The five star luxe Lime Wood hotel, owned by reclusive Ineos founder and multi-millionaire Jim Ratcliff, is just under a two hour drive from London, or a couple of hours train and taxi ride from Waterloo to Brockenhurst station. The supremely tasteful hotel has notched up numerous awards and acclaims, and is soon to open a new restaurant fronted by none other than Angela Hartnett. The Herb House spa is also setting standards across the board, principally for its innovative and luxurious holistic treatments, harmony with its natural surroundings, state of the art fitness equipment, and its relaxing, chilled vibe.
Nestled in a particularly picturesque area of the New Forest, Lime Wood overlooks a meadow as well as miles and of wood and heathland, meaning that amongst other joys you’re likely to see fallow and roe deer with their fawns grazing on the laws right outside your window. Just another touch that makes this idyll one of those places that feels a very long way from the chaos of the city.
A peaceful haven, perfect for some much deserved luxe R&R.
The retreat’s designers have artfully managed to bring the inside outside – and vice-versa. A herb-filled roof garden offers panoramic forest views, where, weather-permitting, classes such as yoga are regularly held. A large sauna also offers great views, as does a mud house, and a steaming hot pool where you can relax outdoors with a glass of champagne.
Designed over three levels, the spa has eight single treatment rooms and two impressive doubles – the Bath House which features a private steam room and indoor treatment bath, and the Bath Garden, with its own outdoor bath and private steam room. Evert room is extremely well done – blonde and white wood throughout, essential oil and herb scented, and, refreshingly, not an inch of chintz in sight.
The large, airy rooftop gym has all the very latest equipment, there is a 16-metre ozone-treated lap pool with glass doors overlooking the garden, a large hydra pool with invigorating jets, a hands and feet room for manicures and pedicures, and a workout studio offering classes including zumba, kettle bell, and pilates.
The spa uses respected natural product ranges from the UK , including Bamford, Voya, Nude and Tri-Dosha. Treatment wise, there is a wide range available, many suitable for male as well as female guests – deep tissue, back, neck and sports massages, as well as relaxing de-stress alternatives.
The spa is one of very few in the UK to offer Chavutti Thirumal – a foot pressure massage. This innovative therapy is hugely popular with male guests in particular, its deep tissue massage treatment is ideal for alleviating muscle tension and pain and improving suppleness.
Costing £150 for 105 minutes, the treatment requires the guest to lie down on a comfortable mat, with just a small modesty towel and provided thong. After a detailed consultation, the therapist uses the balls and heels of her feet to really apply pressure where needed, as well as long, sweeping, relaxing strokes. She uses ropes looped down from the ceiling to help support her weight and aid balance as deliciously scented oils are smoothed on the whole body, face and scalp.
The treatment finishes with a marma point head and face massage, another facet that is highly recommended. For those with a foot phobia – fear not, you wouldn’t actually realise feet are used – it feels for the most part as though you were being massaged by the therapist’s forearms and hands.
There are specialist Ayurvedic treatments on offer too, including the supremely relaxing Forest Dream, three hours of ultimate relaxation at a cost of £255. Starting with a detailed consultation to establish your personal ‘dosha’, two therapists work in synchronised harmony for the ultimate tension releasing massage – known as a Samvahana. The treatment also includes a deeply relaxing Mukhabhyanga, a face massage with marma point pressure, and Shirodhara, where warm, fragrant oil is steadily poured onto the scalp and forehead. You then relax in your own private steam room.
Don’t forget to head to the Mud House also, where you can experience a traditional Arabian body treatment involving a full body exfoliation, being covered in mineral-rich muds, and relaxing on heated benches while the mud purifies and tones. You can book the room for yourself, as a couple, or with a friend: 45 minutes – £90 for two people or £120 for four.
If coming to Lime Wood’s Herb House spa as a couple, there are other treatments specially designed to give you both quality relaxation and pampering time in the privacy of your own treatment space. The Ultimate Hideaway, Essential Harmony and Voya’s Wrap & Plunge are each three hours long and cost £190 per person.
Together in the Forest lasts three and a half hours and is £205 per person.
Spa days are offered too, including those specifically for men. Mint Condition costs £215, with three hours of treatment time, which includes a full body MOT to find out exactly what shape you are in, a personal bespoke training session and a deep tissue massage. Squeaky Clean, costing £215, includes two hours treatment time, a Voya back scrub, upper body massage, mini facial and deluxe pedicure.
Recognised now as one of Europe’s top spas, Herb House is more than definitely worth a visit.