I am sure it was just a massive coincidence, but on passing through the gates of Pennyhill Park Hotel & Spa and driving up the rhododendron lined road towards the five star hotel and spa, the clouds parted and driving rain gave way to glorious sunshine … such is the nature – never has pathetic fallacy been more apt.
With five stars the hotel is, as you might expect pretty spectacular. The original building was completed in 1851, while the site appears on records as far back as 1609, and certainly the venue is strewn with original architectural features that belie is history and subsequent gravitas. Nonetheless, the beauty of Pennyhill is the combination of the best of both modern and classic worlds – the interior design is dominated by rich fabrics and textures from the communal areas to each of the rooms and suites, and the atmosphere is one of understated and relaxed opulence. It is perhaps no surprise that this hotel is a favourite amongst sports personalities and celebrities – with the England rugby team long favouring it for a little respite and the good and the great of Hollywood gracing it with their presence.
At 45,000 square feet, the spa is the largest in the UK – it is in a separate building to the hotel, and on entering it’s like walking into the Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory of spas. There is so much space – frankly you could have a field day simply chilling out in the changing rooms with the exclusively formulated THE SPA products, individually named lockers, enormous showers and couches. However, moving on there are a total of eight pools including two extravagantly sized swimming pools – one inside (with underwater music) and one outside, as well as a series of Jacuzzis and hydrotherapy pools to which you swim from the inside out into the gardens – a feature that is enjoyed throughout the year thanks to optimum water temperatures. There are also experience showers, a tepidarium, an ice cave, herbal sauna, laconium, aromatic schnapps steam room, foot baths and a relaxation lounge and a gym with personal trainers on hand for all spa guests to seek advice from. And all that is before you get to the all-important treatment rooms – of which there are many – 21 actually, which are lavish (to the point that people have proposed in them on more than one occasion) and use organic brand Elemental Herbology in an extensive range of carefully formulated treatments.
The spa’s own restaurant is behind a glass screen as soon as you walk into the building, with a range of buffet options to enjoy pretty much at your leisure – lunch times are quite flexible and tea is readily available. There is also a brasserie for more relaxed dining, breakfast and lunch in the hotel but the jewel in its culinary crown is The Latymer – a Michelin starred, fine dining option overseen by Head Chef, Michael Wignall.
Located in Bagshot, in Surrey, Pennyhill Park is a remarkably easy journey by car from London, and appearing as if out of nowhere on the main road, the building itself is set back and shielded from the world around it both in terms of sound and sight by a wall of rhododendrons, mature trees and its own 9 hole golf course.
Before heading to Pennyhill Park, Abi Wright, the Director of Spabreaks.com told me ‘oh, you will never want to leave!’ … and you know what? She was right!
– Don’t just go for the day, stay for a whole weekend – check in times at the spa are 3pm and although you relax the moment you walk in, you will get the most out of it by enjoying the whole works – breakfast, lunch, dinner, treatments, maybe even a little golf – this is not a spa to rush through – if you are going to do it, do it properly.
– Order some bread … no, really – they have their own bakery on site, so get your order in and it will be ready and waiting for you when you leave.
– Be brave enough to use the ice cave – it’s really rather pretty, and the ice is a brilliant body exfoliator.
– Book dinner at The Latymer before you arrive – it is in extremely high demand!
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