Set in a beautiful ivy-clad manor house - this is a true gem in the heart of the New Forest
A sumptuous Thai spa draped in jewel-coloured silks isn’t exactly what springs to mind when you imagine a cosy getaway in the New Forest. But that’s what you get at SenSpa at Careys Manor – a unique fusion of luxurious Eastern spa experience with all the hearty home comforts of a country house hotel.
With just weeks to go till my wedding, (and a baby on board to boot), a break from all the seating-plan agony was urgently called for. Drawing up outside the ivy-clad 19th-century manor house, we felt a million miles away from the hustle and bustle – but happily, it’s an easy hour and a half by direct train from London Waterloo.
Nestled in the heart of the New Forest national park, the hotel has a strong eco bent, using electricity generated from wind farms and special body-dryers in the spa to save on towel use. The sprawling stone house is set in lush green grounds – so, for the actively-inclined, great hikes and bike rides are on the doorstep. This weekend, however, that wasn’t us. After exploring our room (enormous bed, crispy white sheets, complimentary chocs), we collapsed in front of the fire in the lounge for a wedding-dress-busting cream tea – complete with freshly baked scones and a home-made pastry or three.
Afterwards, we hit the spa – and felt the tension drain away within minutes of stepping into the jasmine-scented, bamboo-filled calm. Offering a host of traditional Thai massages and treatments – many of the therapists are Thai – you can also indulge in some seriously yummy (but reassuringly healthy) Thai food, created with ethically sourced, local ingredients, in the ‘Zen Garden’ restaurant looking out onto (guess what) – a Zen garden.
The state-of-the-art facilities include a host of water-based options – a hydrotherapy pool, herbal sauna, crystal steam room, and some totally fabulous ‘experience’ showers.
We were tempted by the Rhassoul Mud (you and a partner slather mud onto each other in a mosaic-tiled hammam room) but being pregnant, sadly this wasn’t an option, so I settled for a Pregnancy Massage – an hour of candlelit bliss using SenSpa Organic Skin Therapy products. My husband-to-be opted for an Ayurvedic Head Massage – and emerged so relaxed he didn’t speak for the next hour. After a lazy afternoon dipping in and out of the pool and wandering off for the odd ‘tropical storm’ shower, we tore ourselves away to enjoy a feast in the two-rosette Manor restaurant. With an emphasis on seasonal, local produce, we gorged on pan-roasted pork fillet with savoy cabbage (him) and halibut on wilted spinach with scallop boudin (me), finishing with a mouthwatering lemon posset.
After a blissful nights’ sleep we emerged pampered, (very) well-fed and ready to take on the wed-min with renewed vigour…
In March, SenSpa are launching Personalised Skincare Consultations for £15 (including £20 voucher redeemable against products at the SenSpa Boutique).
Fancy a minibreak with added benefits? Try SenSpa’s upcoming workshop: ‘Learn to Massage’ workshop: [dates include 21st March, 20th June, 19th September and 5th December]. You’ll learn a 10-minute massage routine which can be done in a chair over clothes. £35 per person
OFFER: 20% discount on tickets for Marie Claire readers, plus exclusive further discount on overnight stays and use of the spa facilities
Details: Careys Manor and SenSpa, Brockenhurst, New Forest, Hampshire, SO42 7RH (01590 624 467 www.senspa.co.uk). Double rooms start from £188 per night, including breakfast (based on two people sharing). Spa days start from £199 per person.