It may be the season to be jolly but between heavy workloads and upcoming family duties why not pencil in some “me time” with an Escape and Spa stay at Whittlebury Hall. Just an hour and a half from London, set in the Northamptonshire countryside, Whittlebury Hall spa offers retreat from the rigmarole of day-to-day life.
One of the draws of Whittlebury is their ice and heat experiences. After donning our gowns we head straight for this section of the spa. Starting with the foot washing ritual we are happy to enjoy the soothing heat experiences with the saunas, steam rooms and hydrotherapy pool. While my travel companion was brave enough to drench herself in the ice shower (screams let our involuntarily!) I just about managed to give my body a light rub down with ice chips as I moved from one sauna to the next. The hydrothermal pool in the centre of the room with its bubbling spa outlets and fountains of pounding water is great for easing the stresses away from neck and back muscles. While it was hard to drag ourselves away, there was more in this spa to explore. The main pool, with its lounge chairs dotted around the edge, was the perfect place to relax, read a book and get in a few laps.
On our way to our spa lunch, we took a peek in the body and mind studio, which offered a range of classes including yoga, Pilates and Zumba, however our relaxed states and the call of our stomachs had us decide that gym-style classes can wait until we get back home.
The buffet in the spa restaurant was filled with healthy choices that were tasty as well as giving us our five-a-day. The spring vegetable soup that we had as a starter was delicious. With a salad and fish bar – packed with Omega 3s – and a main of beef stew with buttered greens and the slightly naughty cauliflower cheese we were filled up without feeling too guilty. Dessert was a very virtuous fruit salad with natural yoghurt.
After lunch we decided to relax in the lounge to digest before our treatments. We were escorted to the calming treatment rooms where I had the express ESPA facial while my companion indulged in a neck and shoulder massage. The products were lovely and the treatment was very relaxing and I’m pleased to report there was no post facial break-out! Somewhat zombified by our treatments we staggered to the dry water beds – a surprising must-do – which gently rocked us off to sleep. If only I could get one installed in my apartment!
We decided to do one last round of the heat and ice experience before heading to our room to get ready for dinner.
The room was spacious and well-appointed with comfy beds and soft crisp linen. Fluffy towels and slippers were available in the bathroom and in our relaxed state it was questionable whether we would even get to dinner.
We managed to drag ourselves from the comfort of our room to have a pre-dinner drink in the Silverstone Bar – an expanse of motoring memorabilia and sadly on the evening we visited, corporate conference attendees, so we quickly moved into Astons restaurant. What Astons lacks in atmosphere it makes up for in simple food done well and friendly staff who are happy to be challenged by off-menu suggestions.
The mushroom starter was a lovely winter dish, rich with meaty flavours. The sea bream was perfectly cooked and well complimented with couscous, fennel and winter greens. I finished with a lemongrass crème brulee which I thought was just the right balance of delicate, creamy custard, crisp caramel crust and subtle flavour of the lemongrass. However it may not be to everyone’s taste as my companion felt the unusual Eastern taste jarred with the traditional French flavour.
After a great night’s sleep we returned to Astons for breakfast – with most choices catered for at the buffet, it is hard to be good – before hitting the road again, a lot more chilled out than when we booked in.
The Escape and Spa stay includes overnight accommodation, full English breakfast, two-course buffet lunch in The Terrace Cafe, three-course dinner in Astons Restaurant, full use of The Day Spa Heat and Ice Experiences on day of arrival, full use of the Spa and The Leisure Club facilities plus your choice of a 25 minute treatment all for just £99 per person.
Whittlebury Hall Hotel and Spa, Whittlebury, Near Towcester, Northamptonshire, NN12 8QH, 0845 400 0001.