The Countryside, The Hotel Spa, The Massage , 20 September 2015

The Hotel Review / The Bedford Lodge Hotel, Newmarket

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I used to go out with a boy who hailed from the sleepy market town of Newmarket, which is best known for its racecourses. As is my experience with all places that are known for something in particular, my overriding memories of the place are quite different – I picture Newmarket and see the little rickety station, where I spent so many hours waiting for trains (those were pre-smartphone days, people), and the beautiful Suffolk countryside, where we used to go for long walks.

Last month, I revisited Newmarket with my sister for a break from the city at the Bedford Lodge Hotel and found it to be just as quietly charming and restorative as the town. The hotel, though a touch corporate (I’d imagine the people of Newmarket come here for weekday meetings over scones and coffee), it is reassuring in the way that countryside hotels often are for we Londoners – there was a sense of slowing down the minute we stepped inside. Here’s what else left an impression…

OLD SCHOOL BEDROOMS // Fancy and overly luxe though it ain’t, this bedroom was the scene of one of the soundest night’s sleep I’ve had in ages. Whether the result of the stillness of the countryside coupled with the big comfy bed, or a byproduct of all the lavender going on remains a mystery…

AN AMAZING SPA // If you’re planning a hen weekend just outside of London, consider this place. It’s huge and could accommodate a group, is very well considered and has lots of beautiful communal bits like a jacuzzi on the roof and big comfortable beds in which to recline and have a gossip overlooking the gardens.

We had a Lavender Poultice Massage, which was possibly the most relaxing treatment I’ve ever had, though initially a little weird: instead of using hands, the masseuse uses a poultice to knead out tension and knots. Once used to the sensation, I could understand why the treatment is popular – the combination of the lavender scent, warmth of the poultice and firm, twisting motion sent me into a deep state of relaxation.

LOTS OF LAVENDER // Not only was it the star of the massage we had, but it’s also liberally planted among the grounds and appears in other touches, too – the shortbread biscuits left on our bed were lavender-infused and the room scented with the herb. I liked this immensely – soporific effects aside, it’s also damn pretty, isn’t it?

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