A retreat in Norfolk where herbs are the theme and the sense of escapism mean that you could be forgiven for thinking you had jetted off on holiday for a week. We went to check out Congham Hall!
It’s a pretty small sign directing you to the hotel at Congham Hall, so keep your eyes peeled. Once you find it though you can see why they might want to keep it secret, because this is a hidden spa gem!
The first thing that greets you at the hotel is a small reception area and a roaring fire (dependent on the time of year of course), which gives a real sense of its former life as a family home. Leading off the entrance there is a library where afternoon tea is served and DVDs are available to rent for a cosy evening in. In addition to hotel accommodation there are converted barns in the grounds of Congham Hall which house the Garden Suites, and this is where we stayed. Ideal for spa guests as they look onto the herb garden, which is the leitmotif that binds all the venue’s elements, you have your own lobby, lounge area, patio, and outdoor seating. Your robes are already waiting for you in your room (although no slippers, so do take a pair), and teas and coffees are delivered on a complimentary basis. From the moment you drop your bags the impression is that you are definitely on holiday.
Thanks to a personal code that you are given on arrival, you can head into the spa (which is in a separate building a stone’s throw from accommodation) as early as you like in the morning, so we particularly enjoyed our early-bird swim at 7am when all was quiet. The spa is small with the pool and reception area downstairs and treatments upstairs courtesy of Elemental Herbology products (to continue the aforementioned theme). The signature treatment is the Secret Garden Ritual, of which there is a two hour and three hour version. It features a body scrub, full body massage, and a facial, with all the little details taken care of to personalise the experience. My therapist, Shannon, was supremely lovely, and very helpful, explaining the treatments and products both that she used and recommended for aftercare.
The restaurant is big on locally produced food which was, in a word, wonderful. The environment is a tad clinical if you are being picky about it, but the menu is extensive and faultless. We opted for tomato soup to start and steak and chicken main courses, which were absolute favourites. When classics are done well, they really are unparalleled.
Congham Hall is every inch the country retreat. It’s a long drive from London (near King’s Lynn), and as we were there for a few days we took some time out to visit Bury St Edmunds which is about an hour away – as are most towns. The grounds are beautiful, and it is this distance from everything that really makes you feel like you have escaped – surely the essence of a good spa break!?
Particularly for those staying overnight (which we would recommend to get the most out of it), Congham Hall is incredibly romantic. Between the beauty of the location and privacy allowed thanks to the Garden Suites, the pervading quiet and the limited amount of time in which children are permitted to use the pool, it is a truly grown-up getaway.
Stay in one of the Garden Suites for total peace and quiet and proximity to the spa.
Go for an early morning swim when there’s no one around, it’s like it’s your own private destination!
Take a walk around the grounds, especially in the summer time, and if you have a dog bring him/her along, they’re welcome too!
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