The churning water froths and bubbles around me as I lounge indulgently in the vivid turquoise thalassotherapy pool. The pitch black outdoors contrasts with the warm hues of this tranquil haven and I find myself relaxing for the first time this week (corporate finance assignments have a habit of stressing you out!). The bubbles create a bioluminescent effect in the water as tiny little yellow lights twinkle in the ceiling and I find myself sighing contentedly. It’s hard to believe this Manchester spa break in the countryside is less than an hour from the big smoke!
Welcome to Stanley House Hotel and Spa
Welcome to the Spa at Stanley House hotel where floor to ceiling windows allow nature to blend seamlessly into heavenly relaxation, the icing on the cake of what is truly a sublime secret escape.
A secret escape
Until I was gifted a secret Escapes voucher, I’d never even heard of this place, not imagining that such a lush treasure would be tucked away on the outskirts of Blackburn. This town may not be your first choice for a weekend away but if you want a romantic getaway or even precious time to catch up with friends, this is a destination worth considering. The spa alone should be enough to entice you but you can also enjoy the gym with far reaching views of quintessential English countryside, fabulous food and fine wines.
The very Elizabethan hotel
The Elizabethan manor that sits at the heart of this complex has been lovingly restored to create unique rooms. Old antique pieces, grandiose candelabras and royal russet drapes and cushions merge into an ultra-modern bathroom. There is even a rouge claw foot bath squirrelled into the central turret.
Bedrooms are reached via an entrance lounge with a huge fireplace adorned by oversized logs. From here a narrow staircase winds up to our room where we find a super king size bed and spacious seating area. Mini thrones line the foot of the bed, a perfect vantage point for views over the ornamental gardens. I find myself transported back in time to a time when lords and ladies lazed on day beds admiring views of the grounds and surrounding countryside.
Giddily I explore the room – a treasure chest fit for any pirate ship alas holds no treasure but there’s character in abundance in this bolt hole. Old beams, antique lampshades, oil paintings and the tantalising prospect of ghosts. Surely any building that is almost 400 years old must have a ghost! We don’t experience any haunting experiences although my water bottle did have a habit of dropping off the bedside cabinet.
The Stanley House Hotel and Spa is a place for indulgence. Pre-book your spa experience, chill out over a drink, indulge in exquisite dining, read a book or simply relax in the tub admiring the views.
The only downside is that we don’t sleep especially well given the softness of the mattress but even that doesn’t dampen the relaxation I feel after our trip to the spa.
After dragging myself away from the thalassotherapy pool where the swirling patterns entrance me, we head to the thermal suites. Here we indulge in the Japanese style herbal room, the aroma steam with rose scents to soothe away stresses, the aromatherapy steam room to sweat out all those toxins and finally the Finnish saunas.
Whilst saunas may not be my favourite indulgence, this one is a gem with a panorama window allowing guests to enjoy scenes of nature by day. By night, a vague outline of the pond beyond is visible as a family of ducks waddles by. It’s truly delightful and the perfect end to a day.
What you need to know
We booked through secret escapes paying £147 for a luxury double room including breakfast and a two-course dinner. Spa access costs just £10 for guests Monday – Thursday but £35 per person at weekends.
Please note that you must pre-book slots at the spa as a maximum number of 10 guests are allowed at any time. Leave it too late and you may be disappointed but plan ahead and you will have a truly exclusive experience. You can even spend a little time relaxing in the dedicated chill area.
Where is your favourite bolthole?
Have you discovered a little British gem which surpassed your expectations? If so, feel free to let us know where as I’m always seeking new travel inspiration for future escapes.
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