The streets are packed with people, shoppers, office workers and tourists for all manner of festivities. The traffic is bad, the trains are packed, and life in the Capital is slowly draining you of your energetic spirit.
Despite being forced to deal with wet shoes and socks, dodging umbrellas on Oxford Street, we want to let you know there is hope. For centuries, the folk of London have been finding well-needed respite from the stresses of the city. And you too can escape to the country. Jump in the car with your most significant other and head down the M3. Escape to Hampshire and enjoy the romance of a secluded cottage holiday and put the stresses of London behind you.
In Hampshire and the nearby New Forest, you can hike and stroll in nature – stopping at a local pub or two to relax. There are nearby coastal activities as well to enjoy a bit of sea air. Or there are many luxurious spas that are perfect for a pampering day. It is also possible that you don’t want to leave the cosy confines of your temporary cottage home at all. The choice is yours and there are so many choices to be made.
At any time of the year, a weekend away from London is the perfect choice. From your desk to pure comfort and relaxation in just about two hours, there is no better option. Here are three great ways to enjoy a romantic weekend getaway to Hampshire:
The New Forest itself was established as an escape from the city. The land was set aside by William the Conqueror in 1079 as a royal hunting preserve. Over the years, the government has made several concessions to the forest so it can maintain its unique way of life. Today, there is a focus on the pasturing of ponies, cattle, pigs and donkeys in the open forest by local inhabitants known as commoners.
The New Forest is an outstanding recreational area for walking and riding, and is now designated as a national park. The park authority hosts a number of activities throughout the year and provides the resources for walks and hikes in the area. It also hosts educational events to help people better understand the area’s importance.
A unique feature is the connection of the forest to the surrounding villages and communities. Visitors can quickly go from the quiet solitude of nature to quaint local villages. In those villages, visitors can find one-of-a-kind gifts, shops, and local pubs to enjoy. Here is a guide.
This thoughtfully planned farm building conversion has everything you could ask for in a cottage escape. Situated on the edge of the charming village of Martin, it provides a perfect base for visits to the New Forest, 15 minutes' drive away. Pippin features a spacious open plan living room with woodburning stove, and accommodates four. For that added touch of luxury it has underfloor heating – no more cold feet! Pippin also has the added benefit of an adjoining large communal barn, which comes with sitting area, double sofa bed, woodburning stove, games area with pool table, kitchen and separate shower room. When booked jointly with neighbouring cottage Russet, the cottages and communal barn will sleep up to 10, perfect for a larger gathering.
Down by the sea
The coastal cities of Portsmouth, Southampton, Bournemouth and Poole are all within striking distance of your Hampshire-based cottage. With scores of activities during the summer months, there is no limit to the watery adventures you can have whilst on holiday. The Hampshire coast – with its Dorset counterpart to the east – offers visitors so much.
There are many coastal activity centres that offer opportunities for sailing, coasteering, water skiing, and more. Take a look at our seaside activities guide for more information.
For lovers of seafood, there are a number of delicacies to tempt your palate. J & S Fresh Fish in Southampton offers the freshest catches of the day. A restaurant and fishmonger, you can enjoy some food there or bring it back to your cottage for a private, romantic dinner for two.
The Apothecary’s Cottage
This picture-perfect cottage near Ringwood enjoys an excellent location within the New Forest National Park, yet is still close enough to main roads for Bournemouth and Southampton to be reachable in around half an hour. Tick off all the desirable cottage qualities with The Apothecary’s Cottage – acres of garden, French windows, open fireplace, upright piano, double-ended bath, trailing flowers around the front porch, and a gas-fired Aga.
Spas and pampered relaxation
The workweek is difficult and stressful. Add in a lengthy, meandering commute and the cure to life in London is only one thing: a spa break and champagne. Hampshire is home to some of the most sought-after spas in the UK.
Located in the New Forest, the Careys Manor Hotel & SenSpa is an ideal escape from stress. Voted the Best Spa in the South East in 2012, 2013 and 2014, it focuses on the magic of water utilising SenSpa’s hydrotherapy techniques and facilities. In their hydrotherapy pool, you can relax and recline on their underwater benches and feel the gentle massaging jets. The treatment is perfect to help relax your muscles, ease tension and improve joint mobility.
Champneys Forest Mere is a prime destination. This lakeside spa is an award-winning retreat and it is built for luxury, inner and outer peace, and privacy. It offers the latest spa facilities and an Alternative Health Clinic with new therapies like Reiki. Champneys allows guests to rejuvenate themselves with unique mud treatments in the Twilight Rasul Chamber and also boasts the country’s only Thalassotherapy pool.
These are just two of the many great spas operating in the region. For others, Spafinder is an excellent resource to find more spa destinations.
Peacefully situated on a 4 acre smallholding in the depths of the Hampshire countryside, The Stables have been sensitively converted from an original farm building into exceptionally well thought-out accommodation. This is the perfect retreat for a couple. The Stables offers a light, very attractive, open-plan living room including a cosy sitting area with woodburning stove and access to the garden. The double bedroom has a large antique pine bed and king size mattress.
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