Visit Beaulieu Estate, New Forest: Places to stay, things to do

Emma Pocklington discovers the top attractions of a New Forest estate that's steeped in history


Why go there?

The Beaulieu estate located in the east of the New Forest is predominately famous for its National Motor Museum but the beautiful countryside and lengthy history here offers so much more. Many visitors head straight to Beaulieu’s main attraction, which means that its other attractions go overlooked.
The approach to the town of Beaulieu is a fantastic drive from any direction, whether over the heath, through the forest or via the tiny St Leonards Grange where the stark Tithe Barn ruins tower over the road.
The quiet town of Beaulieu has many picturesque views to offer, not to mention some adorably inquisitive donkeys, and the historic ship building village of Buckler’s Hard up the road feels like a tiny piece of the past brought vividly to life.
Watch the spring flowers opening in Exbury Gardens, try out falconry with Amews at the Out of Town Centre or take a trip on Beaulieu River, the bed of which is still owned by the present Lord Montagu.

Where to stay?

The area surrounding Beaulieu offers a wealth of rentable cottages and self-catered houses. For smaller parties there is the Ashdene guest house, a friendly, family run business right on the edge of the forest. For full immersion in the Beaulieu experience the best place to stay is the Master Builder’s House Hotel, which inhabits the old house belonging to Buckler’s Hard’s last master builder Henry Adams. Situated at the end of the street, its rooms have a stunning view over the river.

Where to eat?

Beaulieu town itself boasts a range of tea rooms and pubs to suit every taste; the best of these being the Michelin starred Montagu Arms Hotel, offering fine food and open fires. Throughout the town there are plenty of opportunities to buy food locally sourced from the estate, mainly game, apple juice and Beaulieu’s own wine.

Tell us a local secret

Much of the south coast has a rich smuggling history so shrouded in secrecy that today most of the knowledge of underground hideouts has been lost. Passages run under the High Street in nearby Lymington and St Mary’s Chapel in Buckler’s Hard houses the most recent discovery. At the back of the Chapel, stand over the glass floor and take a look at the secret tunnel, which, experts suspect, runs the whole length of the street.