by Georgina Crawshaw
So when I get the chance for some ‘one on mum’ time I must admit, I grab it with both hands.
Mother’s day seemed the perfect opportunity to steal her away for a couple of days and where better than Calcot Manor? A charming rural retreat, set in 220 acres of glorious Cotswold countryside, complete with the all important girlie getaway ingredient – a luxury spa. Needless to say, she didn’t take much convincing.
Located near Tetbury in Gloucestershire, this former English farmhouse is pretty much textbook perfect – from the breathtaking views and flower-filled courtyard, to the ancient stone barns and stables which now accommodate some of the best rooms in the house. Our boudoir, Smogen, has been beautifully converted with exposed oak beams, distressed furniture and snug window seats decorated in warm, mellow hues; think cosy, rustic cottage that somehow manages to be both extravagant and homely at the same time. Utter bliss.
Attention to detail is Calcot’s calling card – from the tin of homemade shortbread on the bedside table, to the well-stocked book shelf (time to curl up on that window seat me thinks) – I’m pretty sure they even organised the dawn chorus wake-up call! In fact, there are only 35 bedrooms in total so the hotel is a pretty intimate affair all round. Guests are welcome, indeed encouraged, to use the bar, lounge and drawing room at their leisure and rather than a stuck up four star venue, it feels like a weekend away at a friends’ country home.
Talk about a breath of fresh air - it seems Calcot chucked out all the formality with the chintz. Don’t get me wrong, the service is exemplary and there’s still plenty of sophisticated antiques and oil paintings dotted around. But you’ll be hard pushed to find any floral patterns or swags – everything is country chic, contemporary and, most importantly, comfortable. They’ve thought of everything – including a playzone and crèche for younger children and the Mez which boasts Wii’s, x-boxes, playstations and even a mini cinema. The latter is also open to adults so you can drop off the big kids, and small, before really getting down to business - at the spa.
If I had to choose Calcot’s pièce de résistance – the spa would be it. Whether you want to work up a sweat in the gym or take a tennis lesson on the all weather courts, swim a few lengths of the outdoor pool or borrow a bike to explore the grounds , try your hand at a spot of zumba or simply chill out in the sauna and steam room – the choice is yours. The al fresco hot tub with its rather indulgent log fire is particularly popular (no surprises there then) but our favourite, by far, is the relaxation room.
No sooner are we robed up and nestled in our padded rattan loungers than my eyes are feeling heavy and before I know it I’ve drifted off to sleep. In all honesty, just being here is rejuvenating enough, but with over 50 specialist treatments on offer surely it would be rude not to? And boy am I glad I did. The Aromatherapy Associates age repair facial is 85 minutes of pure heaven and I even go so far as to spoil my mum to a hot stones massage. Well, it is mother’s day after all!
Of course, all this relaxing is hungry work but Calcot have got that covered too. There’s a light bite menu in the Spa lounge or laid back bistro food available from the on-site Gumstool Inn gastro-pub. But mother’s day is all about making her feel special so I’ve booked us a three course dinner in the Conservatory – which comes highly recommended from guests and locals alike.
As restaurants go it’s impressive without being overwhelming – the decor is modern minimalist at its very best, and you can watch the chefs at work in the open kitchen by chandelier and candle light, or enjoy stunning daylight views over rolling Cotswold fields; and the menu is just as inspiring.
After tucking in, perhaps a little too enthusiastically (portion sizes are almost over generous) , to delicious Calcot made bread we start with dressed Dorset crab and stone baked buffalo mozzarella. The fish dish is good but the mozzarella is better – melt in the mouth cheese, Parma ham and grilled aubergines piled with rocket and tomato – mmm! We both opt for Cornish mackerel spiced red curry for main (“looks almost too good to eat” she says) but have to admit defeat at the last hurdle and attack a vanilla crème brûlée together. A bottle of wine to wash it down with and we’re just about ready for bed.
All in all a lovely break with my lovely mum, but I do have one small problem....how am I ever going to top Calcot Manor for mother’s day next year?!
Overnight breaks at Calcot Manor start from £275 for a double room, including full English breakfast and use of the spa facilities. Visit www.calcotmanor.co.uk for further information.