Tag Archives: spa

Rooftop cocktails and a basement spa make Montcalm Royal London House a top to toe destination

There is something rather special about a rooftop bar in London. The views might not be spectacular – we’re not taking Rio or Hong Kong harbour here – but to rise above the traffic and gaze down at the crowds from on high feels incredibly luxurious. Good rooftop bars in the capital are few and far between, so the arrival of a new one is cause for celebration. Enter the Aviary, the rooftop bar and restaurant on top of Montcalm luxury hotels group’s sixth and newest hotel, Montcalm Royal London House.

Montcalm Royal London House
The roof terrace at the Montcalm Royal London House in Finsbury Square is one of the biggest in London (and would look even better on a sunny day)

I visited on a cold winter’s evening, so my friend and I had the pick of dozens of comfy sofas and retro chairs on the deserted terrace, while more sensible patrons enjoyed their cocktails in the warmth of the restaurant inside. However there were heaters and thick blankets so we were able to enjoy the delights of the Aviary’s eclectic cocktail list al fresco – a sour cherry bomb with Sipsmith vodka and rhubarb bitters was especially tasty.

montcalm royal london house
The terrace is on top of the Montcalm Royal London House and adjacent to the glass-walled Aviary restaurant

Continue reading Rooftop cocktails and a basement spa make Montcalm Royal London House a top to toe destination

A stay at The Old Swan and Minster Mill, a classic Cotswolds country inn

If you are looking to start off the New Year with some bracing countryside walks, a hearty pub meal and then a nightcap in front of a roaring fire, then The Old Swan and Minster Mill must surely be high on your list.

Old Swan and Minster Mill review
The Old Swan in the Cotswolds village of Minster Lovell is picture perfect

Located in the pretty Oxfordshire village of Minster Lovell – and set in 65 acres of Cotswolds countryside – the exterior of the Old Swan alone is so picturesque that it could go straight on a chocolate selection box or feature in a Cotswolds calendar.

Its twin, the Minster Mill which is just across the road, isn’t too far behind in the ‘quintessentially English’ stakes. The surrounds here are stunning and perfect for weddings: the River Windrush runs – as you’d expect – right alongside the Minster Mill (there’s even a fish-friendly Archimedes screw turbine which harnesses the power of the running water) and there is outside seating so that guests can fully enjoy the view in warmer weather.

Old Swan and Minster Mill review
The Minster Mill is just across the road from the Old Swan

Of the two, the Old Swan is definitely more of a classic pub inside, with a low roof, flagstones, warming log fires, cosy sofas and classic pub fare served in the restaurant. There are some small but pretty gardens and upstairs there are 15 rooms, some with four-poster beds.

Old Swan and Minster Mill review
The cosy lounge at the Old Swan pub

Continue reading A stay at The Old Swan and Minster Mill, a classic Cotswolds country inn

A deeply relaxing day at Lime Wood hotel spa in the New Forest

You have to be deeply relaxed to nod off during a massage, so falling completely asleep, not once, but twice, during my treatment at the Lime Wood hotel  spa shows how totally unstressed I was.

This was quite an achievement considering that on the drive through the New Forest to get to Lime Wood, my car’s windscreen wipers packed up just as it started raining and so finding the way up Lime Wood’s winding country drive was a matter of guesswork.

However the warm welcome I received on entering the spa – staff seemed genuinely pleased to see people arriving, which is certainly not true for every spa – went a long way to alleviating the travel tension. Within 10 minutes I was tucked up in a fluffy white robe on a lounger overlooking the indoor pool and well on my way to spa bliss.

lime wood hotel spa
There is a 16-metre indoor pool at the Lime Wood spa and an outdoor hot tub on the adjacent terrace

Herb House – to give the spa at Lime Wood its proper name – is a constant presence on top hotel spa lists and it’s easy to see why. While it isn’t the biggest of hotel spas, it makes great use of its space and its attention to detail and little personal touches are what you would hope for from the team behind the excellent Pig hotels. The changing room is immaculate; the lockers are stocked with towels, robes and slippers, there are rainfall showers, mirrors, all manner of luxury products and even a room with a tin bath in for that home-from-home experience. Continue reading A deeply relaxing day at Lime Wood hotel spa in the New Forest

Rockliffe Hall Darlington, County Durham – a relaxing spa escape

After being trapped in for hours in Bank Holiday roadworks hell, the five-star hotel Rockliffe Hall Darlington in in County Durham was a more than welcome sight. Set in 375 acres of parkland, the original building dates from the 1800s, but over the years the 61-room hotel has been extended to include a highly-rated 50,000 ft spa and three restaurants, two of which overlook its 18-hole Championship golf course.

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The rather lovely view from my bedroom

Thanks to the bumper-to-bumper traffic on the A1, my visit turned out to be a flying one, with no time for a round of golf or even a stroll round the lush-looking gardens.

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Check the latest price on Booking.com for Rockliffe Hall here
Compare latest prices for Rockliffe Hall click here
To read more reviews go to Rockliffe Hall on TripAdviser here
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However I could admire them from my vast hotel room, which had a huge bed, massive amounts of storage space, a separate bath and shower and French windows which opened out onto my very own patio.

rockliffe hall darlington
The bedrooms are huge, with one or two King-sized beds

The rest of the hotel was equally spacious, with huge, carpeted corridors leading the way to the spa in one direction and the hotel bar in the other. Continue reading Rockliffe Hall Darlington, County Durham – a relaxing spa escape

Something for everyone come rain or shine at Foxhills hotel Surrey

Calling a hotel ‘family-friendly’ often means that those travelling without children run a mile in the opposite direction, but the luxury Foxhills spa and golf hotel is so vast that all ages and groups can thoroughly enjoy themselves without crashing in on someone’s else’s peace and tranquility.

Foxhills hotel Surrey
Foxhills hotel is surrounded by acres of lawns, woodland and pristine golf courses

Set on a 400-acre estate in Surrey, handily just a few miles from the M25 and M3 motorways, Foxhills is such a size that your room key comes with a very useful map of the grounds. It’s perfect for sporty types as there are two 18-hole championship golf courses and a smaller 9-hole one, 11 tennis courts, three swimming pools (one indoors, two open-air) and a spa, all surrounding the main building, the 19th century Manor House.

Foxhills hotel Surrey
The main Manor House where the bar and the restaurant are located – the bedrooms are in separate buildings nearby
Foxhills hotel Surrey
A refreshing welcome drink

I arrived in the pouring rain which meant that the tennis courts were empty and the clubhouse was packed with people who would have rather been out on the fairway. However in the classic British summer way, within half an hour the sun was shining and Foxhills was transformed. Check-in was quick and friendly and a jug of a refreshing non-alcoholic cocktail for guests was a nice touch.

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To compare prices for Foxhills click on: HotelsCombined – Expedia – Hotels.com
To book directly with the hotel, go to: Foxhills hotel and golf
To read more reviews click here to go to The Manor House on TripAdvisor
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There are 70 rooms and suites at scattered around the grounds at Foxhills, including recently refurbished executive suites with their own private gardens.  My room was in a courtyard, overlooking a lovely outdoor pool on one side and the tennis courts on the other. Continue reading Something for everyone come rain or shine at Foxhills hotel Surrey