On Saturday, we braved the rainy weather and headed out to one of our favourite places: Burley village. I’ve blogged about what a magical place it is before (and it literally is magical as you’ll learn when you visit or read about the place!)
The village is embedded in the New Forest so as you drive through the winding country lanes, you’re surrounded by blankets of gorgeous countryside and free-roaming horses.
The last time we were in the village, we got to explore the forest and enjoy the breath-taking natural beauty. This time, the rain meant we mainly ducked in and out of the village shops, desperately clutching a half-broken umbrella along with us as we did so. The rain remained relentless. Eventually, we decided we wanted some warm food and tried our luck at the Queen’s Head pub only to find they were full – it seems, unsurprisingly, that most other visitors to the village had already escaped the rain and occupied tables.
As we drove out of the village square, we had resigned ourselves to a drive back home to Poole when my partner spotted a sign for “Burley Manor: Restaurant & Rooms.” Bingo! Without thinking twice, we turned off and onto the road leading up to the Manor. I quickly realised it wasn’t a road so much as a private drive!
If this is a place that looks like it’s teeming with history then it’s probably because it absolutely is! The Manor was first home to the de Burley’s in the 1200s who stayed there for many generations but due to various circumstances over the centuries, the Manor has changed hands several times until 1935 when it officially became a hotel.
Once we’d parked up and started to walk in, we were impressed by the old-school charm. As you enter the lobby, you’re greeted by a grand staircase lined with oil paintings that looked like they had their fair share of stories to tell. I assume the staircase leads up to the guestrooms.
There was also a roaring log fire in an ornate double fireplace; one looking out into the entrance lobby and the other side looking into a cosy nook with leather armchairs, a bar and a bookshelf.
Any chance of this building seeming stuffy was banished by the bay windows lining this area, offering lots of natural light and superb view of the land surrounding the manor.
As old as this building is, you could tell a lot had been done to modernise things whilst still retaining the original character of the Manor. All in all, it was the perfect place to relax with a book and a hot drink on a rainy Autumn day. By this point, we were starting to feel quite jealous of the people who got to room here rather than just stop by for a spot of lunch!
As we made our way through this bar/cosy corner space and towards the restaurant, I was starting to feel rather self-conscious about how under-dressed I might be. I was wearing a red pinafore dress with tights which by all accounts is perfectly dress code-friendly for most places – except that I’d paired this up with my multicoloured, flowery Joules wellies! I hadn’t expected that we’d be stopping anywhere quite so fancy. Thankfully, no one seemed to even bat an eyelid and I quickly learned that although the Manor provides a fine dining experience in a very opulent setting – it’s done without any pretension. The result was: absolutely amazing food, the friendliest waiting staff around and the most relaxing atmosphere.
We chose to dine in the conservatory part of the restaurant. Pictures really don’t do it justice but here’s some anyway…
And here’s some more – just because this place was so darn Instagrammable.
We started with some crispy squid which arrived with a chilli mayo dip. It was the best squid we’d tasted in a while (although our recent encounters with squid have been in the fast food format…)! Our waiter suggested two oils for the bread but I can’t for the life of me remember what they were – the only thing I recall is how delicious it all was. I had to restrain myself from filling up on the bread before the main meal was even served….
There were many tempting options on the menu but ultimately, myself and my partner’s mum opted for the tapas and my partner settled on steak.
Everything was delicious – my only minor skirmish is that there was way too much hummus!
All in all, this was one of the best meals we’ve had in a long time. We felt warm and welcome at the Manor and before we’d even paid the bill, we were plotting our next return. We’ve agreed it will be to sample a cake and a drink.