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This epit­ome of an English coun­try-house ho­tel bursts with ap­peal in its clas­sic, river­side set­ting. The multi-award-win­ning Mon­tagu Arms is ide­ally lo­cated for ex­plor­ing the exquisitely quiet stretch of New For­est south­ern coast­line, from Cal­shot to the leg­endary yacht­ing re­sort of Lyming­ton. The beau­ti­ful vil­lage of Beaulieu, shar­ing its name with the river on which it proudly sits, is along this scenic route. Petrol­heads, around the world, will as­so­ciate both names with the nearby stately home, abbey ru­ins and Na­tional Mo­tor Mu­seum but con­nois­seurs of hos­pi­tal­ity and fine-din­ing should con­cen­trate on the ivy- and wis­te­ria-draped el­e­gance of this small, but per­fectly pre­sented, ho­tel. Driv­ers are in­vited to use one of the carparks to the rear, well out of sight (and mind), and to en­joy the short walk back through the amaz­ing gar­dens, care­fully tended and burst­ing with plants, shrubs and bird­song, per­fect for re­lax­ation at any time. With check-in for­mal­i­ties swiftly com­pleted, amid the an­tiques and pan­elling of the hall, all is an­tic­i­pa­tion of the ac­com­mo­da­tion await­ing. The su­perb en-suite gue­strooms are im­pec­ca­bly fin­ished and supremely ap­peal­ing and the views from the rooms over­look­ing the gar­dens are sen­su­ally sooth­ing. For spec­ta­cle, how­ever, those from the front, across the wide ex­panse of the head of the river, are un­beat­able, par­tic­u­larly when the tide is at its height. Early morn­ings are likely to be her­alded by the un­hur­ried pas­sage, past the ho­tel, of some of the an­i­mals which roam freely on the heath­land of the New For­est. We saw deer, don­keys, cat­tle and ponies saun­ter­ing by, to­tally obliv­i­ous of any de­lay caused by their de­lib­er­ate pace. The urge to adopt that speed of life is dif­fi­cult to re­sist but, what­ever your pref­er­ence, the staff, well-trained and-man­aged, are clearly de­ter­mined to make your stay as re­lax­ing and mem­o­rable as pos­si­ble and the ex­cel­lent leisure fa­cil­i­ties at the sis­ter-ho­tel, Carey’s Manor & Spa - just six miles away - are open to Mon­tagu guests The ho­tel is cool, calm and serene, with com­fort and guest-sat­is­fac­tion the clear aim, and the new­lyre­fur­bished Ter­race Res­tau­rant a fresh, wel­com­ing and re­ward­ing din­ing des­ti­na­tion, re­launched in ap­pro­pri­ate style with a be­spoke Wil­ton car­pet fea­tur­ing images of the For­est wildlife. Head Chef, Mark Tomkin­son, will amaze guests with the flavours burst­ing from his care­fully-con­ceived, pre­pared and pre­sented dishes, with an in­sis­tence on lo­cal pro­duce, much of which from the de­vel­op­ing, ex­ten­sive kitchen gar­den. All the dishes were all of high qual­ity but my per­sonal favourites were the ‘di­vine’ scal­lops with cau­li­flower velouté and roast loin of cod with a ragout of wild mush­rooms and beans. My part­ner took equal plea­sure from her ‘wagyu-like’ fil­let of roedeer. All in all, a visit to the Mon­tagu Arms makes very good sense! » mon­taguarmshotel.co.uk w

The Mon­tagu Arms is a mem­ber of The Pride of Bri­tain Ho­tels: To re­quest a free di­rec­tory (or pur­chase gift vouch­ers) please call 0808 250 3121

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