When it comes to dog friendly holidays, there aren’t many locations more perfect for an adventure than the New Forest. And for those looking for a pet friendly hotel where both both human and hound are welcomed in style, you can’t go passed the gorgeous Bell Inn. Nestled in the pretty Hampshire village of Brook near Lyndhurst, this attractive 18th-century coaching inn has countless beautiful walks right from the doorstep, delicious locally sourced food and a good dose of warm hospitality, as Caroline Cullern recently discovered with her pooches Kipper and Rudi.
The inn dates from 1782, and has been in the Crosthwaite Eyre family ever since – making it one of the oldest family owned pubs in Hampshire. Whilst the Bell Inn has been given a modern facelift in recent years, none of the historic charm has been lost. The décor combines the original rustic charm with a more contemporary edge; think flagstone floors and inglenook fireplaces combined with quirky wallpaper prints and tweed soft furnishings.
Given its location, the Bell Inn also prides itself on not just being dog-friendly, but dog mad! Our dogs Kipper and Rudi dogs were made more than welcome during our stay. They were allowed to accompany us as in the bar and beer garden as we enjoyed the mouth-watering menu of seasonal specials using the best local produce – there was even a special doggy bar menu and a welcoming committee of local ponies!
The Bell Inn has 28 rooms, all of which have an individual flair and character. There are five categories of room: Snug, Classic, Forest, Estate and Manor – ranging in size. Pooches are permitted in the Classic rooms – of which there are nine and most being conveniently situated on the ground floor for easy access from the car park (handy for bringing in dog beds and muddy pups!).
Our room was a generous size, with plenty of space for dog beds and two sprawled out dogs after a long walk across the New Forest. The classic rooms come with Kingsize beds, luxurious Egyptian cotton sheets, modern shower room, tea and coffee making facilities as well as complimentary Wi-Fi, water and some tasty sweet treats for both humans and pupsters.
PET FRIENDLY PERKS
The New Forest is a fantastic destination for a dog-friendly break – with so much stunning countryside to roam across as well as fantastic walks from the doorstep of the inn. As well as a warm welcome from staff, pooches are supplied with beds, bowls and some treats in the room – which Kipper and Rudi devoured within the first ten minutes! It was great to be able to take the dogs with us into the bar and pretty beer garden whilst we enjoyed drinks and food, and there was also a fantastic doggy bar menu of treats to keep them happy while we enjoyed some delicious human treats.
FOOD & DRINK
Guests with accompanying pooches can dine with their canines in the cosy bar area or pretty beer garden – though we opted to leave Kipper and Rudi to enjoy a welcome snooze in the room after a day of frolicking across the New Forest and dine in the restaurant for dinner. There was a lovely atmosphere for a Saturday evening – with a healthy mix of locals and guests enjoying dinner in the inviting dining room.
The Bell Inn prides itself on using as many local suppliers and producers as possible and even use ingredients foraged or sourced from the family’s estate in the New Forest – giving a true taste of the local area and the finest produce from both land and sea. The menu offers a great mixture of more adventurous dishes as well as a great selection of pub classics.
To start we tried the tempura prawns with Asian-style salad and sweet chilli jam as well as the warm crab salad – both of which showcased the local seafood and the skill of the chef. To follow we had the Bell Inn chicken and smoked bacon kiev with potato two ways and crispy kale was a delicious take on an old classic, whilst the duck served with rhubarb made the most of the fantastic seasonal ingredients and emphasising the inn’s “estate-to-plate” philosophy. To finish we polished off a summer pudding with clotted cream ice cream and a cheeseboard of delicious British cheeses.
WHAT TO BRING
The inn provides a dog mat, bowl and some treats in the room – but if your dog prefers their own bed then bring that with you, as well as the usual poo bags, lead and their food (though if you do forget to pack their dinner the bar serves up a small selection of dog dinners as well as some tasty treats).
WHEN TO GO
During our stay it was beautiful weather, which made exploring the local area wonderful with the dogs, as well as enjoying the beautiful beer garden at the inn! However, the cosy bar with inglenook fireplace and super comfy sofas would also be a wonderful spot to warm up after a long walk in the colder months.
“We were made wooftacularly welcome by the local ponies when we arrived, and I barked a good hello back. Our bed was pawsatively cosy and we enjoyed eating our tasty treats while mum enjoyed a drink in the garden – I felt like a very pampered pooch!”
PRICES & BOOKING
Rooms at The Bell Inn start at £129 for a weekday stay in a dog-friendly classic twin or double room, dogs are charged at a supplement of £10 per dog for one night, or £15 per dog for more than one night. To book visit www.bellinn-newforest.co.uk or call 023 8081 2214.