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I recently attended a hen weekend at Thornton Hall which made full use of the spa facilities as well as the restaurant and included an overnight stay. I have to say it was one of the nicest hotels I have ever stayed in in this country and I would not hesitate to use it again.
I paid £155 for a package which included lunch and a three course dinner (drinks not included), one night's accomodation and 2 spa treatments (a back/neck/shoulder massage and facial) plus my choice of either a manicure or pedicure (I went with a manicure). Personally I think that represents great value - yes it was a substantial chunk of money for a hen weekend but for everything it included and the standard of service I actually had no qualms with it and felt I got more than my moneys worth.
Check In/Front Desk
On arrival I was pleased to find that there is plenty of parking around the front of the building. It looks quite grand on approach, the grounds are also impressive and the village of Thornton Hough within which it is located is like something off a chocolate box.
I first wandered into reception unsure where to head as it was 10am and I knew I wouldnt be able to check in until later. The very efficient and polite staff duly informed me that my twin room (which I was to share with a friend of mine) would be ready at 3pm and that the rest of my group was already through in the adjoining Spa building. There is always a very friendly and poshly dressed doorman on the main door which made it feel like a very classy establishment, and he showed me round to the spa entrance.
Spa & Facilities
I was actually whisked pretty much straight into my spa treatments as they had 28 of us to get through and a tight schedule. The Spa building feels very new and contemporary and has a cafe, a fully equipped gym, a pool with sauna and jacuzzi and an outdoor hot tub as well as a number of treatment rooms, one of which I was lead into.
After about 40 minutes of lovely massage and one of the best facials I have ever had (my skin was baby soft for about 3 days!) I was handed the obligatory spa robes and slippers and told that I was now free to use any of the facilities until 1pm when lunch would be served in the cafe. In a bit of a chilled out daze I made my way to the changing rooms (very posh, marble floors, massive wooden lockers, tons of hairdryers and mirrors etc) and caught up with a load of my equally chilled girlie friends.
The pool is lovely, looks out over manicured lawns and has plenty of areas around it to sit and chill. We also used the jacuzzi and the sauna before heading for lunch. It was a bit surreal to have 28 women in dressing gowns sitting down for a meal but to be fair the atmosphere is very relaxed and it seemed normal!
We had pre-ordered all of our food but due to the size of the group the little cafe did struggle to get everybody's meals out quickly. Some people had completely finished their starters while others were still waiting, however the quality of the food was very good. I had tomato soup followed by a steak baguette and it really hit the spot.
In the afternoon we were again at liberty to roam the facilities until we were booked in for our manicure/pedicure. The great thing about this was that we were off out on the town that night and it happened to be halloweeen so it gave me a chance to get my nails done in a dramatic navy blue and I never could have made them look so good myself.
By then it was time to check in and my room mate and I wandered back over to reception (back in normal clothes by now!) to pick up the keys. We were in a ground floor room in what seemed to be a fairly new annex to the main building. We quickly realised that we had been allocated one of the disabled rooms as it had wheelchair access and lots of wall mounted handles in the bathroom but this was no problem for us.
Our room was lovely. We had twin beds which were quite large (and incredibly comfortable) and a pair of french doors leading out onto the lawns, the view was lovely, of the wedding pagoda (which was being used for a ceremony while we had been eating lunch) and the fields beyond. We also had a large desk with mirror, a TV cabinet with a large TV, a table and chair and plenty of wardrobe space. There was an iron and ironing board as well as plenty of spare bedding in the wardrobe too.
The bathroom was something else! Marble floors and a giant walk in shower which was so big it was almost like a wet room (this was probably for disabled access and may not be the same in non disabled rooms) and the shower also had a flatscreen TV mounted into the wall which for some reason greatly excited the pair of us! No need to interrupt your viewing whilst in the shower here.
The room felt like it was very new and the furniture was all very contemporary and expensive looking. The only thing which did surprise me was that there was no mini-bar - not that we wanted to drink anything but it would have been useful for keeping the wine we had bought with us chilled.
After changing we headed to the bar for pre-dinner drinks. I did get rather a shock when on ordering two SMALL glasses of the house white it cost me £10.40. Drinks in here were very, very expensive. To buy a bottle of the house wine it was £20 so not much differenece in it really.
We did complain that the (extortionately priced) wine we had just bought was warm and were informed that that was because the fridge had only just been stocked. The bar man offered us some ice but that was the best he could do. This was the only real disappointment of my entire stay in this hotel. Over £5 for a small glass of warm white wine.
Needless to say we discreetly took the glasses back to our room and opened the wine we had there which despite being in my car all day was more chilled than the stuff from the bar!
Dinner was a very tasty affair. A three course meal which again we had alll pre-ordered. I had parsnip soup to start, butternut squash risotto and then apple crumble and it was all very good quality and highly enjoyable food, it tasted like something from a proper posh restaurant and the presentation was very good too.
The restaurant staff were much quicker at getting everybody's food to them and the meal went very smoothly. Drinks had not been included in the package price and so people went halves or split the cost of more wine and it was bought to the table and paid for there rather than us having to go back and forth to the bar.
Amazingly everyone made it to breakfast the next morning (served until 10am) despite many of us not climbing into bed until the early hours. A full english was available in buffet style, plus toast on the tables and pots of tea and coffee on request. For those wanting something lighter there was a full choice of cereals, fruit and pastries on a serve yourself basis.
The food at breakfast was again very nice and all hot and obviously freshly cooked.
The service was impeccable throughout (almost) the entire stay (excepting mr ice-in-the-wine). Check out was a smooth process although there was a massive queue as we opted to wait until the 11pm deadline to actually leave and due to the fact that a large wedding party were also staying over there was a bit of a rush to get away and only 2 staff on the check in desk.
When it came to paying they had handily split the bill into two for us already and had a breakdown of the costs in case we wanted to see it. The staff again were very polite and efficient.
This is a great hotel and makes you feel like you are a very valued customer, the food is excellent and the spa facilities are top notch. I also cannot recommend them enough for the way that they handled such a large group of women for the meals and the treatments. It felt like nothing was too much trouble.
I will certainly recommend this place to any of my friends looking for a hen venue or a wedding, based on my experience it is certainly one of the best hotels in the UK for the price.