November 30th, 2017 | Rachel Parry
After a hugely busy but absolutely EPIC season of our autumn wedding fairs, we we’re in need of some serious downtime come mid-November. Not only to recover from organising and running more than 20 luxury shows across the north of the country in the latter part of the year, but also to come down from high of them being so well-received and attended by fabulous suppliers and lots of lovely brides-and-grooms-to-be. Big love to all!
And so, an invitation to Cheshire-based spa hotel Mottram Hall, couldn’t have come at a better time; this was one Blissed Out Bride visit we were well and truly going to benefit from.
Nestled amongst peaceful parkland, the stunning hotel is the perfect retreat for those craving a large dose of R&R. And it has something to tempt all – couples, guys and girls – with an 18-hole championship standard golf course, luxurious spa, champagne bar and AA Rosette restaurant all on site. So, you can eat, drink, be merry and sleep (which is exactly what we planned to do).
Arriving at lunchtime, our spa package began with a light lunch accompanied with a glass of fizz, setting the tone for the rest of our stay. Once fed and watered (or prosseco-ed!) we headed straight for the spa – like I say, this was one trip we were more than ready for!
A step, leap and stride in front of many ‘spa hotels’ Mottram Hall’s facilities are award-winning, having been bestowed a 5* Bubble Rating by the Good Spa Guide and named ‘Best Country Retreat Spa’ at the Good Spa Guide’s 2017 Regional Awards.
This comes as no surprise really, when in addition to the usual facilities one would expect to find at such a resort, Mottram also boasts the UK’s first Alfresco ThermoSpace. We were super keen to try out all the facilities for ourselves, even if it did mean venturing outside in our swimwear on a chilly November day!
After a quick dip and laze around the indoor swimming pool and hydropool, we wrapped up in our robes and headed outdoors to the ThermoSpace, which is said to incorporate traditional spa therapies with the great outdoors. And we must say, it’s a winning combination!
Experiencing both the Brechelbath and Stonebath, both designed to relax and raise the body’s temperature, we felt wonderfully calm, cocooned in the warmth while enjoying views of the idyllic gardens through floor-to-ceiling glazing.
Next, the outdoor hydrotherapy pool. Just as it was getting dark this was the perfect place for a good catch-up in the open air surrounded by bubbling water as we reflected on the amazing season of wedding fairs and discussed how to raise the bar even higher for our spring 2018 shows (the line-up for which, you can view here).
To complete our spa time, we indulged in a treatment. With the cooler weather playing havoc with my skin I opted for a personalised facial, while Julia was intrigued by the sound of the ESPA Signature Floatation Treatment.
I was led to a softly-lit treatment room where my lovely therapist explained the procedure, which including running a SkinVision lamp across my face to identify needs not visible to the naked eye so that she could tailor the facial to perfectly suit my requirements. Responding to areas of both oiliness and dehydration, she used balancing products that would address both, leaving me with soft, glowing skin.
Julia’s treatment meanwhile was carried out on a ‘floatation bed’ in one of the Alfresco ThermoSpace rooms. The personalised treatment began with a full body polish, followed by a body wrap and relaxing scalp massage. The water-type bed upped the relaxation and Julia admitted slipping into a light sleep during certain parts of the treatment, and emerged with radiant skin, from top to toe!
November 24th, 2017 | Julia Braime
Behind the scenes here at Brides Up North HQ, things are pretty busy! We’re already working a year ahead to bring you almost 40 sensational (and each unique and different!) bespoke bridal shows for 2018 and work has started in earnest on Issue 09 of our gorgeous bi-annual glossy magazine, UNVEILED, out in March. Add an impending site relaunch (yes (!), watch this space), a brand spanking new digital platform for UNVEILED (launching next week people!) and all the juggle that comes with being a mummy of two littles away from the office, and this editor was seriously in need of some R&R.
So, when the lovely people at Seaham Hall in Country Durham waved an overnight spa stay for two my way, I grabbed the husband, set the out of office and used up some babysitting credits. It was time to test out Seaham’s offering to make sure that you lovely Brides Up North stay blissed out in the run up to your big day and beyond.
Now, this place is incredible and some. Recently awarded the Conde Nast Johansens UK Readers’ Award 2017 (and from the facilities and service you can see why) this coastal gem is full of charm.
Pre-stay, the hotel’s website had boasted that, ‘set within 37 acres of delightful gardens in a stunning cliff top location overlooking the sea and the coast of the Durham Heritage Coastline, Seaham Hall is a beautiful Georgian Mansion ideally located in Durham for a luxurious overnight retreat’. They weren’t wrong.
On the menu for us was a stay in one of Seaham Hall’s beautiful suites, decorated artfully in shades of grey, teal and a zingy yellow – with enough wallpapers, cushions and objets d’art to keep this interiors magpie very happy indeed; a spa day for two (is it a bit cringy to read your own magazine by the pool? Maybe, but I don’t care!) with some delightful treatments thrown in; pre-dinner mojitos delivered to our suite (nice touch!) and a fine dining dinner in Byron’s Restaurant, followed by the best night’s sleep that I’d had in a long, long time.
Byron’s Restaurant has recently been awarded a 1st in the Taste Durham Awards, recognising the hotel’s hard work towards supporting and championing local producers and suppliers. My husband and I shared the Chateaubriand, and can vouch for its flavour, freshness and presentation. And although we didn’t try it ourselves, the dishes served in the venue’s Pan-Asian Restaurant ‘The Ozone’ located within the Serenity Spa looked absolutely delightful.
Now onto that spa. As well as a fully equipped gym (which I didn’t try out – my bad!) the sensational Serenity Spa boasts a 20 metre pool with massage stations; hamman with snail showers and jacuzzi, Asian herbal samarium, salt sauna, Indian steam chamber, hydrotherapy pool, ice fountain, plunge pools and my favourite bit – outdoor hot tubs.
The hubby and I spent a glorious few hours trying out the various heat experiences, bubbling in the hot tubs and relaxing poolside, before it was time for our treatments.
The Serenity Spa offers unique and bespoke holistic treatment rituals from Asia that deliver luxurious, indulgent experiences. Their therapists are chosen not only for their ability but their intuition to your individual needs and the treatments tailored specifically to you. Just lovely!
To aid my too-much-screen-time and sugar skin, I chose a Sunari Prescriptive Facial, which promised to reawaken and rejuvenate my skin with a holistic techinque customised for my skin’s specific needs. Naturally active ingredients were custom blended for intensive exfoliation and renewal; and Seaham Hall’s signature MarMassage (pressure point stimulation) completed the experience, for newly radiant skin. I was glowing!
The hubby meanwhile was treated to a Serenity Signature Massage, a full body massage which unlocks tension and induces a sense of relaxation, wellness and inner calm.
I’d wholeheartedly recommend Seaham Hall for a pre-wedding break to bliss out with the girls or reconnect with your hubby to be amid the planning madness. This would also be the ideal spot for a “just because” romantic break (we are all about those here at Brides Up North HQ!) or a really delightful minimoon.
And if you’ve fallen as much in love as we have here at Brides Up North, why not really commit? Seaham Hall also plays host to a number of luxury weddings a year. Offering exclusive use weddings and ceremonies, a wedding at Seaham Hall would truly be an occasion to remember.
For more information visit www.seaham-hall.co.uk
November 15th, 2017 | Rachel Parry
We’ve been out on the road again all in the name of research to share with you our experiences of the North’s finest hotels, getaway retreats and spas, providing inspiration for pre- and post-wedding relaxation, and sometimes also a setting for the big day itself!
Cue our recent visit to Matfen Hall – a stunning stately home set in 300 acres of lush parkland in the Northumbrian countryside. The award-winning Hall houses fabulous function spaces, accommodation and spa and leisure facilities, making it an option for sophisticated hen dos, romantic getaways, such as a minimoon, plus a dream wedding venue too.
All images by Sean Elliott Photography.
Ahead of a super-exciting wedding refurbishment at Matfen, we were invited to view the current celebration spaces and to see what’s in store to take this already gorgeous venue to the next level. And my word, are couples saying ‘I do’ to Matfen in for a treat! Keen not to give away too much at this stage, we will be following up with a Dream Venue post soon that will detail the stylish refurbish plans in more depth.
Furthermore, on Sunday 4th March 2018, we will be holding a Luxury Wedding Fair at Matfen to reveal the results of the quarter-of-a-million-pound-refurbishment programme first-hand – so be sure to mark the date in your diaries!
But for today’s post, we return to our visit. During our blissful overnight stay, we experienced Matfen’s warm and welcoming hospitality, making use of its leisure facilities, restaurant and accommodation.
We began as any busy business ladies should, with a trip to the spa! Hotel guests can enjoy access to such facilities or there are a number of full and half-day ‘Escape’ packages to choose from, comprising different treatments, food and drink, so ladies (and gents) can pick which best suits their needs and wishes.
There is a 16-metre swimming pool and spa pool, plus thermal suites including an aromatherapy room, steam room, sauna, ice cold bucket shower, monsoon shower and ice fountain. We worked our way round, prioritising the warmer options, to relax and revive weary muscles, before indulging in a little chill time around the pool.
Matfen’s treatment choices cover off facial, body and massage therapies for men and women, as well as ‘Finishing Touch’ treatments such as nails, waxing and tinting.
Feeling in need of a radiance boost part-way through our autumn season of wedding fairs, we both opted for the Skin Specific Facial. Having been led to quiet, candle-lit treatment rooms, our knowledgeable therapists took time to enquire about our skin concerns before tailoring our facials to help combat such issues using heavenly Elemis products. We both emerged with hydrated, glowing complexions and super-soft skin (if only we could indulge one of these treatments every week!).
Leaving the spa feeling super-relaxed, it was time to freshen up (and wake-up!) before dinner. We were staying in one of Matfen’s stunning Principal Rooms in the original part of the Hall, that was spacious, comfortable and boasted gorgeous views of the garden.
May 24th, 2017 | Rachel Parry
We’ve been out on the road again discovering some of the north’s finest wedding venues to help inspire and inform you on the wonderful choices of settings that are out there for your big day celebrations.
For our latest research, I travelled to one of my very favourite UK cities, York – and more specifically its beautiful Principal York hotel.
You may well have walked past this stunning venue numerous times not realising the beauty that lays within its grand walls – I know I’m certainly guilty of doing so! For the hotel is ideally located next to York Train Station, putting a big tick in the guest accessibility box, but in turn this means I’ve previously been concentrating too much on navigating my way into the city centre and so have overlooked this gem of a wedding venue that’s laid right before my eyes!
But an overnight stay there just before Easter has put this venue well and truly on the map for me. During our visit, myself and my boyfriend Andy got to experience its wonderful hospitality, accommodation and food and drink as well as viewing its desirable function spaces, which are perfect for an uber chic city wedding.
Catering for up to 250 wedding guests and fully licensed for civil ceremonies, The Principal can host weddings of all sizes and preferences with helpful and experienced staff, amazing food and drink and truly stunning spaces as standard!
And even if you’ve already sorted your wedding venue, I urge you to read on – as this is certainly an ideal retreat for a relaxing and indulgent city break, pre-or post-wedding!
Arriving at the Grade II listed hotel for our stay, the first thing to strike me was the hotel’s perfectly manicured gardens and views out over to the York Minster – though in the bustle of the historic city, a feeling of calm instantly washed over me as we stepped into the lobby.
The interior of the hotel is nothing short of wow-worthy too, with late-Victorian features including beautifully decorative high ceilings, ornate wood panelling and towering pillars, complemented by elegant and modern furnishings, such as opulent mirrors, chandeliers and soft furnishings. Seriously this place is like Pinterest interior heaven!
Following a warm welcome, we were directed to our Deluxe Room with gorgeous views of the gardens. The high-level of interior design continues into the accommodation with the hotel’s 155 bedrooms beautifully refurbished as part of a multi-million pound investment in The Principal, resulting in a classic and comfortable stay. As an added extra we’d been left a little hamper of Yorkshire treats in our room including tea bags, chutney, sweet delights and even a quirky tea towel and bottle of wine!
As we’re in the process of moving house we were keen to enjoying being away from boxes and packing tape, and so headed straight to the bar for a prosecco and pint (bubbles were for me, of course).
The hotel’s Chapter House bar has also benefitted from the investment refurb and has a warm speakeasy vibe about it, decorated in sumptuous deep tones with high tables, leather booths and waiters donning braces and bowties. Next time you’re in York call be sure to call in for one of their signature cocktails.
After watching the world go by and inhaling several drinks (we blame the moving stress) we were shown through to the Refectory Kitchen & Terrace for our evening meal. The dining area has a lovely light and airy feel about it, with exposed brick walls, glass ceiling and botanical details.
We ordered bread, olives and a smooth bottle of Italian red while we browsed the menu and tried to narrow down the delicious-sounding options from ‘Rectory Favourites’ to those ‘From the Grill’ and seasonal dishes too.
I decided on the spiced Yorkshire lamp rump served with sweet and sour relish, capers, potato fondant and a red wine sauce, while Andy went for an 8oz sirloin steak with all the trimmings. Both dishes were presented beautifully, portions were ample without being over-facing and both meats were cooked to perfection. The different tastes and flavours on my plate were A* standard and the triple cooked chips served up with the steak may just have stolen the show!
Though rather full from the richness of the food and wine, we couldn’t resist a dessert to share and so asked the waiter for a recommendation – “the pannacotta is something else” – and he wasn’t wrong! The silky buttermilk pannacotta was accompanied by raspberry jelly and mini doughnuts (yes, doughnuts!) – all together it felt like a high-class take on ice cream and jelly, and who wouldn’t like that?!
Full almost to the brim, we moved into the serene lounge area to finish our wine before retiring for the evening to one of the comfiest beds I’ve ever slept in.
May 4th, 2017 | Rachel Parry
The month of May is one of our very favourites here at Brides Up North HQ, not only as it tends to signal the start of warmer weather, but it’s also when our incredible festival wedding fairs take place across the north of the country. These super cool events are like no other as we create outdoor wedding wonderlands with huge sailcloth tents, tipis and yurts filled with wildly creative wedding suppliers, plus street food vendors, pop-up bars, live bands and so much more. The tour starts this Sunday 7th May with our glorious WEDSTOCK’17 at Stockeld Park, Yorkshire, and from there we will be heading to Ormesby Hall in Middlesbrough on Sunday 14th May, and Capesthorne Hall in Cheshire on Sunday 21st May, to give all you brides-to-be a piece of the fabulous festival action.
Another reason we favour May is for its bank holidays (who doesn’t love a bonus day off?!) and so with such a busy time on the horizon, we were sure to make the first long weekend of the month a relaxing one by heading off for an overnight spa break at the stunning Hoar Cross Hall.
Such getaways not only enable us to signpost you in the direction of the very best retreats for pre/post wedding pampering and luxurious hen do locations, but it also gives us chance to discuss exciting ideas for the blog, and boy do we have amazing plans in the pipeline! But more about that to follow soon, for now let us fill you in on our heavenly stay at this Grade II stately home where total relaxation comes as standard!
Situated in breath-takingly beautiful Staffordshire countryside, the chilled-out vibes start on your approach to the Hall and only deepen once over its threshold. Its impressive entrance and bar lounge area combine period style and modern luxury perfectly and make for a very warm welcome. Arriving early evening and keen to start the pampering from the off, we began with a glass of bubbles in the bar before heading to our room to freshen up before dinner.
Each of Hoar Cross Hall’s 96 bedrooms are individually designed in keeping with the stately surrounds and offer comfort and class, which resulted in a very restful night’s sleep for the two of us in our adjoining rooms.
Dinner was served in the Hall’s grand restaurant with calming views over the perfectly manicured gardens. Having selected a bottle of rose (well, it is getting on for summer!) we scanned over the varied choice of dishes and made our selection. We enjoyed starters of salmon two ways and chicken liver parfait before going onto mains of roast chicken and spinach and ricotta cannelloni. Something light to finish we thought, and so opted for the fruit platter and ice cream. The food at Hoar Cross is presented beautifully and tastes as good as it looks, while staff are attentive in making sure everything is to your liking.
With relaxation top of the agenda, we decided on an early night and early start to make the most of the Hall’s fabulous spa facilities.
Following an ample breakfast of granola followed by poached eggs, we took the elevator down to the lower ground where the hugely spacious spa is concealed, much like a well kept secret. And what a gem it is, with numerous tranquil pools and soothing water therapies to explore and experience.
Fellow spa visitors included groups of ladies as well as couples, making a Hoar Cross Hall getaway a perfect option for an indulgent hen do with the girls, some pre-wedding pampering with family or friends, plus a relaxing minimoon retreat to recharge the batteries ahead of jetting off on the main honeymoon.
There are various day and overnight packages to choose from, with meals included, and the option of treatments for head-to-toe relaxation.
The spa boasts two beautiful pools; a saltwater vitality pool, complete with jet massage pools, two luxury whirlpools and a starlit cave, plus a hydrotherapy pool with gentle currents and body massage jets.
There are also a number of heat, ice and massage experiences to detox and revitalise the body by stimulating different senses. These include sensory showers and aqua massage therapies as well as an aspen wood sauna, aroma room and ice temple.
And as if that’s not enough, there are lots of beautifully snug spaces to relax both poolside and within designated relaxation lounges, whether you choose to curl up with a good book or get a little extra shut-eye.
January 12th, 2017 | Rachel Parry
Those of you that follow me on Instagram may well have noticed that it was my 30th birthday in December as I stretched out the celebrations across three weeks, no less! As well as nights out with family and friends and a fabulous trip to Copenhagen organised by my wonderful boyfriend Andy, I was also invited to top it all off with an overnight spa break at Moddershall Oaks in rural Staffordshire. Just want the doctor ordered after copious amounts of birthday booze and dancing!
Located in 72 acres of picturesque woodland and grounds, Moddershall Oaks houses an award-winning, fine dining restaurant and is also a stunning wedding venue with options for both indoor and outdoor ceremonies and celebrations. As part of the wedding venue hire package, couples marrying at Moddershall are treated to a complimentary one-night mini-moon break with overnight accommodation in its Master Bedroom, complete with four-poster bed and spa bath, plus full use of the spa’s facilities.
The spa’s “Girly Night In” package also offers the perfect chilled-out hen do, whilst its Snug can be hired for the morning of the wedding for the bridal party to enjoy being pampered and preened from top to toe whilst sipping on champagne. Sounds perfect, right? Which is why were so keen to experience Moddershall Oaks’ spa facilities for ourselves.
As I was on annual leave, my mum accompanied me on this Blissed Out Bride visit, and given what a wonderful time we had, I would certainly also highly recommend Moddershall Oaks as the perfect place for some quality mother/daughter time.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by the spa’s super friendly staff and given a quick tour of the facilities before being shown to our room. We were staying in one of the venue’s ten luxury suites with gorgeous Moroccan-style décor and use of the outdoor hot tub.
With fabulous-looking facilities both indoor and out to explore, we were quick to change into our robes and indulge in some serious relaxation!
First up, perhaps the main attraction and also Moddershall’s latest addition, the outdoor spa courtyard, including relaxation lounge, spa deli, heated vitality spa pool and kelo sauna. We braved the cold December temperatures shedding our robes and hopping straight into the warm spa pool with welcoming bubbling jets. You could easily idle away hours in this gorgeous open-air spot with views of the surrounding countryside. There isn’t even the need to get out for a drink, as attentive waiting staff are on hand to gab that glass of fizz for you – utter heaven? We thought so!
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