I’ve never been to Newmarket, but like most people I know I’ve lost quite a lot of money there, the town’s racecourse getting the better of me on numerous occasions.
Despite being well aware of how much Newmarket folk like their horses it wasn’t until I arrived that I realised just how much they like them. In Newmarket it isn’t just a sport, nor just a tool for draining your bank balance on misguided punts, it’s almost a religion. But then, who doesn’t like horses?
Mrs TLE and I left South East London and arrived in just over an hour, its close proximity to the capital putting a spring in our step and making for a nice start to the weekend. The Bedford Spa Hotel is just on the edge of Newmarket, but because of the nature of the town and venue you feel like you are deep in the countryside. The hotel is an impressive building and we were greeted by the friendly staff and taken to our room which was a neutral design. I opened the curtain and was surprised to see horses in the nearby field (you can pick out the irony in that sentence). But the view of the stables from our luxurious room was a welcomed change from the limited aesthetics on offer in the capital.
Unfortunately we weren’t able to enjoy the views for too long as we packed our swimming gear and set off for an afternoon’s relaxation in the hotel’s spa which is housed in a separate building on the same grounds. The reception staff asked if we wanted to take a buggy to get the whole experience, and given that I already felt too relaxed to walk the short distance, I graciously agreed. Little did we know it is about a 30 second walk. So although a bit of fun, it was a bit embarrassing that two 30 something’s and (fairly) fit people couldn’t be bothered to walk the very short distance. Shameful but enjoyable all the same!
The spa was a den of tranquillity. With a spacious mezzanine hydrotherapy pool that had five different water experiences – these were truly indulgent – a large sauna and steam room and showers with a number of settings – the sea breeze affect being my favourite – conjuring up memories of ferry journeys from my youth. Like any good spa they also have what I like to call the ice bucket challenge, ice water in a rope activated bucket for after your sauna – if you are man enough!
Then it was time for our hour long treatment. We were taken promptly into our treatment rooms and I opted for an hour neck, shoulders and back massage. The masseur, who was very knowledgeable and friendly, said she could tell I was really tense and stressed. I said it is a hard life reviewing spas. It is, get the violins out please!
Afterwards I met Mrs TLE in the relaxation room, then hit the rooftop Jacuzzi. Mrs TLE has a real job in the city and I have never seen her so relaxed in the three and a half years we have been together. We got back to the room for a lie down then got ready for dinner, sharing nods with the other diners who have been to the spa. You could tell that everyone had enjoyed the day and the atmosphere was very relaxed in the dining room. Everyone was almost in a state of zen.
I was feeling content, but when the food arrived, we were blown away. As you expect from a country retreat the menu featured game and other delights. I went for scallops to start and a trio of game for main and Mrs TLE chose the pork belly. The desserts were divine. Mrs TLE rarely orders a dessert, preferring instead to divulge in a few cocktails, but this time even she had one and it was gone in no time.
After the meal we moved into the cocktail lounge for a quick nightcap. We called it a night at about 10.30pm and had a hugely relaxing sleep. My only regret? not staying for two nights. Would I come again? Wild horses couldn’t drag me away.
Bedford spa hotel can be found at Bury Road, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 7BX or visit www.bedfordlodgehotelspa.co.uk