Fawsley Hall has more class than spa pretenders
'‹Proper relaxation is more than a massage and a quick pedicure.
It’s more than a few bubbles in a warm pool. It is, in fact, more than anything that a spa, however diligent, can simply create.
It’s about being able to wake up, turn over in your four-poster and smile at acres of uninterrupted pasture illuminated by a rising sun.
It’s about the feeling of being in the middle of nowhere with all your worries left at the bottom of the driveway, one-and-a-half miles away.
Fawsley Hall does that as standard. All the other things (the indoor pool, the heated outdoor spa, the gorgeous fishing lake and gardens, the grand Great Hall) are extras that steadily accumulate luxuriousness until, suddenly, you realise you’ve somehow been mistaken for a minor royal.
It begins with range of afternoon teas, served in the aforementioned portrait-festooned great hall. It is an excellent start; a selection of cakes, finger sandwiches and ‘fancies’ can be supplemented with cocktails to go with the variety of tea blends.
Sitting in your stylish armchair, sipping tea and munching on another confection, you are joined by mums and daughters treating themselves, families on the sofas marking special occasions, friends indulging in girlie getaways and couples sampling ahead of upcoming nuptials.
What a venue it is. An Elizabethan manor, the rooms have a splendour that modern purpose-built upstarts just cannot match.
In the former bridal suite, the highest quality stone curves appealingly to internal and external windows, and a cavernous fireplace. Follow it round to prepossessing oak doors or upwards to intricate wooden beams and you have to smile at the sheer opulence.
But it is the view that claims your attention and you find yourself immediately yearning to curl up with a book on one of the stylish and sturdy chairs, watching the sun set on the most inviting of Northamptonshire countryside vistas.
Downstairs, the unfussy but assured restaurant continues the high-class feel. Low lighting creates an intimate and relaxed atmosphere that the waiters are keen to carry on, giving polite and discrete service.
The cooking, too, is first rate. A salmon and beetroot dish, for example, was given the an accompaniment almost beyond improvement in the form of a tight mound of creme fraiche.
Pork belly was meltingly gorgeous on a small mattress of mash and veg. The chocolate and walnut cake was the pinnacle of indulgence. I could have eaten the same menu every night for the whole week. I could have eaten one course every day for ever.
The main deal for most Fawsley Hall guests is the spa facilities and they are really very good. Set in a smaller building within the grounds, the treatment rooms are surrounded by a terraced garden with a snug sun trap at the upper level and a heated pool lower down. Plunging into that when the air is frosty makes you feel childishly happy.
The 20-metre indoor pool that is lined with grey stone tiles and surrounded by comfy sunbeds perfect for lying back with a relaxing novel.
It is quite possible to jot down these ideas and attempt to assemble them as a kind of spa by numbers. But what is so very difficult to achieve is the setting and grandeur that sets Fawsley Hall apart.
Proper relaxation is about atmosphere and class. Fawsley Hall has both and so much more.
Hand Picked Hotels (handpickedhotels.co.uk / 0845 458 0905) is offering Spring Heritage Breaks at Fawsley Hall Hotel & Spa in Northamptonshire from £183 per room per night. The price includes accommodation in a Classic double room, a three course dinner with a pre-dinner glass of wine and a full traditional breakfast. Offer available until 31st May 2016.