A former Victorian coach house, perhaps the most surprising thing about Ardencote Manor Hotel & Spa when you first arrive, is just how modern all the design is. It has a very homely vibe and the grounds are beautiful, all the components that make for a relaxing break … not least of all because of the glass of champagne we were offered on arrival.
The hotel is a bit of a tale of three parts. Accommodation is split into the spa rooms, which are in the new extension of the building, the original hotel rooms, and conference rooms. The newer part of the hotel also houses the restaurant and the spa treatment rooms, while the original building is home to the breakfast area and the leisure facilities. Again there is a sense of home comforts.
If you are a spa guest then you are well placed to get into the spa itself (as you might expect). The treatment rooms are dark and sit separately from the leisure areas (pool, sauna, steam room) which ensure they are tranquil. They up a spiral staircase however, which will impinge on your experience if accessibility is a concern. We had a Shirodhara and Kerala Ritual, where oil is poured continuously onto your forehead (find out more on the blog tomorrow). The staff are all extremely knowledgeable and helpful if you have questions, and are happy to recommend treatments if you want to branch out from your usual failsafe.
The food was brilliant, and our waiter recommended a wine which was better than the one we had originally chosen (and cheaper) and complemented our meal perfectly. He was extremely knowledgeable about the wine and the food, and extremely accommodating, pointing out that if there was something we wanted that wasn’t on the menu, they would do their best to arrange it.
We have been both by train and by car – from London it is one train from Marylebone followed by a 20 minute taxi, and it’s easy to drive to being just off the M40. That said, once you are inside the grounds you can forget there such things as cars and trains; on the banks of a lake which is so beautiful they have multiple proposal stories to share with you. The grounds are made even more beautiful by the simple fact that you can wander around them in your robe – always the sign of a spa that knows how to have a good time.
The grounds are beautiful at any time of the year but in the summer they come into their own, particularly when viewed from the outdoor hot tub or lounging by the pool. The nice thing about it is that they can accommodate lots of different guests and you can really make a stay there your own, whether you are a couple on a romantic break, or a family away with the kids.
– Ask the waiters in the restaurant for their wine suggestions to accompany your meals – they really know what they are talking about.
– Take your trainers and get involved with some of the other activities – tennis and squash are hard and dangerous work in flip-flops!
– If the Shirodhara and Kerala Ritual isn’t included in your spa package, book it as an extra, it’s a really unique experience … although you will need to make sure you have enough shampoo with you to remove all the oil from your hair!
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