BURLEY Manor may be surrounded by stunning countryside but it stands imposing and proud, far from nestled among it.

The Grade II listed house is set against the backdrop of the beautiful New Forest National Park - yet it would give it a run for its money if there was a beauty contest between them.

It is impossible not to notice the manor's presence when in the charming and quaint village of Burley.

Even from the modest, traditional, red-brick church, the view of the manor house dominates the landscape.

Radiating mystery and intrigue, if we hadn't of been staying there it would have been torturous not to be privy to an insight into how the Lord and Lady of the house once lived.

Given the home is now a hotel and one which has recently undergone a major £1.8m refurbishment, you might wonder how accurate this insight could be.

But owner's New Forest Hotels, which owns four hotels in Hampshire, have done an impeccable job at carefully retaining the personality and history of the property which dates back to 1852.

Meanwhile, they've tastefully added a showering of contemporary twists.

The result is a charming, yet grand, adults-only chic hotel and restaurant with boutique bedrooms.

Conveniently located off the A31, it's roughly an hour and a half from Brighton and within 30 minutes of Bournemouth and Southampton.

On arrival, we were given a warm welcome both by the staff and the roaring fire.

We were staying in a Garden Suite complete with French doors and a balcony which opened up onto the grounds and outdoor swimming pool.

There couldn't be a much better view to wake up to than that of the national park and nearby red deer sanctuary.

Our room was decorated with nature-inspired colours, antique furniture and fascinating fabrics which were clearly all carefully and cleverly thought out.

In the spacious bathroom, which was full of luxurious toiletries to choose from, I was also pleased to discover two robes and slippers.

It was a shame there wasn't a mini-bar or fridge but the hotel does offer a 24-hour room service.

Complimentary still and sparkling water along with freshly baked cookies were also waiting for us.

After a look around the hotel, we opted to explore the village for the afternoon.

Beyond the gift shops, pubs and tea rooms, it soon became clear there was more to Burley than initially might meet the eye.

After questioning the witchy theme throughout the village, we discovered it has a rich folklore history of not only witches but dragons and smugglers too.

During our visit, we embarked on a five-mile circular walk found on New Forest National Park Authority's website which encompassed these tales.

One delight we stumbled across during the short trek was The Cider Pantry.

It's a traditional tea house but with the additional bonus of traditionally brewed cider on site and deliciously hearty home-cooked food.

On another afternoon we just as easily whirled away the hours in the manor's drawing room with a book and the newspaper we had ordered to our room.

The staff happily put the fire on for us and brought us drinks until our hearts were content.

The same spot was equally enjoyable for a pre and post-dinner drink.

The restaurant has a Mediterranean menu and it's apparent the theme goes beyond the food.

The relaxed way of living is clearly the inspiration for the look and feel of the restaurant.

The award-winning chefs use local produce as well as from the British Isle and beyond and craft them into rustic and bold dishes.

We chose to share a number of dishes from the tapas menu to start which I'd thoroughly recommend.

The restaurant also has a stone wood-fire oven and guests are welcome to go 'behind the scenes' and see their food cooked in it which is a nice touch.

It isn't long before you realise food as well as comfort is at the heart of the hotel.

All of the bread served is cooked just an hour before serving, and the same goes for its cakes, biscuits and pastries.

Even breakfast, which is served to your table in the conservatory, is a main event with plenty to choose from - the Chalkstream Trout Royale a winner in my eyes.

Once we had reluctantly checked out, the trip back down the gravel driveway made me realise my initial fantasy had come true.

A stay at Burley Manor is a luxurious and indulgent experience where you're made to feel like the Lord and Lady of the manor yourself.

* ‘To stay at Burley Manor on a Bed and Breakfast basis – prices will start from £119 per couple in a snug room’. To book or for more information see www.burleymanor.com or call 01425 403522.