We rarely go abroad, but I do like to get away from home as much as possible. That means short breaks during school holidays. Most of our holidays are 4-5 days long, and most are just N and myself. The OH just doesn’t do holidays (we’ve had one since N was born 6 year years ago), and if we stay at home when I’ve got time off, N always ends up wanting to go out and work on the farm. So going away gives us chance to get away properly and gives me some time with N without the distractions of the farm. Our latest break was in February half term. Daring some might think with potential bad weather. But I’d decided on the New Forest, and a few days break staying at the Crown Manor House Hotel in Lyndhurst
I’ve been to the New Forest a couple of times – as a child, we went with another mum only family to stay in a farm house and had a brilliant time. And on a last minute October break with the OH about 8 years ago. So it was time to return and show N the brilliant places I’d loved from those days. The bonus for us was that Hampshire wasn’t on half term at the same time as us. Prices were still high being around half term time, but we did get a few pounds off the hotel price. I like to stay in decent hotels when we’re going away too. I think I’ve stayed in nicer hotels with N, than we ever did before he was born.
The Crown hotel was in a great location right at the top of the High St in Lyndhurst. Lyndhurst’s traffic is mad, like all New Forest towns and villages, but being February it was only bad at peak rush hour times. A free car park is always top of my list and the Crown’s was a reasonable size. We had no problems getting a space any day we were there, although it can be a little tight when all spaces are full if you have a big car.
We noticed a bike hut under the hotel, but we’d only brought N’s scooter with us on this trip. I never know whether it’s worth taking a bike unless we’re intending to do bike trails and at the moment my knee isn’t great when bike riding. The hotel might not have a gym or swimming pool, but it’s large without being huge, personal and friendly, and has plenty of space to relax in.
The staff were welcoming. I always wonder what hotels think when people turn up with young children. I know if I’m away, I want to know I’m going to have a peaceful time without other people’s kids being raucous, but N is generally pretty good when staying in other places, so I knew he’d know how to behave despite him being excited to stay in another ‘ho-tail’. We did all the paperwork when we arrived around lunchtime, before heading out to get our bearings in the town and grab some lunch in The Greenwood Café. It was a seamless registration, and getting the key later was a similar easy and quick process.
We were on the first floor and a short walk upstairs (with one of the staff helping me up with our suitcase. I never manage to pack light with N in tow) in one of the family rooms. I was expecting 2 normal beds (kingsize and single), but N’s was more like a camp-bed. A little more sturdy than a camp-bed, but not a normal bed. It did the job though and he mostly stayed in his own bed all night. The room on first entry was boiling (thermostat set at 24C!) but once we’d turned the air con down to cold, it was a more normal temperature. The windows were also able to open although we didn’t because of the road noise and the fact that the windows are large and I didn’t trust N to stay away from them.
The room was lovely, quite dark, but nicely decorated, and I loved the old armoire. There was an ironing board and proper iron, a good hairdryer (none of that travel dryer attached to a drawer rubbish!), a good sized tv and tea, coffee, hot chocolate and biscuits. The only thing with hotels (and that’s pretty much all of them) is that the water out of the bathroom taps is rank, and if you want to take water out with you on days out (or aren’t hot drink fans), you’re stuck having to buy water everyday. It would be nice if more offered water, or had dispensers somewhere for customers.
N loved the old telephone, although he did say that our phone number was 999 (it was written on the phone disc). The one thing I couldn’t work out was what number to dial for reception – it wasn’t in the hotel file (I love reading those – just me?) or on the phone. The duvet on N’s bed was really thin, and while there were plenty of spare pillows in the wardrobe there was no blanket or extra duvet. I couldn’t ring down so headed back to reception to ask for another one. It was only minutes after I’d got back upstairs before someone turned up with a spare duvet. Great service and N was toasty warm in bed.
The little things are important to me. Free wifi in the rooms – and it was fast enough that I could log on to both phone and laptop at the same time with no issues. The wifi goes in 48 hour bursts, so you then have to log on again if you’re there for longer. And plug sockets. I think we found 6 so I don’t understand why the people in the room next door on the 2nd and 3rd night were changing plugs in and out on the adjoining wall all evening!
The bed was really comfy, the lighting was enough for sitting with side lights on to see while N was asleep.
The bathroom was lovely. I’m a big fan of sage and the grey made it quite masculine and functional but modern. With an old hotel (the lift is supposedly the oldest working lift in Europe), it was nice to have a really nice modern bathroom. Plus the gorgeous huge shower head was bliss to use. I did manage to pretty much flood the bathroom trying to work out the shower the first morning. I like to run the water first before getting in, but with this shower you had to be in it to turn it on or get wet. I worked that out after having the portable shower head spurting out in the wrong direction. Oops. The heated towel rail kept the bathroom warm and it quickly dried out.
N was manky though and refused to shower because of the originally spurting shower. For parents it’s not the easiest – N might have struggled to turn the shower off and get it exactly right, and I’d have had to get him to turn it on in the shower. Not great if you aren’t sure of the temperature of the shower before you put children in.
After the usual first night difficulties in sleeping in a new place, we slept well. N was still up at just after 6am of course. Yawn. But it was nice to relax in the mornings before heading down to breakfast.
Breakfast is always N’s favourite part of the day in a hotel. He would eat cooked breakfast every day given the chance. The dining room is spacious enough, and there’s plenty of food options. The first two days I was told there were no eggs on yet (presumably because it wasn’t busy), so had to order whichever eggs we wanted. I had scrambled eggs on toast, but it was hard to juggle toasting my bread, and knowing how long it would take for the eggs to come out. The next day I had poached eggs which were lovely.
N stuck with making himself a bacon sandwich, and having sausage and beans. He proclaimed it very good, and being able to get his own apple juice was a novelty too.
We didn’t eat our other meals in the hotel, although they do have a bar and grill restaurant, and lounge bar. There’s also a lovely lounge area where you can have a drink or read the complementary newspapers.
We really enjoyed our stay at the Crown Manor House Hotel. Yes, we had the noisiest people next to us (baby crying every hour on the first night, then the plug changers the next nights) plus music – I presume from the bar – until late. But the hotel had everything we needed, was comfy, and a great location to be a base for trips out in the New Forest.
How do you choose holiday accommodation? Have you ever been to the New Forest?
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