Roaming Pheasants And A Library With Secret Doors: Is Europe's Largest Spa Hotel In Staffordshire Really All That?

If you logged into my Instagram, you’d find all kinds of folders: recipes, interiors, mental health tips, and my all-time favourite: travel inspiration. In a world where you sleep with your phone under your pillow and toxic productivity means less lie-ins and sparse sofa time, it’s important - at least to me - to find refuge with some time away. Scrolling through my lists of getaways where secluded cabins come with the requisite of locking all devices in a metal box and shepherd's huts come equipped with fire pits and bubbling hot tubs, a curveball in the shape of a Jacobean manor landed in my inbox that meant my next escape wasn’t derived from the depths of my phone. Que Hoar Cross Hall in Staffordshire; Europe’s largest spa retreat.

Hoar Cross Hotel Review | DesignMyNight

Hoar Cross Hall in all its natural beauty.

Hoar Cross Hall is less than two hours from London. Travelling from Euston, it wasn’t long before me and my boyfriend were off the tracks, tumbling through the countryside, moving further into the belly of Staffordshire. Rolling up the driveway, first impressions were focussed on the sheer scale of the red brick building. It’s a 19th century country mansion and in 2021 it underwent a refurbishment worth £14 million. With some modern touches in the Long Gallery - where you can cosy up by the fire with a cocktail in hand - and the hotel's Scandi-chic breakfast spot Henry’s, the interiors elsewhere stay true to the history of the estate, especially The Library, where you can drink and dine surrounded by worn spines of decades-old books. You’ll find original William Morris wallpaper in The Ballroom, mullioned windows on various floors and stained glass in The Chapel, which is the most unique private dining room I’ve stepped foot in.

Check in was the standard 3pm, giving us plenty of time to order a two-course lunch in The Ballroom before making our way to the spa. The presentation of the stilton and caramelised onion tart didn’t instill great confidence, but the gooey center and biscuity pastry put an end to my preconceptions. Across the table, the kiln smoked salmon which came on a bed of potato with baby capers and a free range egg salad wasn’t brilliant, but far from terrible. The Moroccan-spiced butterbean vegetable tagine with fluffy steamed couscous, however, was lively with flavours and chunky vegetables. My chicken in a brandy cream sauce, with woodland mushrooms, wild rice and tenderstem broccoli was a vision of healthy eating with tender meat, but the sauce was bland. Lunch wasn't on the money for me but things picked up at dinner.  

Hoar Cross Hotel Review In Staffordshire | DesignMyNight

The Library is a great spot to enjoy a cup of tea but it can be hired out exclusively if you fancy something private. 

The spa facilities at this award-winning hotel are state-of-the-art and when you leave, you’ll have a whole new appreciation for this form of leisure time. Meander your way through as much as you can because a one-night stay won’t see you scratch the surface. There are sensory showers, hydrotherapy pools, an ice and heat suite, a sauna, a large saltwater pool with a built-in cave, and whirlpools alongside a tranquil relaxation space. Before realising that we were brave enough to dip into the plunge pool several times, we spent an hour with one of the therapists for a relaxing full body massage. A combination of soothing music and skilled hands made 60 minutes seem like five.

Check-in ready, we stayed in our robes and headed to our Garden View room. It was nothing if not enormous. A large king bed with a firm mattress and a layered cake of pillows stood in the centre of the room, bay windows - looking out onto greenery and a tractor at work - were draped with royal blue curtains, and the impressive ceiling height played into the character of our historic stay. After a steaming hot shower and a quick rendezvous with the in-room Dyson hairdryer, we headed down the creaky mahogany staircase to The Ballroom for dinner. Instead of a sea of white robes, we looked out onto a glamorous crowd with attire worthy of a glitzy Saturday night.

Spa Hotel Review Hoar Cross | DesignMyNight

The spa facilities will make you fall in love with this form of leisure time.

Straight away, dinner was on a different level to lunch. Lights were dimmed and the ambience was turned up. Our every need was attended to as we worked through our starters - seared king scallops with Jerusalem artichoke, apple and sage and the purple potato and woodland mushroom croquette with pickled shimeji and black truffle emulsion, right through to mains and dessert. The chefs in the kitchen have a fish merchant based on the Devonshire coast that they speak to daily, which swayed me to order the market catch of the day: battered fish with chunky chips, pungent tartar sauce and garden peas. The batter of this classic dish was thick and wispy with a mammoth portion of flaky fish proportioned to every bite. My partner ordered the monkfish with red lentil dahl, rainbow chard, onion seed bhaji and mussel curry sauce. It got numerous nods as forkfuls disappeared from the plate. Too full for dessert, we finished our meal and were in bed before 10pm; a sign of both our age and just how comfortable our room was.

The DesignMyNight Digest 

Like many, l've fallen into the social media trap of wanting to visit 'pretty' places. You only need to glance at my Instagram saved section to see tiles of heavily edited albeit picturesque escapes. It’s my kryptonite and Hoar Cross Hall fit the bill to a tee. It lived up to my mental mood board with pheasants roaming wild in the grounds, a state-of-the-art spa experience, and a spacious bedroom with countryside views, but the history attached to the manor was the icing on the cake. The mirror hanging in The Library inspired one of the world's most famous children’s stories and if you look closely enough you could find several hidden doors there, too. All of this totted up to the ultimate reset from my zone one flat. What I didn't expect though was to leave truly refreshed. The facilities are best in class, the staff make you feel at home and time stretched like the long evenings outside: somehow, 24 hours felt like 48. Very much like my addiction to planning trips via Instagram, staying here again is nothing if inevitable. 

  💰 The damage: £738 for the Serenity Spa Day package that includes an overnight stay, meals, cocktails and a 60-minute treatment each.

  📍  The location: Maker Ln, Burton-on-Trent, DE13 8QS.

  👌 Perfect for: A romantic getaway with your partner or a girls' trip.

 ⭐ Need to know: Hoar Cross Hall is rumored to be building an outdoor pool similar to its sister hotel at Eden Hall and they almost always have deals or offers on their website.


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