If the England rugby team need somewhere to recharge their batteries after a tough game then they needn’t travel very far: their training ground at Pennyhill Park luxury hotel in Surrey is just a drop kick away from one of the finest spas in the country.
Pennyhill Park spa
Covering 45,000 sq ft and with eight indoor and outdoor pools (one with underwater music), saunas, steam rooms, bubbling hot tubs, ice-cold plunge pools and a salt scrub ice cave, the spa at Pennyhill Park is one of those places where you could happily spend a whole day (and night – sitting outdoors in a jacuzzi as the sun goes down makes for a memorable evening).
For guests – or rugby internationals – who like to work a little harder, there’s a gym, nine-hole golf course, tennis courts and 120 acres of parkland with paths and cycling trails, while those who want to fully indulge can pad to the spa’s restaurant in their fluffy towelling robes for a spot of lunch, or have drinks and snacks delivered to their loungers from the al fresco poolside bar.
The closest hotel to England Rugby
Pennyhill Park has been the training home of the England rugby team since their World Cup-winning performance in 2003, but the hotel itself dates back to the 19th century. After a succession of owners, Pennyhill Park was bought by Exclusive Hotels in 1982 who expanded it considerably from its original 17 bedrooms.
Bedrooms at Pennyhill Park
Now there are more than 120 bedrooms ranging from doubles to suites and junior suites, some with four-poster beds, balconies, private patios and even a Roman-style marble bath. (See Pennyhill Park website for all the different styles). This expansion does mean that the hotel is vast – you definitely need the map you get at check in, which reveals the various wings, terraces and gardens at Pennyhill Park.
We were given a junior suite in the Gatehouse Wing, which had a very smart bathroom (roll-top bath with waterfall taps, walk-in shower, two sinks a and TV), a large main bedroom and steps up to a lounge area on the mezzanine floor. It was hard to tell what you would actually do in the lounge area – have a cocktail party perhaps? – but the high ceilings gave a great feeling of space and luxury.
Pennyhill Park spa
The room got a thumbs up from me for containing lots of information about the hotel itself, a full list of spa treatments and a walking map of the grounds. I certainly needed the map to find my way across the hotel complex to the spa for my excellent Diamond Energy facial – an anti-ageing, anti-stress treatment which left my skin glowing – and it was lovely being able to emerge from the treatment room and flop straight into the thalassotherapy pool.
The restaurant at Pennyhill Park
In keeping with Pennyhill Park’s general air of indulgence, we had a couple of very good cocktails at the bar before dining at the Brasserie – which has since been renamed Hillfield – which overlooks the spa garden, romantically lit in the warm Spring evening. The hotel also has a more formal restaurant, the Michelin-starred Latymer, but the food at the more casual restaurant was first class, as was the service from our charming and efficient waitress Madison.
We started with Coronation chicken with cauliflower and coconut puree and torched mackerel with crab and avocado before enjoying some superbly cooked Beef Wellington and loin of beef with dauphinoise potatoes. We finished off with an excellent selection of British cheeses and felt extremely well looked after as we ambled back through the hotel to our room.
The following morning there was a wide breakfast selection of cooked and cold options, including a vast range of freshly-squeezed juices, and then it was time to try out the circular walk around the golf course before heading back to the spa to continue the indulgence. Those not on a strict rugby training regime will find the whole Pennyhill Park experience extremely relaxing.
Pennyhill Park hotel and spa,
Surrey GU19 5EU
If you love reviews of luxury hotels and spas then check out: A West Sussex spa hotel stay at South Lodge, Midhurst; Chewton Glen in the New Forest: luxury from spa to treehouse; Lucknam Park hotel near Bath: my palladian mansion for the night; A picture-perfect Cotswolds stay at Manor House, Castle Combe