Review: Spa Stay
How to best nourish the soul and stomach at this time of year? Dinner, Bed & Breakfast at Eastwell Manor of course! Sitting pretty in the middle of Kent this Champneys Hotel & Spa makes a perfect destination for an overnight escape.
Having worked out that it had been, oh, at least six full months since Mr Muddy and I had escaped just for one single night without kids we came up with one of our best ideas ever. A night away at the end of that first full week back in the office / school routine in January (remember what a killer that was?).
And as I pealed my eyes open in the pitch black mornings and yawned my way through that first looooong working week of 2020 what a difference it made having something to look forward to.
We headed to Eastwell Manor that’s part of the Champneys Hotel & Spa group as I’d been keen to review the Dinner, Bed & Breakfast experience for a while. For Kent folk it makes a great option for a Spa Day experience or if you only have one or two nights. We didn’t want to travel far – maximising down time, not drive time.
Eastwell Manor is perfectly positioned – sitting pretty much smack bang in the middle of the county, so not too far to travel whether you’re East or West Kent. Near Ashford – it’s located 5 miles from Ashford International station – which means it’s just 40 minutes from London.
You arrive via a long tree-lined drive, at the end of which the Neo-Elizabethan manor house slides into view, surrounded by beautiful landscaped gardens.
Located in acres of lush countryside Champneys Eastwell Manor makes you instantly feel calm the moment you arrive in its tranquil setting. Having been acquired by Champneys a couple of years back the spa was redeveloped first – and then the stay experience, including the addition of new accommodation options (see below).
Eastwell Manor Spa is split into two main buildings. The old manor house, pictured above, where guests can stay over night and then the more modern, purpose-built spa building (pictured below), 100 metres down a path where the treatments take place.
Inside it’s very much what I’ve come to expect from the Champneys brand. With clean, marble minimalism amongst a bright and airy atmosphere it is a modern take on a country style spa.
There’s a swimming pool, steam room, sauna, jacuzzi and hydrotherapy pool with different showers in it and places to sit however, the hydrotherapy pool did feel a little cold (is that normal?). There’s also a fitness gym, tennis courts and 9 hole golf course. Note to all – it also has an Outdoor Pool (with bar can I just add!) that’s perfect for those scorching summer days (just sayin’).
You’ll also find a varied exercise class timetable – from Yoga and Sleep classes to help you relax to Body Combat and Spinning classes to tone and boost your cardio levels.
There is a real focus not just on relaxation but also healthy living and well being – all reflected in the spa restaurant, if you’re eating lunch here (pictured below). This is where you’ll eat on a Day Spa experience and not surprisingly there’s lots of healthy food options on the menu (which are still seriously delicious) and anyway up at the manor house there are many cosy corners where you can indulge in a cup of tea and slice of cake or fine dining at the restaurant if you’re staying later.
But what, I hear you holler, about the best bit? Ahhh, the treatments of course. Well they offer an impressively large range of them (11 different kids of facials and 17 different massage options at last count) to choose from.
There’s pregnancy treatments, body and manicures, men’s treatments too… I went for the Champneys 50 Minute Massage – which was totally personalised to your aches and pains and very, very good (thank you Zoe).
Oh the joys of wafting about in a fluffy robe, floating in a bubbly pool and enjoying the power of a good full body massage are not to be under-estimated.
There are a number of accommodation offers. Fancy the new and stylish Eastwell Mews Suites? Pictured above, they’re a row of terraced houses converted from original Victorian stables and comprising of 39 en suite bedrooms. Or the luxury Shepherd’s Huts? Eastwell Mews Suites sit in the grounds between the spa and main house and offer a good price point.
You’ll pay a bit more to sleep inside the manor house. But again there’s a wide selection of choice – Classic Manor Rooms, Superior Rooms or Luxe Rooms, Deluxe Suites – all luxurious with exceptionally comfortable beds and decor all in keeping with an English country house hotel. Think antique furniture, wood panelling and stone fireplaces.
The Deluxe Suites are named the Hugo de Montford suite or Earl of Northumberland – this is the bridal suite so perfect for romantic couples, but if you have kids in tow it can be opened up to children’s bunkbed in an adjoining room as an option.
These rooms make a gorgeous decadent option for a special occasion (definitely doesn’t just have to be your wedding – although this place is really popular for weddings, so you’ll want to book ahead!!) Both have extended space as well as brilliant views of the gardens and rolling countryside.
In the Manor House there’s lots of pockets of space – comfy sofas to sit by the fire, a bar, restaurant or relaxed Afternoon Tea area.
And outside in the stunning gardens (pictured above) there’s golf, garden games and tennis. Also, if you’re after something a bit different they also offer guests a hands-on flying experience, with the help of the resident falconer, you’ll learn about the skills of falconry, the care of the birds and how to fly them amidst some of Kent’s most spectacular scenery.
And after nourishing my soul at the spa (well, getting some zzzzz) it was time to nourish the Muddy stomach, so we headed to the Brasserie at The Manor, but not before a quick Eastwell Sour at the bar, pictured below, (very nice it was too, thank you for asking).
Mr Muddy ate the Fillet of English Rose Beef (£32) and I opted for the Home-made Linguini (£19) with King Prawns (takes the price up to £26). For pudding we shared a Textures of Chocolate (Passion fruit, amaretto cherries, praline, cardamom and pistachio). The food was really delicious. The atmosphere was very hotel-like, if you know what I mean, not particularly cosy, but definitely relaxed and friendly nevertheless.
If I was to nit-pick I’d say that at a big hotel spa you get luxury and anonymity but you arguably don’t get the personal touch of a small boutique spa. We did the classic and forgot our toothpaste – we asked for some pretty much as soon as we arrived (you know the little tubes you get) and never received any before leaving the next day.
Music was blaring out the radio at breakfast (not very Zen), I left my necklace in the spa gown (doh). In my defence apparently it happens more than you’d think and it took a while to work out the process of how I might get it back. But thanks to Sammy in House Keeping who found it for me and posted it back – indeed a lot of the staff we encountered were really attentive. None of these things bothered me – but our reviews are always honest, so mentioning just in case you are an absolute stickler for the details.
Bed & Breakfast
3pm Arrival | Overnight accommodation | Hot breakfast | Limited use of the spa daily between 7am – 10am & 5pm – 9pm | Depart 11am.
Prices: Shepherd’s Huts £179; Mews Suites £279; Mews Standard £119; Classic Manor Room £159; Superior Manor Room £179; Luxe Manor Room £219 or Deluxe Manor Room £269.
Dinner Bed & Breakfast
3pm Arrival | Overnight accommodation | £50 per person credit towards a la carte dinner | Hot breakfast | Limited use of the spa daily between 7am – 10am & 5pm – 9pm | Depart 11am.
Prices from £254 per room.
THE MUDDY VERDICT
Good for: Girlie get-togethers, getting away for the night with the other half, day treat with your sister/mum, a birthday celebration. Perfect location for day spa destination or overnighter without having to travel great distances.
Not for: Those that like things really small and intimate with every attention to detail – this is a smart spa and a great escape, but it’s big rather than particularly boutique.
Eastwell Manor, Eastwell Court, Ashford TN25 4HR Tel: 01233 213000, eastwellmanor.co.uk