As a huge fan of the New Forest, I was happy to find myself back in my Hampshire haven last month, weaving through its country roads on my way to Hotel TerraVina. On the look out for its famous ponies, I was instead surprised by a swooping owl that flew past my headlights as I got close to my destination. Being a big animal lover, this was the perfect start to my weekend in the country.
Pulling into the driveway, the hotel looked more impressive than Iâ€™d expected from its website photos and as Justin grabbed our bags and I opened the front door, it felt more like I was visiting a friendâ€™s (large) country home than a checking in to a hotel.
Introducing Hotel TerraVina
Hotel TerraVina is the creation of Gerard and Nina Basset â€“ co-founders of the Hotel du Vin chain. They bought the place back in 2007 and spent months carefully renovated it into the welcoming and luxurious boutique hotel that it is today.
Found in the north east of the New Forest, itâ€™s a great base for exploring the area, whether you plan to go walking in the forest, eating locally sourced food in the pubs of Lyndhurst or Ashhurst, exploring Beaulieu or shopping in Southampton.
After a quick and painless check in the lovely lady on reception took us up to our room, Canteiro (each of the 11 rooms is named after a sweet wine), showed us around and left us to unwind before dinner. A spacious room, with a large, soft bed, Canterioâ€™s dÃ©cor was very â€˜country ladyâ€™ with gorgeous pillows and blankets and a cute dog door stop, which has become a â€˜TerraVinaâ€™ symbol, with people buying their own and shipping them all over the world!
With all the amenities youâ€™d expect from a hotel of this sort â€“ TV and DVD player, kettle and coffee maker, safe, etc â€“ it was the little touches that stood out, like the cute Hotel TerraVina rubber duck in the bathroom (which youâ€™re invited to take home) and the small jug of fresh milk in the fridge for you to make your tea: how very English!
On the downside we discovered that although WiFi was free the signal was quite poor and so getting online can be slow. This might be frustrating for business travellers (or travel bloggers wanting to Instagram everything in sight!) but it wonâ€™t worry visitors whoâ€™ve come to the country to unwind and escape technology.
A decadent bathroom
As for the bathroom â€“ well this had a real wow factor. From the moment I popped my head around the door and saw the spacious room filed with a claw footed roll top bath and a large rain shower I was smitten! The first thing I did was start filling the tub and although I discovered some damage to the bath around the plug hole, once Iâ€™d put down a mat and settled in with my book, that was forgotten and I enjoyed my luxurious bath before getting ready to go down for dinner.
Eating at Hotel TerraVina is a real event. Although we got to our table at 7.30 we didnâ€™t leave until gone 10. Even so, the time seemed to whiz by. The food was delicious, with great food pairings that created some very interesting and flavourful dishes.
Be sure to come back for my restaurant review for more info on dining at Hotel Terravina next week!
Where Hotel TerraVina excels, in my opinion, is on service. The ratio of staff to guests is very high and everyone we came across was attentive, knowledgeable and friendly. Our favourite member of staff was the lovely girl who we first met on reception and later took us to our table at dinner (sadly we didnâ€™t catch her name) â€“ throughout the evening we heard her friendly chatter and laughter with the guests. I think itâ€™s people like this that really make a stay memorable.
Itâ€™s also the personal touch that Nina and Gerard provide that stood out for me. Both very hands on, Nina was overseeing the restaurant/kitchen all evening and Gerard was at hand for the drinks. A renowned wine specialist, he holds titles including Master Sommelier and Master of Wine, and through just one drink recommendation I was able to discover that good quality wines really do taste amazing! Perhaps thatâ€™s my issue with wine â€“ I just have expensive tasteâ€¦
After all that food and drink we collapsed into bed, awoken by my alarm the following morning. After a refreshing shower and trying out the locally made lavender toiletries, I opened the curtains to be greeted by a squirrel running through the branches of the trees overlooking our room. This resulted in an excited squeak from me, with Justin just shaking his head!
After a delicious breakfast of smoked salmon and poached eggs, with a side of toast of fresh orange juice (thankfully none of that concentrated crap â€“ a real personal peeve of mine) we packed up our bags and headed off for our day of adventure in the New Forest, which of course included some more pony spotting.
Hotel review round-up
If youâ€™re after a special weekend away (or a mid-week escape for that case) in the New Forest then Hotel TerraVina is a great choice. Well placed for exploring the area, attentive and friendly staff and a relaxed atmosphere make it a great place to escape to.
The personal touches and attention to detail may make the hotel a more expensive option than a local B&B, but itâ€™s worth checking out their website as they regularly offer special deals, making it a much more affordable treat.
My stay at Hotel TerraVIna was complimentary for the purpose of review, but all opinions are my own. To book a stay or find out about special offers, visitÂ their website.Â