Nicola Eusden & Lily Robinson
Checking into two of the most luxurious spa destinations set in the English countryside
Cliveden House, Buckinghamshire
By Lily Robinson
There can be few hotels steeped in such a chequered history – and indeed such scandal – as Cliveden House, former home of the first female MP, Lady Nancy Astor. Set within its own woodlands and formal gardens, the resplendent stately home exudes glamour and decadence at every turn, whether in the sweeping main entrance hall where diners take high tea, or in the fine dining room, with its panoramic views over the spectacular parterre.
If, like us, you’re in search both of Cliveden’s most relaxing quarters and its most scandalous secrets, do repair to the spa, with its indoor and outdoor pools, the latter of which is where John Profumo’s mistress, would-be 19 year old model Christine Keeler once swam; it was their illicit encounter in this very setting that would go on to bring down Harold Macmillan’s government in 1963. We can see why the place might have proved seductive _ and even more so now than then, since the spa is somewhat more luxurious today than its sixties incarnation is likely to have been. The space is brand new and comes complete with an indoor pool, hot tub, steam room, sauna and beautifully appointed changing rooms. There is also a heated outdoor pool and hot tubs in a beautiful patio area, all confined within a quintessentially English walled garden. My beautician, Amber, administered the best facial I’ve ever had; so relaxing was it that her soporific attentions actually sent me to sleep. All the products used are Cliveden branded, created from natural ingredients; they felt and smelt divine. Afterwards, we repaired to the café, which is light, airy and modern with a on-trend bar, serving a rainbow of salads. Perfection.
Lifehouse Spa and Hotel, Essex
By Nicola Euesden
You’d be forgiven for forgetting that you are in the heart of Essex here, so Nordic in sensibility is Lifehouse Spa and Hotel. After being whisked around the hotel to get our bearings, we were shown to our double room, which was spectacular in every regard not least thanks to its view of the picturesque lake and gardens. A glass of welcome Prosecco did nothing to dampen our already high spirits.
We plumped for the couples’ package, which included a massage a deux, an hour of complete bliss. Suitably distressed, we then retired to our spacious bedroom and ordered room service (being pummelled and pampered is surprisingly appetite-inducing). A club sandwich hit the spot nicely, and reinvigorated us for a couple of hours in the sauna, spa bath, pool and steam rooms. Don’t neglect to visit the bar area with lovely views of the historic Listed gardens, close, before sating your appetite with some brasserie-style classics (think seafood stew and pork loin saltimbocca) at the Lifehouse Restaurant, which offers similarly beautiful views over the gardens.