The end of the year is nigh and don’t we all know it? It’s always around this time I find I’m in need of the pause button. Time out to help recharge my batteries and escape the pressures of everyday life. Maybe it’s the fact I’m another year older or that I’m a lover of ME time and in desperate need for some QT with my bestie.
Spa break in Birmingham
Either way the resplendent New Hall Hotel and Spa in the leafy suburb of Sutton Coldfield came to the rescue. Part of the Hand Picked Hotels group, New Hall claims to be the oldest moated house in England. Hand Picked Hotels offer a unique collection of architecturally striking country house hotels.
Most of their award-winning hotels are listed buildings of historical significance. It’s one of the main reasons I’m so drawn to their properties, what with my having been a princess in many of my former lives and all (cue Mr S rolling his eyes about now). But I digress. You can read about a previous stay at one of their luxury country house hotels Fawsley Hall here.
This 800-year-old historic house has a beautifully preserved medieval tower, covered drawbridge and sits in 26 acres of beautiful parkland. It definitely has the wow factor and I was overcome with excitement on arrival. Have you ever crossed a moat complete with gargoyles as you enter a hotel reception? No, neither had I.
From the moment you walk into the enchanting building, you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. From fine mullioned windows which contain medallions of Flemish glass and dark oak panelling from the 16th Century to grand fireplaces and gleaming chandeliers. A house which once hosted Henry VIII is my home for the night – It’s quite extraordinary.
The 60 bed four-star hotel exudes charm and character from every corner. One of the most lavish rooms is the Great Chamber, where many a wedding takes place. Originally constructed in 1542 by Thomas Gibbons it was enlarged by Henry Sacheverall at the end of the 16th century.
The windows are glazed with small leaded quarters and many have diamond writings etched by George Sacheverall, dating back to 1589 from when he was imprisoned in the room – Serious history geek high!
Bringing it back to more recent times. Bon Jovi also fell in love with the building and shot part of his video I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead in the Great Chamber. Can you believe they actually blew the roof off with the bass! They played so loudly, apparently the fine ribbed ceiling of moulded plasterwork cracked with the vibrations – Naughty!
You’ll be glad to hear we were much more civilised on our recent visit. We stayed in an Executive Room overlooking the elegant courtyard garden. The refurbished room blended timeless features with contemporary details and rich fabrics.
I loved the small details in the hotel like Warwick the cute teddy bear sat guarding our twinned beds. The hotel’s version of a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign, if placed outside the door you’ll be left in peace. The bathroom although a little on the small side, is anything but old-fashioned and fully modernised.
This overnight Spa break had relaxation written all over it.
We were staying on the classic spa break Hand Picked Hotels offers across its spa properties. It’s incredible value from only £176 depending on your choice of room and based on two sharing. It includes a one night stay in a grand historic house with a two course spa lunch on arrival followed by full use of the health club and spa facilities plus two 25 minute treatments each, a three course dinner and a full traditional breakfast the following morning.
The 2 AA Rosette Bridge Restaurant is a stunning dark oak panelled dining room of Anglo Saxon origin. In such grand surroundings with magnificent stained glass windows and imposing portraits the restaurant offers a relaxed informal environment where lunch, dinner and breakfast is served. We arrived at the hotel just in time for our spa lunch.
The restaurant has a changing seasonal menu of contemporary British dishes, where ingredients are given pride of place. They were also very accommodating when the veggies arrived and asked about swapping dishes around from the main menu to the spa lunch menu. Just one example of their nothing is too much approach I experienced from all the staff I came across.
We began with a deliciously soft and warm seeded roll. A fresh and flavoursome mozzarella and heritage tomato salad followed, finishing with a perfectly spiced falafel wrap and the yummiest thick cut chips this side of the Midlands.
With our bellies satisfied and the spa beckoning we wandered over to the spa for an afternoon of pampering and relaxation. Armed with robes, towels and slippers we relaxed and enjoyed the facilities, including the 14 metre swimming pool. From the choice of five treatments available in our package, I opted for the full body scrub which left my dehydrated winter skin super soft. A well needed back, neck and shoulders massage followed. It only took one inhale of the stress-relieving aromatherapy oil and I zoned out completely.
The spa has no dedicated relaxation zone, so we spent the rest of the afternoon lounging by the jacuzzi and pool. The area is bathed in natural light by the large south-west facing latticed windows which overlook the landscaped gardens. It’s the perfect place to sit back relax, swim a few laps or loosen up in the sauna and steam room.
Completely relaxed we headed back to our room in our bathrobes to get ready for dinner in the grand dining room. Our evening meal didn’t disappoint either, with a beautifully presented starter of whipped white lake driftwood goats cheese and beetroot.
My main of butternut squash and Cropwell Bishop risotto was the creamiest ever and topped with a crispy duck egg. The portions were huge too, so we were both in two minds about dessert. Temptation got the better of us, so we shared the rather delectable warm treacle tart with clotted cream ice cream.
With no kids or husbands to think about in the morning, you’d think I would have blissfully enjoyed my lie in. Err no…I was up and out of the door at 7.30 AM and took a lovely walk in the cold morning air around the amazing grounds.
The medieval moat surrounding the building was built to provide protection and is fed by seven springs. There is so much history in the extensive shrubbed and wooded area too, with terraces dating back to the 16th and 17th century.
Oh and there are geese. They didn’t like me much and actually hissed at me. Nevertheless they do make the place look pretty. For the sporty types tennis courts and a nine-hole golf course to help work off all the lovely food you’ll eat.
We ended our wonderful stay on a delicious veggie breakfast. Somewhat of a treat for me as during the week I rarely partake. Scrambled eggs, vegetable sausage, hash brown, beans and a round of hot buttery toast.
While the grounds are vast the ambience at New Hall Hotel is both intimate and personal. Our overnight stay from the service, food to the incredibly impressive surroundings was perfect. We left feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to step back into the rat race. Until the next time Hand Picked Hotels!
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