Escaping for some well-deserved ‘me’ time is closer than you think. LIVING enjoyed a luxurious spa break at Staffordshire’s very own Hoar Cross Hall
There are certain times in life when you just need to escape from it all. Perhaps things aren’t going so well in a relationship, or work is particularly challenging, or you’re just a parent in need of a little break. No matter what the situation, everyone deserves some time to spend on themselves. And if you’ve got the chance to escape, Hoar Cross Hall could be just the place you’re looking for. LIVING was invited to spend 24 hours at Hoar Cross Hall, to enjoy the hotel, its spa and the foodie delights on offer.
The Grade II Stately Home is set in the heart of the Staffordshire countryside, somewhere between Abbots Bromley and Burton-upon-Trent. Nicely accessible from Stoke-on-Trent, Stafford, Uttoxeter, the Derbyshire border and about 30-miles from Birmingham. It was the family home of Hugo Meynell Ingram, completed in 1871. From the outside, you can’t miss its distinct Elizabethan style with Jacobean accents. The estate is huge with 50-acres of exquisitely manicured gardens, woodland, lakes and parkland, and the hall itself holding 96-bedrooms.
Inside, most of the public rooms reflect the 19th century with oak-panelling, antique touches and an ornamental ceiling designed by Victorian architect George Frederick Bodley in the entrance hall. But, Hoar Cross Hall has merged modern design with these period features to give the hotel a contemporary and up-to-date style. The rooms in particular are classic and comfortable with modern en suite bathrooms and Elemis toiletries.
The place is impressive at first sight, and huge. If it wasn’t for the strategically placed signposts you could find yourself wandering the halls and corridors for most of your stay. But luckily there are plenty of staff on hand to point you in the right direction too.
One of the most exciting things to look forward to at Hoar Cross Hall is the food. For which it is building quite a name for itself. Both the afternoon tea and the hotel’s main restaurant – the Ballroom – are picking up recognition. Recent wins at Salon Culinaire for pastry chef Charlotte Wakelyn and executive chef Tom Biddle and an AA rosette for the Ballroom are finally putting Hoar Cross on the foodie map.
Our first taster of the foodie delights was the award-winning afternoon tea served in the library. It’s refreshingly classic – just as Queen Victoria would have wanted it to be. Traditional fillings for the finger sandwiches (there’s the odd quirky touch, of course) include cucumber and cream cheese, ham and a poached salmon. Fresh, warm scones (both plain and with fruit) are served with jam and clotted cream, and a selection of petite pastries including a to-die-for pineapple cream tart are all wonderfully presented on a rustic wooden stand. There’s an equally impressive selection of tea from fruit to black leaf varieties, including Hoar Cross’s own house blend, all served in individual cast iron teapots.
I should also mention that you can enjoy a Prosecco and champagne version too.
We were also treated to an evening meal at the Ballroom, which for me was certainly the highlight. The Grand Room décor is kept very much to its heritage, with high ceilings, large bay windows and chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. Tom Biddle is the man behind the food, and with a hoard of clientele to please, it certainly feels like a challenge to produce a menu that will appeal to all. However, it’s proven an easy feat for Biddle. The food is inventive but hearty. It’s high-class without being overly flamboyant. There’s a good amount of choice and includes daily specials, vegetarian options and a selection of Tom Biddle’s signature dishes. Portion sizes are ample, the service is quick and efficient and the staff extremely personable. They are hoping to attract more non-guests to the restaurant and I would urge you to give it a try.
Dinner is often included in the packages for guests, so if you find yourself on a spa break, you are in for a treat!
And in between the delicious food options, you have the spa. Located in the basement of the hall, it’s all a bit of a maze at first to find your feet. But once you do arrive there, it’s quite the experience. It is one of the largest spas I have been to, and it has heaps of facilities to gently help you to relax and unwind.
Massive changing rooms are clean and have all you need – lockers are controlled by the electronic bands you are given at check in. These bands, incidentally, are also your room keys and access keys to certain areas of the spa so keep them on you at all times! Robes, slippers and towels are provided.
There are two pool areas. First the saltwater vitality pool which contains less chlorine than normal so it’s softer and kinder to your skin. There is a lovely low-lit cave area that you can swim into, and two whirlpools. The hydrotherapy pool has body massage jets and gentle currents to relax muscles and ease aching joints.
One of the highlights of the spa is the Nordic Suite. Inspired by Scandinavian spa rituals. It’s a journey through heat and ice to invigorate and revitalise the senses. A mix of saunas and aromatherapy and salt-infused steam rooms with hot and cold showers and relaxation beds.
View our gallery of Hoar Cross Hall below
There is also an area of aqua massage with water jets and massage pods and a cold plunge pool which you must try. It’s like your stepping off a ledge, but once you’ve done it and you’re out, it’s a fabulous feeling and great for the circulation. With so much to do in the spa and plenty of areas to lay quietly and relax, you can easily while away the hours.
The spa also has treatment rooms and I enjoyed a 25-minute touch facial including a scalp massage. My therapist was informative about what she was doing and worked gently. My skin was visibly brighter ad more hydrated for days after.
Hoar Cross is the perfect place to disappear for 24 hours. It’s close by, got a great atmosphere, ample facilities and fantastic food. You’re in for a treat. My husband put it best while we were there, he said: “I used to not understand what it (a spa) was all about, but it does really relax you.” And that’s exactly what it’s all about. Total, blissful relaxation.
A Simply Spa Escape at Hoar Cross Hall costs from £167.50 per person per night based on two sharing. The package includes a deluxe classic room, three-course dinner, breakfast and lunch, plus use of all the spa and leisure facilities, including cycling and archery. www.hoarcross.co.uk.
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