Stoke Park, Buckinghamshire: Easing aches and pains with a Mother-to-be massage

Helen Warwick eases aches and pains with a Mother-to-be massage Thursday, 21 May 2015

By Helen Warwick

It's a tough old game being pregnant. Amazing, yes, but alongside the perpetual sickness and exhaustion, there's the weight gain, the constant need to pee, and the random aches and pains.

At 13 weeks pregnant, there was only one solution — a super-lux spa break. And my chosen destination? The grand yet down-to-earth Stoke Park, just half an hour from central London.

Within an hour of my arrival I was floating spread-eagled in the large pool, and having dried off, was sipping a herbal tea in the spa's waiting room, patronised by couples huddled together in white gowns and small groups chattering in hushed tones and flicking through glossies. The treatment menu is a long one, with everything from Thalgo Collagen Facials to Lava Shell massages and microdermabrasion facials.

Before long, my therapist showed me to the treatment room, and with it being a ‘Nurturing Mother-to-be Massage' (55 minutes for £80), instructed me to lie on my side and ‘hug' the pillowy duvet she handed me — pregnant women must avoid lying on their back, since the weight of the uterus can reduce the blood flow to the foetus.

Using firm therapeutic techniques, she worked my neck, shoulders and hips, focusing on my legs with smooth, sweeping movements, before I rolled over and she concentrated on my other side. I'd imagined lying in this position wouldn't be entirely comfortable, yet thanks to the huggable duvet, I was serenely snug and almost dozed off.

Feeling light as a feather for the first time in weeks, I glammed myself up that evening and headed to the hotel's fine-dining restaurant, Humphry's — all floor-to-ceiling windows, contemporary-cool music and crisp-white tablecloths. Having to turn a blind eye to some fantastic-sounding dishes — scallops with sticky chicken wing, loin of venison — I opted for the exceptionally light yet tasty sea bass with sauce Americane and an apricot soufflé. Much like the rest of the hotel, Humphry's is lavish and upscale, though without a whiff of stuffiness or snobbery; no one bat an eyelid as I headed down to breakfast in my slippers, nor when I strolled from my room to the spa — through reception — in my gown.

And my room? Stoke Park nailed it yet again. Combining tradition and tranquillity, it was nothing short of magnificent, with a huge, wooden four-poster bed, a vast bathroom with standalone bath tub, and a private terrace with superb views of the estate. Plus an iPod dock, DVD player and an open fireplace for those cosy winter nights. There's real character in the public spaces, too, where you'll find ladies in pearls taking tea, honeymooners looking starry-eyed bedside the grand piano, and kids having an early supper in the Orangery.

There's also hoards of history, plus a games room, tennis courts, stunning fairy-tale like garden and an outdoor sauna and hot tub are in the pipeline. Watch this space — it's a blast.

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