While the morning of my birthday was occupied by the excitement of my first helicopter lesson, the afternoon was all about relaxation as we headed to Fawsley Hall Hotel and Spa in Northamptonshire for an overnight stay. The hotel is at the bottom of an idyllic winding country road where it feels as though there isn’t a soul for miles around. I stopped the car in the middle of the road to take this photo; the countryside looked glorious on what felt like the first day of spring.
This is the main entrance to the hotel – an imposing porch with benches flanking the front door.
Just inside the porch, they even have a storage area for muddy wellies – not that we needed it on this occasion.
We were led up a steep flight of stairs to our room, which was on a corridor with characterful old wooden beams in the wall.
Our room was spacious and light, with high ceilings and the most enormous bed. There are much grander rooms here, but maybe we’ll save those for when we’re feeling flush!
We are Gold members of Hand Picked Hotels on account of the fact that we got married at one of their hotels. It’s a status that comes with various perks including a complimentary room upgrade, free fruit, free morning newspaper and a free drink each (up to the value of £8 each). There was even a birthday card for me from the staff, which was a thoughtful touch!
This was the view from our bedroom and bathroom windows, looking out over Capability Brown’s landscaped grounds. It was so lovely to look out from the bed and see woodpeckers and woodpigeons pottering around in that mighty tree.
After we’d left our luggage in our room, we set out to explore the hotel. This is undoubtedly the most impressive part of the hotel, the Great Hall. Apparently Henry VIII and Elizabeth I are among the monarchs to have stayed here, and in this room in particular it’s not hard to imagine what it might have been like in their day.
There are lots of nice comfy sofas where you can relax and imbibe the Tudor atmosphere, chaperoned by an array of Elizabethan portraiture.
Outside, there are lovely views towards this little church. We didn’t get time to go and see it (if you even can – I’m not sure), but it certainly makes the view more interesting.
I really liked the metal fencing, which looked original to me.
There are formal gardens around the back of the hotel, which I’d imagine would be lovely in the summer for sitting outside with a glass of Pimms.
It’s quite hard to understand the layout of the main hotel building, because there are so many different sections added at different times. To my mind, this is a good thing because it adds character to a building.
We spent the rest of the afternoon in the spa, which is in another building a few steps from the main hotel. There’s a nice big pool, a sauna, and an outdoor jacuzzi. I had a relaxing hot stone massage while Lee slept by the pool, and then we tried out the outdoor jacuzzi, which, in the late afternoon chill, reminded us a little of being in the Blue Lagoon exactly a year before.
Having chilled out in our room for a while and got changed for dinner, we made our way downstairs and ordered our free drinks – sparkling wine for me, of course! We had the Great Hall to ourselves, which felt a bit like being in Downton Abbey.
We dined in the hotel’s Cedar Restaurant, pictured here from our explorations earlier in the day. The meal was lovely, but I’m afraid I don’t have any photos because sometimes it’s nice just to switch off and not have to think about blogging! I had a mouthwatering goat’s cheese panna cotta to start, and Lee had leek soup; then we both had delicious pork, followed by chocolate brownies, which came with the most delectable banana sorbet. It was all beautifully presented, and to finish off the evening they kindly brought me a plate of petit-fours with a candle and a ‘happy birthday’ message!
Next morning we ordered breakfast to our room. It only costs £3 to get it delivered to your room (in total, not each), and it’s a nice indulgent thing to have breakfast in bed when you’re at a good hotel. My eggs royale hit the spot beautifully, washed down with a pot of piping hot coffee.
I won the stay in a photo competition with Hand Picked Hotels (this was the winning photo, if you’re interested), so the trip had the added bonus that it was a freebie except for dinner and the spa treatment. We felt rested and relaxed when we left Fawsley Hall, so a big thank you to all the staff who helped make our stay there so enjoyable.