My Hotel Bugbears - Towelling dressing gowns.


Fiona Duncan

….Guests padding around the corridors in their toweling dressing gowns and awful toweling slippers en route to the spa. Worse still, staying in a hotel where EVERYONE wears toweling dressing gowns and awful toweling slippers all the time. That’s at places like Champneys and Grayshott where, though there are excellent facilities, a comprehensive range of treatments and programmes and healthy menus, the ambience reminds me of the private wing of a hospital, full of white-garbed patients waiting in a dazed state for the next procedure.

Some of these Health Spas are quite stylish in an anodyne way; others, frankly, have all the allure, hotel-wise, of one of the many upmarket old folks’ homes that I investigated for my mother, with dowdy, old-fashioned furnishings and a forlorn air. If I wanted a few days of healthy, reinvigorating pampering, I would so much rather choose a decent hotel in a lovely setting that had a good spa, a range of treatments and healthy food, rather than a dedicated health spa with lacklustre bedrooms attached.

I could quite happily live at the Herb House Spa at Lime Wood, and its Raw & Cured café is superb; other standout spas attached to alluring hotels are at Calcot Manor in the Cotswolds, Ockenden Manor in Sussex and The Scarlet in Cornwall, to name but three.

  • Lime Wood Lyndhurst, Hampshire 32 rooms from £395

    Exclusive offer  -  Complimentary upgrade
    Foodies  -  A super chic restaurant, serving Anglo-Italian fare. A product of Lime Wood’s Luke Holder and high-profile chef Angela Hartnett.
    Families  -  Extra beds allowed in rooms, kids activities on site and baby sitting facilities makes this an obvious choice for parents.
    Country Escape  -  A beautifully renovated country house situated in the heart of one of the UKs finest National Parks.
    Cooking classes  -  The excellent Hartnett Holder & Co Backstage cookery school has a wide variety of hands on courses.
    Recommended by  -  Mr & Mrs Smith, I Escape, Tablet, Good Hotel Guide, Kiwi Collection, Relais & Chateaux, Sawdays

    Scintillating luxury hotel in a superbly redesigned Georgian house in the heart of the New Forest. Wonderfully comfortable beds in large rooms all with unique features including free standing baths, fireplaces or four posters. A sublime restaurant curated by a celebrity chef. Countryside perfection. See More

    Hotel Website
  • Calcot Manor Hotel Tetbury, The Cotswolds 35 rooms from £199

    Swimming Pool  -  Stunning indoor Swimming Pool
    Kids Club  -  Fully staffed.
    Secluded setting  -  For escaping.
    House party feel  -  Be prepared to meet people.
    Recommended by  -  Mr & Mrs Smith, Fodors, Frommers, Good Hotel Guide, Kiwi Collection

    A charming 14th century manor house in Tetbury, Gloucestershire. Chic rooms feature bold wallpaper prints, soft tones, deep soaking tubs and trendy artworks. The beautifully landscaped gardens feature a range of family activities as well as a pool and spa. An elegant country retreat. See More

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  • Ockenden Manor Cuckfield, West Sussex 28 rooms from £179

    Foodies  -  The creative cuisine of Head Chef Stephen Crane has earned them a Michelin-Star, check out the seven-course Tasting Menu.
    Country Escape  -  Submerge yourself in this country house hotel, with every whim and comfort taken care of there is no need to leave.
    Great walks  -  This area boasts plenty of picturesque walks, ask your hosts to point out a few choice trails to follow.
    Views  -  To the South Downs

    This tranquil and historic manor house is just an hour from London, with lovely gardens, indoor and outdoor pool and Michelin star fine dining. Rooms exude comfort and style. Relax at the spa, explore the South Downs or sit with your favourite drink on the terrace. A beautiful mini-break location. See More

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  • The Scarlet, Cornwall Mawgan Porth, Cornwall 37 rooms from £195

    Romantic Break  -  You, your loved one (and even the pooch) can enjoy an indulgent coastal stay
    Spa breaks  -  Excellent spa with a range of Ayurvedic treatments
    Swimming Pool  -  Outdoor and Indoor Pool
    Great walks  -  South West Coast Path.
    Recommended by  -  Mr & Mrs Smith, Good Hotel Guide, Sawdays

    Relaxing, purpose-designed eco-friendly hotel overlooking Mawgan Porth beach. Contemporary furniture and modern local art adorns bedroom walls. Great sea views from the cocktail lounge and stylish hotel restaurant. Fantastic spa facility for ultimate relaxation and great outdoor activities nearby. See More

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Written by Fiona Duncan

posted Thursday, 17th January 2019