- Where: The Garden of England Spa at Wallett’s Country House Hotel, near Dover, Kent
- Who went: Carol Hughes, 5 months pregnant, and her husband Don
- Treatment: Ben Barnett’s Hydrotherm Massage
- In a nutshell: An hour-long pioneering midwife-designed massage using ayervedic oils and a warm-water filled cushion support that allows you to lie on your back throughout.
- Best for: Pregnant mums or anyone with limited mobility or who doesn’t like lying face down during a massage.
- Watch out for: Ask the staff for the quietest times to use the spa as the hot tub, pool, and rather small changing rooms can fill up quickly.
Review: “I’d heard that Ben Barnett, the therapist who’d be giving me his unique Hydrotherm Pregnancy Massage, boasted Kylie Minogue as one of his satisfied customers, so I knew I’d be in good hands. Then, when Don and I pulled up at Wallett’s Court Hotel, a gorgeous converted Jacobean manor house set in a picture-perfect Kentish hamlet – I knew I was in for a very special treat. After being greeted by super-friendly staff we wandered into the plush but cosy lounge bar and I lowered my achey frame into a squishy, velvet sofa and enjoyed a much-needed cuppa and a sandwich.
“Next, we were shown our enormous luxury suite located in the top half of a converted haybarn, the ground floor of which is home to The Garden of England Spa. Both the room and the spa’s indoor pool area offer idyllic views of the hotel’s landscaped gardens (which total seven acres) and the rolling hills beyond.
A spa with a view
“The spa isn’t huge but it has everything you need, including a steam room, sauna, hydro-spa and a 12-metre indoor pool with a swim trainer jet. Its selling point though is it’s rural setting – showcased by the huge windows along the side of the pool – which really adds to the sense of tranquility.
Cabins of delight
“A few steps from the spa, there are treatment rooms in little cabins under the trees, and it was in one of these that I experienced the stupendous Ben Barnett’s Hydrotherm Massage. This midwife-designed treatment relies on the use of warm-water cushioned support – like a heated water bed – that allows you to lie on your back throughout. After applying REN ayurvedic massage oils, Ben’s strong hands move under and over you using your own bodyweight for pressure – so no face holes, cricked necks or pressure on frontal bumps!
“Ben also gave me his exclusive Transformational treatment during the massage, which involves him taking a brief history of your medical and emotional life story and then designing a personalised guided meditation. This can unlock any past body issues or traumas that are causing you aches and pains, and can address any emotional concerns you have, or worries about future events – such as giving birth!
“After an hour of listening to Ben’s dark velvet voice advising me “not to frantically seek relaxation but just let the calm come and find me” I was floating on air and can honestly say I felt the most relaxed and positive I’ve felt during my entire pregnancy. Ben really is a very gifted therapist and past happy clients include Kylie Minogue, so I knew I was in good hands.
Hot stones for hubbie
“My hubbie Don was similarly floaty and misty-eyed after his treatment, which was a hot stone massage from therapist Mary Bonas that unknotted his notoriously knotted neck and upper back.
“The day ended in culinary heaven with an outstanding meal in the hotel’s buzzing, cosy, oak-beamed restaurant that’s justifiably won numerous awards and plaudits including 2 Rosettes. Don was raving about his fresh scallops starter and I will never forget my Venison Three Ways, a dish comprising venison cooked…erm… three ways served on one plate – in a delicious dumpling, rendered into rich, tasty consommé and served in tender, melt-in-the-mouth strips. The bump and I then treated ourselves to a wicked chocolate tart, while Don had coffee and perused the dazzling array of rare liqueurs available from the bar, eventually settling on a smooth French brandy.
Breakfast and boules
“The next morning, after a sublime kip in our giant bed, we lolloped about the pool enjoying the rustic views, and then managed a hearty full English breakfast. The sun came out so we took a turn around the hotel’s stunning grounds, which, for the more energetic guests, contain tennis and boules courts, plus another one of those attractive Kentish haybarn converted into a fitness studio.
White Cliffs wonder
“Wallett’s Court enjoys an excellent location, being situated only five or ten minutes drive from Dover’s port, yet slap bang in the middle of wild, picturesque scenery and minutes from a stunning coastline. The staff gave us loads of tips for good walks and places to visit, and we took the easiest option which was St Margaret’s Bay, less than a mile’s drive away. Reached via a dramatic twisty road, the bay nestles at the foot of those famous white cliffs, which tower above you and stretch along the coast in great sparkling folds as far as the eye can see.
“Don was overjoyed to find that the bay boasts a nice pub where we lunched on local seafood and were amused to notice that our mobile phones had automatically switched to French networks since we were so close to the continent and so sheltered from English transmitters by the huge cliffs that our phones thought we’d crossed The Channel.
“Before embarking on the 90-minute drive back to London, we felt duty bound to sample the hotel’s Kentish Cream Tea, which was superb and very filling, meaning that I didn’t have to bother cooking supper that night. Result. My abiding impression of the hotel and spa is of one that offers all total luxury in terms of tasteful furnishings and decor, outstanding gourmet food and a fabulously relaxing spa experience, with a good range of treatments and gifted therapists, yet it is cosy and informal, rather than being aloof and over-pleased with itself. This is probably down to the family-run atmosphere of the place and happy, friendly staff who all seem to be having as nice a time there as the guests!”
Price: £140 for one-night spa break, in Classic Room, with dinner, full English breakfast, Kentish Cream Tea, use of spa facilities and 30-minute spa treatment.
Hydrotherm Pregnancy Massage, 60 mins, £75. Hydrotherm Transformational Massage, 60 mins, £80. Deluxe Therma Stone Massage, 90 mins, £75.
Other specific packages to highlight: There’s a huge range of packages on offer, from the Simply Special Spa Break starting at £125, to the fun-sounding Girls Get-together Pyjama Party, which costs just £99 per person and includes the services of a beauty therapist for the evening, plus fluffy jammies!
For full details of treatments see thegardenofenglandspa.com.
Contact: Tel: 01304 852424 , firstname.lastname@example.org