Living in a large city can be terribly heavy and toxic. You’re keeping up with the fast pace of everyone around you, constantly exposed to pollution and trapped in the habit of – well, not switching off as much as you should.
Countryside escapes are very much a necessity; to be thrown out of your usual routine, surrounded by greenery, the ocean, fewer sightings of Starbucks and a little less phone signal (in some cases).
I would usually be one to head to the south coast but when I was invited to come and stay at two lovely hotels in the North of England for a needed wellbeing getaway I jumped at the chance. My +1 was my beautiful Pillow Chats counterpart, Georgie – a PT / Blogger and all time lovely friend who takes great pictures!
Our first stop was at Middlethorpe Hall in York.
A Georgian period building set within 20 acres of land, it has lived its days a home, a night club and most recently a “quintessentially” English hotel that you can reach it in just 2.5 hours from London.
The hotel is known to accommodate the Royals (Duke of York), famous Equestrians and “toffs” (quoted by our taxi driver) over the races and throughout the year. You can stay in the main house or the courtyard, where we were put up. Our suite was comfortable and extremely cosy, overlooking the beautiful green countryside and a little of their orchard where you can pick your own apples and pears, take a stroll – or in our case take a lot of pictures.
On arrival we hurried to make full use of the little spa. Situated across the lane in a little cottage, we enjoyed a treatment each, the sauna, steam room, pool and Neom organic skincare (a favourite of mine). I haven’t had a spa treatment for so long and it was wonderful! We took a stroll before dinner in their garden, making full use of the beautiful Autumn evening sun (which can be a rarity in England, lets be honest).
Our dinner was served in the main house dining rooms and the food was absolutely divine. The chefs, led by Ashley Binder work closely with local suppliers and the hotel’s gardening team to ensure the menu is fresh and seasonal – something that I totally believe in. They also accommodated our dairy free requests superbly! We had specially selected hors d’oeuvres followed by a seasonal beetroot salad then cod with greens and a tomato essence.
We had a much-needed restful night and woke up to a sunny York – yay. Starting with a tasty breakfast of homemade granola, fresh fruit and free-range eggs we had a little spa session before making our way into the City centre for a mission around. Neither of us had ever been to York before and we didn’t quite have enough time to properly experience what the City had to offer, so I apologise for the lack of detail on this part.
After a fleeting tea back at Middlethorpe with sunlight beaming through the large bay windows of the lounge we made a quick 10 minute taxi ride to the station and caught our train to destination number 2 – Durham.
Durham was that little bit colder, windier and nearer the sea. Booked into Seaham Hall, a quick 30 minute drive from the station, the hotel was a world apart from Middlethorpe but as wonderful for other reasons. Seemingly large and modern but only home to 21 bedrooms, each a special and very individual luxury style suite.
Ours was very spacious and equipped with all the power outlets that 2 avid bloggers could want, along with 2 sinks, a bath, shower, Nespresso machine (not in the shower) and very flattering mirrors. What more could a girl ask for?
The hotel has two restaurants, one relaxed and serving an Asian cuisine and the other, Byron, offering a more formal dining experience. We had supper at Byron and again, the food was exquisite. They lovingly catered to our dairy free requests and even printed off special menus!
We shared a starter salad with cured smoked salmon and freshly baked sourdough bread before our mains of sea bream and roasted vegetables.
Before leaving you I must take a moment to make a comment about the spa, which was perhaps our most cherished experience while staying at Seaham Hall. The space itself is a hidden gem, reached through heading along a long Asian style, very atmospheric tunnel. They have everything you could want to try, and that we did – from the pool to the two styles of Sauna (our favourite), steam room, plunge pools and hot tub. I had a very effective top to toe treatment with my therapist who had magic hands.
We could not have been better looked after or could have asked for more and I shall definitely be returning, to both destinations.