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Basil goes walkies… to the Master Builder’s at Buckler’s Hard

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With thousands of dogs and their owners in the New Forest and Christchurch, Basil the Australian labradoodle (with a little help from his mum Karen Lindsey) is casting his eye over the some of the most dog-welcoming local venues. This time he leads the way to the Master Builder’s at Buckler’s Hard.

A VISIT to the home of the Adams Family might scare some people off. But fear not, the Master Builder’s hotel isn't home to that family - it was instead the former residence of renowned shipbuilder Henry Adams.

Relieved that Lurch wasn’t going to be the person to greet us, we happily checked in. The friendly lady behind reception handed us our key and explained: “Your room is one of the bedrooms named after famous ships built right here at Buckler’s Hard.”

Mum located room Number 3 in the Henry Adams Wing. Swinging open the door, she busied herself, commenting upon how pretty she thought that it was. Dad, meanwhile, peered out of the ground floor window and nodded appreciatively that we were so close to ideal walking routes for yours truly and had spotted the poo bin (a big tick in Dad’s book).

Meanwhile, I came across a water bowl, comfy bed and a doggy welcome letter complete with my very own room service menu.

It’s a chilled, ‘kick your boots off ‘ type of hotel
It’s a chilled, ‘kick your boots off ‘ type of hotel

Bags unpacked, we ventured outdoors to explore. Strolling through the hotel, having a gander at the various flags and maritime artefacts, we popped out the other side onto a car-free grassy street.

There was so much space and freedom for me to run around and after a mad five minutes of chasing my own tail, tongue lolling, I sat contentedly with Mum and Dad on the blanket of grass. There, we took a moment to gaze at the vista of the moored yachts and countryside beyond.

Taking in the estuary air, Dad declared: “Come on, Basil, let’s go and find you some sticks!”

Basil explores the riverside near the Master Builder’s
Basil explores the riverside near the Master Builder’s

Well, this suggestion was music to my floppy ears, and so we set off on walkabout. In comfortable silence, we strolled together along the river and through the woodland pathway where I happily sniffed out an abundance of sticks.

Passing many other pooches and their parents along the way, we ambled for some 30 minutes towards the village of Beaulieu before turning on our paws to head back to the hotel – all that fresh air was making us hungry.

After dressing for dinner - well, changing my collar - we headed towards the residents’ lounge. Mum was chuffed to observe an array of gins on display. Recognising our difficulty in choosing, the hotel’s bar supervisor shared with us his favourite tipple.

Seemingly satisfied with his recommendation, I followed Mum and Dad into the Riverview Lounge where I bumped into a cheeky wired haired Dachshund. Although an excitable ankle-biter, I thought that he was rather ripper, especially when I learned that his name, too, was Basil!

Mum and Dad sat in the comfy chairs and chatted to Basil’s parents whereas Basil Mark 2 and I occupied ourselves by staring out of the glazed terrace doors across the gardens, searching (in vain, as it happens) for a glimpse of a squirrel. Soon it was time to eat.

Unfortunately, the dog-friendly dining room (the Henry Adams Room), which serves the same menu as the award-winning restaurant, was already booked by another guest but we'd been set up with a nice little table in the Yachtsman’s Bar.

As we walked past, I saw that the dining room looked very cosy and old-worldly while Dad was already leading the way to the pub, one happy bunny.

Although on this occasion we couldn’t dine in the dog-friendly dining room, Mum and Dad could, unusually and as a very special treat, choose from either the restaurant or the bar menu. Hmm, my parents really were spoilt for choice: crayfish cocktail, fish and chips or chicken, leek and bacon pie with all the trimmings.

Choosing dinner at the Master Builder’s
Choosing dinner at the Master Builder’s

Ultimately they plumped for dishes from the Riverview Restaurant menu: seared scallops with cauliflower, white pudding, bloody orange and spicy venison chorizo, followed by saddle of venison with turnips, blackberry, celeriac compote, potato fondant and juniper port sauce for Dad. It was pumpkin and prosecco risotto with shaved fresh truffle for Mum.

But what about me, I hear you say? Well, I had a choice from the doggy room service menu of sausages with gravy and potato, casserole, or a serving of dried food along with some mineral water. Sausages win every time!

The pub was cracking. Clearly steeped in history, it was relaxed, inviting and comfortable. Being mid-week, we had the added bonus that it wasn’t bursting at the seams so there was plenty of space for me to stretch out under the table to chillax.

Our food soon arrived and I jumped up expectantly at the sight and smell of my bowl. We all agreed that our dishes tasted delish. Mum said she couldn’t eat another thing but promptly decided that perhaps she could manage a spoonful (or two) of the passion fruit panacotta with meringue and physalis.

I was stoked to be asked if I, too, would like some pudding: an ice cream specially created for pups perhaps? Well, it would be rude not to. Apple, banana and carrot? Mum nodded in appreciation.

After a leisurely supper, we moved to the other side of the bar where I took up position in front of the open fire. Mum and Dad continued to chat with the locals. Yawning in unison, it was quite clearly time for bed - although to be frank, I had been snoozing for some considerable time already.

Enjoying the cosy and old-worldly surroundings of the Master Builder’s hotel
Enjoying the cosy and old-worldly surroundings of the Master Builder’s hotel

After a night’s restful sleep, we returned to the pub for breakfast. I was chuffed to see my pal Basil Mark 2 sitting hopefully at the table. Chatting once again ensued between our parents whilst they waited for their full English of Cumberland sausage, bacon, grilled tomato, flat mushroom, black pudding, friend bread and scrambled eggs.

“Kibble for you today Basil,” Mum said. No worries, I was full up from the night before anyway.

“Goodness, Basil, it will soon be time for us to leave,” Mum declared, scrubbing my lug. So I rubbed noses with other Basil and set about taking a final tour to seek strokes from the waiting staff and my friendly pals behind reception.

I jogged out of the hotel towards the car park feeling all refreshed and in a chilled, reflective mood. It may have once been the home of the Adams Family but there was nothing scary about our stay at Master Builder’s hotel - it was defo most bonzer! Hopefully, we will return again soon.

"Relaxed, inviting and comfortable"
"Relaxed, inviting and comfortable"

A final word from Basil’s mum...

The Master Builder’s hotel is located in the most picturesque of settings within Lord Montagu’s Beaulieu Estate in the New Forest. Buckler’s Hard is a unique village with so much evident history, situated on the banks of the Beaulieu River.

Buckler’s Hard is undeniably unique and so too is this four-star hotel. It has all the trappings of a relaxed, cosy, pretension-free environment which also, uncommonly, offers a choice of fine dining in a restaurant (Henry Adams Room when accompanied by pooches) or traditional pub food and a good pint in the relaxed Yachtsman’s Bar. So whatever your mood, it’s all under one roof.

The staff are welcoming, friendly and very keen to please. It also caters extremely well for our beloved pooches with ample access to the hotel facilities with fantastic walks amid breath-taking scenery on the doorstep. It’s a chilled and ‘kick your boots off ‘ type of hotel; an absolutely perfect place, in my opinion, to escape with your faithful hound for a mini-break.

Dogs are welcome in either of the two self-contained cottages and five of the 26 bedrooms - charged at £20 per night. Dogs are not permitted in the Riverview Restaurant but are welcome in the Yachtsman’s Bar, Riverview lounge and the Henry Adams Room.

Basil’s review is written 'in his opinion’. Although he has been entirely honest about his experience, as toast, tea and sticks are high on his happiness agenda, please feel free to undertake your own research too – after all, he is just a dog, albeit a rather discerning one!

You can also view other reviews and access a complimentary directory of UK hotels and pubs/restaurants with rooms that are truly dog welcoming on Basil’s own website www.TravelWithBasil.com.

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