Last weekend, I stayed at Kettering Park Hotel & Spa with my mum, to celebrate numerous occasions: both mine and my mum's belated birthdays and to celebrate my new job. I had heard of many great stories and reviews from the hotel and looking at the pictures, it always looked so grand!
So when the opportunity came around for us to stay, I couldn't refuse!
You're probably thinking: but Nicole... you live in Northamptonshire, literally 25 miles away... why did you stay somewhere local?
I believe when you're travelling somewhere, you are looking for escapism from everyday life. To relax, to unwind and to take your mind away from everyday pressures, no matter the distance. So when I was offered a complimentary stay, it seemed perfect timing considering what's been happening the last few months, plus it was a great excuse to celebrate some good news and spend quality time with my mum!
Kettering Park Hotel & Spa is part of the House of Daniel Thwaites collection, the hotel is noted to be a big-hearted hotel where everyone fits in and I have to 100% agree with this. It's sometimes natural to not feel completely at home when you stay somewhere new, but Kettering Park Hotel has nailed the magical ability to ensure no matter who walks into their doors; everyone feels welcome.
Kettering Park Hotel's aim is to transport guests into a world where time slows down to a leisurely stroll, boasting characterful spaces, fresh flowers, oak panelling and offers a bedroom for everyone.
On top of their comforting bedrooms, they have a proper size pool, a sauna, steam room and spa pool for vigour and vitality leaving you refreshed, a gym, amazing spa treatments and food that leaves your mouth watering for more.
Getting to the hotel was easy enough and we were pleased to see that there was plenty of car parking - an ideal start.
It was hard not to be in awe as we walked into the hotel, as our first impression from the outside didn't give a proper representation of how beautiful the inside was.
Every room has a story to tell, with their beautiful rustic walls, vintage tapestry's hanging from the wall and their Tudor-esque photo's wherever you looked. From its modern exterior on the outside, stepping inside gave us a whole different story.
Despite a huge crowd that was standing in front of the reception (we found out afterwards that there was a wedding present) the receptionist was quick to spot us and called us over to check in.
Checking in was quick and easy and my mum and I couldn't help but comment after on the great reception we received from the blonde receptionist (I wish I got her name!) - she even offered to give us a tour around the hotel, which I thought was really generous and a sign of them going above and beyond.
We were given our room key and off we went to find our room... which didn't take long as we were located just around the corner from the reception, the spa and the restaurant - perfect!
We stayed in a Syndicate room and as we walked in, I just remember going "wow" over how much space there was. It's rare to stay somewhere that is so spacious, let alone somewhere that has your own sofa.
There was plenty of space for the two of us, with huge wardrobe spaces that had two fluffy dressing gowns for us to use, a wide screen TV, a well-lit bathroom which included a bath (hallelujah!), a very generous coffee and tea area which included biscuits, hot chocolate and even a coffee machine. Oh, and let's not forget the incredibly cosy, plump beds! I don't usually like to stray away from my own double bed, but I'd happily come back just to cuddle up in that single bed again!
I was overwhelmed by the welcome I received from the staff at Kettering Park Hotel who gave us a fruit platter, chocolates from local chocolatiers, Explore Chocolate, a bottle of prosecco and a lovely card from General Manager, Andrew and all the team.
Our first stop during our relaxing weekend at Kettering Park Hotel was a delightful Afternoon Tea (very apt seeing as this was during Afternoon Tea Week!)
As we were previously running late for our Afternoon Tea booking and having rung the hotel to let them know, we didn't feel rushed and were able to enjoy our afternoon tea with plenty of time spare.
I'll be writing a whole post on our Afternoon Tea experience in a dedicated blog post, so more on that soon, but to summarise, it was the perfect way to start our staycation.
Next, we swapped our clothes for swimming costumes and dressing gowns as we headed to their luxurious spa - I was SO ready to be pampered!
A short walk from our hotel room, the spa was light and airy, with the soothing aroma of grapes from all the Caudalie skincare products on display making the room smell wonderful and with plenty of comfy seating to come and relax in afterwards. A quick sign in and a prompt sheet fill, my mum and I were whisked away by our beauticians for our separate treatments.
Whilst my mum went for the Express D-Vine Facial, I went for the Des Vignes Back Massage, which was described to leave skin feeling soft, hydrated and shrouded.
As my beautician took me to my treatment room, she gave me plenty of time to get myself ready and onto the massage table and usually when I go for a massage, I like to be in total silence so that I can completely relax. My masseuse gave me the peace and quiet I was looking for but was also kind enough to let me know I could ask her to go harder or softer on my back if I required it. Luckily, it was the perfect amount (despite having lots of tight knots in my back which felt and sounded painful as her elbow cracked my shoulders) but afterwards, I was left feeling loose and in a happy, relaxed and sleepy state.
My mum came out and her face was literally glowing. She said that was the best facial she ever had and her skin literally felt like a baby's bum.
After our treatments, we made our way to the pool to swim a few lengths, unwind in the hot tub, then finally find a comfy sofa, drink a fruit tea and chill out with our books. It was exactly the type of escapism I was looking for and the hotel had everything we needed to feel replenished.
We picked up some leaflets in the spa, as we noticed there were lots of great deals on at the spa, including spa memberships which my mum is now seriously thinking about purchasing for her and my dad. The Spa Memberships look like the perfect present for anyone, at only £29.99 a month.
Afterwards, we headed out of the spa and completely crashed in our hotel room.
For once, it was lovely just to lie on our beds after our treatments and snuggle in our spa dressing gowns, enjoy a glass of prosecco and watch Star Wars on our big screen TV.
There was no pressure to do anything at the hotel other than relax and right away, we felt like we were at home - a feeling which usually takes a lot longer to fulfil. Plus, it was a rare occasion for my mum and I to spend some quality time together.
After a big chunk of time spent in the hotel room chilling and taking our time to get ourselves glammed up, it was time for dinner. Prior to this, we enjoyed a pre-dinner cocktail in the lounge before we were escorted to our seats.
Our waiter was kind enough to inform us on the menu, presented us with the specials and he informed us that we could help ourselves to the chef's table for our starters or mains. He also asked us what we wanted to drink and we had already made up our minds that we wanted to share a bottle of the house white wine during dinner.
We couldn't help but spot all the colourful and variety of food on the chef's table, which was a selection of salad, fresh seafood and artisan and cured meats - we pretty much made our minds up that we wanted to try everything on the table for our starter!
My plate was a random mixture of classic salad, lentils, fresh smoked salmon and an aubergine - it was actually a really nice mix and wasn't too heavy ahead of our main courses.
For main, my eyes instantly went towards the Roast Chicken drumstick, with crispy skin and all the trimmings with all the trimmings, with a side of minted peas. The chicken was so moist and literally melted in my mouth, the stuffing was an added extra that made the whole dish and the gravy was thick, meaty and juicy just the way I like it!
We were sure that we couldn't fit anything else into our stomachs, as we were so full! However, we couldn't leave without looking at the dessert menu, because I knew I'd regret it!
I was sold when I saw that they had an ice cream sundae with clotted cream and chocolate ice cream, chocolate brownie, cream and chocolate sauce. It had the perfect balance of not being too sickly sweet, thanks to the clotted cream ice cream and cream, but sweet enough to give me that *I've just eaten dessert* indulgence smile and mmmmm noise.
We left dinner with incredibly full stomachs, but very happy smiles and hearts as we headed straight to bed.
Waking up in my bed, I felt like I had drifted off to dreamland. I woke up feeling like I had more than 8 hours sleep and it was SO hard getting out of bed to get ready for breakfast - a feeling that I only usually get from my own bed at home.
Breakfast was served at the hotel between 6.30am-10.30am, which I felt was a good amount of time, especially if you were staying during a weekday. We made our way down to the restaurant for breakfast around 9.30am and there was plenty of food left for us to tuck into.
However, we were still full up from our three-course dinner from the night before and usually, I would opt for a traditional English fry-up on these occasions. However, I chose to go for the chef's table once again, which was a table full of continental items such as cheese, cured meats, salad and fresh seafood.
I just opted for a classic continental breakfast: a fresh croissant, ham, cheese, and a nice grapefruit on the side, with fresh coffee and orange juice. Just enough to tide me over before lunch.
I love how relaxed the whole breakfast set-up was, as we were able to walk from our room in our spa slippers and no one would look at you funny, because every visitor was there for a different reason and the hotel was able to embrace that.
Since we had a lot of time before we went for Sunday lunch, we were able to pack up our luggage in our rooms
I had to go for one last dip in the pool, finishing off with a steam and sauna which felt so refreshing after all the wine we drank the night before and finally relaxing in the spa lounge with a cup of tea.
Checking out was smooth and simple, with no problems. Then we ventured back into the restaurant to enjoy a very well deserved Sunday Roast, which I will be writing ANOTHER blog post all about our experience very soon - but to summarise, it was a traditional Sunday Roast to top all Sunday Roasts and was the perfect ending to our weekend.
Finally, we had one last walk around the gardens before we said goodbye to Kettering Park Hotel & Spa.
Overall, I have never left somewhere feeling upset because I haven't wanted to leave! Despite only being a 40-minute drive away from home, I easily felt like I was on holiday somewhere far away, as I felt like I had escaped from reality, everything we needed to replenish and relax was on our doorstep and even my mum said, and I quote: "in my 47 years, I have never stayed anywhere as wonderful as Kettering Park Hotel and why on earth it isn't a 5 star hotel, I have no idea." And usually, my mum is a harsh critic!
I loved our stay here so much that I have already gone and booked a stay again over Christmas, this time with Josh, which I imagine will be just as lovely but romantic.
If you're based around Northamptonshire, or you have direct links with Cambridge, Leicester, Birmingham or you are looking at staying somewhere from afar, I would highly recommend Kettering Park Hotel & Spa if you're looking for the ultimate weekend away.