Where to eat out in the New Forest this Christmas
Local venues for gatherings with family and friends - plus winter walks to enjoy afterwards!
It's a pleasure to eat out sometimes over the Christmas period - give the host and hostess a break and everybody a chance to have a really good chat while someone else does the cooking. Lots of our favourite New Forest restaurants and pubs have special festive special menus for Christmas suitable for all celebratory occasions with family or friends. And some of these restaurants and pubs are also in brilliant locations either with their own grounds to explore or with fabulous winter walks close by - another essential ingredient of family Christmas time! Read on - and see also Christmas Party Venues for larger gatherings.
Our Christmas in Lymington and the New Forest 2019 provides key dates locally over the festive period. There are also plenty of ideas in our Events Calendar. And to keep up to speed with local events and news, subscribe for free for our Weekly What's On newsletter which is emailed every Friday. Don't miss out!!
Fine festive dining with a winter walk...
A hidden gem overlooking a stunning garden, you'll find a warm welcome, exceptional service and superb cusine. The winner of a number of awards, including Best Loved Hotel in the South 2016, Hampshire Life Best Hotel Restaurant and one of The Sunday Times' Top 100 UK Restaurants. Also awarded 3AA Rosettes for its food.
Enjoy a Christmas festive lunch or a yuletide afternoon tea in luxury. For the ultimate dining experience enjoy the exquisite 5 course Festive Tasting Menu created by Head Chef Matthew Whitfield. On Christmas Day, enjoy a traditional, four course Christmas lunch with all the trimmings. Keep the festivities going with a traditional lunch at The Terrace on Boxing Day. Or celebrate in style at the Boxing Night Masked Ball.
At the AA Hotel of the Year, The Dining Room is light and airy with picturesque views of the Chewton Glen estate by day and offers warm refinement in the evening. From Saturday 30 November until Christmas Eve, gather family, friends and colleagues for a relaxed festive lunch, which includes three tempting courses plus tea, coffee and mince pies to finish or for an impressive festive five-course dinner, which includes a glass of fizz on arrival and concludes with tea, coffee and spiced macarons.
Alternatively, enjoy a festive traditional afternoon tea including a glass of Sipsmith London Cup gin and quinessentially English spread with a Christmassy twist - such as chocolate and chestnut bouche noelle, cinnamon and golden sultana scones and turkey, cranberry and chestnut stuffing sandwiches.
Winter walk: take a stroll across the Chewton Glen estate to the beach at Highcliffe for some soul-replenishing fresh air!
At Lime Wood's relaxed and stylish Italian restaurant, Chefs Angela Hartnett and Luke Holder’s food comes with the much loved Italian approach to eating - where sharing, atmosphere and provenance is everything. Lime Wood provides a personal, relaxed house party getaway, with private dining spaces that can seat from 8 up to 50. Choose between a Christmas Lunch or Dinner menu, Italian Sharing Feast or a Kitchen Table Supper. Find out more about Christmas at Lime Wood here.
Winter walk: wander from Lime Wood directly into the New Forest National Park, take in the Pondhead Inclosure or stroll to Bolten's Bench and Lyndhurst.
Relaxed refinement is the name of the game at Cambium, 3AA rosette flagship restaurant at Careys Manor. Unwind in chic yet comfy surroundings and experience delicious cuisine inspired by the enchanted New Forest. The food, service and sommelier are all exceptional - as are the finishing touches.
Enjoy a festive lunch or dinner at Cambium between 1 and 17 December. Find Cambium festive menu here. A few tables remain for the 'Christmas Ball' party nights on selected dates in December or indulge in a relaxing and refined festive afternoon tea.
Winter walk: walk from the hotel directly into the New Forest and explore!
Nestled deep within the New Forest this manor house displays a blend of Tudor and Gothic architecture, providing a magical backdrop for your festive celebrations. The 2AA Rosette fine dining Armada Restaurant offers an unfussy menu of classic British dishes with a contemporary twist and local provenance. Enjoy a Festive Sunday Lunch during December or Festive Afternoon Tea from 30 November to 7 January.
On Christmas Day, lunch will be served within the Alhambra and adjoining dining room after a mid-morning birds of prey show with hot chocolate, followed by Champagne and canapés.
Winter Walk: stroll from the hotel onto the beautiful Ornamental Drive, there are four routes you can take ranging from 3 to 7 miles.
This lovely family-friendly hotel in an idyllic forest location tucked away behind the Polo Club and showground at New Park, welcomes locals to share its cosy, comfy sitting areas and relaxed dining room.
Afternoon tea is a particular feature and special event, and non-residents are also welcome to lunch informally and fine dine in the evenings. The service is friendly and children are very welcome. Fresh ingredients are all sourced locally. Find New Park Manor's festive menu here.
Winter walk: explore the gardens of this former New Forest hunting lodge, or venture out into the neighbouring New Forest surrounding the hotel.
Beresfords is the elegant, award-winning 2AA rosette restaurant within the Balmer Lawn Hotel. Throughout December, the Balmer Lawn Hotel will be serving a delicious choice of either two or three course festive lunch in their elegant Beresford restaurant with views over the garden to the New Forest beyond. Find out more about Christmas at the Balmer Lawn here.
Winter walk: wonderful walks into the New Forest directly behind the Balmer Lawn - head out and explore!
This cosy 18th century coaching inn near Bramshaw Golf Club offers rustic charm, a warm welcome and seriously good food - they are understandably proud of their 1AA rosette and AA star inn recognition. Children and dogs are really welcome. From 1-23 December, gather friends, family or colleagues for yuletide celebrations: group parties and more intimate gatherings are all possible with a 3 course festive menu from £26.95 per person.
On Christmas Day book in for a hassle-free lunch; 5 course feast including festive crackers, coffee and sweet treats. And don't miss the New Year's Eve party which includes cocktails and homemade bar nibbles, 5 course dinner plus cheeseboard and evening disco - plus champagne to toast in 2019.
Winter walks: a trip to the Rufus Stone makes an ideal way to walk off lunch, being well signposted from The Bell Inn and a pleasant half hour stroll along a winding lane.
With glorious views straight down Lymington River and across the Solent to the Isle of Wight this has to be the prime spot in Lymington for coffee, lunch, tea and dinner! The Haven has a wonderful atmosphere; relaxed friendliness and fun combined with excellent cuisine and great service - what more could be wished for this Christmas! The Haven's Christmas menu is available throughout December and must be pre-booked. The popular Haven Christmas Party Nights are great for groups of all sizes, call to find remaining availability. The Haven bar will be open for drinks on Christmas Day from 11am - 2pm.
If you're looking to escape somewhere relaxing on Boxing Day or New Year's Day, book now for the Haven's Boxing Day Brunch and New Year's Day Brunch - both the perfect remedy following a big night! A few tickets remain for the Haven's infamous New Year's Eve party (this year with Hawaiian theme!).
Winter walk: perfectly located for a walk around the 'sea wall' - the Lymington to Keyhaven nature reserve is a SSSI and wonderful for clearing the cobwebs at every time of year. Highly recommended!
A stylish boutique style hotel in a historic building in the centre of Lymington, with newly refurbished 2AA rosette restaurant, Etain and informal Burcher & Co bistro restaurant. Enjoy Christmas drinks in the Drydock cocktail bar, afternoon tea in the airy conservatory, lunch or dinner in one of the restaurants - you'll receive a very warm welcome at any time of day and evening. This Christmas, Stanwell House have party nights and festive lunches throughout December, Christmas Day lunch, Boxing Day lunch and a spectacular New Years Eve dinner. Find full details of festive menus here.
Winter walk: stroll around Lymington, down to the Quay, around the High Street and historic side streets.
A gorgeous little restaurant in the heart of Milford on Sea which serves simply stunning food! Highly commended by the Good Food Guide, La Perle chef Sam has appeared on BBC Professional Master Chef and trained under Raymond Blanc. In the run up to Christmas, get together with family or friends at La Perle for a delicious Christmas lunch (Wednesday to Saturday) or Christmas dinner (Tuesday to Thursday). On Fridays in December join La Perle for a party night with live music.
Winter walk: La Perle overlooks Milford on Sea village green and is only five minutes walk from the seaside - perfect for a blustery walk before or after eating!
This historic hotel in its own lovely grounds is also in a convenient location on the main road into Milford with ample adjacent parking. Dining is in the recently totally refurbished Cedar Tree restaurant, with lovely views over the gardens including the stately cedar tree! Good for families and friends and well priced menu. Always gets rave reviews and early booking is highly recommended! Find the Christmas and New Year menus here.
Winter walk: explore the hotel grounds or a few minutes drive from Milford on Sea, where you can wander along the spit to Hurst Castle or along the beach path towards Barton on Sea.
Fed up with turkey? Something a bit different for the festive season...
Le Blaireau French bar and bistro in Brockenhurst is part of Careys Manor Hotel and offers an alternative Christmas menu and also Christmas day lunch with delicious French cuisine. It's a great place for families with lots of space and a fun atmosphere. Join a Christmas party at Le Blaireau in the run up to Christmas and escape to Le Blaireau on Christmas Day.
Winter walk: let off steam afterwards at "Brockenhurst Beach" (beside the river!), just along the road and much less crowded in winter!
The Kitchen is a relaxed restaurant with a fantastic cookery school supported by celebrity Chef James Martin. The Christmas Day menu at The Kitchen centres around a sharing platter of tapas treats for all to dip into, as well as all the trimmings for lunch with the family. Enjoy a glass of Champagne on arrival followed by bread and olives, tapas starters for all to share, a main course, dessert and coffee with mince pies.
Winter walk: take a stroll from the Chewton Glen estate to the beach at Highcliffe and take in some fresh sea air!
This unique restaurant, located at Careys Manor SenSpa, offers an authentically Thai dining experience. The Thai chefs serve freshly prepared Thai dishes using organic and locally sourced products where possible. Whether you visit the Zen Garden Restaurant for a 3 course dinner or just a freshly made smoothie, you will find the atmosphere relaxing and friendly. The restaurant offers a range of dishes catering for all tastes. Read our review. Find contact details for Zen Garden.
Winter treat: combine your visit to Zen Garden with a sneaky visit to SenSpa - just the thing to calm Mother Christmas and relax Father Christmas!
The 'Best Asian Restaurant on the South Coast 2018' and winner of many other awards, escape to Lymington's fabulous Rivaaz for fine indian cuisine this Christmas. You'll always receive a very warm welcome from Shah and the team, with a super atmosphere. Takeaways are also a popular option if you just cannot drag yourself away from the fire or the box sets! Find contact details for Rivaaz.
Winter walk: head for a wander down to Church Lane and discover the famous Crinkle Crankles on the way to Woodside Gardens.
Experience the irresistibly rich and authentic flavours of Thai cuisine this Christmas, with the delicious festive menu at Koh Thai Tapas. This Christmas enjoy a Two Course Thai Tasting Menu at £26.50 per person, or as it’s the season for over indulgence there is also an option to upgrade to £30 and you’ll get a pudding- not to mention any booze lovers out there if you pre-order 5 bottles of wine for your table, you can also get one for free!
This is a really convenient destination especially if you live or are staying in the centre of Lymington, and offers something a little different for the tastebuds over the Christmas break - perhaps especially when you've had enough of turkey and tradition! Find contact details for Koh Thai Tapas.
Winter walk: take a leisurely Christmas stroll around the alleyways and courtyards of Lymington afterwards, you'll be amazed to discover all the little nooks and crannies and see the backs of the historic buildings of the town centre - which you never normally notice marching up and down the High Street!
Non members of Royal Southampton Yacht Club are invited as well to relax in the tranquil setting at its stunning Gins Clubhouse, and to enjoy delicious meals and unbeatable views of Beaulieu River. This Christmas at Gins Clubhouse there is a Christmas Carvery, with the the Beaulieu Band and a visit from a ‘special visitor’ for the children.
Winter Walk: take in the beauty of the Beaulieu River or stop at Buckler's Hard or the village of Beaulieu for a historic leisurely stroll.
Cosy places to relax and unwind...
A roaring fire, warm welcome and cosy atmosphere always greet you at the Turfcutters. Their Christmas Menu is being served from 2 to 30 December and is fantastic value at just £17.95 for 2 courses and £21.95 for 3 courses. The Turfs is the perfect pitstop for refreshment after a walk, dogs are welcome (children too!) and will be open on Christmas Day.
This former coach house near to Lymington station is atmospheric and cosy in the winter months. Still the place to watch sport and unwind with friends, the cosy and friendly ambience with good pub food is a winner and definitely worth checking out if you haven't already done so. Christmas parties and group bookings are welcome. Get in touch to book your table now!
Winter walk: situated so near Lymington Town station, the Bosun's Chair is the perfect start for a stroll along the Lymington River and across the river to the Walhampton Memorial.
The olde worlde surroundings of historic Beaulieu Village create a wonderful Christmassy atmosphere, it’s as though this village were designed especially for Christmas! And then the cosy atmosphere at Monty's Inn (part of the Montagu Arms Hotel) sets the scene for a relaxed yet classy Christmas get-together with friends, family or colleagues. A special Christmas 3 course lunch or dinner with a selection of craft ales, locally distilled Gins and an extensive wine list is on offer throughout December (details of festive menu here).
Winter walk: a stroll along the Beaulieu River or around the village will take you back to times gone by.
The 'café' at Fairweather's Garden Centre is a popular place to eat, with its warm and friendly welcome and home cooked food. From warm scones straight out of the oven to hearty soups, everything is freshly prepared. Home cooked Christmas lunches will be served at Steff’s Kitchen from Monday 2 to Sunday 22 December and when you book in advance, you will receive festive Christmas crackers and delicious chocolates. Details of Lunchtime Christmas Menu here.
Winter walk: a gentle wander around the garden centre and Patrick's Patch opposite!
The Monkey House commands a strategic position at the gateway to Lymington from Brockenhurst. There is parking next to the pub and the Monkey House can always be relied upon to provide a warm proprietor's welcome, carefully selected always delicious menu options, friendly professional service and not forgetting the crisply laundered white napkins.
Winter walk: enjoy some fresh air, let the children play and the dog have a run, beforehand or afterwards at Buckland Rings.
Updated 15 November 2019