While the main hotel is a neo Elizabethan manor house, there are also a number of cottages within the grounds that you can stay in, so in order to maximise quality time with our group of friends, we chose to stay in one of those.
Our cottage had three bedrooms, each with an ensuite, as well as a beautiful big lounge and dining room. The whole cottage was charming, and having settled in we put on our robes and slippers and headed to the outdoor pool and hot tub to sip Prosecco in the autumn sunshine.
Surrounding the pool are lots of loungers – perfect for relaxing with a magazine (because it’s not like we get that much time to read those normally), and there are also games like pitch and putt or table tennis and croquet if the weather is right – all of which really made for the perfect afternoon settling into our mini break.
Having unwound, we headed back to the cottage and pottered around, getting ready whilst playing Grease and Dirty Dancing on the DVD player in the background. The cottages are a little walk from the hotel where the main restaurant is, but it’s definitely worth heading up there on one evening of your stay because it’s an exquisite experience. On our package we each had a £35 allowance for dinner so we could choose how to allocate that between starters, main courses and desserts.
Food is heavily influenced by the surrounding Kent countryside – it’s beautifully put together and really carefully thought about – I had chicken liver parfait, and guinea fowl for my main course. Then I had rhubarb and custard for dessert which was wonderful. Everything at this hotel is about the details – there are local wines to go with the food and it’s lovely for groups.
The following day we got up and chose to have breakfast in the spa as the cottages are right next to it and you can put your robe on and go straight there. Alternatively you can get dressed and go to the hotel which has a more extensive menu, but we had treatments at 11 and didn’t want to rush.
The spa is actually a Champneys spa, so it’s really healthy and is a lovely contrast to the hotel where everything is more decadent – the result is that you have a real variety of options when you’re here, unlike a regular Champneys spa where there wouldn’t be the option for alcohol in the evenings and so forth.
Breakfast was wonderful and super healthy which was a really nice way to start the day, with lots of fresh fruit, juices, breads – smoked salmon, granolas, cheese, coffees, juices, waters etc. The spa is adults only which was another reason we went, we all have kids so we wanted a break. There is a massive pool with beautiful loungers around it that reach the edge so you can slip into the water and then retreat to cabana style spaces.
There is a thermal area with a hydro pool, exercise classes if you want to go into them, and a sauna and steam room to use before treatments. We all had massages and afterwards went to the relaxation room before sitting back by the outdoor pool for the afternoon having quality time together chatting and enjoying a really nice girly catch up.
We had such a wonderful time and really felt like we had relaxed properly, so we have decided we will make it an annual tradition to rejuvenate after school holiday.