* Prices may differ from that shown
There seems to be a current trend for calling various business of the hotel and restaurant type, "boutique". I've never been quite sure what that means. Initially I had assumed that it meant a stylish one-off but there are chains of "boutique" hotels, such as Hotel du Vin and Malmaison. So, perhaps it has to have a French name, after all, boutique is a French word though it just refers to a common-or-garden shop! For our respective anniversaries my wife and I try to arrange to celebrate with an over-night stay and a good meal and if the two can be combined, all the better. In recent years we have frequented the outstanding 36 On The Quay in Emsworth, Hampshire. We've always had good experiences staying here and the location adds value to the experience. However, wanting to try something different for a change I started researching on the Web and came across the Stanwell House Hotel in Lymington, Hampshire. All the usual sources of recommendations gave it the thumbs-up so I decide to give it a try. I was able to book an overnight stay, breakfast and a meal for two, together with flowers and a bottle of champagne on our room on arrival for just under £230. This included an allowance of just over £50 for our meal with extras for things like wine and drinks in the bar to be paid for on top. The hotel is on the High Street and is situated on a stretch of raised pavement so stopping to set down cannot be done directly outside. The hotel has its own car park on a first come-first served basis, across the street, behind the shops facing and accessible from a passageway between shops. To reach it you have to drive further up the High Street and return back down a parallel road behind the shops. The distance to the hotel from the car park is less than 100m by foot. The hotel follows a colour scheme that seems to have been adopted by many hospitality concerns, of a darkish grey. This sounds a little drab but doesn't actually appear so and is very much in keeping with a classic, stylish mood. The façade conveys the impression of a building with some history. The entrance continues the flagstone pavement into the interior, passing first the bar, on your left and the two restaurants on the right. Reception is just before opening out into the residents' lounge, a courtyard entirely covered by a high, ridged glass roof. Here you can relax in the many armchairs and sofas under the open sky and protected from any inclement weather. We were welcomed and, having checked in, directed to our room. I had booked a "Garden Room" and this proved to be in a more modern rear extension to the original buildings. The extension is two storey and ours was on the ground floor, right at the end. Our room was delightful, consisting of a separate lounge area; a large bathroom with both bath and large shower area; and a bedroom area overlooking, as the name suggested, the rear gardens, accessible through two pairs of French doors. A patio outside could be used for an alfresco breakfast, so long as the weather is favourable which, during our stay, it unfortunately wasn't. Our room was very comfortable and stylishly decorated. There were TVs in both the lounge area and the bedroom area and an iPod dock beside the bed. We certainly had a very good night's sleep after our meal. Our meal was in the "Seafood" restaurant although seafood is not the only style on offer. The extensive menu lists dishes served in both this and the adjacent "Bistro". The wine list is quite extensive and a reasonable selection was available at a not entirely exorbitant price, certainly reflective of the sort of prices you will find on many similar establishments. The atmosphere was conducive to a good experience; the meal was very enjoyable and the waiters were friendly, knowledgeable and keen to ensure that we had a memorable evening. All in all we could probably not have done better had we chosen to eaten on one of the many other restaurants in this popular south-coast town. Breakfast the following morning was in the Bistro and was of the usual buffet self-service style, with tea and coffee served to you at your table. You can order additional cooked dishes as well, if you require. All in all we greatly enjoyed our stay at the Stanwell House Hotel and would have no hesitation in returning another time. The total cost of around £280 may sound a lot but I consider it represented good value for what we received to celebrate our special occasion. If only the weather had been better. A typical British Summer. Say no more!