Where do I start? My obsession with the sea, keeping fit and beautiful food combined…heaven.
We arrived at Watergate Bay just in time for lunch and we sat overlooking miles of creamy yellow sand and breaking waves in the bright and contemporary Living Space.
Built in 1904, the owners have kept the old school charm, combined with an attention to detail and service that is rare.
The hotel is all about active relaxation – getting outdoors, trying something new, tiring yourself out, and then heading back to the hotel and relax in comfort with a good pool, treatments, friends, family, all teamed up with good food and drink.
That is exactly what we did. My treatments at the Spa were not booked until 5pm so we decided to wrap up warm and literally skipped to the beach below. We’d missed the snow from the day before; however the fresh breeze was a welcome break from the previous week’s work load and lack of sun light.
The two-mile stretch of sand and coastal paths provide the perfect playground for an active break, Active breaks at Watergate Bay are designed to give you the opportunity to learn something new and develop your technique from experts in their field. There’s Surf, Swim, Fitness and Yoga.
As it was only 4 degrees I put the Surf lessons on the back burner (this in hindsight I wish I hadn’t done as after talking to Carl who took our spin class…That’s another story though).
5pm rolled on far too quickly after a brisk walk and a chilled swim (you cannot help but perch overlooking the beach in the swimming pool) and my all over body massage was booked in with the lovely Laura.
Laura fortunately was not scared of exerting any kind of pressure and she also pin pointed where I’ve been lifting heavy weights and undid a few knots.
45 minutes of bliss later and on to my next favourite subject…Food
We’d booked a table in Zacry’s and three courses later; impeccably presented by friendly, laid back staff, we were full and content.
And the dessert O.M.G…
The following morning followed by the most amazing breakfast (cook your own waffles anyone?) I had the pleasure of spending some time with Carl from the Extreme academy. A spin class (oh yes, with a triathlete) with a difference and coffee later.
The Beach Hut and lunch was amazing, two courses of freshly made food, in a laid back atmosphere, literally on the beach. The views unlocked day dreams of sunny days ahead.
The big difference with Watergate Bay Hotel is they don’t do the standard hotel gym/spa/bla bla bla . It’s refreshing and high end without the corporate feel.
In fact I’m planning my next visit…
Appealing to all your senses….. THE GAINSBOROUGH
Originally built in the 1800s, The Gainsborough Bath Spa, named after the artist Sir Thomas Gainsborough, occupies two Grade II Listed buildings in the heart of Bath offering luxury accommodation, dining and spa.
Based in the historic spa town of Bath; The Gainsborough Hotel & Spa opened three years ago in July. It is a former, Hospital, an admiral Head quarters in World War II and most recently an art college. Occupying a classical central building from the 1820s, the 99 bedroom hotel (three of the rooms actually have the naturally warm Thermae direct to their bathrooms) combines its Georgian character with muted tones of soft greys and beige marble accented with an almost art deco via smoked glass and fretwork accents.
The hallways display modern artworks as a respectful nod to its previous occupiers with fresh flowers on consoles in elegant tall vases. From the moment you step into the lobby to the time you leave the service is faultless. Matthew, the gentleman who greeted us, gave us a historical overview as he showed us to our room. The staff are knowledgeable, engaging and warm; a true reflection in my opinion of the Hotel Manager Brian and his pride in the team, which elevate your stay whatever the occasion.
Our room had a grey blue colour scheme, teamed with glossy black furniture that provides a neutral backdrop for the pretty pastoral scenes draped over the bedheads. The extra long curtains frame the windows that overlook the creamy yellow bath stone houses and shops, creating a warm glow as we sat on our beds sipping champagne planning the afternoon ahead.
We padded through the marble corridor to the lift that took us direct to the spa in our fluffy white robes and slippers. Our afternoon started in the Spa Village, treatments begin with a cleansing combination of fermented fruit juices at the aroma bar that tasted like a cloudy fizzy apple juice, whilst the therapist created a bespoke blend of oils for us, as we chose combinations that would reflect the outcome of what we would like, ie relaxed or energised.
After a full body massage with the bespoke oils created for me, which was rather a refreshing change as someone who attempts to follow an olympic lifting program; it was thorough and loosened some rather tight muscles. After treatments we spent some time in the spa. Crowned by a glass roof atrium, there are three thermal pools, an infra red sauna, traditional sauna, steam room and ice room.
Memorable touches included the cardamom spiced hot chocolate and the fact that you can only sometimes have access to the thermal pools if you have booked a treatment means it preserves a sense of calm; on this occasion we were the only two people in there. Bliss.
What is so appealing and is part of the experience from the minute you step into the hotel, sit on the edge of your bed, walk through the halls, is the fact that the hotel appeals to your senses. There is a wonderful warm spicy aroma that lingers throughout, it is like a comforting addition to the calm and warmth in the building.
The bespoke feel continued to pre-dinner drinks in the Bar. We sipped on gin based cocktails created by the barman after chatting about our likes and dislikes.
Brian the General Manager kindly spent some time with us and we chatted about everything from the ethos of the company to the award winning 3 AA rosette restaurant headed by Dan Moon using contemporary locally sourced food which we were about to eat.
The six memorable courses of the tasting menu were presented perfectly by Veronica and the wines that complimented each plate were introduced by Atilla. This is clearly his passion as he explains the pairing of the food to the wine and the balance throughout. We started supper at 7pm, three hours later; sleepy and content after beautiful food we retired to our stunning room with a pillow menu and lavender spray to aid our sleep under crisp white cotton covers.
Waking to blue skies the following morning we skipped the gym, which is however, very well equipped with technogym equipment, in favour of a hearty breakfast. Breakfast was a choice of buffet or the menu (or both), a large selection of freshly squeezed juices added to the pastries, croissants and smoked salmon. We ordered a full English and avocado on toast with eggs, both cooked to perfection.
On our departure, the staff carried our bags to the car and as they waved to us as we left, we both agreed that we could have spent at least a week more there . . .
The Gainsborough Bath Spa
Beau Street, Bath
THE LYGON ARMS
Situated in the picturesque village of Broadway, the Lygon Arms has roots dating as far back as the 1300s.
As we pulled up to the coaching inn, very little gave us a clue to the contemporary luxury that was behind the doors. The standard hotel reception set up is replaced by free standing antique desks in a warming panelled room leading into a beautiful bar. Greeted with friendly staff and home made fudge as we booked into our room.
Richard burton and Elizabeth Taylor have stayed here, as well as Prince Philip and many other dignitaries and royals.
The staff are on hand to park cars, guide you to your room and advise on local attractions. Facilities include a beautiful courtyard terrace, that twinkles with fairy lights at night, a private, panelled dining room where Cromwell stayed the night before the battle of Worcester and our favourite part of the hotel; The Spa.
We had booked treatments for later in the afternoon and took the opportunity to relax in our room with champagne and home made truffles before we wandered across the courtyard to have our facial and massage.
The 86 bedrooms are stylishly comfy, all a comforting mix of contemporary meets classic with muted tartan bedheads and warm colours. Many are in the main building; additionally there are 13 large courtyard rooms, six rooms in adjoining cottages and 31 in two modern wings.
We stayed in a courtyard room, one could describe it as a large suite rather than room if I was honest. Spacious and airy ( rather different to the main building in some ways) with the same touches, however the glass panelled doors swathed with semi-transparent white drapes lent a soft light to the sitting area and sumptuous beds.
The dove grey walls complimented the warm mahogany furniture, stepping into the bathroom was an absolute treat, maintaining the palest grey walls, the mosaic floors were a wonderful setting for an oversized bath tub, sparkling chrome and a separate walk in shower behind a sheet glass wall.
The towels and the bathrobes are wonderfully soft and thick, once we’d wrapped ourselves in them and sipped champagne for a little bit on ever so soft overstuffed sofas, we tip toed the short walk (next door in our case) to the spa.
The arched entrance was framed with vines that created a doorway into a clean and modern softly lit reception area.
H had a full body massage and I had an anti aging facial with Oskia products (I couldn’t possibly say how many they used) My facial was an hour of absolute bliss, topped off with the scalp massage that dreams are made of.
We then sat by the pool crowned with a glass ceiling and balcony that led to a roof top terrace via another stunning bar.
With the recent makeover, the food and drink offering has become considerably more relaxed. There are two new bars, and two restaurants. We ate in the main restaurant is a large, handsome room with a stuccoed barrel ceiling, ; a brasserie feel has been created with banquettes and marble-topped tables, to provide a rich back drop of peacock blues and burnished gold. The highlight of the room however is the picture wall, this features over 30 of the hotel’s painting, providing an explosion of colour as high as the ceiling.
At the far end of the dining room , The Lygon Arms have created the most beautiful cocktail bar, that has a 1930s feel to it whilst carrying the blue tones through from the dining room.
We were spoilt with wonderful cocktails to start, Edmond the gentleman that served us suggested a local Gloucester Rose wine called Three Choirs to compliment our dinner . Our three courses of food was lovely, albeit the dessert course of sticky toffee pudding and my absolute favourite; bakewell tart, accompanied by a side of croissant ice cream was a perfect end to the meal.
I have to admit though; breakfast, served in the main restaurant again absolutely stole the show. A gorgeous buffet spread of pastries, drop scones, cheeses, charcuterie, stewed fruits and more, with cooked dishes to order such as avocado with poached eggs (or in my case scrambled, just the way I like them on locally baked sourdough bread).
Presented below the picture wall, this could quite easily be the best breakfast I have encountered in a very long time. Being the willing volunteers we ordered breakfast from the menu as well as sampling the buffet. H succumbed to the full English whilst I had the scrambled eggs and avocado on sour dough.
Sadly our stay did not end in the country walk that we had hoped for due to a downpour of rain, however another visit to the spa would have been definitely on the cards…
Visit www.lygonarmshotel.co.uk for more information