Hotel Du Vin, Exeter: REN Bespoke Facial

Josephine Price experiences a signature REN Bespoke Facial

By Josephine Price
Published 4 May 2016, 12:09 BST

The hotel is bustling with families checking in and out as we slip into reception to escape the storm whipping through Exeter. The wind slams the door shut behind us and the fire hisses at the cold as we're ushered in.

“Can we not leave until check-out tomorrow?” my sister asks, casting a disdainful look at the bleak day outside.

We agree — happy to be held hostage by this elegant urban bolthole.

We're in one of the nine feature rooms — bright and spacious with a particularly high ceiling. As a huge bath fan, I'm delighted to find that alongside the compact shower room there's a large room dedicated solely to the huge bath. I retreat to this modern, minimalist sanctuary on more than one occasion over the weekend, determined to finish my book, and am swiftly convinced that all hotel rooms should make such a showcase of the glorious bath.

Formerly the West of England Eye Hospital, the hotel today houses 98 rooms in the gorgeous Georgian building. It's a grand yet homely place; the historic facade belies its contemporary interior, which boasts an elegant yet quirky personality.

It doesn't take long to explore and we find that the charming walled gardens are home to the kitchen garden, pool, spa and gym. You do, however, have to walk between each, as they're dotted around the circular lawn. On any other day, this might be more enjoyable, but as the storm whips through the city we join the other women darting between them in dressing gowns. Thankfully, the swimming pool is a relaxing haven — and we're lucky to have the whole place to ourselves. A wood burner heats the room and keeps the water at a comfortable 31C. Jets of water in the plunge pool pummel our backs and propel us towards the narrow opening leading to the outdoor pool. Feeling brave, we swim outside into a stormy February afternoon. The contrast between the cool winter air and the heated pool makes it an invigorating experience.

Having worked up an appetite, we settle in for the evening at The Circle restaurant in the conservatory. Teardrop pendant lights take over the entire ceiling and are perfect Instagram fodder. We pick from the three-course set menu. A bottle of a rich red Gamay accompanies my poached salmon starter and baked plaice to follow. I finish off with some local cheeses: a Devon blue, a Quicke's Cheddar and a Sharpham Brie — which the waiter tells us is produced at the Sharpham vineyard nearby in Devon.

After breakfast the following morning Airida welcomes us into the spa. It's compact but calming nonetheless with fewer crowds than the day before. My 60-minute REN Bespoke Facial begins with a double cleanse using their Rose Centifolia Purity cleansing balm to take off the make up I needn't have bothered applying and the Hot Cloth Cleanser to further cleanse before a quick massage to invigorate my skin. Next up, my face is exfoliated using REN's micro polish cleanser which uses bio-extracts, glycolic and lactic acids to strip away debris and boost radiance, before Airida applies a Clarity Restoring mask and finishes off the treatment with a rich Radiance Perfection Serum.

The Sunday morning that greets us as we leave the hotel is just as bleak and blustery as the day before. I drop my sister back at her university accommodation and she grudgingly accepts that reality. Hotel Du Vin has well and truly spoilt us.


Double rooms from £120 a night. REN Bespoke Facial: 60 minutes, £60.


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