REVIEW: Liz Lamb
In need of a weekend of R&R, we check into Durham’s Ramside Hall Hotel for the ultimate pampering break.
The allure of a chilled-out, child-free weekend can never be underestimated. It rarely happens in my house but when it does, I often wonder why I don’t insist on a monthly ‘hotel stay’ as part of our family budget.
It really is essential for both survival and sanity – a treat where you get to eat, swim and relax in peace without little ones making a multitude of demands and invading the parental bed. They are good for the soul, especially if you add delicious food and fine wine into the mix. For this very reason, I ended up at Ramside Hall hotel, in Durham, with my hubby in tow.
The landmark hotel has always been a popular venue among locals who visit for the knock-out Sunday carvery, posh afternoon tea or to attend a wedding or a Christmas party. But the Adamson family, who own it, really upped their game when they invested millions in a luxury spa and fitness complex alongside upmarket bedrooms and suites.
It’s easy to see why it is now a major player in the luxury hotel market. No expense has been spared in creating a luxurious retreat with inspiration taken from some of the best spas in the world. The amphitheatre sauna, for example, is modelled on a similar offering at the award-winning spa in London’s Corinthia Hotel.
There is a swimming pool and a hydrotherapy pool, a herbal infusion sauna overlooking a herb garden, and four thermal suites. Of course, the spa was the first place we headed to after check-in. Though it was busy with couples and groups of friends, we had no trouble finding a lounger by the hydrotherapy pool.
This was a perfect place to people watch while being served chilled prosecco without us having to move a muscle. I probably could have stayed there for hours but I eventually prised myself away to join my hubby in the pool. After a swim, we refreshed ourselves with a glass of orange-infused water, which is free for guests, and headed to the herbal sauna. We were the only ones in there so we made the most of it by lying down and breathing in the floral aromas in complete silence. It was while we were in here that we spotted the heated outdoor pool, which has become a popular spot for drinking bubbly under the stars.
Were we brave enough to venture outside in the winter weather wearing nothing but our swimsuits? Hell yes. And I’m so glad we did. After the intense heat of the sauna, it was refreshing to feel the bite of the cold air while our bodies were toasty and warm in the water.
After a couple of hours relaxing we headed up to our bedroom to get ready for dinner. The Premier room, in the newer part of the hotel, was decorated in a palette of browns and greens and boasted a stunning view over the golf course. The bathroom was double the size of our own at home.
Ramside has a choice of restaurants including Fusion, serving Asian-inspired dishes, to the infamous carvery and the Rib Room, which is where we chose to dine in the evening. The award-winning eatery features leather-clad dining booths, vibrant, busy artwork on the walls and prides itself on offering locally-sourced quality meat. We skipped starters and went straight to the main event, ordering whole chateaubriand (£62) to share. It was served on a wooden board with tomatoes, green leaves and our choice of Diane and peppercorn sauces.
The meal was accompanied by a side salad and crispy handcut chips. The medium-rare meat was divine-perfectly pink and tender in the middle and packed full of flavour. We washed it down with a bottle of Pinot Grigio (£26.95), recommended to us by our friendly waiter, who told us that actor Chris Hemsworth, of Avengers fame, had dined in the same spot months earlier.
We had no room for desserts but offerings include salted caramel tart, burnt lemon meringue and homemade sorbet, which all sounded delicious.
We then retired to our room for a child-free, uninterrupted night of sleep. Next morning we tucked into a delicious cooked breakfast while sat next to a grand piano, very la di da.
Ever keen to continue my R&R I headed to the fitness suite for a relaxing yoga session before we had to check out. It was a great session, one of the best I’ve been to.
If you haven’t been to Ramside yet, you’re missing a treat. Fab décor, friendly, helpful staff, a stunning spa and great food. Well, if it’s good enough for a Hollywood star…