Great British Boltholes: Ivy Roost Cottage, East Boldre, New Forest, Hampshire

Miranda McMinn grabs a country break in a five-star thatched cottage mixing historic charm with 21st-century treats.

Miranda McMinn grabs a country break in a five-star thatched cottage mixing historic charm with 21st-century treats.

Why go: For an easy and luxurious country break. Just west of Southampton, the New Forest National Park (newforestnpa.gov.uk) covers 219 square miles and is a magical place. No sooner have you driven over the cattle grids that surround all the entrances onto the flat gorse land that makes up a large part of it, than you come across the wild ponies. Like cows in India they have the freedom of the road and wander across it blithely. Despite the name, the forests here are ancient and deciduous, breathtaking at any time of year. And all roads lead south to the sea and shingly beaches that look across the Solent to the Isle of Wight with all the silvery appeal of the English coast.

Home sweet home: Ivy Roost Cottage sleeps nine guests

Best for: Four-bedroom Ivy Roost Cottage, near Brockenhurst, is all about relaxing in nature without missing out on modern comforts. Sleeping up to nine guests, it’s great for a get-together with family and friends, and also well-placed for walkers and cyclists.

The look: Thatched and invitingly pretty, this designer hideaway is described as a luxury cottage with the tasteful appeal of a boutique hotel. It doesn’t disappoint, and comes so well-equipped and comfortable the only downside is that you think of your own home with despair. It’s a genuine escape with divine treats including a hot-tub in the secluded garden and a roof terrace with uninterrupted views across the New Forest – perfect for watching the sky go from pink to pale in the morning with a cup of tea or marvelling at the sunset with some prosecco in hand. Every comfort and convenience is provided – including two flat-screen TVs, Wi-Fi, a barbecue and welcome hamper. The modern section of the house is all exposed beams and glass balustrades worthy of Grand Designs, while the older part is charming and authentic. There is a huge garden with a swing and an orchard. Four bedrooms – two doubles (one en suite), one with twin beds and one triple, plus a further shower room and family bathroom – plus three living rooms and a vast kitchen and dining area mean that two families can easily spend time together without getting in each other’s hair.

Country comforts: a bedroom at Ivy Roost Cottage

I’m hungry: There’s a local pub in the village and you’ll most likely want to self-cater, taking advantage of the absurdly well-equipped kitchen and local produce markets. This is the heart of Hampshire so there’s plenty of of high-end pubs and restaurants nearby, including famously The Pig (thepighotel.com) and Chewton Glen (chewtonglen.com). Ivy Roost’s helpful owners, Karen and Roger, will provide the longlist along with options for outside catering.

Fruits of the forest: the area is gaining a reputation as a foodie destination

While you’re there: Potter around the New Forest looking at those ponies, and head into the very boat-y town of Lymington to wander round the excellent, huge and useful Saturday market, then eat fish and chips on the harbourside. The nearest beach is at Lepe – shingly but quaint with a good cafe. There are lots of activity centres for outdoor pursuits from walking and cycling to water sports, and upcoming events in 2016 include the Milford-on-Sea Food Week (28 March-3 April, milfordonseafoodweek.org), the mini-festivals at The Pig and Limewood (from 3 July, smokedanduncut.com), and the New Forest Show (26-28 July, newforestshow.co.uk). And if anyone in your party is five or under it would be mean not to drop into Peppa Pig World (paultonspark.co.uk). Alternatively, you could just stay in, have another soak in the hot-tub, put on your white towelling bathroom (provided for all guests) and hit the roof terrace with a sundowner…

Fine dining: there’s plenty of space for entertaining at Ivy Roost Cottage

Book now: Ivy Roost Cottage, Main Road, East Boldre, Nr Brockenhurst, Hampshire SO42 7WU (07788 871609; premiercottages.co.uk). Rates in January range from £1,000 for a three-night break to £1,200 for seven nights – bookings are made direct with the owners. For more options in the New Forest and beyond, Premier Cottages has close to a thousand four and five-star self-catering properties available across the UK including romantic, family and pet-friendly cottages.

Info: See thenewforest.co.uk

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