-minute Elemis lime & ginger body scrub and I would thoroughly recommend it. Half an hour doesn’t sound like much, but after they’ve applied the body scrub, you actually get a mini facial too. Then you shower the scrub away (the spa therapist leaves the room for this!), before they apply top-to-toe moisturising products.
The days of a 3-hour spa signature treatment might be over for now but I felt this treatment packed a lot of pampering into its 30 minutes. It also meant I didn’t feel guilty about taking a break from family time (while mummy went to boring old spa, the kids and their dad had a great time playing table football and giant connect 4). After you can sit and relax on comfy sofas in the spa reception area, but I headed off to find the family, wondering if they’d notice my glowing skin (spoiler: they didn’t!). I also spotted a lovely outdoor terrace area by reception, so if you have more time, I’d take a book and enjoy a glass of fizz in the sunshine.
What is the restaurant like?
Delicious, and very family-friendly. We chose to dine together in the family restaurant at 6pm (late for the kids, early for us grown-ups). The staff were all really friendly and helpful, and quite understanding about the challenges of getting an excitable 3 year old to stay in her seat!
The great thing about it being such a family-friendly hotel, is that you know you’re mostly all in the same boat. This means if your toddler has a meltdown you can deal with that without also worrying so much about disturbing other guests’ peace (as they’re usually tackling a meltdown of their own!).
Pop music was playing quietly throughout our meal, which helped slightly mask the chorus of parents (us included) saying the same thing – “don’t swing on your chair/watch your drink/eat up” etc!
If you book a babysitter, you can also try out the hotel’s separate, adults-only restaurant for a quieter meal.
Is there a children’s menu?
Yes, and I was really impressed with the menu for kids. There are 2 portion sizes, which is handy if you have a young child who won’t eat a full child’s portion. They even have a mocktail menu!
The biggest different compared to high street restaurant menus though is the choice. Our girls love to feel important and have a bit of control over their food, so offering them a choice of pizza toppings or pasta sauces, or a variety of other dishes, helped engage them with the meal. As well as a main, they get to choose 2 sides, or there’s a menu of lighter snacks such as soup or beans on toast. Desserts range from the angelic (fruit skewers with chocolate dipping sauce) to dreamy ice cream cookie sandwiches – no prizes for guessing which my 3 and 5 year old went for!
What’s the grown-up food like?
My husband and I chose from the adults’ menu, where the dishes are of course more sophisticated. I have to be honest and say I can’t really remember much about what we ate, because we were distracted by managing 2 overexcited small children. But I can definitely say it was absolutely delicious! We enjoyed starters and mains while the girls had their mains and desserts.
By then, it was the kids’ bedtime, so our waitress very kindly prepared a cheeseboard dessert for my husband and I to take up to our room to enjoy during Strictly.
What are the bedrooms like?
The hotel has just 25 rooms, all with individual décor. These include traditional-style family suites (with a separate sleeping area for children) and modern, interconnecting rooms (great for families with older kids).
We stayed in the 2-bedroom Muntjac room, definitely one of the most impressive in the hotel and absolutely massive. You walk into your own hallway (with beanbags and extensive clothes rail), which leads off either to the children’s twin bedroom or to the huge master suite. The décor is modern, with beautiful, neutral colours that make use of the lovely light space.
Having 2 rooms, and lots of space, was a game-changer after the kids went to bed. We’ve spent evenings at other hotels ‘enjoying’ room service in the bathroom, or watching Netflix on an iPad with earphones in to avoid waking them up! Having a whole bedroom (and TV) to ourselves, meant we had the chance for some downtime as well.
Our bedroom overlooked a field with horses, and even had its own patio terrace. It was a bit chilly to make use of on our visit, but in summer it would be lovely for an al fresco glass of wine once the kids are in bed. As well as a huge comfy bed, it had 2 armchairs, a little table, a TV, desk and mini fridge. There was also a kettle with tea and coffee, loads of plug points, and a hairdryer.
What was the kids’ room like?
The girls were thrilled with their room, especially to find a cookie and a goodie bag each with a book, rubber duck and bubble bath. It had 2 single beds – one had a bedrail but the other didn’t and unfortunately all spares had been booked up.
The beds are quite high, so if your child might fall out in the night, I would definitely book a bedrail in advance. The room is a decent size, and you could even fit a travel cot in there if required.
It also had a TV, which was helpful to occupy them while we were getting ready in the morning.
What’s the bathroom like?
Our bedrooms were connected by the light, spacious bathroom, which had an enormous bath and beautiful walk-in shower. The spa-like feel was finished off with fluffy towels and huge bottles of Elemis goodies. You can’t take the bottles home with you, but you definitely won’t worry about running out during your stay!
Having so much space was lovely at bathtime – instead of squeezing in-between the door and bath as I do at home, I had plenty of space to wash their hair and get them dry and dressed after. If you had a baby, you’d have no trouble fitting a changing mat in here too. The bath is very deep, which our girls loved but the high sides might make bathing a baby a bit less comfortable.
Word of warning though – my youngest ran straight into the transparent shower door on arrival, so do warn kids it’s there just not very visible! A nappy bin had also been provided, which was a thoughtful touch.
Family extras you can ask for:
There are lots of handy extras to make your stay easier, including:
- Kids’ welcome packs in your room with a rubber duck, bubble bath and local storybook, plus a cookie
- You can request a cot, changing mat and nappy bin, and also use the steam steriliser and bottle warmer in the hotel’s Baby Kitchen
- Morning and evening milk can be brought to your room for free, and you can even ask the check for pureed baby food from 7am to 9.30pm (or store your own in their fridge)
- Colouring pencils and papers are plentiful in the restaurant (along with a pencil sharpener to keep them busy!)
What to watch out for:
- I couldn’t get any phone signal in our room. If your co-parent is a workaholic then this isn’t such a bad thing, but it does make it trickier for parents to stay in contact if you spend time apart during your stay (again, when I was hiding out in the spa this didn’t bother me one bit!)
- Use the ‘do not disturb sign’ – we didn’t and arrived back from breakfast on our last day to find the cleaner had started work on our room, which meant our last 45 minutes before checkout were not as peaceful as hoped for
- The bedroom windows have super-safe child locks, but one of ours wasn’t locked (as my daughter discovered the next morning!) so make sure you check them on arrival
What is the hotel near to?
The New Forest is an attraction in itself, so spend some time enjoying the gorgeous scenery, spotting wildlife and exploring the quaint nearby towns. Paultons Park, home to Peppa Pig World, is a 20 minute-drive away, with plenty for preschool and older children. The New Forest Wildlife Park is also 15 minutes away.
How to get to the hotel:
New Park Manor is in the New Forest, located on the A337, 95 miles from London
- We drove and found it easily using the hotel’s postcode SO42 7QH, and there’s plenty of free parking at the hotel
- It’s 5 minutes in a taxi from Brockenhurst train station (90 minutes from London Waterloo)
We had an amazing time at New Park Manor, and I would definitely return. It’s a brilliant marriage of luxury travel with the real-life practicalities of young children, and I really liked the fact there are so many facilities and services to enjoy regardless of your room category. For example, we stayed in one of the plushest rooms (which was amazing!) but a stay in a smaller room, with use of the spa, kids’ activities and generally family-friendly feel would still be a fabulous treat. And it’s definitely a treat – the rooms aren’t cheap, but worth saving up for in my opinion. I’m already planning our next visit!
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Intro to me:
I visited New Park Manor with my husband and our children aged 3 and 5
When we visited:
We stayed on a chilly weekend in November 2018, so our visit was the perfect way to brighten up the quiet period before Christmas