13 June 2014

Owston Hall Hotel and Spa, Doncaster

For Christmas, my boyfriend Paul bought me and my mum an overnight spa trip to Owston Hall Hotel in Doncaster. So this weekend, we got in the car and made the journey. It took us a bit longer than expected as we got lost and then my phone directed us to the back entrance which is inaccessible by car!

Once we had checked in, we were shown to our room which was huge! We had a double bed each which was unexpected for a twin room - lots of room to spread out! We were also provided with a bathrobe and slippers to wear.

Our package included the choice of one 30 minute treatment. We opted for massages and had been booked in at 5pm. Thanks to several detours on the way, we only arrived around thirty minutes before we were due to be at the spa so things did feel a little bit rushed but it didn't matter too much, as once we were down in the spa we had time to relax while filling in our consultation forms. We handed these to our therapists and were taken into the treatment room with two massage tables in and lovely calming music playing. The therapists asked if we had any concerns about our backs, necks and shoulders before the massage and then left us alone to undress before they came back in. For any ladies out there who might feel nervous about this, don't worry! You don't have to undress completely, both me and my mum kept our jeans on under the cover and the therapists gave us plenty of time to get comfortable and laid down on the table before they came back in the room.

The massage itself was lovely and I wish I knew the name of the oil she was using because it smelled amazing! I was a bit worried that it might be painful but she managed to get rid of the knots in my back (of which I have plenty - thanks, dissertation!) with just the right amount of pressure. The only thing was that I found it quite uncomfortable to lie on my front for so long and I did have to shuffle back down the table occassionally. Having said that, I could definitely feel the benefits in my shoulders and back afterwards. They felt all warm and loose and I think I could have slept for hours!

One thing that let the hotel down a little bit was there was no information in the rooms about spa treatments you could buy additionally, or details of the restaurant or room service menu. When we did go down to the restaurant looking for an evening meal, we had to ask someone to see the menu and in the end we decided to go out as it was quite pricey at around £12 for a main course. If we stay there again now that we know the prices I'm sure we will eat there, as driving around looking for food was quite counter-productive to the whole relaxation thing.

After a good night's sleep, we went down to the pool in the morning for a swim and jacuzzi before breakfast which was a lovely way to start the day. The pool area is lovely and we had the advantage of having it all to ourselves. I would love to be able to start every day with a few lengths! There is also a sauna and a steam room which unfortunately I couldn't try because I have asthma and they are not recommended for use by anyone with a respiratory condition - a shame, but I was more than happy with the facilities I did use! Then, as breakfast was included in our spa package, we headed up to the restaurant. The breakfast itself consisted of a choice of cereal, toast, fresh fruit and yoghurt, tea, coffee and orange juice, and a waitress also came to take our order for hot breakfast. Not a croissant in sight! I opted for fruit and yoghurt as I've never been keen on cooked breakfast (I did have a couple of sausages though). The conservatory where the restaurant is located is a beautiful place to eat - very bright and airy and with lovely views of the grounds. It was a beautiful day even at 9.30am and we could see squirrels playing in the trees so afterwards we went for a walk and took in the peaceful atmosphere.

All in all, I would definitely recommend Owston Hall to anyone looking to get away even overnight for a bit of relaxation! They offer a variety of spa packages so there should be something to suit everyone. I would definitely stay here again!

6 June 2014

The Great British Bucket List

A few weeks ago, The Telegraph posted this article about 50 British experiences every person should have before they die. Personally, I can tick off only 8 things on the whole list! I have: eaten fish and chips by the sea; been on the London Eye; had a picnic at an open air concert (good old Party in the Park - fellow Leeds residents will know about this one!); had tea at Betty's Tearooms (the one in York, but I think that still counts!); seen the Blackpool illuminations; been to a traditional Christmas panto; seen the Christmas lights on London's Oxford Street; and watched Morris Dancers at a country pub. As for the rest of the list, I can't say I'm too bothered about missing out! But reading the article did get me thinking of other UK based things that I really do want to do and I thought I would share with you all my own version of the Great British Bucket List:

• Visit Jane Austen's house in Hampshire
• Experience Notting Hill Carnival
• Visit Giant's Causeway, N. Ireland
• Have afternoon tea at The Ritz
• Take a tour of Buckingham Palace
• Visit the houses used for Pemberley in Pride & Prejudice - in both the BBC series and the film!
• Go strawberry picking in summer
• Meet the elephants at Chester Zoo
• New Year's Eve Hogmanay celebrations in Edinburgh
• See the Fairy Pools on Isle of Skye, Scotland
• Have my picture taken by the Penny Lane street sign
• Visit all the filming locations used for the Hogwarts interior in the HP films

How many things can you tick off the Great British Bucket List? What would you add to yours?
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