Raising a glass to the perfect place to relax.
SITTING in the hot, steaming bubbles, with a glass of rather colder bubbles in hand, the mood could hardly have been more idyllic. As I sipped champagne in a hot tub and watched cows graze lazily just 20 yards away, with the distant sun setting in a spectacular orange haze, I could not have felt more relaxed.
Only a 30-minute drive from home, it felt half a world away from the stresses and strains of the normal working day. As a couple walked by with their dogs and issued a cheery “good evening”, I silently vowed that, tomorrow, I would buy some swimming trunks, as I slipped further beneath the stream of bubbles that were protecting my modesty.
The fact that this potentially mildly embarrassing moment was the only stressful incident of the stay says a great deal. This was, in fact, virtually the only other moment we even saw anyone else in the grounds of the park in Thoresby, as we relaxed in a lodge that was as luxurious and homely as any hotel I had ever stopped in.
There were a dozen or so lodges spread throughout a pretty woodland clearing but none overlooked each other. So, whether you were sitting in the tub – and I can reassure you that I was properly dressed every time after that near-miss – or just relaxing on the expansive decking that led off the living room, you felt a sense of perfect privacy.
The presumption is that such a break is aimed at outdoorsy kinds of people; those who like to get up at 8am and take the dogs for an epic walk in the miles of surrounding parkland and villages. I am not one of those people. But I still felt perfectly at home. The temptation, on the first night, was actually to do nothing, so tranquil were the surroundings. So we did. I cooked up some steaks in a kitchen equipped
better than the one I have at home, another bottle of wine was opened and we sat, relaxed and looked at the stars, as clear as day outside of the glare of the city.
The only time the peace was broken was when some excited squealing rose from the bathroom, where complimentary Molten Brown toiletries had been discovered. This, I am assured, is a big deal. This was symbolic of the tasteful surroundings, with Egyptian cotton sheets in the lovely bedrooms, beautifully finished bathrooms and a homely living area with TV and DVD.
There were only two of us in a three-bedroom lodge, which would have been perfect for four or a family but perhaps a little cramped for six adults. I was eventually cajoled into Leaving the lodge to go on a bike ride – they are available to hire on site for £10 a day – which was an interesting experience, mainly as I had not ridden a bike in more than a decade. But we were able to explore picturesque Thorseby Park and the surrounding areas – and cause traffic chaos on the road as I panted and wheezed up a never-ending hill. It also proved to be a useful outing, as it inspired us to visit Thorseby Hall for an outstanding dinner that evening.
The Blue Room is one of three restaurants at the hotel and the highlight of our meal was the “taste of the sea” dish, which included a shrimp cocktail, sea trout tartar, caviar, a poached quail egg, a scallop
and cauliflower puree. If you enjoy seafood, you would be happy, as the hake and the sea bass were also delicious.
A short cab ride took us back to the lodge and, in the morning and the only hard part of the stay was trying to motivate ourselves to leave.