Where to stay: Seaham Hall, County Durham
Once in a while, everyone needs to escape the daily grind and spend a couple of days in a place where there’s no rushing to meet a deadline, catch a train or get to the front of the queue at that trendy new venue everyone’s talking about. If you’re feeling that way right now, Seaham Hall in County Durham is about as refreshing as weekend escapes come. Beautifully situated amid 37 acres of landscaped gardens, approximately half an hour by taxi from Durham rail station, it occupies an impressive cliff-top position that yields glorious coastal views.
Dating back to 1791, Seaham Hall is a Georgian country house that has been sympathetically restored to combine period charm with modern comforts. Each of the 21 rooms is individually designed in the utmost of taste, with bold pops of colour and highly decorated wallpaper bringing a contemporary edge to the classically proportioned spaces. We stayed in one of the newly refurbished executive suites, which featured a king-size bed, high sash windows and an enormous bathroom with a freestanding bath and his-and-hers sinks.
OUT AND ABOUT
With such serene surroundings, it’s tempting never to step outside – or at least, only to take a gentle turn around the landscaped gardens and wander down to the beach, where you can watch the waves lapping along the shore. But if you’re feeling energetic enough to venture a little further, hop in a cab into Durham to admire the majestic architecture, listen to the magical sounds of Evensong or see the Treasures of St Cuthbert, which are some of the UK’s most important surviving Anglo-Saxon artefacts. Then stroll around the city’s cobbled streets, past students hurrying to lectures, and spend some time browsing the gift shops or stopping off for afternoon tea in one of the lovely independent cafés (we recommend the scones at the family-run Cafédral).
FOOD AND DRINK
With its oak bar and gold-plated chandeliers, Byron’s restaurant offers suitably sumptuous surroundings for sampling the excellent British cuisine. Whether you opt for the à la carte or tasting menu, there is plenty of fresh fish – try the Chalk stream trout with apple and horseradish – and beautifully cooked meat, including Yorkshire Moor venison and dry-aged beef. If you’re after a more relaxed dining experience, order one of the classic gastropub-style dishes from the lounge menu with a glass of Taittinger Champagne.
The undoubted highlight of Seaham Hall is its Serenity Spa, which encompasses a heated indoor pool with massaging jetstreams, indoor and outdoor Jacuzzis, a steam room, a sauna and multiple treatment rooms. After an energising swim, we recommend booking yourself one of the signature Ishga facials, which will see your skin deeply cleansed, exfoliated and nourished using organic products made from vitamin-rich Scottish seaweed. You’ll return home glowing inside and out.
From £195 for a double room at Seaham Hall, Lord Byron’s Walk, County Durham. To book, ring Seaham Hall on 0191 516 1400.
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