After a gorgeous drive through the Northamptonshire countryside I arrived at Whittlebury Hall Hotel and Spa.
Nestled in hundreds of acres of ancient parkland and just a 10-minute drive from the M1, Whittlebury Park is within easy reach of Oxford, Stowe and Stratford-upon-Avon.
As I waited for my friend to arrive I soaked up the English sunshine and watched the golfers teeing off on the green. After dropping our bags off with the reception we headed straight for the spa. We had booked a Pure Opulence Spa Stay which includes use of the spa, two 50 minute treatments, two course lunch, cream tea, three course dinner, room and breakfast. We were given robes, slippers and also a little bag of Espa treats on arrival. There are two parts to the spa, the main swimming pool area, which has a roman Greek theme and then the heat and ice rooms. We decided to have a little catch up around the pool before enjoying lunch with a glass of fizz.
The food in the spa restaurant is buffet style and is fresh and healthy. I enjoyed a plate of roasted vegetables, salmon, calamari, sushi and salad. For dessert we had fresh fruit, chocolate mousse (my little treat) and fresh strawberry meringue.
After lunch we headed to the Heat and Ice experience which was just gorgeous and super relaxing - especially for someone who adores the heat! The area includes a selection of hot and cold rooms all positioned around the edge of a circular hydrotherapy pool. The rooms include a salt sauna, crystal steam room, experience showers, ice cave, tepidarium, caldarium and sanarium. We started off in the hydrotherapy pool where the powerful jets really beat onto my tired muscles. Following this we spent time in the large sauna and afterwards I was brave enough to stand under the bucket of cold water, before entering the ice cave. After some time moving between each of the rooms and enjoying a little foot spa we opted to go for some cream tea. Knowing that we had a dinner booked, I didn’t want to indulge too much, which was pretty hard when the hot scones, clotted cream and jam were so good! It was then time for our treatments, so we headed upstairs to the Espa lounge where we were collected by our therapists. Here there are 32 treatment rooms, offering a range of indulgent treatments for men and women including facials, detoxifying wraps and beauty essentials from the houses of Elemis, ESPA, Payot and Jessica.
I had booked a Serene Spa Ritual which uses dry body brushing techniques to prep and perfect the skin ready for the application of the conditioning treatment oil. This is then combined with a foot exfoliation and a tension melting scalp and foot massage which leaves the skin super soft. Now totally relaxed I headed for my second treatment which was a personalised massage. I asked my therapist to give extra attention to my back and neck, which is always in need of some extra love. The massage was really relaxing and the therapist hit all the right spots. I came out feeling a lot more relaxed and my muscles were definitely not so tense.
Feeling slightly spaced out, we headed back to the hotel's main reception and checked into our room, which overlooked the golf course. As part of our package we opened a bottle of champagne while we got ready for dinner, enjoying a final glass in the remaining sun of the day on the hotel's terrace. Dinner that evening was booked at the hotel’s exclusive three-rosette award-winning Murrays restaurant. Hidden down one of the hotel's many corridors, this restaurant to a pleasant surprise. We were seated in a room off the restaurant while we enjoyed a pre-dinner aperitif and amuse bouche - a duck filled cone topped with chives.
The restaurant was small but cosy. Head Chef Harvey presents a modern British menu with international influences and classical based cookery with contemporary twists and touches. For starters I enjoyed the Scottish Langoustine with granny smith apple and Warwickshire parsley and for main I had the black-faced thame lamb, British aubergine and preserved pepper. The service in the restaurant was a perfect combination of formal yet friendly. For dessert I had the strawberry and cream soufflé, which was very well presented.
I had a very peaceful sleep that evening and managed to enjoy the hydrotherapy pool before having to head off back to reality the next day. My highlights from this hotel were the large Espa area and treatment rooms, the Heat and Ice experience and the three rosette restaurant. For anyone looking for a relaxing getaway in some of the country's most beautiful countryside - this is one for you.