Seaham Hall is a restored white Georgian manor house set high on the cliffs above the Durham Coast. The interior seamlessly blends original features with contemporary touches; the setting dramatic - in 37 acres of rustic countryside with wonderful views out to sea.
Shall we spa?
Yes, please. Day guests can park in the Serenity Spa’s own car park and head straight into the spa itself. Overnight guests enter through the hotel entrance and then take the underground walkway where water gently bubbles over pebbles and purple uplighters guide the way. Circle round the large elephant sculpture and go up the stairs to the spa reception: a beautiful light and bright area with large rectangular strip windows, dark wood flooring and plenty of comfortable seating. Pink cherry blossom hangs serenely from the ceiling.
The 20-metre pool takes centre stage; it's large enough to swim a good number of lengths. The far end is circular with a metal ‘S’ in the middle linking to the Feng Shui design of the spa. The thermal area is bright and welcoming with foot spas and a circular hydro pool with its powerful jets and warm, silky water. Next saunter between the Eucalyptus steam room, salt sauna, Asian herbal saunarium and a hammam with snail showers and a warm, bubbly Jacuzzi; cool off in the ice fountain or one of two cold plunge pools.
We tried the Ishga Five Senses Ritual in partnership with Swell (90 mins, plus 30 minutes in the Swell Room, £205).
My therapist, Rianne, met me in the Zen Lounge and led me up the stairs to an expansive treatment room decorated in pale greys, blues and dark woods.
Rianne invited me to sit on a chair so that she could talk me through the treatment before commencing a footbath, scrubbing my feet and lower legs with Isgha Herbidean Sea Salt Scrub. Once dried off, she asked me to choose between two oils: I opted for the Ishga Invigorating Body Oil with its signature scent of lavender, rose geranium, lemongrass and juniper.
Rianne left the room so I could de-robe and get comfortable on the heated treatment bed, lying face down. She returned and placed a bowl of seaweed in hot water and oil beneath the treatment bed and asked me to take three deep breaths.
Rianne switched on the Swell soundtrack: forget your standard spa music, this soundscape experience has been created by Sound Therapist and DJ, Brian D’Souza of Swell to take you on a journey into consciousness and promote deep relaxation.
The treatment commenced with a back scrub, using firm strokes before wiping off with a hot cloth. For the hot stone massage, Rianne began by working out the tension in my neck and shoulders before moving onto my lower back, which felt incredibly soothing. Asking me to turn over, she re-positioned the treatment bed in preparation for the facial.
Rianne treated my skin to a double cleanse and tone before applying an Exfoliating Face Mask, scented with rose and geranium oil, which she removed with warm mitts. A nourishing oil was then applied to aid a slow, circular facial massage. A regenerating serum, a rejuvenating eye balm and a dollop of ishga’s new Hydra+ Marine Cream was followed by cold stone eye therapy using sea glass from Seaham Beach.
The treatment concluded with a heavenly hot oil scalp massage. I floated out of the treatment room with softer, rejuvenated skin – feeling zen-like.
Rianne then led me to the Swell Room – complete with two vibroacoustic loungers, immersive spatial sound and a large ocean scene as the backdrop. She covered me with a cosy blanket and popped headphones over my ears. Using different frequencies, the Hebridean-inspired sounds combine field recordings, music composition and sound therapy to lower the heartbeat and induce ultimate relaxation; the synchronised vibrations soothe on a whole other level.
How did it measure up?
I woke, from what felt like a very deep sleep to a gentle tap on the shoulder; I was so deeply relaxed that the 30 minutes passed in a flash.
Glancing over at my (usually) highly-strung spa partner, it obviously did the trick (she looked utterly relaxed). Whatever this wizardry is, it worked a treat.
A post-treatment fruity water, small dish of popcorn and tangy mango sorbet hit the spot.
Spot of lunch?
You can eat lunch in your robe in Ozone, an Asian restaurant in the centre of the spa that slopes down to a bar area. Décor is striking with bold use of black and red; ambient house music sets the scene. You can choose to sit inside or outside on the terrace.
If you are booked on a spa day, a two-course lunch is included. We chose finger-licking Indonesian marinated chicken with peanut dipping sauce, and king prawn skewers with lemongrass, ginger and chilli. We followed this with a delicious and spicy Szechuan beef stir fry with rice and a vibrant Thai yellow curry. A glass of Sauvignon Blanc proved to be the perfect match.
Got all day?
Book a spa break. There’s a lot of spa here to enjoy: play in the thermal suite, catch up in the infinity-edge hyrdopool, feast in the Asian-inspired restaurant (don’t miss the Mango margaritas) and get those pinkies pampered in the super-glam OPI & Taittinger Champagne Nail Bar. Once you’ve had your spa fix, retreat in your robe to a Seaview suite where you may see dolphins frolicking in the North Sea while you tuck into your breakfast.
Short on time?
Book the Ishga Five Senses Ritual for two whole hours of utter sensory bliss. You won’t regret it.