Living in a bustling town or city is invigorating and exciting, but sometimes you just feel the need to disconnect for a few days. When you can't look at another screen, and when the peace and quiet of the countryside calls, what better place to lay your head than a quaint thatched cottage in one of England's most beautiful counties, where sharing your morning coffee with a native pony is considered the norm?
The New Forest National Park, with its pretty villages and ancient towns, its wisteria-clad thatched cottages dotted along winding country lanes, its charming tea rooms and traditional inns on village greens, and of course its breathtaking landscape, has to be one of the most beautiful areas to unwind. Have a read through our guide to the quaintest places to stay in the New Forest and see if you are inspired to take a trip to one of the prettiest places in the south.
Those seeking a romantic escape would do well to consider this delightful cabin on the water. In a peaceful and secluded area of the Beaulieu Estate, just outside the pretty 18th-century shipbuilding village of Buckler's Hard, this traditional waterside delight has the most glorious views, particularly enchanting when sitting out on the little wooden deck that overlooks the river. Inside, pastel ice cream-colour furnishings will melt the hardest of hearts. On the doorstep of extensive walking trails that will guide you through picturesque little New Forest villages and towns, those who prefer to stay closer to home can relax on the lawns surrounding the property and wait for a pony or two to meander by. A charming local pub is on hand for cosy evenings sampling the local ale.
Near to: Beaulieu (2 miles)
The village of Beaulieu is surely one of the most beautiful in the county, dating back to the 13th century. The picturesque High Street is a lovely place for a browse, as is a visit to the world-famous National Motor Museum where you can see over 280 fine examples of motoring from all over the globe. The historic Beaulieu Abbey, founded in 1204 by Cistercian monks is a must-see as is the Palace House, one of the 'Treasure Houses of England'.
The Quaint Factor:
Take the tranquil 2-mile walk along the Beaulieu River path between Beaulieu and Buckler's Hard, where you'll be treated to some beautiful scenery with wooded glades and the odd rogue kingfisher flying by. Settle back for a sunny riverside picnic and then hop aboard a seasonal boat trip along the river to see the sights from a different perspective.
Nothing says 'quaint' like a double fronted cottage with sash windows, surrounded by blossom trees and flowering plants. Angel Cottage is just that. Situated on a pretty lane in the delightful rural hamlet of Everton, it simply brims with rural charm. A Rangemaster with traditional brick surround sits proudly in the typical country-style kitchen, just waiting for the kettle to be popped on. The welcoming sitting room next door invites you to take your well-earned cup of tea and a couple of buttered crumpets through to curl up by the open wood fire on cold wintery days. Upstairs, beautifully-styled country bedrooms await with their gentle florals, brass beds and feature fireplaces, the perfect place to retire to when eyelids become heavy and a good night's sleep calls.
Near to: Brockenhurst (7 miles)
As well as being 3 miles from the vibrant yachting town of Lymington, you're also just seven miles from Brockenhurst, a village simply oozing charm and history. A handful of warm and inviting pubs, as well as friendly locals and spectacular countryside, make this the quintessential English village. Pull on your walking boots and do the lovely circular walk at Rhinefield Ornamental Drive up to Blackwater Arboretum. The exotic giant redwood trees lining the drive are tall and magnificent and the trail is especially beautiful in September when the gorgeous rusty hues of autumn are in full bloom.
The Quaint Factor:
Being in the depths of the forest, don’t be surprised if you see New Forest ponies, donkeys and cattle wandering along the streets and grazing on the green! Very much part of daily life in Brockenhurst, it really gives you a feeling of being a visitor inside the forest rather than the forest simply being around you.
This beautiful thatched cottage is as pretty as they come. Featuring quaint original features such as heavy wooden beams, low ceilings and an inglenook fireplace, it is perfect for a family holiday or relaxing weekend with friends. A thatched roof dips down over lattice windows hidden behind climbing plants and roses, just like something out of a storybook. You wouldn't believe that such an enchanting cottage could have an outdoor pool and a hot tub but you are in luck at Gilpin House, as here you have the best of both worlds.
Near to: Lymington (2 miles)
Just 2 miles towards the coast lies the ancient Georgian seaport town of Lymington with its picturesque harbour and cobbled streets. Its High Street is packed with buildings of all shapes and sizes and is made up of an eclectic mix of Georgian, Victorian and Medieval architecture. A bustling Saturday market offers a great opportunity to stock up with local crafts and antiques and the delightful Grade II listed Church of St Thomas, parts of which date back to the 13th century, is the ideal spot to take in a little New Forest history.
The Quaint Factor:
Wander through the historic cobbled streets of the old town with their pastel-coloured shops full of enticing things to buy, then stop awhile at the quayside where you can watch the colourful fishing boats toing and froing - the perfect way to unwind.
You will be sure to fall in love with this idyllic fairy-tale cottage set in a leafy country lane. It has everything that it should - white picket fences surrounding a manicured lawn, a sweet cottage garden at the rear, Hansel and Gretel-style gable and pastel-blue wooden shutters. No wonder that the countryside around it was the inspiration for the Victorian novel 'Children of the New Forest' - everything about this cottage and its surroundings could be straight out of a children's book. Inside, a farmhouse-style open-plan kitchen space and lounge with wood burner only add to the ambience, the latter being just the spot to cosy up with a good book on dark winter afternoons.
Near to: Sway (1 mile)
Those seeking traditional village life should definitely take a trip into Sway. A varied and quaint little village with a bustling village shop, it nestles in between the larger settlements of the New Forest. Dating back from Anglo-Saxon times and listed in the Domesday Book of 1086, the village is also home to ‘The Naked Man’, an old oak tree used to hang highwaymen and smugglers. Surrounded by rolling countryside, there are four pubs where you can sample the local ale as well as a good selection of riding centres where you can experience the delights of the New Forest aboard a trusty steed.
The Quaint Factor:
For something a little unusual, take a trip to Peterson’s Folly. Built in the 19th century by the eccentric Judge Peterson, this 220-foot Grade II listed tower, influenced by the judge’s trips to India, is one of Hampshire's best-known landmarks. It has 14 storeys (330 steps), all of which are reached via an enclosed spiral staircase and it is said that the views across the New Forest, the Solent and out to the Isle of Wight from the top are simply breathtaking.
Those who love to stay in unique properties will adore this one. A charming former chapel in the tranquil village of Woodgreen, it retains many traditional features such as typical chapel windows, vaulted beamed ceilings and Mezzanine levels converted into bedrooms. It even has its own little patio area leading out from the boot room, a perfect sun-trap for days at home - you really couldn't choose a cosier little hideaway. The village is home to a traditional village pub for lazy lunches as well as a friendly community shop - all surrounded by stunning scenery of course.
Near to: Fordingbridge (3 miles)
Known as the northern gateway to the New Forest, the small and welcoming historic riverside town of Fordingbridge has lots to offer visitors both new and old. Its seven-arched medieval Great Bridge, flanked by pretty cottages and riverside banks full of picnickers, is truly the heart of the town. Do some digging to find out where the infamous Captain Diamond, the 'Smuggler King' spent his time while on his travels or for a more tranquil afternoon, join the Avon Valley walk which passes through the town to meet acres of breathtaking countryside.
The Quaint Factor:
Pop to the nearby Alderholt Mill, where there has been a mill on-site since the 14th century, for a mouthwatering cream tea during the summer season. Buy some bread made from their freshly milled flour to take home for tea and watch the brilliant milling demonstration on Sunday afternoons.
If you are looking for the quaintest places to stay in the New Forest, then one of our New Forest holiday cottages may be just what you need. As well as our featured five, we have a great selection of properties all across the New Forest, from romantic cottages for that last-minute escape, to family-friendly cottages when you want to take all of your loved ones and dog-friendly cottages when it's just you and them. Whichever you choose, you can be guaranteed a warm New Forest welcome.