A haven in the New For­est


The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - A Z B KNIGHT

IN any other cir­cum­stance, I would be wax­ing lyri­cal about my room — the fresh figs and red wine, the fire crack­ling in the up­stairs bed­room, the ter­race and bal­cony over­look­ing the greens and browns of the New For­est in deep­est Hamp­shire.

And then there are the warm stone floors of the lux­u­ri­ous bath­room and the tempt­ing lit­tle nook with a daybed for one, should you and your part­ner ar­gue ( which, frankly, would be en­tirely im­pos­si­ble here — in this ro­man­tic room, you could fall in love with a ba­boon).

But at Lime Wood noth­ing, not even the se­duc­tive, cos­set­ting gue­strooms, can com­pete with the won­der of the Herb House spa. It is an un­der­stated palace of pools, hot tubs and saunas, with a raw food bar at the en­trance and yoga classes on the roof garden.

I could hap­pily spend a day in just the chang­ing room, where each locker is equipped with a waf­fle robe, soft cot­ton slip­pers and a bot­tle of water. As well as the usual shower cu­bi­cles, there are pri­vate rooms with huge steel bath­tubs where, af­ter a fa­cial or a swim, you can soak like Cleopa­tra.

Head ther­a­pist Ewelina Jarosz is the real deal — she has de­vised a pro­gram of treat­ments that run the full rain­bow of beauty and groom­ing to deep body­work, all us­ing out­stand­ing Voya and Bam­ford prod­ucts. I have a 90-minute Chavutti Thiru­mal mas­sage, which in­volves ly­ing on cush­ions on the floor while Jarosz cov­ers me in oil and then walks on me. When I first spot­ted the ropes an­chored in the ceil­ing for Jarosz to hold on to as she presses her feet into clients’ backs, I con­sid­ered cre­at­ing a di­ver­sion and then run­ning away. But, five min­utes in, I’m a con­vert.

I float, skim­ming the ground, back to the Main House, a grandly pro­por­tioned Re­gency manor with high ceil­ings and swirling stair­cases. There are plush, book-lined rooms to be quiet in with tea and cake, a bil­liards room in the base­ment (along with a won­der­ful wine cel­lar), an en­tic­ing bar with lethally de­li­cious cock­tails and a restau­rant newly headed by Miche­lin-starred An­gela Hart­nett, in her first foray out­side Lon­don.

Ev­ery cor­ner you turn in Lime Wood, there is a de­tail be­ing seen to. Af­ter an am­brosial break­fast of lo­cal yo­ghurt with hon­ey­comb and home­made Dan­ish pas­tries, I pass a group of staff be­ing trained, by the hu­mi­dor, in how to cut cigars. Fur­ther on, a stash of welling­ton boots in all sizes and colours is be­ing ti­died and re­ar­ranged for guests to use.

Out­side, chefs are emerg­ing from the smoke­house, where they are smok­ing their own salmon and ham.

I do not want to go home. AZB (Af­saneh) Knight was a guest of Lime Wood; her new novel is The Sun­shine Years (Random House).

Lime Wood’s Court­yard, left; chefs An­gela Hart­nett and Luke Holder

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