on a dreary, rainy day, which felt more like winter than spring, we ar­rived at Congham Hall Ho­tel and Spa look­ing for­ward to an un­in­ter­rupted morn­ing of re­lax­ation and laz­ing around hav­ing a gos­sip. Sur­rounded by glo­ri­ous park­land, deep in ru­ral west Nor­folk, the grand, el­e­gant Ge­or­gian manor house (qui­etly) shouts luxury the mo­ment you walk in the front door.

In the Se­cret Gar­den Spa, we donned our fluffy robes and slip­pers, and made our way to the pool. Sur­rounded by floor to ceil­ing win­dows with glo­ri­ous views of the park­land, even the lack of sun didn’t spoil the fabulous set­ting. Af­ter a brief swim

– it’s im­por­tant to at least pre­tend to do some ex­er­cise – we made our way out­side into the cold air, im­mers­ing our­selves in the steam­ing, bub­bling water of the hot tub, sur­rounded by na­ture and not car­ing about the odd spit of rain. Then it was on to the saunas and steam room, but not be­fore sam­pling the ‘ex­pe­ri­ence’ show­ers, ad­vised be­tween each ac­tiv­ity. Step un­der­neath and be trans­ported a world away, well al­most, from a trop­i­cal rain shower to a pow­er­ful Caribbean storm, com­plete with thun­der, light­ning and even bird song, as well as some aro­mather­apy scents.

Fo­cus­ing on re­liev­ing daily stresses and ten­sion, us­ing es­sen­tial oils cho­sen – by you – to suit your mood, my 45 minute quick fix mas­sage feels any­thing but quick. From the mo­ment it started, my shoul­ders be­gan to un­wind from my ears, by the time my mas­sage had ended, they were vir­tu­ally on the floor, un­knot­ted and no­tice­ably less creaky. I left feel­ing so glo­ri­ously re­laxed I could have al­most melted into a bed and slept for a week. Af­ter some (more) chill out time and some pep­per­mint tea, I returned to the pool­side loungers for an­other round of re­lax­ation – then it was time for lunch. There is no loung­ing around in robes, you need to be dressed for lunch in the el­e­gant din­ing room – but it is in no way stuffy and the food is ab­so­lutely de­li­cious. We fin­ished with a pot of tea, just to squeeze in a few more min­utes of luxury and re­lax­ation be­fore head­ing back to re­al­ity.

Rachel Buller

The sooth­ing set­ting of Congham Hall’s treatment room

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