Review: Eastwell Manor
I mean, we Kent folk need a cheeky spa break as much as the next person, right? Eastwell Manor has a gorgeous Outdoor Pool (with bar can I just add!) that's perfect for those scorching summer days.
It was the day before the Summer holidays begun and what better way to mark the end of my ‘freedom’ than an afternoon at Eastwell Manor which is a Champneys Hotel & Spa set in the heart of Kent. With the invitation to try out its Eastwell Manor Sparking English Tea and lounge by its Outdoor Pool on one of the hottest days of the year, they were going to have trouble booting me out…
Eastwell Manor is situated within beautiful landscaped gardens in Kent, located 5 miles from Ashford International station, so a pretty good meeting point for those living on West and East side of Kent. My sister lives just outside Tunbridge Wells and I am based near Faversham, so it was a great ‘halfway house’ for us and the feeling was entirely mutual that this experience could be copy and pasted for many years to come.
With far-reaching views over the North Downs, Eastwell Manor is a fantastic place to while away your time -whatever the weather. I was #blessed with the weather so I was delighted to lie horizontal by its outdoor swimming pool but if it had been pouring down, I would have been more than happy padding around its Champneys spa area with an indoor swimming pool, Jacuzzi, steam room, sauna, and relaxation beds plus of course the endless beauty treatments on offer.
Had I stayed any longer and mustered up some energy to drag me away from the pool, I also might have used its all-weather tennis court, petanque court, croquet or nine-hole golf course. Well maybe one of those options is not entirely true as I have yet to catch the golf bug but you get my drift.
I would also add that your experience starts at the gates as you reach the main buildings via a long tree-lined drive which ignites that ‘stop and breathe’ moment as you realize that you are about to embark on some precious time away from the daily grind. The historic Neo-Elizabethan manor house greets you at the end which is an idyllic backdrop for the obligatory smug selfies.
I had a brief tour of the indoor Spa and it is exactly the quality brand experience you would expect from Champney’s (fluffy bathrobes, swish indoor pool and huge treatment space although quite cramped changing rooms) but with the sun beating down, I knew where I wanted to be.
The Outdoor Pool is heated and set in the grounds of Eastwell Manor’s garden, discreetly positioned behind grass hedgerow, and a stone’s throw from the Petanque court. It’s 20m and there were plenty of sun loungers so space for everyone and most importantly, a cute mobile bar (in a modified van) has been set up to make sure you are fully refreshed and don’t need to wander too far from your spot to get a drink.
It is weather dependent of course but the Outdoor pool will be open until the last weekend in September so there is plenty of time for you to get there and bask in the aged-old glamour of the place and you can access the pool every day (7:00am – 9:00pm) so you can really make the most of it. Kids are welcome too, plus a sand pit on the side so the littler ones can get stuck in there. The changing rooms do need some love and the pool is looking on the more retro-side, with a few missing tiles here and there, but it was still a picture-perfect way to spend your afternoon or weekend if you decide that you must really never leave.
Just to make sure that I gave you a fully-rounded view of all the facilities, I did indulge in a Champneys Head in the Clouds Massage (25 minutes). I am normally quite skeptical about shorter massages as my feeling is that once you have started to relax, the massage abruptly comes to an end and you are left on the bed begging for five more minutes…However this scalp, neck and shoulder massage by one of their male therapists did just the trick and who knew having someone tug on your ears (in a very controlled and experienced manner, I should add) could be so relaxing?
THE AFTERNOON TEA
If you are looking for a special destination for a birthday, baby shower or if no celebration is required and you just like cake, then consider booking a table at Eastwell Manor for its Afternoon Tea which has been designed by its Head Pastry Chef Hemant Chawla. My sister and I feasted on a selection of freshly cut mini sandwiches and savouries (homemade mini sausage rolls and traditional sandwiches with a contemporary twist such as ham with celeriac remoulade) as well as delicious pastries such as banana maple cake, sumptuous macarons with fresh fruit compote and cream patisserie or a refreshing posset with a touch of Kent lavender.
As you can well imagine, these were served alongside warm scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam that was made from a local producer. Plus, they have created items to suit a range of dietary requirements including diabetic, reduced sugar, gluten free or vegans so it’s a lovely touch that everyone is well catered for here.
If you are a tea expert, then you will like the fact that Eastwell Manor has recently partnered with tea company Exotic Routes to provide a variety of loose teas all certified by the Rainforest Alliance so you can choose from warming sweet-ginger peach, to soothing southern mint and Eastwell Manor’s own blend of English Breakfast Tea or you can just enjoy a glass (or more) of Gusbourne English Sparkling Wine which is what we did.
The Eastwell Manor Sparking English Tea is priced £29 per person (Monday to Friday) and £35 p/p at the weekend. A Champney’s Head in the Clouds Massage (25 mins) costs £49.
To use the Outdoor pool, you need to be staying overnight, on a spa day or a club member so it is best to call ahead to find the best package for you.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Girlie get-togethers, family bonding, alternative date day especially with the full range of outdoor pursuits and for the kids if you can’t shake them off!
Not for: The pool was glorious on the hot day and ticked a nostalgia box for me but might not appeal to those who fancy the more contemporary and slick design of a recently refurbished pool.
Eastwell Manor, Eastwell Court, Ashford TN25 4HR Tel: 01233 213000