Bailiffscourt Hotel and Spa, West Sussex: Mediterranean Sea Hydrotherm Massage

Joanna Reeves floats away with a Mediterranean Sea Hydrotherm MassageWednesday, 22 June 2016

Sleep

A stone's throw from pebbly Climping Beach, honey-hued Bailiffscourt Hotel is nestled amid 30 acres of lush, stream-threaded grounds. Narrow corridors lead to heavy, brass-studded wooden doors, behind which cosy nooks, warmed by crackling log fires, offer the perfect spot to linger over coffee. Arranged around a central courtyard — al fresco diners can eat among the rose trees come summer — the warm, inviting rooms are home to four-poster beds that envelope you in a feather-soft cloud, eclectic armchairs and sofas that beg to be sunk into — Prosecco in hand — and Gothic mullioned windows overlooking manicured lawns and, beyond these, a sliver of foam-flecked sea. The rest of the 39 rooms and suites are found in a series of buildings dotted across the grounds — some connected by an underground tunnel and others beside the old moat, overlooking fields.

Eat

The decor of the Tapestry Restaurant is as impressive as the food itself; as is the case throughout the hotel, intricate tapestries adorn exposed stone walls, candles flicker, lamps glow and a sprinkling of antiques and art add character and charm. Using locally sourced ingredients, the man behind the menu, head chef Russell Williams, rustles up traditional English cuisine with a modern twist. The cod brandade on crisp puff pastry, with quail eggs, parma ham and confit tomatoes is a riot of fresh, tasty flavours, while the lamb — dished up with dauphinoise potatoes and smoked aubergine caviar — is refined yet simple. A personal highlight was the melt-in-the-mouth pistachio soufflé with chocolate tea ice cream that rounded off a memorable meal.

The spa

A lavender-lined path weaves its way from the main hotel building to the Scandinavian-inspired spa. Inside, light pours in from floor-to-ceiling windows, illuminating polished limestone walls that soar to meet wood-panelled ceilings. The huge reception area is chic and stylish, with bubble seats suspended from the ceiling, brushed metallic floor lamps arcing over low-slung sofas, and oversized turquoise rugs on wooden floors. A fitness room overlooks the infinity whirlpool bath and steam-shrouded outdoor pool. If it's too chilly for al fresco swimming, there's an indoor pool with a quintessential Home Counties view: rabbits frolicking on the lawn, a glimpse of sea through the trees. For a better view, head to the relaxation room upstairs — complete with artfully distressed leather sofas, fluffy throws and piles of cushions — which opens onto a wooden terrace; the ideal spot, I discovered, to sip a frothy Nespresso. There's also a steam room and sauna for those who wish to turn the heat up, and tennis courts for sporty types.

The treatment

One of my massage bugbears is having to manoeuvre onto my front mid-treatment, just as I'm starting to properly relax. But the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea Hydrotherm Massage is you lie supine throughout, supported by a super-comfy, warm water-filled flotation bed that's soft enough to allow the therapist to reach under and massage the back of my body and legs without disrupting my Zen-like trance.

Verdict

The treatment was heavenly; my therapist really listened to my concerns (aching shoulders, poor posture and anxiety) and suggested the ideal treatment. I did wonder if I'd get the same intensity and pressure (much-needed on my laptop-hunched shoulders) as from a normal massage, but to my surprise it was as satisfying, if not more so. The cherry on the cake: lying absolutely still for a full hour was bliss.

Best for

City folk seeking a slice of rural life. Plus dog owners will enjoy the novelty of a canine-friendly hotel that doesn't skimp on luxury. Narrow country lanes lead directly to the windswept beach, and nearby, the sleepy market town of Arundel is well worth a visit for its eclectic mix of quirky antiques shops and art and jewellery boutiques, followed by a stroll along the River Arun and a beer on the riverside terrace at The Black Rabbit.

Essentials

The Mediterranean Sea Hydrotherm Massage costs £100 for 60 minutes; hotel stays from £229 per night, based on two sharing a classic double room, mid-week, on a B&B basis.

hshotels.co.uk/bailiffscourt-hotel-and-spa



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