Treatment of the week: A spa weekend at Wynyard Hall
'A spa weekend’ – possibly the three most instantly relaxing words in the English language.
For, try as you might to persuade yourself that a back-cricking pummelling in a Chinese massage parlour two minutes from your flat is a treat, an hour of unwinding just isn’t enough. A weekend just about is, but if you visit Wynward Hall’s spa you will want to stay a lot longer.
The new complex, which opened in December, was built in the boathouse of the uber-grand porticoed mansion – the home of Sir John Hall, life president and former chairman of Newcastle United.
Grand location: Wynyard Hall's spa is in the grand mansion's boathouse (bottom right) overlooking the lake
The country house's guest list includes Charles Dickens, Disraeli, Sir Robert Peel, Churchill, King Edward VII, Elizabeth II and 'regular' the Duke of Wellington, who the restaurant is named after.
Wynyard Hall was party turned into a four star hotel in 2008, and until the end of last year, the spa was just a series of ‘experience rooms’ within the hotel itself.
But it is a tribute to the quality of the treatments offered – and, more importantly, those providing them – that the spa now has its own lakeside setting.
Persuading Sir John Hall to sacrifice his vintage car garage to turn it into a spa must have taken some work. But the boathouse’s pretty conservatories and beautiful, calming views are much more suited to saunas and steam rooms.
Stunning views: The outdoor jacuzzi is the perfect place to watch the sunset – particularly if you've got a drink in your hand
As with any spa, though, the experience is really all about those who work there. And Wynyard doesn’t disappoint.
After changing into fluffy robes and Havaiana flipflops we were given a thorough – but refreshingly speedy – tour of the ‘snail shower’ (which hits you from every angle), drench bucket (freezing, but oddly rather nice), ice fountain (ditto), salt-inhalation room (dreamy and steamy) and herbal sauna, with a stunning view over the lake.
Therapists calmly collect you for treatments in hushed voices. Then full-body massages and facials – using everything from Karin Herzog therapies to freshly-peeled bananas – are carefully applied over a backdrop of surprisingly bearable panpipe music.
Spoilt for choice: The various treatment rooms include a salt inhalation room (left) and an ice showe (right)
Steamy and dreamy: The salt inhalation room… before it gets all steamed up
Plates of fruit and carafes of ice-cold
water are there for the taking, and a cafe offers a very reasonable 9
buffet of quiches, salads, scones and cakes which you can tuck into
In case I haven’t made it clear enough yet, we had a pretty good time – particularly when sipping champagne in the steaming outdoor Jacuzzi as the sun was setting over the ornamental lake.
And the hotel just made the break even more relaxing.
Our Lady Annabel suite’s huge window overlooked the same peaceful lake – and the bed was so big we almost lost each other.
Relaxing treat: The herbal sauna which overlooks the ornamental lake
A gourmet dinner was served in the grand Wellington Restaurant (30 for three courses, a total bargain) where couples were serenaded with romantic hits – and we even got some complimentary hors d’oeuvres (which my date was somehow more excited by).
We ordered room service for breakfast, reluctant to ditch our bathrobes until we dragged ourselves onto the train back to London.
A second day in the spa cemented our desire to get back to Wynyard Hall… as soon as we can afford it.
Reluctant to leave: Lauren outside the grand entrance to four star hotel Wynyard Hall
Making an entrance: The Hall's guest list includes Charles Dickens, Disraeli, Sir Robert Peel, Churchill, King Edward VII, Elizabeth II and 'regular' the Duke of Wellington who the restaurant is named after
Set in the rolling countryside half way
between Durham and Darlington, the Hall might not seem like the most
accessible place to the most.
But both stations are served by East
Coast, which makes the trip all the more weekendable by offering very
reasonable upgrades to first class for 15- 25 (and with bottomless
cups of tea, why wouldn’t you).
Former Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli used to visit the Hall in the 19th Century. And speaking of his trips he remarked: ‘I never left London with such a sense of relief and such anticipation of happiness.’
You will struggle not to feel the same way on inevitable repeat visits to Wynyard.
Wynyard Hall, Tees Valley, TS22 5NF, United Kingdom Tel: 01740 644811, www.wynyardhall.co.uk. The hotel is currently offering a 'Stay, Dine & Spa' package which costs 160 per couple
East Coast trains (www.eastcoast.co.uk) serve Darlington, a short taxi ride from Wynyard Hall. Standard Advance returns, booked online, between London and Darlington start from 29. Times and fares also on 08457 225225 or from staffed stations and rail agents.