The planning started in January. There’s something about that miserable cold, dark (and this year, snowy) month that really lends itself to trip planning and for the first time, my friends and I were planning a girls weekend away.
We came to a consensus on our do’s and don’ts pretty quickly – we immediately vetoed a long journey, no sense in wasting precious time spent away from home suffering in a long trip. A spa, good food, good drink and peaceful surroundings with limited small people was what we wanted and it didn’t take all that much research to lock in a weekend escape to Pennyhill Park and Spa, located a convenient 45 minute drive from my friends and I in leafy Surrey.
I knew that I would approve of the stay even before I got there, truth be told. I had called the reservation team so many times to amend so many small details in our booking and they handled every single request with impeccable professionalism and not a hint of bother.
We arrived to one of those glorious blue sky spring days and since our rooms weren’t ready, we opted for a quick drink on the terrace in the sunshine.
We had planned in a busy schedule of meals, spa appointments and the like, so we didn’t linger over our drinks for long – we went back to check in and then decided to explore the grounds and to work up a bit of an appetite for afternoon tea.
The grounds are a serene blend of wildflowers, off-road gravel paths leading to romantic gazebos, small ponds and greenery as far as the eye can see. We felt a million miles away from home and the cares of home life. Bliss.
Afternoon tea is usually served at the Ascot Bar, but we weren’t about to give up on our leisurely time sitting in the sun and since the staff are nothing but helpful, they easily agreed to set us up with afternoon tea back on the terrace.
For once I didn’t do my usual bout of obsessively writing down every single morsel we ate, but topped up with regular doses of tea, as many scones, sandwiches and desserts we could manage, this was a very happy five-some.
But now, it was time to spa. Pennyhill run a system where Spa access is included for all guests from 4pm until 2pm the following day and you’re welcome to use the spa after check out.
Most of us had treatments booked in and we were pretty excited.
Without a doubt, the spa area was the most special part of Pennyhill. We counted approximately 7 pools of varying temperatures and sizes and there was room for everyone to find a lounger or chair, order some refreshments and get down to the tedious business of relaxing.
My facial was just as refreshing as I could have wished for, but it was the time spent poolside that had me switching off from the daily routines (didn’t stop me missing the kids though!)
We did have a little snag with the water in our room not working but it was resolved very quickly with a discount offered to all guests, so after a shower, we got ready and headed off for dinner feeling pretty pleased.
Our room was a really good size considering we spent almost no time there, we had opted for a ‘Traditional” room which had 2x Double beds meaning we could pair up and share rooms and have our pennies go a bit further.
We opted for dinner in the more casual Brasserie since we’d already enjoyed a decadent dessert strewn afternoon tea and decided to save dinner at the Michelin-starred Latymer restaurant for another day and it was more down to earth and the perfect choice for us.
These beloved girls are the friends I made through the NCT group, a group that’s designed to offer support through pregnancy & raising your children and the husband & I joined with this exact purpose in mind but in my wildest dreams, I could not have imagined the great bunch I would be friends with today. We’re more than just Mummy friends, we are friends who are lucky enough for their own children to be friends too.
Tonight though, it wasn’t time for our endless chat about our offspring, instead we took a well deserved night off from Mummy duties and just enjoyed our relaxed, delicious dinner that had a home-cooked feel and vibe to it, washing it down with lashings of cheese, dessert and wine.
Despite our late night after many cocktails and giggles, the in-built alarm clock had us up early and I woke last to find all my friends already soaking up the sunshine poolside.
I loved just that about Pennyhill, you could dip in and out of going to the pools & spa constantly during your stay and after we’d had our fill of the early morning swim, we’d built up an appetite for breakfast.
Breakfast is served back in the Brasserie and it was then that I started to notice that the hotel is decked in swathes of yellow to herald in Spring!
With a spring-like step, we embarked on breakfasts. There is the traditional buffet or you can order a la carte, but one of my favourite hotel things to do is endlessly visit the breakfast spread. They have all the usual culprits on offer and so all that remains is for you to fill your plate, sip unlimited teas and coffees and count down till we’d finished our meal so we could head back to the spa.
Being able to use the pools after check-out felt quite luxurious and it was clear most guests felt the same because it was packed out with people angling their sunloungers for the best spot – it didn’t feel like suburban Surrey, I could have just as easily been describing the South of France for the warm sunshine beating down upon us.
The group debated how we would top this little break because it was clear to all of us that this was an event that needed recreating. Should we throw caution to an experimental wind or should we just return, secure in the knowledge we’d found our own slice of paradise.
Goodbye Pennyhill Park, you’ve won a special place in our hearts and we’ll come back to see you soon.