THE SPREAD EAGLE: MIDHURST'S SENSATIONAL SPA HOTEL
It is a gorgeous Tuesday afternoon, the wind is blowing through the convertible, as the sun is gently skimming the stunning South Downs countryside. Racing down the leafy country lane towards The Spread-Eagle Hotel & Spa, excited at the prospect of a night away from the responsibilities of parenthood.
The Spread Eagle is part of the Historic Sussex Hotels Group, one of three exquisite spa hotels in Sussex, the other two being Bailiffscourt and Ockenden Manor. The hotel itself has thirty-nine bedrooms, plus a beautiful Spa and is nestled in the centre of the stunning market town of Midhurst, just north of Chichester. Everywhere you look, there are beautiful old buildings brimming with character. The Spread Eagle is one of England’s oldest coaching inns and dates to 1430 and was once graced by Queen Elizabeth 1st on a visit to Sussex, whose wig closet remains in the aptly names Queens suite.
From the moment we entered the hotel we were made to feel welcome. After checking in we were shown to our room for the night which was the Queens suite. the hotel is beautifully decorated, whilst still holding all its period charm, this is visible from the original wonky floor in the suite, even the restrooms are stunning.
To enter the suite, you go through a wooden door in the wall, it is all very Narnia. As soon as you walk through the door you are greeted with a beautiful TV lounge area, adjoining that is a huge bedroom with dining area and desk, but taking pride of place is the most inviting four poster bed that I have ever seen.
Everything about this suite is pure luxury, from the roll top bath to the delightful Temple Spa products, at this point I am in heaven as Temple Spa is a favourite of mine. The real piece-de-resistance were the two Chilgrove Gins ready and waiting on the table. To say that I have already fallen in love with this place is a bit of understatement.
After unpacking and freshening up we were eager to get to our scheduled gin tasting session, we met with the manager JJ, who is a bit of a gin aficionado himself, and after a quick tour of the hotel, he takes us to the hotels infamous gin bar and introduces us to Carla, our gin host for the evening. Now it usually takes a lot to impress me, however the gin bar is phenomenal, and it has over one hundred gins. The tasting session was all laid out, we had tasting notes and tried eight world class gins, including the original recipe Dutch gin, which oddly tasted just like whiskey. Carla was fabulous, she was friendly and made us feel at ease, her wealth of knowledge was astounding, we were even taught how to test the smell of the botanical's in each gin, I cannot recommend the tasting session enough, it was thoroughly enjoyable.
After the gin tasting and with slightly hollow legs, we made our way to the restaurant, which was quite busy already. Our waiter was lovely and really knew his stuff, after suggesting an initial glass of Wiston Sparkling wine, he then scored points with my partner and suggested his favourite red, a full-bodied bottle of Saint-Emilion. The Spread Eagle is famous for its food, and head chef, Richard Cave-Toye has created an exceptional menu. Our fine-dining experience kicked off with chilled spicy gazpacho with saffron and garlic mayo, with crusty croutons for Samuel and hot fois grois on potato puree with sour cherries and a red wine jus. For main I chose sliced rump of lamb with creamy garlic potatoes, gremolata, with a pea, bean, tomato and mint casserole. All the dishes were delicious, a real treat. In between courses the waiter brought over two fabulous smoked salmon dishes before we continued with our culinary delight which ended with a creme brulee for Samuel and I indulged in the extravagant Eton mess mage complete with a shot of Wiston Rose sparkling wine.
Stuffed and sleepy from all the impressive food and incredible selection of gins, we retire to our suite. Not one to miss out, I draw a luxury bubble bath and test all the Temple Spa products, whilst Samuel took advantage of the TV, and caught up with the World Cup results. The bed was so comfy, the pillows and sheets were of the upmost quality, ensuring an amazing night’s sleep.
Upon waking we went downstairs for breakfast. The Spread Eagle caters for everyone's taste, and although I am usually in line for a healthy breakfast, today I couldn't resist the pan-au-chocolat and a fresh grapefruit juice. Samuel opted for boiled eggs, which arrived with the most neatly stacked soldiers I have ever seen. There was a vast array of hot drinks to choose from and the waitress was very accommodating, chatting to us over tea, which confirmed that the staff at The Spread Eagle are more like a tight-knit family, each asking about our stay and speaking so nicely about the hotel and their colleagues. To say that I am impressed is putting it mildly..
Sadly, it was time to check out, so we packed up our bags and left probably one of the nicest hotels that we have had the pleasure of staying in.
PART 2: THE SPA
How could I stay at the hotel without trying out the infamous spa?! Put simply, I just couldn't. Upon entering the spa, the lovely receptionist offered me a soothing glass of cucumber water, which in today's heat was gratefully received, I was then ushered into the changing room to ready myself for the treatment. After transforming into the super comfy towelling robe and flip flops, I am introduced to my therapist, Elyse.
We chat about all the products on offer, whilst casually walking to the treatment room, which is beautifully decorated in a soothing green with mood lighting, a perfect space to whisk you off into a dreamy world of relaxation. Today I am having the spas signature treatment, the South Down Soother, which promises a full 90 minutes of pure luxury. The treatment begins with the most amazing cup of warm nectarine tea, which is delicious. As I sit down I am treated to a lovely foot bath, followed by a detoxifying full body brush and soothing mud wrap, a heavenly facial and foot massage complete the treatment, which I must say left me tension free, I even napped at one point. All the products were Temple Spa, and Elyse was amazing, she was knowledgeable and talked me through the products that were used.
After the treatment I was shown to the relaxation room, which was decorated with inviting day beds and faux fur throws, add in a chilled glass of Wiston Sparkling wine and I am in heaven. The whole experience at The Spread Eagle was sensational, the food, the spa and the staff offer a service rarely seen outside of London. I cannot recommend this hotel enough, whether it’s for a weekend away or a spa break, you will not be disappointed.