I had to think long and hard about the rating for Forest Lodge as it proved to be quite a dilemma.
I rarely give a five star rating as this indicates the property is perfect. Also I had to factor into my rating the fact that Forest Lodge was described as “Luxury”.
We booked a three night stay between 15th and 18th September, 2017 – two adults, two very small dogs.
The Property Pro’s:
The bedrooms were both very well appointed and the beds were excellent.
The living room was also very comfortable and we particularly liked the fireplace although the remote control proved baffling.
A bathroom with a large bath.
The Property Con’s:
We had concerns regarding this property before we even arrived. The deposit was £275 which was the highest we’ve ever paid. One month before we arrived we paid the balance for the property as arranged and consequently received a booking confirmation and access to a Dropbox from which I downloaded a 78 page (!) PDF regarding Forest Lodge. This provided detailed instructions regarding the lodge (some of which later proved to be either vague or incorrect) and, remarkably, on P.78, a score sheet on how clean we left the property upon our departure. This, apparently, would be scored by the cleaners and, depending on how well we did, would dictate how much of a discount we would receive on a future booking. I was not awfully impressed by this as I take some pride in leaving a place as I actually considered booking elsewhere when discovering this.
Be advised that the hot tub will cost you £95 to use irrespective of the duration of your stay. We declined and, frankly, were glad we did.
In my mind the place had already lost a star!
It became apparent that Forest Lodge actually lies within the grounds of another rental property which, I believe, is owned by the same vendor. This is a larger property called Forest Corner and Forest Lodge is, effectively, in the back garden. As a consequence of this be aware that to access the lodge one was to park adjacent to the drive of Forest Corner and walk down the side of the main house, past a variety of sheds and the hot tub used by the tenants of Forest Corner, through a (broken) gate before finally reaching the gate to Forest Lodge. It took quite a while to unpack the car!
Another star gone…
Forest Lodge itself proved to be a bit of a disappointment.
It did have lovely beds and bedrooms BUT:
The decking surrounding the property proved to be treacherously slippery due to poor maintenance. My partner slipped twice, once rather badly resulting in a twisted ankle.
Some of the garden furniture was frankly only good for firewood.
The hot tub cover looked like it could do with replacement and did not look particularly inviting. Very glad we didn’t pay £95 for three days use.
Inside, the flooring near the doorway between the bedrooms and the living room actually moved in a most alarming way. I began to suspect that the floorboards underneath the laminate flooring was either rotting away or simply not there.
The TV was great but the remote was either defective or needed new batteries.
We couldn’t find the remote for the central heating as it was not where it was supposed to be according to the 76 page PDF. It then became apparent that it was not wirelessly connected to the boiler and we had to activate it.
It took ages to figure how to actually run a bath as the water temperature was either “lukewarm” or “hotter than the surface of the sun” if you fiddled with the tap. The knack seemed to be to turn temp up full (lukewarm) and then down a little (ridiculously hot).
The fireplace was lovely but the remote control was baffling. Even referring to page 39 of the PDF didn’t help – indeed there was a rather ominous warning about activating the Lock function but no explanation of what it did or how to Unlock it. Fortunately I discovered a simple three button control panel on the wall to the left of the fire.
Although the property had wi-fi the broadband speed was terrible (almost dial-up). Obviously this is not the vendors fault but be aware. After an hour my partner switched off the wi-fi on his phone as he had very good 4G access (Vodafone).
Now for the simply bizarre aspects of the property.
We knew the kitchen didn’t have a sink as this was stated in the property description. However, I fail to see how a property can be described as luxury when you have to go into the loo to get to the drinking water tap! The simple act of making a cup of tea and subsequently washing the cups became a ridiculous chore. I have no idea why there is no sink in the kitchen (there clearly used to be and certainly there is both a hot water and drinking water pipe in the kitchen wall).
Then there was the issue with the sheds. So many sheds!
There was one that housed the dishwasher, microwave and halogen ovens and another shed that contained the washing machine facilities. As these were small tool sheds the provided devices could only be operated whilst the user was standing outside. Therefore there could be occasions when one could be operating kilowatt electrical devices whilst standing in the rain. Luxury.
All these problems/issues resulted in another star lost.
I had noticed that many of these problems had been mentioned by previous holiday makers. I also noticed that the standard response from the vendor was to point out the number of five star reviews the property had received. I even found a Youtube video that was not exactly complementary (but fairly accurate). Some reviews even indicated that their deposits had been delayed until they gave a five star review. I found this difficult to believe. However…
When we returned from our holiday my partner emailed the vendor so as to provide him with his email address as it had been stated in the PDF that the refund could be received quicker via Paypal. Astonishingly he received a response stating that we would receive the deposit immediately after leaving a five star review! He immediately contacted Holiday Lettings as he suspected this was not best practice. Let’s just say they were less than impressed.
Having now received our £275 deposit back (after the standard ten days) I am now writing this review.
I am now somewhat wary of the five star reviews this property has received – as you should be.
Nice lodge to stay in with all mod cons, sadly lacks a cooker and sink which should be clearly advised in its advert but otherwise lovely.
This lodge is in a beautiful location just inside the new forest, outside the lodge boundary you see ponies and cows, lovely to wake up to in the morning. It is close to amenities, local farm shop just down the road easy to walk to. There are some lovely walks on the doorstep, don't need to take the car. The lodge is very peaceful with a great Bose sound system in every room.
We had a lovely stay, very peaceful. Great seeing the wild horses and cattle roaming just outside. Forest Lodge offered everything you would need for a relaxing stay. Plus a great farm shop just along the road offering great food. Would stay here again.
Fabulous location right in the heart of the New Forest with ponies, donkeys and cows wandering up to the gate. Excellent for dog walking as several walks close by to choose from along with a lovely farm shop serving delicious cream teas and breakfasts and animals for children to visit. Ideally situated to visit Bournemouth, Swanage and other seaside resorts as we found out. The lodge was extremely comfortable, especially the beds, with great new BBQ and plenty of outdoor seating for alfresco dining. There were four adults, an 8 month old baby and two dogs in our party and we all had space to relax. The hot tub proved a hit and was used more than once! Two toilets were a luxury and not having a kitchen sink was not a problem - the dishwasher was used daily.
Spent a week at this lodge for a week at the end of May 2017, Lovely location however the property is definitely not as described, or as per the photographs which have obviously been taken a number of years ago. Property manager/owner was contacted to try to resolve issues but was very rude and unhelpful.
Please view video on YouTube ( titled Forest Lodge New Forest Hampshire video review June 2017 ) as a picture paints a thousand words.
I can't attach a direct link but if you are considering booking this lodge I suggest you view the video!
Great location with donkeys at the fence in a morning. Good pubs nearby for nice meals. Unfortunately the lodge has no cooker or sink in the kitchen and the microwave and dishwasher are outside in a shed. The decking outside could do with a good clean and a coat of paint. Overall we enjoyed our stay but the lodge is not worthy of 5* rating