Mary Gostelow awaits Valentine’s Day in England’s New Forest

Girlahead gets away to Lime Wood

Room 3, Bathroom | Credit: Jake Eastham

Champagne, or good bubbly, is always appreciated in the run-up to Valentine’s Day, and critics highly rate 2010 Castagna Sparkling Allegro, from the four-hectare Beechworth VIC vineyard planted in 1997 by former movie director Julian Castagna. Elsewhere, star of Netflix’s The Last Magnificent and renowned restaurateur Jeremiah Tower would always choose, if possible, a Salon Champagne, the treasure of the Laurent-Perrier Group.

Lime Wood in the summer | Credit: Jake Eastham

Salon Le Mesnil Blanc de Blancs 1990 is on the extensive list at Lime Wood, in England’s New Forest. Pair this with wild line-caught Cornish sea bass crudo with blood orange and fennel, continue to Primi of Iron-aged chorizo and aged parmesan risotto, and then Lyons Hill farm 90-day Somerset Saxon chicken. For Dolci, choose Apple tarte tatin, vanilla gelati, and Château d‘Yquem 2008.

The Library, Lime Wood | Credit: Jake Eastham

The setting is quintessentially Anglo-Saxon, what with all the wild ponies you pass driving to Lime Wood through the open landscape of the millennia-old Forest, but this luscious hotel’s cuisine is Italian-inspired. It’s all the work of Hartnett Holder & Co, headed by Angela Hartnett and Luke Holder. If time permits, take a class in pasta perfection in the HH&Co Backstage kitchen-table cook school, beneath the restaurant. Definitely savour, say, their New Forest portobello on sourdough at breakfast in the Scullery, or lazing in your room.

The Study | Credit: Jake Eastham

Of the 33 rooms, suites and ‘other options’, some might say the very-private Lake Cabin offers most exclusivity, but I like room 3, upstairs in the two-floor main house. It’s about 60 sqm, white, pastel and softly floral, with just a few beautiful antiques perfectly pairing with the so-modern clean-line free-standing tub and so-nice electric rack for heating enormous towels, and a sexy nightgown. Thoughtfully, a hidden room divider can be pulled across, hiding ablutions from the gorgeous bed.

Room 3 | Credit: Jake Eastham

An increasing draw, says hotel GM Kenneth Speirs, is feeling well here. There’s a first-class Technogym, and a spa that attracts locals from far and wide. Both sexes, all ages, come for Sarah Collins’ facials, say her Skinesis Stem Cell Lactic Power Peel. You may well also coincide with one of the regular Amelia Freer wellness retreats. She naturally advocates healthy eats, including such high-fat foods as avocado and oily fish. Her extensive and interesting Seasonal Wellbeing Journal, waiting in the room, seems to alcohol but never fear, your bottle of Salon awaits.

Mary Gostelow publishes the daily and a unique weekly 15-minute industry Mary Gostelow Girlahead Podcast, both part of Almont Global.

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