By Anna Gouldman
I arrived at Pennyhill Park after a particularly stressful week. On entry into this regal 18th century hunting home, my angst soon faded to oblivion, as I settled into my charming surroundings.
I was greeted at reception by the same high level of friendly and efficient service that was to become a hallmark of my visit. Discreet and yet attentive staff members seemed genuinely interested to get to know their guests and interaction felt natural and informal.
My room was in the Redwood Wing, an elegant extension of the original hotel. A stroll around its carpeted corridors was like stepping in and out of a time machine, with each section designed around a different period. An eclectic and slightly obscure collection of paintings and objects decorated each cove with beautiful flower arrangements carefully placed throughout.
Each room in the Redwood section is named after a plant. I resided in Polyanthus, a generously sized, split level attic suite. Antique furnishings, exposed beams and soft pink carpets created a cozy and romantic ambiance, which reminded me of a secluded log cabin.
An equally large bathroom offered modern amenities such as under floor heating, and a rainforest shower complete with a separate bathtub. The television installed in the corner above the double sink seemed like a great idea - until my partner, who is a Chelsea fan, mysteriously disappeared into the bathroom for an hour during ‘the big game!’
We dined in The Brasserie and Oyster Bar, which was a lively and informal eating experience. There wasn’t an empty table for the duration of the evening, which I took to be a reflection of the tasty cuisine, prepared under the supervision of Executive Chef, Karl Edmunds. Dishes ranged from fine seafood, to vegetarian delights.
Pennyhill is full of recreational activities. A 9 hole golf course, croquet, tennis courts, archery, a large rugby pitch, clay shooting and an open air heated pool are all set within its grand English country estate. During an afternoon stroll through the exquisite gardens, I spotted bunny rabbits and deer roaming the grounds.
The spa, which opened in 2003, was the most impressive part of my visit. Claiming to be the biggest spa in England, this modern complex is situated in a separate building behind the Pennyhill Park. Marbled floors lead to 21 spacious treatment rooms (including a double treatment room for couples) and enormous, lavishly furnished changing areas, which even provide GHD hair straighteners upon request.
This exclusively adult environment, which spans two floors, offers an amazing range of facilities and treatments including a technogym fitness studio, an ozone filtered 25metre indoor pool, thermal cabins, an ice cave, herbal saunas, aromatic steam rooms, specialty showers, a plunge pool, hot tubs and an organic restaurant.
During our stay, my partner and I indulged in a Kudo massage (£180 altogether for 60 minutes), which is inspired by traditional aboriginal techniques. This rhythmic body massage is designed to tone and re-align energy flows to enhance mind and body balance. It is recommended for anyone who suffers from physical or emotional stress.
We chose the joint therapy room, which I later discovered can occasionally have a negative affect on the client’s level of relaxation. The treatment begun with a smudging ceremony, which involved the burning of lemon myrtle leaves, releasing a rich scent. While I lay on a heated bed, native aboriginal rejuvenating oils were massaged into my entire body, including my hands and feet.
My partner was so relaxed that he fell asleep. But his presence affected the depth of my relaxation. By the end of the massage, however, I too had finally switched off and felt a huge release of the tension that had been building up all week.
I floated out of the therapy room and into the relaxation room where I sipped on some refreshing raspberry tea. I spent the rest of the afternoon splashing around the thermal house, ducking in and out of the aromatic sauna’s and steam rooms and cooling down in the peppermint scented ice cave. I even indulged in a water-jet and pebble foot massage.
I left the haven of luxury and tranquility that is Pennyhill Park feeling refreshed, re-energised and ready to take on the world. On checking out, a friendly receptionist on duty commented: “If I you leave with a smile on your face, my work here is done!” I checked out a week ago and I am still smiling!
Pennyhill Park is a part of the Exclusive Hotels Group. It is located in Surrey, and is approximately an hour’s drive from London. For more information about the hotel and spa, visit www.exclusivehotels.co.uk
Pennyhill Park Hotel & The Spa
London Road, Bagshot
Surrey GU19 5EU