It’s often said, we overlook what’s on our doorstep. It was only when an industry colleague from London expressed an interest in visiting the fast-growing number of luxury hotels opening in the New Forest that I finally planned a “recce” closer to home; no visas, no malaria-tablets and no long-haul flights. It’s unsurprising that one half of Sally and Alice Travel Co. has decided to set up ‘shop’ in the New Forest National Park; with a love of nature, open scenery and wildlife (free-roaming wild ponies, donkeys, deer and cattle), it’s as close to an African safari as one can get in the UK. For this self-guided tour, we hired an eco-friendly Twizy, Renault’s 2-seater electric car, and re-discovered the Forest in an educational, fun and green way.
Your Twizy can be pre-booked (http://www.hireatwizy.co.uk) and collected from Brockenhurst Station, prices starting at GBP42 per day. The maximum speed is around 40 mph, which is fine as the speed limit in the Forest is for the most part between 30-40mph. There are charging points all over the Forest so the maximum mileage of 45 miles shouldn’t be a problem. One thing to note is there are no windows so pick your day according to the weather and expect to emerge a little windswept. After a brief induction, we were off, bumper to bottom with the ponies and open-top tour buses and it wasn’t long before our inner-child was set free and we were quarrelling over who got to drive next.
Anyone who has glanced at a travel magazine or supplement over the last few years will have noticed the plethora of award-winning hotels (and their restaurants/spas) which have opened up in the New Forest. On our whirlwind tour we visited Limewood, offering contemporary classic style and fine dining experiences and the fantastic Herb House Spa. Chewton Glen, the grande-dame which has stayed true to it’s historic English country house elegance and boasted the best service we experienced. And finally, The Pig, with 26 small but perfectly-formed rooms, shabby chic style and a ‘tucked away in the Forest feel’, we immediately felt relaxed and at home here. Pretty gardens to potter around, hammocks to collapse in, tennis courts for the obligatory post-Wimbledon volley and terraces for slurping cocktails and coffees.
Away from the luxury hotels, there are a whole heap of activities on offer; plentiful forest walks, bike trails, horse riding, swimming in the Solent and soak up the beauty of picturesque of Beaulieu, Lymington and Burley. I highly recommend a couple of days ‘on Twizy safari’ in the New Forest, look us up if you do come – I’d welcome any excuse to get back into a Twizy!