Who went: Katy Cameron, 34, and her mother, Bernice, who are mum and grandma to Sebastian, 3, and Arthur, 5
Where we went: New Hall, a fabulous medieval manor house, complete with moat, turned luxury hotel and spa on the outskirts of Birmingham
Life had been pretty hectic of late, what with going back to work full time and deciding to run my first ever half marathon, so the prospect of a relaxing spa break with just my lovely mum to keep me company was one I was relishing. Thankfully my husband, realising I was in dire need of some R&R, agreed to step in to the childcare fold. After all, it was only for one night. What could possibly go wrong? (Well, quite a lot actually, if returning to a house that looked like a bomb site is anything to go by, but that’s another story)!
Our train journey from London Euston to Birmingham New Street passed uneventfully enough with mum filling me in on all the family gossip, and in a little under two hours we were clambering in to the back of a taxi for the eight mile ride to New Hall. As I began to give the driver the address he told me he didn’t need it. Evidently the hotel is extremely well known around these parts, being considered one of the finest the area has to offer. As we drove up the sweeping driveway and caught our first glimpse of the magnificent building that is New Hall, complete with crenulations and keep, surrounded by the most stunning gardens and moat, we could certainly see why. Dappled autumn sunlight added to the fairy tale-like feel of the place, as did the covered drawbridge across the moat (awash with lily pads) that we had to cross over to enter. Once inside we were enthusiastically greeted by the receptionist, but his attempts to engage us in conversation were somewhat hampered by the fact that we were so distracted by the spectacular interior. All oak panelling, huge fireplaces and mullioned windows bearing the crests of long forgotten families who once resided at New Hall, it felt as if we had stepped back in time. But upon being shown to our room by the genial porter, it was obvious we had returned to the 21st century as it contained every conceivable mod con, from huge flat screen TV to a state of the art coffee maker, while the bed was big enough to accommodate Henry VIII and all six oh his wives. Bliss! Meanwhile mum was marvelling at the view from our window on to the elegant gardens and rolling countryside below that makes up the property (26 acres in total).
Having not eaten since our early breakfast and with the sun still shining, we decided to venture downstairs to the terrace for a drink and a bite to eat. A lovely, friendly waitress with a suitable Birmingham brogue showed us to a table that looked out over the lush, green lawn and carefully manicured trees and bushes. Two glasses of rosé served to add to the wonderful ambience, which took on a slightly surreal turn when I spotted a certain Ms Kylie Minogue out of the corner of my eye. Yes, that’s right, everybody’s favourite Aussie chanteuse was based at New Hall for a series of concerts she was due to perform in the area. Ex-soap stars aside, mum and me had our lunch to contend with – a delicious prawn salad for her and a bowl of wonderfully creamy celeriac soup and homemade bread rolls for me. Yum!
We’d booked ourselves in at the spa for some pampering treatments after lunch, so we returned to our rooms to don the obligatory fluffy white dressing gowns and slippers for the short stroll across the garden to the sympathetically designed new building that houses the spa, swimming pool and gym. I was whisked off for a full body massage (my tired, aching muscles rejoiced at the firm pressure that was applied, while my mind drifted off into a state of blissed out oblivion). Mum meanwhile had requested a classic manicure and pedicure, and with her combined treatments taking nearly an hour longer than mine, I decided to pay the swimming pool a visit where I completely zoned out doing laps before retiring to the Jacuzzi.
That evening we were to dine at the elegant Terrace Restaurant where we perused the menu in the bar area while enjoying a refreshing glass of Champagne. We were then shown to our table where our starters awaited – a smoked salmon and prawn roulade for me and halloumi and quails egg salad for mum, both of which were utterly delicious, as evidenced by our quickly cleaned plates. Next up was my beautifully presented pulled pork shoulder with spiced pineapple, broad beans and crispy potato while mum’s choice of pan-fried fillet of trout looked equally as impressive. Again, neither dish could be faulted. A shared plate of local cheeses and biscuits completed our meal. That night as we lay, somewhat stuffed, on the huge bed watching a movie, the idea of a full cooked breakfast the next morning couldn’t have been further from our minds. That said, when it did arrive at our door (we had decided to have breakfast in bed) covered in huge silver cloches, we soon found ourselves tucking in. It was the perfectly indulgent end to a wonderfully relaxing stay!
Hand Picked Hotels is offering Autumn Heritage Breaks from £165 per night at New Hall Hotel until 14th December 2014. This price includes a three-course dinner with a glass of wine along with accommodation in a Classic double room and breakfast the next morning based on two sharing. For more details visit handpickedhotels.co.uk or call 0845 458 0901