After a pretty full on Easter weekend both me and Kieran said all we wanted was a spa day, and I think after having so long off work at Easter we both got too used to it and put a couple of days holiday in for the first May bank holiday as well. We had such an amazing time at Rockliffe Hall last summer for Kieran’s birthday, we both agreed that it was the place for us to go this time too. I do love to try new places, but when we looked on Facebook reviews, Rockliffe was the only one that didn’t have any negative ones. It is pretty special and I was excited to go back. I got one of their emails the week before, promoting a springtime mid week offer, so we took full advantage and booked up for the Thursday night, with experience and breakfast included.
By ‘experience’, I mean something extra, that you would usually have to pay a supplement for but they were offering them as an add on to the booking for this particular mid week deal. We went for the spa garden experience, which is two hours in the private spa area, with limited numbers and allocated time slots. We checked in just after lunch, and were shown to our room.
Wow! We were staying in a New Hall Junior Double, which is a step up from the standard doubles, but having stayed in an Old Hall double last time the difference was huge. It felt like a full on suite, it was honestly bigger than the flat I used to live in. With dark hard wood floors, the entrance corridor swept into a lounge area, with two big ‘poofy’ sofa loungers, set around a giant coffee table and facing the big flat screen on the wall.
There was a desk and a unit with a fridge and coffee making facilities, just behind it, and then the massive bed at the far end of the room. There was also a dining area, with table and four chairs, and so much space! It was really incredible.
The bathroom was a separate area, and to get to it you had to go through the dressing area, complete with dressing table, three angled mirrors, a big wardrobe with white robes and slippers. The bathroom itself had a marble bath with flat screen built in the wall, a double sink area and a big open shower. The toilet was a separate room again. I was so surprised, as it hadn’t cost that much more than the double we stayed in the last time.
Our spa garden experience was booked for 3:30pm, so once we’d ran around the room a few times, not really but we could have ran a marathon in there, we got changed into our robes and made our way down to the spa. The spa area is in the New Hall building, so we didn’t have far to go to the spa reception.
From there we were directed through the changing rooms and out into the main pool area. There were people relaxing in the loungers, dipping in the pool and the different types of saunas around the edges. Getting to the smoothie bar we were met by a member of staff, who ticked our names off the list and took us through to the spa garden.
He showed us round again, pointing out the complimentary refreshments we could help ourselves to, the relaxing loungers, the water fountain that doubles up as a fire pit in the evening, the heated, tiled spa beds to lie on looking out over the grounds, the glass fronted sauna, and the outdoor area complete with infinity hydro pool.
We went straight into the sauna as it was empty, and sat for as long we could enjoying the view out across the golf course. There were about four other couples in the spa garden, and most had found a spot in the infinity pool. One couple had a bottle of wine, which immediately made me want one, so we ordered it and went into the pool ourselves. You don’t need cash they just put it straight on your room. We stayed there for most of our spa garden time (two hours), enjoying the wine and the jacuzzi jets. Half way through, staff brought out little trays of frozen grapes for everyone too.
Back inside Kieran went back into the sauna and I plonked myself on one of the heated loungers and enjoyed the view (of the grounds, not of Kieran being a sweaty mess in the sauna!). The two hours came to an end too soon, so we made our way back inside the main spa area. There’s an outdoor jacuzzi but it looked pretty full, so instead we went inside to try all the different saunas and steam rooms through in the hydro pool area.
The main pool allows children, but only 16+ can go in to the hydro area. The hydro pool edge is separated into sections, with different jets and slopes to lie over. Next to the pool is a hot and cold foot bath experience, where you’re meant to go from one extreme to the other. The same was the case for the saunas and steam rooms. We first went in the steam room until it was so hot we had to get out, then went straight into the ice room next door, where you’re supposed to rub crushed ice all over your hot skin. It was the strangest experience, and I’ve got no idea of the threory behind it but it was fun trying out the different ones.
Getting ready for dinner that evening was great in my own little dressing room. Kieran has an annoying habit of wanting whichever mirror I’m in front of, but it wasn’t an issue with the giant ones all over the place here. There’s plugs everywhere too which any girl knows is a sign of a good hotel!
There are a few dinner options at Rockliffe. The Orangerie is famous for fine dining with an award winning chef and a price tag to match. The Brasserie is a lovely restaurant but not quite as formal as the Orangerie, the golf clubhouse is more casual again and provides more pub, British gastro food, and then of course there is room service. I think room service is often discounted but with the full on table and chairs in the dining area of our room I honestly would consider it another time. It would be nice if you were staying over after one of their evening spa experiences.
We went for the Brasserie, we ate there last time too and it was lovely. It was busy, but the service was still excellent and we were given a booth. The menu is big, with a lot of choice and an especially big selection of meat and fish. Kieran went for soup to start and I ordered the mussels. Both were delicious, and I mopped up the rest of the creamy white wine sauce with the bread too.
For mains Kieran had the cod fillet wrapped in palma ham, and I had the pork. This is a really strange choice for me as I actually don’t really like it much, but after this I’ve realised every time I’ve had pork in the past it’s been completely overcooked. This was juicy and really delicious with the apple sauce, and beautifully presented. So to every other chef/restaurant that has ever made pork for me, you did it wrong!
Last summer we went for a walk around the gardens after dinner as it was so sunny, and the England match was on so Kieran made me watch it in the club house. This time though I wanted to go to the cocktail bar. The bar, lounge, and the drawing room are in the other older end of the hotel next to the Orangerie so we walked along. I do love that side of the hotel, despite being older it’s got a lot of character and is so beautiful with old archways and a big staircase.
The bar was very luxurious, with big soft seats and chandeliers. I ordered a mojito and Kieran got a gin based cocktail. We sat and enjoyed them while listening to a group of very posh women discussing their life troubles and husbands affairs!
We woke up very refreshed after an amazing night sleep in the most comfortable bed in the world. It rivalled the Sofitel beds in Paris and the Malmaison beds which are also pretty special in my opinion. Breakfast was included in the stay, so we got ready and went down to the Orangerie where it is served. It’s such a beautiful setting, like a conservatory with tall pillars and a glass roof. Our table was right by the window overlooking the gardens.
There’s a continental buffet including fruit, pastries and cereal in the middle of the room, fresh tea, coffee and orange juice are brought to you, and you can order from the cooked menu as well. I had a full English last time and was so full I pretty much waddled along the country walk we went on after breakfast, so I tried the pancakes with syrup this time instead. They were so good!
We ordered a rack of toast as well, mainly because I love marmalade from the little pots you get in hotels, it reminds me of the home made marmalade my little nana used to make. Over breakfast we deliberated staying another night, as it’s so amazing and relaxing.
You feel like you’ve been away for ages at that place, and despite being pretty posh it’s very homely and you don’t feel out of place. We decided against it only because we would have had to get up early to be back the following day which might have ruined it a bit. It was definitely our room that made us consider it though, it wasn’t a standard hotel room by any means.
Instead we had a walk around the grounds in the sun before we had to check out. If you want to go further afield the hotel will give you some walk options and bottles of water.
Overall I couldn’t fault our stay. If I was rich I can see myself escaping to Rockliffe Hall every weekend. It’s not cheap, which is what makes it so nice when you are able to go, and it’s definitely worth signing up to their email lists as they frequently send around their latest deals which are genuinely good offers and savings compared to standard prices. The food is phenomenal and the spa area is pure indulgence, it’s worth every penny.
Some other spa break posts in the North East: