Category Archives: Spa experiences

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!

A romantic seaside stay in a beach suite at Cary Arms and Spa hotel, Devon

I’ve been lucky to stay in some of the best hotel rooms in the country but for sheer romance it’s hard to beat a Beach Suite at the delightful Cary Arms and Spa on Babbacombe Bay, Devon – in the heart of the ‘English Riviera’. With a private terrace suspended over the beach, the views across the sweeping bay are your very own to enjoy, as is a lounge with flickering virtual fire and cosy sofa, an immaculate bathroom and a very smart bedroom, all decked out in a classic New England-style.

cary arms hotel devon
Cary Arms and Spa sprawls above Babbacombe Beach on the South Devon coast and combines the charm of a traditional seaside inn with the comforts of a boutique hotel

There are lovely touches, such as a coffee table handmade from stones and driftwood from the east coast of Scotland, a decanter of Plymouth sloe gin to tuck into, a bite-sized portion of seaside rock on your pillow instead of the usual chocolate and thick rugs for you to wrap yourself up in on the loungers outside for when the weather isn’t quite as clement as you’d hoped.

cary arms hotel devon
Our bedroom which opens straight over our private terrace (it would usually be made up as a double but it’s a little less romantic when it’s two friends staying… still gorgeous though)

Some seaside hotels have great views but are far from the beach itself: the Cary Arms is right on the beach and has views to match from every room. The Beach Suites allow you to really embed yourself in the landscape, as both the lounge and bedroom have glass walls which fold back so you can roll out of bed onto the decking and simply spend the day soaking up the sun (or, if the weather is being very ‘British’ then enjoying the sight of the waves crashing onto Babbacombe beach).

cary arms hotel devon
Our Beach Suite terrace – the first room is the lounge and the second is the bedroom – which looked straight out on the beach
cary arms hotel devon
A corner of our spacious lounge which was decked out in New England-style coastal colours (note the complimentary decanter of sloe gin on the table)
cary arms hotel devon
Our handmade coffee table

There’s fast wifi, a fridge stocked with fresh milk and wine and the bathroom has all the fluffy towels and toiletries you could wish for (and a super-strong hairdryer). It’s the kind of place in which I’d love to live for a few months in glorious isolation, writing a novel while gazing at the waves, or enjoying a lengthy honeymoon with no-one to distract you except from the seagulls (seals – especially local favourite Sammy the seal – and even dolphins have also been spotted in the bay). Cary Arms can also be accessed directly from the beach and there are several mooring points for overnight stays in case the hotel is full (a likely prospect in the summer months).


To book directly with the hotel, go to: Cary Arms and Spa
To compare prices for the Cary Arms and Spa click on: Expedia  Hotels.com – HotelsCombined.com
To read more reviews and check the latest prices click here to go to Cary Arms and Spa on TripAdvisor


Continue reading A romantic seaside stay in a beach suite at Cary Arms and Spa hotel, Devon

Time for some serious pampering at Ockenden Manor hotel and spa

Walking into a really gorgeous hotel room can be such a bittersweet moment. There is the initial reaction of ‘Wow! This is really, really nice….!’ and delight that this is actually all yours for the next 20 hours or so. Then there is the sudden realisation of ‘Oh, but then I’m actually going to have to leave here and go home…’ Followed by: ‘Why can’t I live here forever?’

Such is the effect of walking into a room at Ockenden Manor Hotel and Spa, a 17th century old country house set in nine acres of land, which has a first-class luxury spa facility neighbouring the hotel.

ockenden manor hotel and spa
Ockenden Manor – the spa is a separate building a short walk away

While the rooms in the hotel itself are older and more traditional, I was staying in ‘Clara’, one of the newly-done up rooms above the spa itself. The room instantly gave off a feeling of impeccable luxury, but in a nice, comfortable, relaxing way, rather than a starchy, soulless, hotel sort of a way. Continue reading Time for some serious pampering at Ockenden Manor hotel and spa

A luxurious country escape at Bailiffscourt hotel and spa, West Sussex

If the holiday season left you feeling in serious need of a relaxing break with country walks, a first-class spa and restaurant and cosy rooms to hide away in, then Bailiffscourt hotel and spa is the place for you.

Tucked away down a little country lane on the south coast between Littlehampton and Bognor Regis, Bailiffscourt hotel is a little haven of calm, surrounded by green fields and just a short stroll from the sea at Climping beach.

Bailiffscourt Hotel
Bailiffscourt has the feel of a medieval country house but was built in the 1920s

Built in 1927 in the medieval style for Lord Moyne, who was then Walter Guinness of the brewing family, and his wife Evelyn, architect Amyas Phillips reportedly searched the country for original stone, woodwork, doors, windows and fireplaces which give the hotel its 500-year old feel.


To book directly with the hotel, go to: Bailiffscourt hotel and spa
To compare prices for Bailiffcourt hotel and spa click on: Trivago  Expedia  Hotels.com
To read more reviews and check the latest prices click here to go to Bailiffscourt on TripAdvisor


There are low ceilings and tapestries and winding staircases and narrow corridors and a whole rabbit warren of rooms downstairs which all make you feel as if you have gone back in time. Thankfully the service, food and essentials of life (such as bathrooms) are all very modern, so what you get at Bailiffscourt hotel is an old-fashioned country house atmosphere from a building which has actually been a hotel since 1948.

Bailiffscourt Hotel
The courtyard is a beautiful place to dine in the summer months

There are nice little touches too, such as board games and magazines dotted around the place, a map showing local walks and even a tiny bar. We arrived just in time for Sunday lunch, and were served a lovely meal of roast beef and roast lamb in the stone-walled dining room overlooking the courtyard. Continue reading A luxurious country escape at Bailiffscourt hotel and spa, West Sussex

Park House hotel and spa: a West Sussex secret (but not for much longer)

It’s been receiving guests for more than 60 years but Park House hotel and spa is only now making the transition from well-kept local secret to firm fixture on the British country house hotel scene. With a new general manager – Mark Yates, formerly of Harbour Hotels and Careys Manor – and its spa PH2O being shortlisted for the ‘Best Boutique Spa’ category in the prestigious Good Spa Guide awards, Park House hotel is making a name for itself and, judging by my recent stay there, seems more than up to the task.

park house hotel west sussex
Park House hotel has two good-sized swimming pools; one outside and the other in the main spa building which also contains a gym and treatment rooms

Hidden deep in the West Sussex countryside – if you drive up from nearby Goodwood then the journey takes in single-track roads with high hedges and invariably a tractor coming the other way, the easier route is down from Midhurst – Park Hotel hotel isn’t vast but manages to pack a lot into the space it has.

park house hotel west sussex
At the back of the hotel is a golf course, a bowling lawn, two tennis courts and a croquet lawn

The grounds behind the hotel are surrounded by lush green Sussex countryside and offers two lawn tennis courts, a bowling green, a small but perfectly-formed six-hole golf course, two helipads, and a croquet lawn. The spa has both an indoor and an outdoor pool – the weather was warm enough at the beginning of October for me to swim in the outdoor pool – as well as a jacuzzi, a steam room and sauna and a gym and fitness studio. Continue reading Park House hotel and spa: a West Sussex secret (but not for much longer)