Heaven’s Spa Sends Angelic Respite For Tired Travellers!
When faced with the prospect of a six-course ‘Discovery Menu’ containing words that you may struggle to understand, or the odd course that will raise an eyebrow, stay calm and do not panic!
However, prepare yourself for a culinary experience that will remain in your memory long after the flavours of the evening have waned!
Surrey’s five-star Pennyhill Park Spa & Hotel, set in 123 acres of rolling parkland in Bagshot, a hop and a jump from Windsor Castle and just 45 minutes from central London, is that most curious of British contradictions: a health spa with exquisite food, board and lodgings!
The spa will certainly help you relax and recuperate, and the accompanying sports facilities may well create the illusion of ‘getting fit’, however, Pennyhill’s award-winning chef duo will silently convince you that a calorific overload is also long overdue because ‘you’re worth it!’ And there begins the contradiction!
My wife’s intake of breath was more than justified as we drove up the long, winding drive that takes visitors from the main road towards the parking area and nearby reception.
It is an avenue of beautifully sculpted and perfectly manicured trees. Had I just stepped into Frank Oz’s film, Stepford Wives? There wasn’t a leaf out of place! Maybe Nicole Kidman would be checking us in?
“They even make their own honey,” she said, pointing to a tree-mounted sign which stated the first of many hotel truths: ‘Exclusive honey collected from our hives in the grounds’.
The rolling fields around us were extensive and testimony to another hotel boast: plenty of opportunity for walking and jogging. To get fit or to build up an appetite for pastry chef Sarah Frankland’s afternoon tea I wondered?
Ms Frankland appeared in the fourth series of Bake Off: The Professionals and works tirelessly with her team to create speciality breads and patisseries for guests to enjoy throughout the day at breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and evening dinner.
Her miniature cakes and show-stopping tarts are already world-class performers, eagerly awaited by an adoring public. Covid-19 permitting, you can even take a baking masterclass!
However, Ms Frankland has competition in the nearby Michelin starred Latymer Restaurant, preserve of head chef, Steve Smith, who, no doubt, spends his days creating delectable delights that will thrill his guests with every morsel consumed.
We were fortunate enough to sample his Discovery Menu which included tantalising courses including Quail Egg & Sorrel; Foie Gras Cream, Orkney Scallops
... Celeria & Truffle, and even Bresse Pigeon, all washed down with a glass of champers and Itakuja chocolate Delice: Absolutely delish!
Considering that the Pennyhill Park Hotel is so close to densely populated conurbations, it is a sea of tranquillity and clearly a place in which to relax.
This starts with the 125 luxurious five-star bedrooms.
Ours, the ‘Fuschia’, featured a small minstrel gallery complete with elegant furniture, quality linens, fluffy robes and a rain shower.
Nearby there's a gym in which to create the illusion of temporary fitness – most people are too busy sipping their gin at the poolside bar for such nonsense as calorie counting – whilst the seductive outdoor heated swimming pool encourages external bathing in the most inclement of weather.
Set down from the grandeur of the main 19th century country house hotel, which dates back to 1849, it boasts vibrant mosaic tiles and a luxurious marble surround along with adjacent bubbling jacuzzis...
....the perfect place to relax and contemplate all those things that you should be doing but still haven’t got around to!
Located between Ascot, Sunningdale and Wentworth and just 30 minutes from Twickenham stadium, the Pennyhill Park is perfectly located for day tripping. However, it is also a self-contained oasis of relaxation and activity should you opt to spend every moment of your short time there.
Pistol shooting and archery can be arranged at the shooting lodge located in the hotel grounds - £25 per person booked in advance – there are bicycles at reception and there’s even time for tennis next to The Spa
where Thermal Heaven is promised as an earthly alternative to Nirvana for those deciding to give nearby Ascot, Windsor or Hampton Court Palace a miss.
If the weather’s on your side then all day dining is available on the Lilly Pond Terrace
between 11am and 6pm, and if you need to build up an appetite then take in the grounds first, remembering to drop in on the kitchen gardens adjacent to perfectly manicured greenery and water features, backdrop to many a wedding.
“Can you step up to the temperature check machine please?”
The receptionist had been quite clear upon our arrival that they were still screening every visitor for Coronavirus.
“Just part of the new protocol,” she explained but, once done, that was the end of the matter.
Yes, there was a world outside in which paranoia was still abounding, however, there was at least one place in the UK that had achieved its goal: to create an oasis of calm in a sea of Covid trouble. We went home relaxed, refreshed and ready for Boris’ next announcement!