Category Archives: Mind and body

Bond, Bridget and me: my stay at Stoke Park luxury hotel

It’s where James Bond beat Goldfinger in possibly the most famous golf match in cinema history, where Bridget Jones ditched singleton life for a weekend away with boss Daniel Cleaver and where Teri Hatcher and Pierce Brosnan (as another Bond) danced the night away in Tomorrow Never Dies, so a stay at Stoke Park luxury hotel and country club certainly comes with high expectations.

stay at Stoke Park luxury hotel view from tennis courts
The Grade-1 listed hotel was built in 1908 and is instantly recognisable from its many film appearances

Thankfully the five-star, 111-year old hotel is more than able to live up to its reputation and manages the tricky task of combining country house hotel relaxation and country club sporting energy with aplomb. Continue reading Bond, Bridget and me: my stay at Stoke Park luxury hotel

The Good Hotel Guide’s 10 beautiful hotels with pools for the summer

Guest post from the best-selling Good Hotel Guide – their top 10 beautiful hotels with pools for the summer

Summer’s here and with any luck we’ve all got summer holidays booked in. Come rain or shine, no holiday would be complete without a little swimming included, even if the sun doesn’t always shine on a UK holiday. Helping us to relax and unwind from spas to outdoor swimming pools, here the Good Hotel Guide shares 10 of their most beautiful hotels with pools… (for more pools in the Good Hotel Guide check out https://www.goodhotelguide.com/hotels-with-pools/)

Hartwell House, Aylesbury
swimming pool at Hartwell House beautiful hotels with pools for the summer
The indoor pool at Hartwell House, Buckinghamshire

This exquisite Jacobean mansion was once the refuge of the exiled Louis XVIII and his court. Today it continues to be fit for royalty and that includes the leisure facilities. The spa includes a pool that’s in a space fit to be a ballroom. Complete with Neo classical statues in a building within the grounds of the hotel, it’s a little haven of pampering complete with a spa bath, steam room, saunas and treatment rooms where therapists use Aromatherapy Associates products. 

Read ALadyofLeisure.com’s review of Hartwell House here

Hambleton Hall, Oakham
gardens at Hambleton Hall beautiful hotels with pools for the summer
The stunning grounds at Hambleton Hall overlook Rutland Water

Surrounded by landscaped gardens, this hotel is a place where everything is done to perfection. Somewhere to visit with your partner because it’s exquisitely romantic, everything from the ornate fabrics to the home grown fruit and veg is a treat. Part of the experience is enjoying your leisure time, and as such the hotel has an outdoor pool that’s nestled in a secluded spot under mature trees with space to relax on a lounger around it.

Read ALadyofLeisure.com’s review of Hambleton Hall here

Chewton Glen, New Forest
Chewton Glen loungers beautiful hotels with pools for the summer
Chewton Glen in the New Forest has an award-winning spa

Chewton Glen is known for many wonderful things. Croquet on the lawn, luxurious treehouse suites, exquisite food, and its exquisite spa. Complete with a 17 metre indoor pool, hydrotherapy spa pool, a nail studio, aromatherapy saunas, crystal steam rooms and twelve individual treatment rooms, they also offer more than 50 spa therapies. That’s in addition to the tennis courts, dance studio, gym and nine hole golf course at your disposal.

Read ALadyofLeisure.com’s review of Chewton Glen here

Middlethorpe Hall and Spa, York
Middlethorpe hotel
Middlethorpe Hall in Yorkshire has a separate spa set in two Edwardian cottages

A red brick National Trust mansion, Middlethorpe Hall and Spa is a pretty, elegant and uplifting 17th century pile that offers the best of old world elegance as well as contemporary hospitality. Very much somewhere you can imagine the landed gentry coming for their country retreats, it includes a spa set in its own private garden opposite the hotel, and made up of two Edwardian cottages.  It includes a gym, a large indoor swimming pool with views onto the enclosed garden, a spa bath, steam room and sauna as well as offering treatments and personal training for total relaxation.

Porth Tocyn Hotel, Abersoch
Porth Tocyn
Porth Tocyn is on the Welsh coast – but has a heated outdoor pool for a swim in comfort

A welcoming Welsh retreat on Cardigan Bay, this family friendly hotel is a homely space brimming with fresh flowers, log fires, cosy nooks, and lots of books and trinkets. There’s a joyful eccentricity about it that children in particular love, and for those not quite prepared to brave the sea for a swim, there’s a heated outdoor pool and superb afternoon teas to tuck into after that dip.

The Nare, Veryan-in-Roseland
The Nare swimming pool
The Nare in Cornwall has indoor and outdoor pools for a luxury break

On the Roseland Peninsular in Cornwall, The Nare is an old fashioned hotel in all the best ways.  With impeccable views of Gerrans Bay, carefully tended gardens, and filled with fresh flowers, it is simultaneously stylish, comfortable and welcoming.  Crucially, you will never be short on things to do. Aside from being a stone’s throw from the beach, the hotel’s yacht and elegant motor launch is available for use or skippered charter, and their classic Morgan sports car, which you can take out for a jaunt. There’s also a spa, a heated outdoor pool that’s open seasonally, an indoor pool with its own jet stream, a hydrotherapy pool, and an outdoor hot tub. Pass the Champagne, you’re in for a treat.

Bedruthan Hotel and Spa, Cornwall
Bedruthan pool
Another Cornish treat, Bedruthan hotel is just minutes from a sandy beach

An award-winning, four star hotel, Bedruthan Hotel and Spa is a superbly elegant escape for families, offering the best of all worlds.  Contemporary and stylish, it has pampering for mum and dad and caters to families with a kids club and activities, swimming pools and surf lessons available. The hotel is perched just above the beach, so you don’t have to go far to reach soft sand that’s perfect for building sandcastles.

Cliveden House, Berkshire
the swimming pool at Cliveden
With possibly the most famous hotel swimming pool in the country, Cliveden has recently updated its impressive spa facilities

Having hosted the Duchess of Sussex the night before her wedding, Cliveden has continued its tradition as a royal host.  The hotel, surrounded by National Trust grounds, has hosted kings, queens and politicians. It’s even known for scandal as well as luxury, with its pool playing a pivotal role in the Profumo Affair of the 1960s.  That pool in the walled garden is still very much part of the leisure experience today, alongside a spa with treatments named after former resident Nancy Astor, an indoor pool, two outdoor hot tubs, a fitness studio, tennis courts and a Spa Kitchen for healthy lunches.

Read ALadyofLeisure.com’s review of Cliveden House here

The Scarlet, Cornwall
swimming pool at The Scarlet beautiful hotels with pools for the summer
The pool and hot tub at The Scarlet boast some great coastal views

Best known for being amongst the best of luxury eco spas, The Scarlet is somewhere for special people in your life, and special occasions. Perched on a clifftop and boasting a hot tub with possibly the best views in the country, it is a bucket list destination of the highest order. The contemporary, glass-dominated architecture houses a spectacular pool that’s bathed in natural light, Ayurvedic inspired treatments, a rhassoul where you can slather yourself in mineral rich muds, and a relaxation room with cocoon-like pods hanging from the ceiling.

Cary Arms and Spa, Devon
Cary Arms and spa
The perfect summer getaway, Cary Arms is on Babbacombe beach in south Devon and has incredible beach side cottages

Brave the twisty and steep descent to this cliff face hotel and you’re rewarded with spectacular sea views and a hotel that feels as though it’s in its very own bubble.  Cary Arms and Spa is a warm and welcoming hotel where you can practically fall out of the hotel onto the beach and relax in chic beach huts, dine on hearty local fare and spend the evenings watching the dolphins go by from your private terrace or balcony. Meanwhile, indoors the seaside theme continues with large sea-facing windows, a waterfall hydrotherapy pool, relaxation area, steam room, sauna, exotic experience shower, gym, three treatment rooms and marine inspired treatments from the Thalgo product line.

Read ALadyofLeisure.com’s review of Cary Arms and spa here

Thanks to the Good Hotel Guide for this article – and are there any others which you think should be added to the list? Do you agree with their choice of 10 beautiful hotels with pools for the summer? Let me know in the comments!

Luxury on a grand scale at the five star Corinthia Hotel London

The first thing that struck me about the five-star Corinthia Hotel in London when I stayed there was how utterly huge everything is. From the vast central lobby lounge with its soaring dome and chandelier made of 1,001 crystal baubles, to the high-ceilinged pillared restaurant, to the  enormous breakfast room, huge ballroom, conference rooms and outside courtyard, everything at the Corinthia is super-sized. Continue reading Luxury on a grand scale at the five star Corinthia Hotel London

Medieval magic with a modern twist at The Swan hotel and spa in Lavenham, Suffolk

Returning to The Swan hotel at Lavenham in Suffolk several years after my original stay, I was relieved to find that it was just as lovely as I remembered it. This time it also had the added attraction of its new (to me) Weavers’ House Spa which had been seamlessly added to the original hotel and included an outdoor hot tub and treatment rooms as well as a steam room, sauna and relaxing conservatory. Continue reading Medieval magic with a modern twist at The Swan hotel and spa in Lavenham, Suffolk

Skyros – the Greek island holiday which could change your life

It is rare that a holiday actually changes your life, but a week on Skyros, the original ‘alternative’ holiday destination, can do just that. From changing jobs or learning new skills, to getting married, ditching bad relationships and embarking on new careers, in the 40 years since Skyros first started hosting holidays on the Greek island of the same name, thousands of people have gone there to find inspiration and to find new meaning and direction in their lives.

Skyros Holidays review
The house at Skyros overlooks the beautiful bay

If that all sounds too hippy-dippy, then don’t worry: a trip to Skyros has all the holiday essentials of great food, great beaches, lots of time for swimming, sunbathing and sleeping. But it offers something so much more than your typical package holiday. As its website says:  ‘This is an adventure that opens the heart, expands the mind, recharges the body and uplifts the spirit’.

After a week at its beautiful Atsitsa Bay location, I had to agree. I’d performed comedy on stage, slept in a bamboo hut where the breeze came through the walls, practiced yoga in the open air, shared my hopes and fears with a group of strangers, laughed till I cried on a dozen occasions, ate my body-weight in fresh Greek yoghurt, gone hiking around the island and thoroughly disconnected from my life in London.

Skyros Holidays review
Our home for the week: Skyros holidays’ beautiful site in Atsitsa Bay, right on the Aegean sea

Recalling Skyros while back in the city is to instantly be transported to lying in the shade of an olive tree to shelter from the blazing sun; drinking morning coffee while overlooking the bluest sea; the swaying of my hammock as I curl up to read a book, and the light breeze coming through the bamboo sides of my hut, perched high on the hillside. You could spend the whole week simply ‘being’ if you wanted to, and several did, enjoying the total break from the outside world – there is no internet reception aside from a fixed line in the office for emergencies, and mobile phone coverage is patchy – and my phone soon ran down and stayed down all week. Continue reading Skyros – the Greek island holiday which could change your life

How to declutter your wardrobe and give yourself (and your stuff) a chance to breathe

‘Clutter makes you reach for a biscuit,’ says Anna, as she looks around my bedroom. I can think of no better way to convince me to embrace the popular decluttering trend which takes in everything from Marie Kondo to the tradition spring clean via newspaper articles on how to declutter your wardrobe. Clutter is distracting, clutter is stressful and clutter stops you from achieving your goals, so the theory goes, and I can’t be the only one who’s ever sat at my desk to work and found that the piles of paper/clothes/washing-up/to-do-lists have totally put me off what it what I was supposed to be doing.

Adds Anna, rather alarmingly: ‘Your house is a mirror of your mental and emotional state’, which makes me wonder what impression my bedroom is making on her. It isn’t messy, but because I share my flat and often work from home there are certainly a lot of things packed into a rather small space – a bed, wardrobe and chest of drawers jostle for space alongside piles of books, files, a desk and a printer. However after an intense couple of hours with Anna, not only am I feeling rather proud of myself for filling up not one but two black bin bags (one full of rubbish, one for the charity shop) but I’m also I’m feeling strangely liberated.

How to declutter your wardrobe
Professional house manager and ‘declutterer’ Anna Rodic specialises in helping people manage their environments to get the best out of their possessions

As someone who moves house every few years and who therefore tries not to acquire too much ‘stuff’, I’m surprised at how much I’ve still managed to acquire. But Anna’s approach isn’t just about getting rid of unnecessary items (and I’ve always viewed the ‘oh no, I’ve got way too many things’ crisis as a bit of a First World problem) but about better organising the things you have, so that they are more efficiently placed and easier to find and will thus reduce the stress and tension which builds up when you are constantly losing things or simply feeling overwhelmed in your own house.

‘I’m interested in the psychological effect of our surroundings’, says Anna. ‘It’s an extension of you and your emotional state. It needs to have a calming effect and not for you to get more stressed about it.’ If your possessions are badly organised or buried underneath other items then you can become demotivated and uninspired, she adds: ‘You will start to procrastinate and your time management will be poor and it competes for your attention.’ Continue reading How to declutter your wardrobe and give yourself (and your stuff) a chance to breathe