When I knew that I had a long weekend free for the May Bank Holiday I was rattling my brain to think of how to spend it. In London, the options are endless whether you want to go out for bottomless brunch, recline on sun loungers in one of the many beautiful parks, have a few drinks on a rooftop bar, play crazy golf through wacky courses or take in the culture by visiting an array of museums, art galleries or tourist sites. I love my weekends in London.
I spent my Friday afternoon indulging on Afternoon Tea at May Fair Kitchen (read all about it here), before heading to Madison Rooftop in St. Paul’s for some drinks with my girlfriends.
However, instead of doing one of the many things that London has to offer for the rest of the weekend, I decided it was time for another escape out of the city.
I quite often spend time looking at hotels, spas, weekend breaks and flights online to see what other adventures there are out there and also to dream of luxury locations, infinity pools, incredible food, beaches and cities. So, once I had decided that I wanted to take G out of London for the Bank Holiday I thought that Secret Escapes was the best place to start.
They have everything to offer from a ‘UK Countryside Break under £99’, ‘Romantic Breaks’, ‘Boutique Hotels’, ‘Luxury Long-Haul Beach’, ‘Spa Breaks under £200’ and tonnes more – so whatever you fancy they have deals to suit all. I spent a considerable amount of time researching different hotels, looking into the offers and sorting them by location to finally decide upon a 4* Golf and Spa Hotel in Newbury called The Donnington Valley Hotel and Spa.
Donnington Valley is a privately-owned hotel set in a stunning parkland in Newbury. It is advertised as a place where you will receive genuine service, soft pillows and a warm welcome and that pretty much sums up our trip.
Check-in was from 2pm and after our rather hot train journey from London (I think temperatures reached 27°C!) we were relieved to receive our keys without any hassle from the attentive and friendly hotel staff at the front desk. First things first we went to drop our bags off in the room where we were welcomed by a spacious room with a stylish interior that really made use of the countryside-feel of the hotel and location. From our room we could see rolling fields and blue sky – reminding me of Yorkshire! It was an ideal set up for a peaceful spa retreat.
The room offered us free wifi, a flat screen TV and Egyptian cotton duvets. Complimentary chocolate truffles were another added bonus, as well as the huge bed that was just what we needed to relax and unwind.
There was no time to waste though and so I was quick to slip into my bikini, white fluffy dressing gown and slippers that were provided in the room, as I was ready for the spa!
Their spa facilities are set in a light uplifting space and I was too excited to know what to do first – the sauna? The steam room? Aroma room? Pool? Jacuzzi? Well, after we dipped into the pool we ordered some pool side snacks and a jug of Pimms. Sitting outside in the sunshine soaking up the fresh air, we ate arancini and houmous whilst enjoying our first Pimms of the year, just perfect!
After this we tried and tested all of the spa facilities and were feeling calm, refreshed and stress-free. Being the Bank Holiday meant that unfortunately we didn’t get the spa to ourselves and you had to be quick if you wanted a space in the Jacuzzi but it never felt too overcrowded as the spa was spread out with loungers by the pool and outside.
After spending a few hours at the spa we headed back to the room and spruced up for dinner. We put our feet up before heading down to the Bar where I chose my current favourite cocktail – Espresso Martini. We sat outside to make the most of the gorgeous weather and were able to catch up with each other about all sorts of things, which we are often too busy to do in London.
Dinner was served in the AA rosette award-winning Winepress Restaurant, which is contemporary with an informal atmosphere. G ordered pea veloute with a poached egg and potato waffle to start, and I enjoyed a smoked haddock and leek tartlet with salad. Then we both opted for the butter poached loin of beef with baked onion, mushroom ketchup, spinach and pea shoot salad and a bone marrow jus. The food tasted amazing and was the perfect portion size to leave you feeling satisfied but not painfully full (which for some reason usually is how I feel after eating beef out at restaurants!) To round off the evening we naughtily ordered a salted caramel banoffee pie – a 3 course dinner to perfect the day.
Morning came and we lay in to make the most of our time outside of London, the comfy bed and sunshine streaming through the windows. It was a gorgeous day and waking up in a spa hotel was what I had been dreaming of.
It wasn’t long until it was time for more food and we asked for a table outside to enjoy our breakfast. As you’d expect there was a variety of breakfast foods laid out on a buffet in the restaurant and I started with some yoghurt, granola, pumpkin seeds and a pastry, alongside a freshly made smoothie. I then had a small hot breakfast to set me up for the day – I knew I wouldn’t be eating for a while so thought I would fuel up!
It was sad to have to pack up our things after a 24 hour secret escape from London but it was a special way to celebrate the Bank Holiday and the start of summer. I would 100% recommend using Secret Escapes if you are wanting a weekend or night away, it was an easy and stress-free booking which is just what you need when planning time away. A few clicks of a button and you have secured yourself a deal that you won’t find elsewhere!
How did everyone else spend their bank holiday weekend? Leave a comment below!