When you want a luxury spa break but can’t really leave the country, what do you do? Shara heads to Sopwell House in St Albans.
Even when it was allowed, international travel had lost some of its appeal to me, what with quarantining and wearing masks on long haul flights. So checking into Sopwell House in leafy Hertfordshire, an easy drive from London, came as a welcome relief. It feels like a break, but one that you arrive at with total ease.
There are 112 rooms in the main hotel at Sopwell House however I was a guest in one of the Mews Suites, set across from the hotel, and accessed through secure gates used exclusively by Mews Suite guests only. Our room is well decorated and spacious, with a comfy bed and cosy fireplace. It is contemporary and soothing. A plate of macarons in the room is very welcome, ELEMIS toiletries are always ideal and some of the rooms have patios, though sadly ours didn’t.
Although most of the restaurants are closed due to Covid, our dinner had a relaxed gastropub vibe and breakfast was very tasty, with plenty of choice and friendly service. Next time, I’d like to try afternoon tea, which looks to be a real treat.
Views from the hotel are wonderful, especially for this tired city-dweller. Just looking out onto the greenery and expansive landscape is relaxing. With that in mind, the focal point here is the Cottonmill Spa. It’s beautifully decorated with lots of thoughtful little details. There’s a great indoor/outdoor massaging hydrotherapy pool, plus a sauna and steam room. There’s a charming spa garden, with ample loungers and cabanas so you can really chill out. The treatment list is extensive, ranging from ELEMIS facials to reflexology healing. I had a great massage with an attentive therapist, after which I even considered going to the gym. Although classes are reduced due to – you guessed it – Covid; there’s a good range of equipment.
Also, do wander around St Albans if you get the chance – it is charming. A change of scenery is very welcome right now, and options are limited. Sopwell House plans to reopen as soon as government restrictions allow, and a spa break with a dose of country air could be what you need.
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Charlotte is a London girl through and through. She sweats through spin and puffs through Pilates to justify trying the latest restaurants and devouring copious amounts of sweet potato fries, burrata and bread – preferably on holiday. Her favourite destinations include Italy, the Maldives and anywhere where the sun’s shining and there’s a strong breakfast buffet. She’s obsessed with walking, visiting farmers’ markets and reading. She’s also learning to cook. Wish her (and her husband) luck.