Down in the New Forest something is stirring in the attic…
The luxurious country retreat, The Montagu Arms , has created two new ‘Hay Loft ‘ suites adding a sumptuous modern twist to an existing barn, retaining as many original features as possible – and creating a ‘bat hotel’ in the roof for the family of bats who were already in residence.
Since I’d left my batsuit at home I was excited to be reviewing one of the brand new suites.
For the summer months they have their own private terrace, but as we are at the start of winter I planned on spending more time in the cosy first-floor lounge with its original exposed beams and sweeping views over the garden and croquet lawn.
The bedroom was gorgeous with a huge comfy bed and TV.
I was concerned I might never want to leave the bathroom with its handsome freestanding bath and a walk-in drench shower. And in case you’re worried about keeping warm in the winter, there is underfloor heating in the bathroom and the whole apartment is toasty.
After settling in it was time to dine at the Montagu Arms’ multi award-winning Terrace Restaurant . Roux Scholar Matthew Tomkinson is in charge of the kitchen and you can experience a stunning tasting menu designed to showcase the very best seasonal produce. The restaurant is styled in a classic English country house style and perfect for work or family gatherings but equally as good for an intimate dinner for two.
After a glass of Taittinger fizz and a beautifully light cheese gougere, some deliciously warm homemade Bread arrived, granary, white and my favourite the aniseed-flavoured fennel seed bread.
There were two amuse bouches, a mouthful of salmon in a beetroot sauce with ‘crispy rice’ gave us an inkling of the chef’s style with the crunchy texture providing a lovely counterpoint to the softness of the fish. Beef brisket croquettes had a deep, rich flavour with the shredded beef being similar to pulled pork.
Slow Cooked Burford Brown Egg with Watercress Puree, Kentish Cobnuts, Autumn Trufﬂe and Wild Mushrooms was a beautiful dish with the mushroom and truffle adding a luxurious depth to the eggy creamy vegetal puree. It could well be a take on Joel Robuchon’s classic eggs cocotte.
Perfectly seared Spiced Diver Caught Scottish Scallops came with Cauliﬂower Puree and Apple perfumed with a hint of cumin and coriander.
A perfectly pink Honey Roast Breast of Free Range Duck with a Tartine of Caramelised Endive Artichoke puree and the Lightly peppered sauce was delicately flavoured and delicious.
Steamed Cornish “Fish of the Day” was sea bass, served with a Crispy Mussel Kiev, Saffron Fondant Potato and Crab Butter Sauce. This was a fantastic piece of fish enhanced but not overwhelmed by rich saffron flavours and the crab rouille that sat on top.
To dessert or not? I think that ‘not to’ is a dereliction of duty!
Salted Caramel Fondant with ‘Cider Lolly Sorbet’ and Creme Fraiche had salty caramel oozing out of the sponge cut through by the mild acidity of the sorbet and creme fraiche.
Seville Orange Soufﬂe’ with Milk Chocolate and Szechuan Pepper Ice Cream was worth a short wait. The bitter orange of the soufflé soothed by the gentle spice of the ice cream.
After a cafetiere of Freshly Brewed Fair-Trade Coffee and Homemade Petits Fours, there was nothing for it than a good night’s sleep.
Waking up to a bright, clear winter’s morning it was time for breakfast. A sumptuous buffet of cereals, breads, juices, cold meats and cheeses was laid out. as well as optional hot dishes including the amazing ‘New Forest Breakfast’, creamy scrambled eggs with smoked salmon…
…and my favourite smoked haddock with a poached egg.
After a leisurely check out we were back on the road.
The surrounding area is stunning with the New Forest, the village of Beaulieu with its wild horses and the Beaulieu Estate comprising the National Motor Museum, Palace House and Gardens, Beaulieu Abbey and World of Top Gear all in the close vicinity.
The Montagu Arms is perfect for a short break or a longer stay if you want to explore this amazing part of the country. It’s just a short drive down from London and there’s a hotel car park and a Tesla charger for those of you who need it! All guests staying at The Montagu Arms can enjoy complimentary use of the health club facilities at SenSpa, located at Careys Manor, their sister hotel. This includes the use of the swimming pool, sauna, steam room, jacuzzi and gym.
Thinking of exploring the New Forest? Why not spend some time at The Montagu Arms – pin this post for later