REVIEW: Northamptonshire spa break is idyllic respite for couples' retreat
It's only in the most confined spaces where us Brits get to grips with our own capacity for social awkwardness.
Why is it when we’re meant to be relaxing in stress-free environments, we can’t help but fill the silence with unpleasant small talk?
But any conversation seems to go in a steam room, so I learned at Whittlebury Hall. And we were all in the same boat, all ten slippy, random people in a steam room, warts and all.
I stayed at the hotel for one night, with access to the heat and ice experience, full use of the leisure facilities, a three-course dinner at Murrays restaurant and breakfast at Astons.
Our check-in at 1pm was extremely quick and pleasant, and we headed straight to the spa, where we checked in for the second time - grabbing locker keys - before heading to the changing rooms.
Upon donning our robes, the fella and I tried to fathom which unpronounceable heat and ice room we should muster the courage to try first.
Pushing my ignorance - and pronunciation inabilities - aside, I tried the nine facilities on offer, including a blissful hydrotherapy pool, sanarium (sauna), tepidarium (heated stone benches), ice cave and numerous steam rooms.
They were a novelty for a spa virgin like myself. One of my novice errors was testing out the frozen ice cave which left me convulsing during a hurried effort to warm up.
The ice-cold drinking water for spa-users was plentiful and a citrus ice bath for the face, with flannels, was welcomed. However, I feel that a weekday retreat would have been less crowded as most couples were also letting their hair down on this particular Saturday, making it difficult to use all the facilities when you wanted to.
After an hour of kicking back it was time to grab some lunch, a Caesar salad and Croque Madame to be precise. Then we headed to The Silverstone Bar - which was adorned with F1 racing suits and fiery, tipsy rugby fans - to sit in a pool of tears and watch England take a thrashing in the Six Nations.
Afterwards, we were wined and dined in the beautiful 2 AA Rosette restaurant, Murrays, under award-winning chef Harvey Lockwood. The intimate setting is the perfect place for adults to share a meal for a special occasion.
As we walked down to the main reception we were greeted by our waitress who led us through to a canapes lounge where we had some nibbles, drinks and tried to think of intellectual conversation to say aloud, slightly louder than what was socially expected of us.
It was quite an awkward experience but, perhaps, only because I'm used to shouting over rowdy pub goers.
After my horse is bigger than your horse chatter, we made our way into the restaurant and consumed the best meal of our adult lives.
When your three-courses consist of Bedfordshire Rabbit, Woburn Estate Venison Sirloin and Valrhona Chocolate, washed down with a rich bottle of red, you know you're on to a winner.
The service at Murray's was unfaultable, the food was out of this world and it was fantastic to see locally sourced produce on the menu.
The next morning - following a heavy intake of Gaviscon- we were treated to a buffet-style breakfast at Aston's, which cured our fuzzy heads. The breakfast offered copious amounts of cereals, pastries, row upon row of full English grub and you wanted for nothing.
We were lucky enough to be given a picturesque view of the golf course from our bedroom and were thrilled to be leaving after a good night's sleep, full use of the room's own coffee machine and complimentary robes.
I could only urge anyone who still enjoys the fine art of conversation with their other half to treat them to a stay at Whittlebury Hall - even if it means you have rinsed years worth of subject matter.
For more information, visit: https://www.whittleburyhall.co.uk