Pennyhill Park Hotel
The lowdown Less than an hour’s train journey from London, Pennyhill Park is perfectly sited for the urban dweller that fancies a little bit of the country life, but without the hassle. Set amongst over 100 acres of glorious gardens and woodlands, this little oasis offers the perfect express getaway option for whatever you might want from a weekend trip away, whether that’s a little bit of clay pigeon shooting, energisingting walks, or just luxuriating in one of the largest spas in Europe.
The hotel What was originally a private home has grown into one of England’s best places to kick back and relax, wine and dine, or generally indulge in a little bit of quiet spa therapy. Split between either the original building, or the newer redbrick Lodge, each of the 123 rooms or suites is completely unique, and strikes the perfect balance between an old country house aesthetic, and the needs of even the most demanding 21st century weekender! If you’re splashing out, or romance is on the cards, do make sure to ask for one of the suites in the older building, where the bathrooms alone are the size of your average London flat!
On our arrival, we were quickly seduced by the ultra relaxed, but super efficient atmosphere, and found ourselves collapsing in front of the roaring fire in the main hall, the perfect place to take a spot of afternoon tea.
Eating and drinking As two connoisseurs of some of the world’s best cocktail bars, it takes an experienced mixologist to impress us. However, we’re pleased to report that the guys running the Ascot Bar really run a tight ship. There is an impressive and lengthy cocktail list that would take a good few evening to work your way through. We deployed our usual quality test, and asked for dry ‘Dirty’ vodka martinis; not an easy drink to make perfectly, but in these gentleman’s hands, absolutely delicious – top marks! Our first night we dined in the more informal Brasserie restaurant, where classic bistro fare is the order of the day. Think artfully constructed terrines and crisp fried whitebait for starters, and perfectly cooked steak frites and super tender lamb roasts for mains. We chose the more ‘serious’ Latymer restaurant for our final night. The winner of a clutch of awards, this is haute cuisine for grown-ups. Choose the three-course a la carte menu, or go for gold and try either the eight- or ten-course taster menu. With organic, locally sourced ingredients, and a daily changing menu, what we experienced the night we ate there is on a par with some of the best kitchens in London or New York.
The spa The crowing glory of Pennyhill Park is the gargantuan spa. Set in its own building just a minute or two from the main part of the hotel, this is a temple to all things relaxed, quiet and beautifying. With 21 therapy rooms offering everything from de-stressing stone massage, marine wraps and specially tailored reiki therapy for mums to be, a whole weekend could easily be whiled away working through the list of treatments. Add to that the indoor and outdoor pools, herbal saunas, ice cave and oversize Jacuzzi’s, and this truly is a spa experience to be reckoned with. Sheer bliss!
Details Pennyhill Park Hotel and The Spa, London Road, Bagshot, Surrey GU19 5EU, tel: 01276 471774. Rooms start at £315; suites cost between £395 and £1,375. Visit pennyhillpark.co.uk