(AD – Gifted)
(Please note – this post was written in October 2020 before new lockdown measures were introduced due to Covid. I hope it inspires you to visit Seaham Hall in the future when travel restrictions are lifted).
It’s not unusual for me to feel low at this time of year, I often find my mood dips as summer draws to a close. I would normally remedy this by filling my diary with lots of plans for nights out and day trips with friends and family, maybe even a little holiday with my other half. However, that’s easier said than done in 2020, damn you covid!
Just as I was about to resign myself to a season of hibernation, an invitation to review an Autumn Escape at Seaham Hall landed in my inbox…. I have never replied to an email quicker!
This stunning five star spa hotel in County Durham has been on my wish list for years. It’s one of those places that I have always dreamed of staying, especially after having had the pleasure of dining there last year.
Having spent all of our spare time renovating our new home recently, a little bit of pampering was just what the Dr ordered!
I was intrigued to see what a hotel stay and spa visit would be like under covid restrictions. At the time of our visit the North East was living with a 10pm curfew in bars and restaurants and of course masks and social distancing were in place too (although the three tier system and lockdown two had not yet been introduced).
James and I hadn’t stayed overnight anywhere since before the pandemic and we had only dined in pubs with outside space, so we weren’t quite sure what to expect. In this review I’ll share a little bit of info on Seaham Hall, our room review, details of our spa experience and what we thought of dining in the hotel’s restaurants. As ever, I’ll give you my honest thoughts and I’m always happy to answer any questions you have, so don’t by shy in your leaving your comments!
If you live in the north east, you’ll probably already have heard of Seaham Hall, it is well known for its outstanding spa and is a popular venue for weddings and romantic breaks. If you’ve not come across it before, think stunning Georgian features combined with elegant modern décor to create a boutique feel hotel with exceptional five star facilities. Every room is individually designed with thoughtful touches that make you feel special from the moment you arrive.
Seaham Hall has certainly changed a lot since it was first built in 1791. It has served many purposes over the years, from being a hospital during WW1 to a secret bottling centre for Scotch Whisky during prohibition in the 20’s! During the late 20’s the hall was gifted to Durham Council who converted in to a sanitorium for patients with TB. It was also the birthplace of hospital radio, which the radio geek in me was delighted to discover. Seaham Hall also has links to to the romantic poet Lord Byron who married here in 1815.
It wasn’t until the 1980’s that Seaham Hall was eventually transformed in to a luxury hotel and although it has changed hands a couple of times since then, its reputation as a luxury retreat is unwavering. It is now part of the prestigious consortium Pride of Britain Hotels.
Seaham Hall sits within 37 acres of gardens on the edge of Durham’s heritage coastline, making it the perfect base for exploring this beautiful part of the country (if you can tear yourself away from the comfort of the hotel and spa)! It actually only took us half an hour to drive to Seaham Hall from Newcastle, but it felt like a world away from the bustling city.
There are two restaurants to choose from at the hotel. In the elegant Dining Room you can cosy up in a sumptuous booth and tuck in to delicious British dishes created by talented head chef Damian Broom, while 14 carat gold plated chandeliers glisten above you. There’s also the cool and contemporary Ozone restaurant which serves up vibrant Pan-Asian cuisine in a relaxed setting beside the spa.
As part of our Autumn Escape package, James and I had the pleasure of staying in a stunning Garden Suite with Hot Tub. It was quite honestly one of the nicest and most spacious hotel rooms I’ve ever stayed in. It felt more like an apartment than a room because as well as a humongous bed it also featured a comfortable seating area, with sumptuous cushions and Tattinger blankets. There was a massive wall mounted TV above a decorative fireplace, a dressing table/desk and a separate table and chairs which we used for enjoying breakfast in the room.
The bathroom was jaw-droppingly gorgeous with another feature fireplace, twin sinks, an enormous freestanding bath and separate shower, complete with fancy gold fixings, luxurious toiletries and fluffy robes!
The room had lots of little luxuries that made it feel extra special, including a Nespresso coffee machine, fresh fruit and a complementary bottle of sleep spray on the pillow.
The bonus of having outside space with our own hot tub really took our stay to the next level, especially as there was a 10pm curfew in place at the time of our visit. When we returned to our room after dinner (more on that in a moment), we were delighted to discover that the fire pit had been lit in the garden, the hot tub was bubbling away and a little tray of marshmallows and strawberries had been left for us to enjoy, it was total bliss!
If you fancy seeing a room tour and some rather funny blogging photo fails, check out the highlights on my Instagram page!
As James and I arrived for our reservation in the Dining Room, we were blown away by the opulence of it. The high ceilings and breath-taking chandeliers make it feel very grand indeed! Surprisingly though, the atmosphere was really relaxed, even during a pandemic! I put this down to the wonderful staff who put us both at ease with their friendly and helpful approach.
We were seated in one of the booths which was extremely comfortable and gave us a lovely view of the floor to ceiling windows. The restaurant is beautifully decorated, in fact the only thing that I would have changed was the lighting, which made taking pics of my meal to share with you a bit tricky. Of course, this wouldn’t bother me at all if I wasn’t blogging, all I can say is that the food was so much more delicious than it looks in my photos!
Everything was perfectly presented and I loved that we were given plenty of time to relax between courses. Our drinks were topped up regularly and the staff were even kind enough to put our cheese course in the room for us to enjoy later as we were too full after our delicious starters and huge main course.
We decided to order a sharing rib eye steak with fries and seasonal greens. It was unreal, especially the melt in the mouth little fatty bits that were so full of flavour. The peppercorn sauce was also a huge hit, not too thick and creamy, it was more like a peppery gravy and I mopped up every last drop!
We could have revisited the Dining Room the next morning for breakfast but instead we took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy breakfast in bed, a rare treat that was very enjoyable. It arrived on time and piping hot with eggs cooked to perfection.
I have wanted to visit the spa at Seaham Hall for soooo long! I guess I’ve never got round to it because I’ve not really had a reason that seemed special enough to splash out on such an indulgent treat. Well do you know what? I’m done with saving things for special occasions… I reckon coping with the craziness of 2020 is a good enough excuse to treat yourself to the finer things in life if you’re in a position to do so. This may have been my first to the Serenity Spa but it certainly won’t be my last.
From the moment we checked in to spa I could feel myself relax. There were reassuring covid procedures in place, including a high-tech temperature check, the fanciest hand sanitizer I’ve seen anywhere and regular cleaning of all the facilities. Everything was absolutely spotless! We wore masks when walking around but they could be removed when using the facilities.
Seaham Hall had restricted the number of visitors to meet government guidelines so the pool, saunas and steam rooms were never crowded. Signage on the doors of several facilities advised how many people were allowed at one time and which seats should be left empty.
The result of all these measures was that the spa had a very exclusive feel that James and I both agreed we actually preferred. For instance, the heated outdoor pool in the Zen Garden was restricted to only two people at a time, so it felt like we had our own private pool!
We visited the spa twice during our stay. On the day we arrived we enjoyed a swim and sauna as well as time in the outdoor pool and hot tubs. We returned the next morning after breakfast for facials which we had in a couple’s treatment room.
The Serenity Spa offers a wide range of treatments and therapies, influenced by ancient traditions but using modern and luxurious products.
James actually fell asleep during his facial so I think it’s safe to say he found it relaxing. I loved my treatment too, my skin felt glowing afterwards. We didn’t want to leave the comfort of the spa so we spent some time chilling out on the waterbeds before heading for lunch at the Ozone Restaurant.
This funky Pan-Asian restaurant is situated beside the spa and invites guests to dine in their robes, it’s all very chilled out. Lunch wasn’t included as part of our complimentary stay but we couldn’t resist the tempting aromas coming from the open kitchen and didn’t need much persuasion to stay a few extra hours.
As we’d had a huge breakfast we weren’t hungry enough for any of the hearty main courses, instead we ordered a selection of starters to share. Everything was very tasty and reminded us of holidays to Thailand, especially the yummy chicken satay which I would highly recommend.
Our lazy lunch was the perfect end to a wonderful stay and we really didn’t want to leave!
I’d like to say a HUGE thank you to Seaham Hall for hosting us, it was the most enjoyable time we’ve had together all year! James and I have been reminded how important it is for us to take time out from the stresses of everyday life and this was the perfect place to do it. The benefits of us taking a break and spending some quality time together lasted for much longer than 24 hours we spent at Seaham Hall and we will definitely be returning, hopefully in the not too distant future!
Further details of the Autumn package we enjoyed can be found HERE but please bear in mind that this may be replaced with something new when the hotel reopens. Seaham Hall is looking forward to welcoming guests back as soon as rules allow, so if you’d like something to look forward head to www.seaham-hall.co.uk for up to date offers and availability.