A mash-up of old and new = pure bliss
Like an ivy-clad Hogwarts, Pennyhill Park is packed with nooks and crannies to discover, or get lost in. Wandering the grounds will make you feel like you’ve stepped into a Victorian period novel, as you weave between topiary and the immaculate kitchen gardens (vegetables are grown on-site and the in-house bees produce fresh honey daily). All 124 bedrooms and three master suites are individually themed but expect draped velvets and sumptuous four-poster beds, with free-standing bathtubs, for a dose of old-school romance. We stayed in Buttercup and the best part by far were the twin bath tubs, side-by-side in front of a TV. Because: why not?
Why go: Because amidst the work deadlines, life admin and general frazzle, this could be the escapist bolthole you’ve been looking for. Just an hour’s drive southwest of London, nestled seductively in 123 acres of suburban woodland, Pennyhill Park is a 19th-century manor house surrounded by immaculate gardens, it is home to one of the UK’s most decadent spa hotels. And this place knows how to do spa life in style.
Best for: Pure indulgence and utter escapism, the spa has the look and feel of a high-end ski lodge. Sipping champagne in the outdoor jacuzzi (yes, even in winter!) is essential. As is treating yourself to a signature treatment – our favourite was the reflexology (£100 for 60-minutes) that not only eased tired toes and left us blissed-out and stress-free, it also pinpointed problem areas. My therapist knew I had digestive problems and sensitive gums, just from pressure points on the soles of my feet. It’s no wonder the England Rugby squad lives and trains on-site during the season – the facilities are second to none for gym bunnies. You may well spot the team in the corridors or lounges but make no mistake about it, this isn’t a brash celeb haunt, it’s much more sophisticated than that.
I’m hungry: That’s good, because there are two award-winning restaurants on site. The Latymer, a fine dining option, offering bold dishes using locally sourced ingredients inspired by the seasons. It was awarded a Michelin Star and 4 AA Rosettes in 2017, thanks to the genius of head chef Matt Worswick. For something buzzier and more relaxed without compromising on taste, the Brasserie (open 6pm-10pm) is well worth a visit. We recommend the pan roasted hake and Bombay potato in a spiced mussel broth (£26) or the lemon sole, langoustine and courgette with mint butter sauce (£32) for fish lovers.
But save room for dessert too – the lemon curd with Italian meringue and lemon milk sorbet (£8.50) is one for the memory bank. The bar has all the feels of a chic jazz lounge, complete with low lighting, wood panelling and, of course, a baby grand piano. We were treated to an acoustic guitarist gently strumming out pared-back covers, which was just the soundtrack for working our way through the (large) cocktail menu. We left wondering, just how soon is too soon to return?
Book now: Pennyhill Park, London Rd, Bagshot, Surrey GU19 5EU (01276 471774; www.exclusive.co.uk/pennyhill-park/) is an Exclusive Hotel and Spa. Standard double rooms start from £295 with breakfast. The nearest rail stations are Ascot and Sunningdale, a taxi from the latter takes ten minutes and costs £15.