EMG recently descended upon 4 star, 17th Century Country House Hotel, The Montagu Arms, to see what it has been up to since our last visit. The Montagu Arms is nestled in the heart of Beaulieu, which is one of the New Forest's most famous villages, boasting stunning countryside, roaming New Forest ponies (not to mention pigs, pheasants and donkeys), a Motor Museum and an Abbey. As well as being a pretty and historic spot, Beaulieu is also incredibly convenient with its proximity to the M3, making it easily accessible from London, Southampton and Winchester. Lymington's marinas are also a mere 10 minutes away, meaning that the hotel is a good base for both land and water based events.
Straight off, it needs to be said that the Montagu Arms is not big, however, although small, it is perfectly formed and full of character and country charm. The hotel boasts 22 luxury bedrooms and has two dedicated meeting rooms, the Paris Room and the Oakwood Room, which are cosy, atmospheric and fully equipped in terms of all of the technical paraphernalia required for presentations and meetings. The Paris Room is suitable for up to 10 and the Oakwood Room for up to 32 for meetings or private. In addition to the dedicated meetings rooms, there is also the Magnolia Lounge, which boasts couches, armchairs and a log fire making it suitable for informal meetings and conference breakout sessions.
Montagu Arms, Corporate Venue - Bedroom, Paris Room & Oak Room
Onto EMG's favourite part - the restaurant. It must be said that we really enjoyed 'testing the facilities' at, The Terrace, which is The Montagu Arms' Michelin starred restaurant (it's worth mentioning at this point that The Terrace is the only restaurant in the New Forest with a Michelin star). Headed up by Roux Scholar Matthew Tomkinson, the restaurant prides itself on creating simple but beautifully cooked meals from locally sourced foods where possible. Vegetables and herbs are taken from the kitchen garden, fish from the nearby South Coast and game from the national park. However, rules are made to be broken so there are a few exceptions to the locally sourced food - the main one being the Scottish scallops (more on those later).
Terrace Restaurant - Montagu Arms, Beaulieu
During our visit, we opted for the tasting menu accompanied by matching wines, however there is also an A La Carte menu available for both lunch and dinner and the tasting menu is also offered without the matching wines. The tasting menu changes daily according to the season and comprises six 'surprise courses', which are described as they are served. As each course arrived, the table was also presented with its complimenting wine by an incredibly knowledgeable sommelier. The wine was fantastic, enjoyed by all (except by two of the team who were unfortunately (or foolishly) driving) and complemented each course well.
Scallops - The Terrace Restaurant, Montagu Arms
The meal began with Scottish scallops which were simply incredible - plump, juicy and perfectly cooked - and definitely worth the long distance travel! Course two brought game in the form of a rabbit wrap (for want of a more glamorous term) that many of the team were sceptical of but proved to go down a storm in the end. The main was a duo of pork belly and duck, which sounds an odd combination but worked delightfully with the tender duck complimenting the crisp pork belly. The cheese course was undoubtedly the best the team had ever experienced with four different boards on offer - hard, soft, blue and goats - all were devoured bar one lonely cheese which should have come with a health warning due to its 'strong' aroma. Sadly not much room was left to give the two desserts justice, however special mention must go to the parfait that was laced with bergamot giving it a truly unusual but fantastic flavour.
To sum it all up, while The Montagu Arms may be small, making it unsuitable as a base for large corporate groups, the hotel would cater well for smaller corporate groups. The Terrace while not cheap is good value in terms of the quality of the food and EMG is able to negotiate reasonable corporate rates. The excellent service and ample seating - the restaurant can cater for 100 plus additional seating outside and private dining options - makes The Terrace a good choice for a lunch or dinner venue for corporate events. In short the Montagu Arms has the EMG seal of approval.
01590 612 324