If Christmas seems insurmountable, then plan something for January when the winter blues creep in and you need a bit of me-time to get over it all. And why not take advantage of the amazing range of hotels right on your doorstep? Katherine MacAlister checks out three local country hotels which will put you up in style


I could lie and say it was the luxurious surroundings of the hotel just down the road in Newbury which excited me, or the attached spa, but the truth is that rumours of the fine food being served in head chef Daniel Galmiche’s restaurant, and the accompanying wine, held far more allure than everything else put together.

Foodies among you will therefore welcome the opportunity to spend a quiet evening away, in the full knowledge that they will experience some knockout food, exemplary service and the sommelier’s chosen wines from the hotel’s vast and famous cellar, and then sleep it all off in the wonderful array of hotel suites. Even better, in the morning you can hand over your weary body to the experts in the spa to revive and reinvigorate you, and then send you on your merry way.

This was certainly the case when we arrived. A lovely suite awaited us and we unpacked and dressed for dinner having no idea what to expect. Admittedly there was a wedding well under way when we arrived, but that did nothing to detract from our evening, the elegant restaurant being entirely separate, a world of its own, the onus on the food.

All tinkling glasses and muted conversation, this is certainly a destination restaurant, and after enjoying an aperitif in the tasteful bar, we were led in a high state of anticipation to our table where a wonderful succession of dishes were brought out to impress us. And impress us they did. The taster menu was beautifully matched wine-wise by the restaurant’s head sommelier Romain Bourger, and the cooking itself was a masterclass in exceptional food, rendering the meal an overwhelming success.

In fact I would happily drive the 45 mins up the A34 to sample it all over again.

As it was, after a quick breakfast we were lucky enough to avail ourselves of the spa facilities and handed ourselves over to the excellent therapists who chose me the Enviro-Recovery vitamin infusion facial which lasted a heavenly 55 minutes, while Mr Greedy was pummelled to within an inch of his pampered life in the next-door room, with his equally relaxing VitaMan de-stress back treatment.

In fact, by the time we arrived home, we were almost horizontal and the lasting effects of our night away at The Vineyard stayed with us long after the experience actually ended.

* The Vineyard, Stockcross 
Newbury, Berkshire 
01635 528770 the-vineyard.co.uk
* The seven tasting dinner menu with one matching wine per course starts at £164 per person.
* One night with breakfast in a Luxury Double rooms including use of spa facilities starts at £247 per room (based on two people sharing on a Sunday to Thursday basis). This is the 2015 rate.

Oxford Mail:


If Danesfield is good enough for George Clooney, then it’s good enough for me.

In fact, we visited the weekend after the British leg of the marital celebrations had concluded, the George and Amal cocktail choices still evident at the bar although the paparazzi were no longer blocking the gates. You can see why they chose this historic hotel for their nuptials. The Americans are suckers for culture and Danesfield is splendid to behold, a testimony to the Italian Renaissance trend of 1899, the original house being built in 1664.

Inside it follows suit with an opulent dining room and Grand Hall, four poster-bed suites and a separate spa.

There is a real sense of occasion on arrival and after being ushered in, the grandeur of the house is yours to enjoy, the history seeping out of the building’s very seams.

We squealed in delight at our four-poster room, enjoying a momentary transformation into Lord and Lady of the Manor which continued as we ate in the Oak Room, an oasis away from the madding crowds, although if you fancy something a bit more bustling then the ever popular brasserie might suit, the menus being the same.

After a fabulous breakfast in the Orangery and a great night’s sleep, we then prepared for the more unusual aspect of our trip – Danesfield’s Trilogy treatment in the new Silver Birch VIP Suite, which meant being ‘treated’ side-by-side, something Mr Greedy took a while to get used to, although he finally relented and settled down to reap the benefits and enjoy the magical massage and facial, eventually admitting he’d rather enjoyed himself. The rest of the spa facilities include a pool, sauna, steam, Jacuzzi, gym and Sanctuary Lounge, but however much you procrastinate you eventually will need to head home, revived and perky.

* Danesfield House Hotel, Henley Road, Marlow-On-Thames, Buckinghamshire 
01628 891010 danesfieldhouse.co.uk
* Divinely Darphin Spa Break – a 60-minute Darphin facial, full use of Spa Illuminata Danesfield House facilities, a three course dinner in The Orangery, overnight stay & full English breakfast. From £195 per person. From January 2.

Oxford Mail:


Utterly deceptive was the only way to describe Dormy House.

Arriving in a thick mist and getting hopelessly lost around the country lanes in Broadway, I was expecting a bit of ‘olde worldy’ charm to be honest when faced with the traditional Cotswold hotel.

But enter, and it’s more Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World – the owners really going to town decor-wise with the interior.

No expense has been spared on the contemporary, modern, comfortable fittings and furnishings with which every room, corridor and interior space is decorated. It’s an homage to design and I wandered around open mouthed at the aesthetics, marvelling at the perfect blend of old and new.

It’s not a surprise therefore to discover that the hotel is a regular feature in the glossy mags and has won numerous awards since the £10.5m refurbishing/ remodelling project in Feb 2014, AA Hotel of the Year 2014-15 being the most prestigious accolade to date.

But for me it was the spa that stood out, regardless of our charming room and lovely dinner in The Potting Shed.

It was like entering a futuristic definition of relaxation.

We stared in awe at the incredibly decorated Greenhouse lounge where the furniture alone was enough to stop you in your stride.

Like a cross between Daylesford and The Design Museum, again it’s no surprise to find that it was also awarded the Mr & Mrs Smith Best Spa Hotel recently.

So we revelled in the swimming pool, gym, hydro-pool, thermal suite, before handing ourselves happily over to the spa experts and emerging several hours later totally different people, planning our next trip as we packed our bags and headed home.

An all-enveloping, luxurious and total escape from real life.

You know you want to.

* One night B&B in an Intimate Room midweek starts at £240
* Upgrades are available to other room types: Comfy, Splendid, Top Notch and Suites Dining is in The Potting Shed or The Garden Room
* House Spa operates a limited membership and is open to non-residents for spa days and half days. Call 01386 859910 to book
* Dormy House Hotel, Willersey Hill, Broadway, Worcestershire WR12 7LJ
01386 852711 dormyhouse.co.uk

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