Spa break review: Stoke Park in Stoke Poges
PUBLISHED: 15:20 30 January 2017
It's a tough life for photographer Maureen McLean as she lugs around equipment that seems to weigh a ton… so we sent her to Stoke Park
If you love a luxurious spa break in the countryside, then the magnificent Stoke Park Spa in Stoke Poges is just the place to banish January blues and keep those New Year Resolutions on the go.
Founded in 1908 and set in 300 acres, Stoke Park includes a stunning 27-hole Championship golf course, three restaurants, conference facilities, 13 tennis courts, an indoor swimming pool, spa and fitness studios.
And Stoke Park is no stranger to the big screen. It’s been the setting for a number of films over the years, including the James Bond classics Goldfinger and Tomorrow Never Dies. It has also been the setting for memorable scenes in Bridget Jones, Layer Cake, Wimbledon and Bride & Prejudice. Madonna and Cameron Diaz have also visited, where they have been filmed in scenes from Wallace Simpson and The Counselor.
Of course you can just visit for a few hours… but this is Stoke Park, so first choice, surely, must be at least an overnight stay. The Stoke Park Pavilion has 28 stunning modern and contemporary bedrooms or, if you prefer something a little more traditional and luxurious, you can stay in the Stoke Park Mansion. It has 21 beautiful bedrooms including some suites. I particularly love the Pennsylvania Suite that featured in the first Bridget Jones film when Hugh Grant and Renee Zellweger had their ‘mini break’ to the country. Stoke Park’s tip top service and facilities mean it is rated as a 5 AA Red Star Hotel and their Humphry’s fine dining restaurant has 3 AA Rosettes.
If you like watching tennis, Stoke Park host the Boodles each year. Here you can sip champagne and watch the crème de la crème of tennis stars such as Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
The Stoke Park Spa has beautiful planted spa gardens with outdoor summer seating/loungers and a recently installed outdoor hot tub that seats 16 people. It’s in use all year round and there’s an outdoor Scandinavian Sauna situated just nearby.
Off to the spa
Now, I’m not the sort of girl to turn down an assignment when the editor calls, and for once it wasn’t one of those where she sets off in the general direction of a village on one of our magical mystery tours. “How about you spending the day at Stoke Park Spa?” she asked. Well you clear the diary for that one.
Upon arrival I was greeted by Spa Operations Manager Anna and whisked into the changing facilities that are for the exclusive use of spa guests. As both spa and hotel guests are able to use the swimming pool, gym, studio classes and tennis courts, I decided to start the day with my annual trip to the gym! The gym has bang up to date equipment so I enjoyed watching TV on my own little screen whilst pedalling away on the static bike. The numerous classes include Body Combat, Body Pump, Pilates and Yoga, but you do need to book in advance so don’t miss out on any that particularly appeal.
For an additional fee you join in the Hot Yoga classes. The studio is heated by infrared, promoting better well-being and, of course, working up a bit of a sweat.
Next it was time for a swim in the gorgeous heated indoor 16m pool. It’s a real delight with a huge five-metre tropical aquarium and indoor steam rooms. At certain times of the day there may be an aqua class on or it is children’s splash time so just check with reception for the best swimming timings.
There’s a nail bar where you can get gel polish or a Jessica Manicure or Pedicure. A Reshape and Varnish for 25 minutes is £30-£40 depending upon the time of day. A Deluxe Pedicure is £60-70.
If that doesn’t keep you busy enough and you fancy a bit of retail therapy, there’s the spa boutique stocking a range of beauty products including Thalgo and Aromatherapy Associates as well as gym clothing. A teddy bear caught my eye – a lovely little present idea. There are also pop up shops in the spa from time to time in the boutique, including clothes, accessories and jewellery. The golf shop has an extensive collection of men and women’s golf equipment and clothing.
It was soon time for lunch in the Spa’s San Marco Restaurant so I opted for the totally delicious Oven Baked Cod topped with a Herb and Parmesan Crust with Saute potatoes and Saffron Sauce.
There’s an array of vegetarian, pasta, meat and fish dishes for diners such as Goat’s Cheese, Fig and Red Onion Marmalade Salad and Beetroot or Tagliatelle Arrabiata. Cooked by Stoke Park’s award winning Executive Chef Chris Wheeler and his team, the food at Stoke Park is first class. Celebrity Chef Chris featured on the BBC’s Great British Menu series during 2016 and Chris has recently been awarded the Chef of the Year in the Berkshire & Buckinghamshire Life Food & Drink Awards. He’s also just scooped another award of Hotel Cateys 2016 Hotel Chef of the Year (more than 250 covers).
There’s a beautiful upstairs Spa Garden Restaurant that overlooks the swimming pool and pretty spa gardens. If you want to have lunch in your fluffy spa dressing gown then this is the place to relax while eating. If you are staying overnight in the Pavilion you can pad around in your spa dressing gown and slippers and feel really relaxed. And, working with the Amethyst Trust, Stoke Park can now offer spa treatments for cancer patients.
The stunning spa atrium has recently been refurbished and I loved the new trendy pod seat. If you fancy a bit of ‘me time’ just curl up and read in these pods.
Having had a delicious lunch, a read of the papers and a decaf latte it was time for a Thalgo Skin Solution Facial. Ros, my lovely therapist, went through my skin concerns before we headed off to one of the 11 treatment rooms. Ros used a Thalgo treatment to suit my type of skin. It was a blissful 55 minutes and my skin was positively glowing afterwards. I then headed to the relaxation room and had a bit of a rest on one of the warm beds. Yes – just another hard day in the office!
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