While it’s always nice to receive a gift under the tree from your other half come Christmas Day, sometimes it’s better to share in an experience or getaway together that adds to those all-important memories.
Personally, and particularly at this chiller time of year, I love nothing more than escaping to a cosy UK retreat for rest, relaxation and pure indulgence – you know the type that involves sitting next to a roaring log fire with a glass of fizz in hand!
Well, if this is your idea of pressie heaven too then you might want to start dropping some rather large hints to your significant other about a beautiful luxury North East hotel that we had the pleasure of visiting recently – the details of which we are sharing with you on the blog today.
Sat within ten acres of private estate in rural Northumberland, Doxford Hall, is a perfect example of quintessentially British hotel, complete with historic charm, grand yet homely interiors and the politest of staff. So, when we were invited to pay this 200-year-old country mansion a visit to experience its hospitality, culinary offering and spa (oh how we love a spa!) Julia and I snapped it up quicker than Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You re-entering the charts come 1st December!
Visiting on a crisp autumnal day, the warm and welcoming ambience of Doxford Hall wrapped around us like a gentle hug – and this was just upon entering the reception area. After a few squiggles on dotted lines we were given a brief tour of the hotel, absorbing its beauty and character on every turn, before being shown to our rooms, both of which were spacious with fitting décor and furnishings, plus beautiful bathrooms with Molton Brown toiletries as standard.
Following our two-hour journey up to the North East we kicked off our indulgent overnight stay with lunch in the lounge area: a hearty bowl of soup with freshly-made bread and a glass of champagne (don’t be too quick to judge the soup and champagne combo, it works – trust us!).
Pleasantly full we weaved our way through the hotel to Doxford’s Aqueous spa, which has recently introduced holistic spa brand, Ytsara as its new supplier of products and treatments, both of which we were eager to try!
More than just spa range, Ytsara is said to deliver a lifestyle philosophy, embracing more than skin-deep beauty and is aimed at those who identify with the need to disengage from fast life – after a hectic year of wedding shows across the north, both Julia and I were certainly ready for that! And so, ready to rid myself of a few niggling aches and slip into that slower paced way of life – even just for 24 hours – I opted for the Garden of Calm Massage while Julia rehydrated her complexion with the Skin Drink Facial.
As a full body experience, my therapist worked her magic on my back, legs, arms, shoulders and neck, with the sweetest smelling of oils which left me feeling more supple and relaxed than Mr Soft himself (apologies to any of our younger readers that may not get that retro ad reference!)
Julia meanwhile confessed to intermittently nodding off during her treatment as she was taken to a new level of calm while her therapist used Ytsara’s 100% natural, vegan products to replenish and plump her skin while restoring the skin’s barrier to prevent water loss and protect against external assailants.
To extend this dreamy state of relaxation we took advantage of the spa’s other facilities, taking a dip in the pool and soak in the bubbling jacuzzi before a detoxifying stint in the sauna and steam room.
With half- and full-day spa options and breaks available, Doxford isn’t necessarily just a retreat for romantic getaways, but brides-to-be in need of some ‘me time’ could head here for pre-wedding prep and time out or even make a sophisticated hen do of it my inviting your #girlsquad or mum along to join you!
After shower and change back in our rooms, we settled upon a comfortable sofa in Doxford’s stunning Morning Room with more fizz ahead of our evening meal. This was three beautifully presented and exquisite tasting courses served in the hotel’s George Runciman Restaurant, which bears 2 AA rosettes awarded for the highest standards in cuisine and service.
To start I had wild mushroom velouté while Julia went with a fitting seasonal option of duck liver, smoked bacon and pistachio parfait. The fresh, locally sourced ingredients shone through and delivered on flavour and texture – as they did in the courses that followed too. Next, we enjoyed mains of pan seared cod steak with pickled cockles, spiced cauliflower puree and tempura battered sweet potato, and pan roasted chicken with smoked garlic pomme puree, heirloom carrots and English Parma ham chard. Though adequately full at this point we just couldn’t resist dessert and so finished by sharing a raspberry mille feuille with white chocolate, crème patisserie and coconut meringue – and it was every bit as delicious as it sounds (those of you awaiting your lunch break #sorrynotsorry!)
Following a restful night in Doxford’s tranquil surroundings we were still pretty full but managed to make our way through breakfast of beautiful homemade porridge and fresh poached eggs on toast before (reluctantly) departing.
And so hopefully you can see why we highly recommend a visit to this spectacular gem of a North East venue that, as I say, can cater for pre- and post-wedding getaways, as well as some chill time with the girls! Furthermore, if you’re still on the hunt for a setting for your big day, Doxford may be just the answer. Ideal for those who crave a fine, traditional wedding with an edge of modern elegance, the Hall has all the beauty and charm, both inside and out, to wow your guests whilst offering luxurious on-site accommodation, wonderful spa facilities, friendly and knowledgeable event staff award-winning cuisine. What more could you possibly want?
Doxford Hall suggests
If we’ve whet your appetite for a dreamy escape to Doxford Hall, there is a range of fabulous packages and breaks to fulfil every blissed-out-bride (and groom’s) needs…
For the girls
Hen Party Relaxation Spa Day, from £40 per person. The perfect way to spend quality time with friends and family relaxing before the big day, this package includes a 25-minute treatment, use of the leisure facilities and a cream tea.
For the guys
Groom & Best Man Spa Day, from £119 per person. It’s not just the bride who wants to look good on the big day. The ideal way for a groom and best man to unwind and prepare for the wedding, this package includes a Full Body Pink Himalayan Salt Scrub, Smooth Soles treatment, hand and cuticle tidy with hand and arm massage, use of the leisure facilities and a one-course lunch.
For the happy couple
Couples Retreat, from £105 per couple. After the pressure of organising your memorable wedding day, its time to take some time out as newlyweds. This package includes a 55-minute Garden of Deep Calm Full Body Massage in Doxford’s duo treatment room, use of the leisure facilities and a one-course lunch.
Spa images by Lee John Mann Photography