That’s until I booked a spa weekend at the indulgent Brooklands hotel in Weybridge – the home of racing driving.
I was staying with one of my close girlfriends. And at five months pregnant, she was well in need of some TLC. Leaving our other halves behind, we were in search of a girl’s pamper weekend. We returned 24 hours later in the zen-like state we’d hoped for. But dare I say it, with our eyes also opened a little to the world of racing driving.
A 30-minute train journey from Clapham Junction took us to Weybridge. From there, we took a short taxi ride to the Mercedes-Benz World and the racetrack where this hotel is located.
A vast lobby of gleaming wooden surfaces and suede armchairs greets you upon arrival. With gigantic hanging modern art overhead, it creates quite a dramatic first impression. And as we checked in, I spotted several silver model cars set within the backdrop of the reception desk – the first of many subtle yet nostalgic nods to the hotel’s racing history.
A lift up to the top floor and we were soon wowed by our ‘penthouse’ suite. Opening the door into a spacious lounge, we walked through to a study area complete with a glass desk, giant silver globe and contemporary table-top art.
In the adjoining bedroom was the expected flat screen TV and huge king size bed. I wondered whether the oversized black and white checked cushions (which were the weight of a small child) were a nod towards the chequered flag, famously known for marking the end of any Grand Prix race.
The red, black and white colour-scheme throughout certainly seemed fitting, given the racing theme. With a chic modern bath and shower room complete with The White Company products, and a neat little dressing area next door, it was also the luxury every woman hopes for.
Seconds later, we opened the balcony doors onto a huge decking area and our ears were hit by the noise of cars spinning on the Mercedes-Benz track. Yep, this was every man’s dream too.
So when we lay in our fluffy white robes in the third floor ‘B Spa’, it became apparent, this is one indulgent weekend stay any man will join you for.
Brooklands has been known to run a His and Hers ‘Spa and Car’ package too. So while he takes one of the Mercedes for a spin, you can fully indulge in the spa facilities. And did I mention this is also the home of Concorde? Send him off to the nearby Brooklands museum and he can absorb himself in exhibits of giant racing cars, motorcycles and Second World War aircraft. Now that’s enough to keep any man occupied for an afternoon.
While I flip-flopped my way between the steam room and sauna, my friend perused the glossy magazines in the relaxation area. If there’s one thing this spa is lacking, it’s a pool which would have come in handy as the steaming hot tub and dizzying temperatures of the sauna are not safe for expectant mums.
Still, after a 30-minute session in the meditation room where we gossiped and lay on squishy waterbeds, we indulged in our treatments.
We both went for the relaxation and peace massage which was a dreamy full-body indulgence using a deliciously-smelling jojoba and almond oil, by the Lubatti range. With long kneading strokes and tranquil guitar music, I fell into a deep sleep and felt like minutes rather than an hour had passed. It certainly delivers the tranquility it promises.
With bodies of led, we managed to drag ourselves out of our pleasant zombie-like states and into our little black dresses to experience 1907 – Brooklands’ restaurant, bar and grill.
1907 Restaurant, Bar and Grill
The name of course, is a reference to the year the Brooklands motorcourse opened and the aptly-named restaurant proved to be a lovely mix of contemporary and 1930s glamour.
As you walk through the bar, shiny plane propellers run along a block of leather seating – a nod to the area’s aviation history.
The moody lighting, art deco interior design and dark crimson and purple hues give the restaurant a very sophisticated feel. Still, filled to the brim with guests, it had a nice buzzy atmosphere. We ordered a bottle of the Chilean Alto Bajo Cabernet Sauvignon and delved straight into the menu.
The team behind 1907 describes its food as hearty and ‘homely’. The a la carte selection was an interesting range of British meat and fish, with subtle hints of international influence like the Iberico ham, or beef tartar.
I couldn’t say no to the Bouillabaisse which arrived as a selection of seasonal fish including lobster, sea bass, prawns and scallops. The waiter then poured a peachy-coloured lobster bisque around the edge.
The beautiful tower of fish was crowned with a small tostada topped with a creamy garlic rouille (mayonaise) and garlic oil. Through sheer gluttony, I’d be very tempted to order this bouillabaisse as a main if I returned, but it’s so deliciously rich, it was probably wise not to.
My guest’s slightly lighter starter of scallops and cauliflower, was just as impressive in flavour, while not so rich. The very tiny dots of cauliflower and coconut puree lent a perfect hint of flavour to the pan-roasted scallops which were succulent and nicely seared.
For mains, I went on recommendation and chose a medium rare Casterbridge fillet steak. Beautifully cooked on the outside, it was slightly disappointing to find it blue in the middle. Still, the combination with the rich Bearnaise sauce and out of this world hand-cut chips, I was suitably impressed. Similarly, my guest’s Pork and Apple would have been perfect had it been served a little hotter and had the accompanying black pudding and brioche had a bit more bite and texture. Still, it was a plate of many delicious flavour combinations and they get top marks for presentation. Alas, we were too stuffed to order the likes of a chocolate and coffee mille-feuille or fig fool for dessert, so we settled on some lighter, fruity sorbets.
And after a buffet breakfast in the same, but brighter morning surrounds of 1907, it was a lovely way to end a nostalgic get away.
We were suitably relaxed and got the indulgent weekend we’d hoped for, all in the historic home of British motor-racing. We couldn’t wait to get home to brag.
Brooklands Hotel, Brooklands Drive, Weybridge, Surrey, KT13 0SL, 0844 288 1130.