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The Spread Eagle Weekend Retreat: Child-free break

A soothing stay in West Sussex is just the ticket for a tired twosome

Posted: 20 July 2015
by Catherine Hudson

The Spread Eagle Hotel
Queen's Suite
Splash in the Spa
Trying the local cuisine
Exploring Cowdray Ruins

WHO WENT Rebecca Winters, 29, from Maidenhead, and husband Stuart, 31, parents to Paul, 4 and twins Sophia and Grace, 2

WHERE WE WENT The Spread Eagle Hotel & Spa in Midhurst, West Sussex


We were more than delighted to drop our brood of "terrible twos" and overactive preschool off at their grandparents and escape to scenic West Sussex. A friend recommended The Spread Eagle and it seemed perfect for us, especially considering it's close location.


Set in the quaint market town of Midhurst, The Spread Eagle is one of the oldest coaching inns still in existence in the UK, dating back to 1430. The hotel is quaint and Tudor in style, filled with curiosities and antiques, comfortable leather chairs, ancient oak beams and leaded-light windows. I’m always hinting that Stuart should treat me more like a queen, so I was delighted to find out we would be staying in the Queen's Suite, which previously accommodated none other than Queen Elizabeth I in 1591. It really was a room fit for royalty with a stunning carved four-poster bed, sitting room, a luxurious bathroom and a tiny powder room where Queen Liz must have kept her wigs and white face paint. There was so much history to soak up I spent the first few hours exploring and examining the framed photos, letters and artifacts scattered everywhere. 


The spa is on the opposite end of historical scale in terms of its contemporary look and design. We had a splash about in their indoor heated pool, then headed to the Jacuzzi spa, followed by the sauna and steam rooms. Stuart had plumped for a full body massage, while I went for their signature treatment The Mediterranean Float, which encompassed a facial and a full body scrub. Both of us were pampered from head to toe and we emerged from the spa practically glowing with happiness.


The restaurant was incredibly warm and inviting, lit by candles and with a lovely roaring open fireplace at one end. Excited to try the locally sourced farm produce, I plumped for the Roast South Downs Partridge, while Stuart went for the indulgent Twice Baked Olde Sussex Cheddar Cheese Soufflé. We’re not big drinkers, so we were delighted to see that we could share a half bottle of Chateau Gachon, Montagne-Saint-Emilion wine. The maître-d was wonderfully attentive and incredibly funny – we really enjoyed someone making a fuss of us for once!


As the weather was so nice, we took the opportunity to have a morning ramble up to the magnificent ruins of Cowdray, a historic Tudor House in the heart of the South Downs National Park. After working up quite an appetite we shared a relaxed breakfast in the sunshine-filled conservatory. Stuart and I both had scrambled eggs with thick slices of the freshest smoked salmon we’ve ever tasted. It was so delicious I was tempted to order a second helping, but instead I helped myself to some fresh fruit and pastries from the breakfast buffet.


Stays at The Spread Eagle Hotel & Spa are from £119 per room per night, based on two sharing a Standard Room, mid-week, on a B&B basis. Spa treatments are from £42. To find out more or book, visit or call 01730 816911.

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powered room, heated pool, Jacuzzi, sauna, steam rooms, full body, massage, The Mediterranean Float, Roast South Downs Partridge, wine, Soufflé, ruins, Cowdray, Tudor house, south downs national park, smoked damon, eggs, Spread Eagle, spa, midhurst, west, sussex, history, 1430, coaching, Tudor, queen's quite, Queen Elizabeth I, 1591, wigs, face paint

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