Carola Long: 'It's better to opt for a hotel with a spa than a spa hotel; that way you avoid hen weekends and tiny meals'
Saturday 13 June 2009
I don't think there is anything as relaxing as a weekend spent in a perfect British country hotel and spa. No 6am Easyjet flight to save 50p, a lower risk of the worst three words in the language – namely, "bus replacement service" – and no shaking the calculator on your phone in disbelief at the rate of the euro. Who cares if it rains? (Then you won't feel guilty spending hours in the jacuzzi.)
So what makes a good country spa? I think it's better to opt for a hotel with a spa than a spa hotel; that way you avoid hen weekends and being asked if you are enjoying being "pampered" at every turn, or hamster-y meals passed off as detoxifying. The lovely Chewton Glen hotel and spa in Hampshire ticks all the boxes, namely a spa which features the most insider beauty brands, an indoor and outdoor pool (rather French Riviera-ish on a hot day), hydrotherapy pool, steam room, outdoor jacuzzi; not to mention comfortable rooms and very good food. This understatedly elegant hotel has the added bonus of a croquet lawn, access to tennis courts, and only a 15-minute walk to the beach.
The spa has a pleasingly grand, right-side-of-kitsch feel with Classical-style pillars and statues. I had a Kundalini treatment, which felt like a cross between Thai massage and Reiki, and involved hot poultices. It was so relaxing I fell asleep. My Ananda facial focused on massage using rose oil – to relax angry London-life induced scowling – followed with a clay mask by Ila, a sophisticated range of organic products. For spa fiends who couldn't give a (non-organic) fig about nature and just want results, try a treatment created by renowned skincare expert Linda Meredith, such as her Haute Couture facial.
Even the most hardcore treatment addict will eventually become prune-like after hours in the pool, however, which is where the hotel's brilliant location comes in. For top-up body-buffing the great British beach nearby offers free exfoliation by sand, and should one brave the ocean, perhaps a surprise seaweed wrap.
One-night spa breaks from £599 for two people, including dinner, breakfast and one treatment each. See chewtonglen.com for offers and to book
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