Situated in the historic county of Durham - reputed to have been Henry VIII’s hunting lodge (portraits of his many wives line a corridor wall) – you’ll find the Manor House Hotel & Spa. Beautiful stone walls, original wood beams and sloping roofs come as standard. The ongoing refurb brings a fresh modern twist: our room (15) had light neutral decor, a feature headboard and a giant beaded chandelier.
You’ll find the spa in a building adjoining the hotel. Enter through the grey archway and check-in at reception. Up a flight of stairs you’ll find the changing rooms, indoor pool, thermal facilities, relaxation room and four treatments rooms. Those wishing to work up a sweat can begin their cardio on the second set of stairs leading up to the gym.
Shall we spa?
The spa reception is large with arched floor-to-ceiling windows, more of those characterful beams and a wooden check-in desk with four hanging pendent lights. A tempting display of Temple Spa products fills one wall. We received a warm welcome and were invited to take a seat to fill out consultation forms; our robe and towel bundle (bring your own flip-flops) were neatly folded on the chair.
You’ll find the ladies changing rooms up the stairs up from reception on the left. The neutral décor is modern with a wall of wooden lockers – operated by a key on a (not so modern) safety pin – and a white leather seating area by which to change. The vanity area has a trio of white leather stalls and a large silver mirror; hairdryers and straighteners; Temple Spa products are on hand for post-spa preening. You’ll find two private changing cubicles, two loos and two rainforest showers complete with Temple spa shampoo, conditioner and body wash, too. With no costume spinner, you’ll have to take your wet cossie home in a plastic bag.
Exit the changing rooms and take a left to reach the heated 14-metre swimming pool with its full-width screen at one end displaying a beautiful beach sunset or a crackling fire. At the other end, you’ll find a bubbly Jacuzzi, a sauna for four and a super-hot steam room with eight white moulded seats. Cool off in the large shower in the middle.
Next get horizontal in the conservatory relaxation room on one of the 10 grey rattan loungers to enjoy your complimentary fruit smoothie and selection of pastries. On sunny days, a door from here leads to some outdoor seating.
At the end of the pool, you’ll find a door to the heavenly-scented pre- and post-treatment room; this calm space has pale wood floors, white walls and four comfy armchairs.
We tried a Manor House Spa Ritual treatment (50 minutes, £89).
My therapist, Shell, met me in the relaxation area and led me to a low-lit treatment room decorated in neutrals and bronze. She then invited me to sit on a chair and talked me through the treatment, asking about any areas of concerns (dehydrated skin and knotted shoulders), before leaving the room so that I could get comfy on the treatment bed, lying face down.
The treatment began with a foot ritual, followed by dry body brushing each side of my body from leg to back. Three inhalations of a head-clearing, eucalyptus-scented Breath for Life marked the start of the back massage. Using heated Work it Out Muscle-tox muscle oil, Shell set to work on my tense shoulders. Checking the pressure (firm, please), she eased out my tight muscles with long strokes before using elbows and forearms to seek out the deep knots. She finished the massage with a slick of Templespa AAAHHH! Cooling Balm to ease any post-massage aches.
Turning onto my back, Shell commenced the facial element with a double cleanse; the sonic wave brush vibrated on my face to penetrate and brighten the skin. After a tone, Shell applied a Temple Spa Breakfast Smoothie exfoliator/mask combo in preparation for a facial massage working out the tension in my jaw and focusing on pressure points.
After a dab of eye and lip cream, and the application of Double Cream Hydrating Moisturiser, Shell completed a soothing head massage. The treatment ended with a spritz of Quietude Chill Out Mist. Shell led me back to the waiting room and handed me a glass of water.
The Manor House Hotel & Spa offers a wide range of facials and body treatments using Temple Spa products.
How did it measure up?
The treatment was a lovely mix of massage and facial, leaving us feeling truly soothed; our faces looked glow-y and plumped.
Spot of lunch?
Our spa package includes a two-course lunch in the light-flooded, orangery-style Manor restaurant; a mix of teal velvet and brown leather studded chairs, wood flooring and one wall of French doors overlooking the private garden.
We feasted on exceedingly more-ish Korean Fried Chicken with Gochujang sauce, sesame seeds and picked vegetables to start, followed by a grilled (crispy skin-on - yum) Chicken Caeser Salad. My spa partner merrily tucked into a handmade Manor House Burger with tomato chutney and skinny fries.
Got all day?
Make a night of it and stay in one of the gorgeous newly refurbished bedrooms. Dark rooms begone - expect pale wood beams, comfy beds and rainforest showers.
Short on time?
Book the R&R Morning: the perfect amount of time to toast in the sauna, swim laps in the pool and enjoy a 50-minute treatment. A two-course lunch rounds things off nicely.