The dreamiest day off ever
When was the last time you had a 5 star luxury spa day? Too bloody long ago, I'd hazard! We went to The Spa at Pennyhill Park and almost didn't ever come home.
Let’s face it: life is pretty stark at the moment. Summer’s long gone, and there are a lot of long, dark days to get through until the rosé can come out again in earnest. When the going gets tough, the tough simply want to wrap themselves up in a warm fluffy robe and savour the pleasures of herbal steam room, sauna and steaming hot tubs. So that’s exactly what I did, when I took myself off to the spa at Pennyhill Park for one of the most dreamy spa experiences of my life.
Pennyhill is a luxury country house hotel and spa set in just over 120 acres of countryside a few miles from the village of Bagshot and near Camberley. It’s close to junction three of the M3 motorway, and about an hour from central London. You’ll arrive at the 19th century manor house via a long sweeping driveway flanked by immaculately manicured gardens, past the England rugby team’s training grounds.
The spa is situated in a separate wing to the hotel overlooking the heated outdoor pool area. It was built in 2003 and blends in well with the main house. As well as the hotel and spa there’s also a three-hole golf course, a running track around the perimeter of the grounds, outdoor tennis courts and a range of activities including archery and pistol shooting.
It’s pure old-school luxury – a place that knows how to do spa life in style. The spa is vast and spread out over 45,000 square feet. The Themis restaurant is to the left of the spa reception, and there’s a lounge area on the right. The impressively large and well-equipped change rooms and are along the corridor from here, and the treatment rooms and gym are tucked away at the end of the corridor. The spa facilities are downstairs – and there’s a Roman feel to them, with grand archways, marble columns and walls of mosaics.
Pennyhill has some seriously impressive facilities. Let’s start with the eight pools, thermal cabins with a range of heat, ice and steam, and 21 spacious treatment rooms. The range includes a 25-metre indoor ballroom pool with underwater music and fibre optic lighting, and an outdoor pool (heated in winter) surrounded by sun loungers. There’s also a hydrotherapy pool, three outdoor heated hot tubs.
Newly opened is the Thermal Heaven – the only complete thermal sequencing experience in the UK which includes a laconium, tepidarium tiled beds, herbal saunas, ice igloo, plunge pool and foot spas.
There’s a fully kitted out gym and fitness studio with classes ranging from spin, Pilates and yoga through to street dance, zumba. The treatment centre has 21 therapy rooms – including a double treatment room – and a lamp-lit sensory room with delicious gel beds that are perfect for a post treatment kip.
The spa provides you with a menu of spa journeys which aim to invigorate and recover, retox and unwind, detox and decongest, as well as one for pregnancy. I loosely followed the retox and unwind journey – which also suggests the radiance facial – and moved between the laconium room, herbal sauna, foot spas and tepidarium. I couldn’t resist trying out the plunge pool – which was utterly freezing but totally invigorating – and also the ice igloo which was deliciously refreshing after the hot sauna and steam rooms.
The Themis restaurant is bright and light with big table and comfortable seating. It’s serves a selection of fresh, healthy and organic dishes from hot and cold gourmet salad bars. Healthy quinoa salads, lentil and Asian inspired coleslaw salads sit alongside stirfried greens and grilled mediterranean vegetable salads, grilled fish and chicken. You can also order from a menu which includes things like steak. There are also cakes and puddings, or fresh fruit if you fancy that, as well as afternoon teas, wine and fizz.
I enjoyed a gorgeously heathy lunch that started with homemade pea and sweetcorn soup, followed by grilled fish and a selection of salads and finishing with a light panna cotta.
There’s an extensive menu of treatments that includes a range of facials, massage including reflexology and reiki, body scrubs and wraps, manicures and pedicures, brows and lashes treatments, tanning and makeup. There’s an emphasis on natural, holistic and organic products.
I had the radiance facial, which includes a relaxing foot massage, arm and shoulder massage and scalp massage. It was bliss. My therapist was Alicia, impossibly beautiful and with a softly-spoken and gorgeous calming nature. My treatment room was upstairs – a spacious, warm and dimly-lit with soft piped music.
Alicia spent a few minutes before my facial explaining each stage of the treatment, which meant I could really zone out and enjoy it rather than lay there wondering what might happen next. The facial – which used products from the Radiance range – included a double cleanse, exfoliation, peel-off face mask and moisturising.
It was deeply relaxing, and afterwards I blissed out in the sensory room, all thoughts of the outside world very far away.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for? This is the perfect place to indulge yourself solo, but it’s also great for couples, girly get-togethers, and adult family breaks (on the day I visited there was a group of women who I’d guess were three generations of the same family).
Not for? I honestly can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t love this experience.
The damage: Full spa day spa packages start at £175 for the Bronze (Mon-Thurs) rising to £950 for the Ultimate spa day package. There is a good-value two-treatment spa evening package available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for £140. Individual treatments start at £150 for a 60-minute facial, massage, wrap or scrub.Pennyhill Park, London Road, Bagshot, Surrey, GU19 5EU. tel: 01276 471 774 pennyhillpark.co.uk