My visit to Danesfield House Hotel and Spa in the glorious surroundings of Marlow on Thames is one I will remember fondly for the rest of my life! I was already highly anticipating the stay as I was celebrating two important milestones during the month of October 2014 but the news that George Clooney and his new Wife Amal Alamuddin had booked out the entire hotel just a week before our stay only served to heighten that anticipation.
By the time we arrived it was already twilight but the burgeoning night could do nothing to hide the grandeur of the place, the clock tower and scaling white walls with red roof tiles reminded me of Mission San Juan Bautista, fans of Alfred Hitchcock‘s classic Vertigo will know the building I speak of, Vertigo is one of my favourite movies so I took that as a good omen.
As we walked to the entrance we were greeted cheerfully by other guest’s, the reception staff were extremely accommodating and made us feel at ease immediately. We were given directions to our room and it was easy to find, albeit without the assistance of the usual door numbers, the rooms instead had names. When we opened the door to our River Suite the vastness and decor left us speechless.
Last year my partner and I visited Osterley House, a stately home now in the care of The National Trust, it had a 4 poster bed inside that was cordoned off to the public, the State bed at Osterley was designed by famed Architect Robert Adam in 1777, the bed inside the room at Danesfield House very much reminded me of that bed, of course we were thrilled, I had never slept in such a majestically imposing room before.
The magic of Danesfield House is that after a few minutes you feel like you are at home, the room was warm and inviting and the view from the windows were a sight to behold, even at night. The Thames at Marlow was clearly visible and in the distance the silhouette of the Chiltern Hills could be made out.
I had a massage booked at 8 pm so I wasn’t in our suite too long before I went downstairs again for my appointment. The Spa Illuminata was on the other side of the hotel to our suite, which meant going back down the way we first arrived via reception, taking a right, walking up a flight of stairs, following the corridor around to the glass partitioned ramp that overlooked the car park and parts of the grounds, through a set of wooden double doors and finally down another flight of stairs to the Spa.
Now this may seem like a lot of walking but I honestly didn’t mind, for it gave me time to truly take in the hotels exceptional and unique character.
Once I arrived at the Spa Reception area, I was greeted by the ever polite Hannah who confirmed my massage appointment and handed me a short health questionnaire to fill out, in the instance that my therapist needed to be aware of any health issues I had.
Questionnaire filled in I was shown to the female changing room and was told to wait in the female relaxation room once changed into my complementary robe. The changing room was light, airy and very clean! Crisp white walls and pine finished oak wood was the theme and after making the quick change into my complementary robe and slippers, I made the short walk around the corridor to explore the female relaxation room.
Upon entering, I was surprised to learn I had this entire room to myself and couldn’t help but notice just how relaxed I instantly felt as I quietly entered, closing the door behind me. Dimmed lights, the soft mellow sounds of mother nature playing through the stereo, reclining chairs with big fluffy white duvets thrown over, a large couch to my left, a steam room and shower facilities was all part of this wonderful tranquil and calming space.
If only I had more time to spare that evening I could have quite easily lost an hour or three in there to simply unwind and forget about the outside world temporarily. Before I could even get comfortable on the couch, my therapist for the evening came into the room and introduced herself.
Leanne led me around the corner into one of the Spa’s treatment rooms, briefed me on the type of products she would be using on my body and the type of pressure she would be using for my 30 minute neck, shoulder and back massage. I was particularly impressed to learn the Spa’s choice of brands to carry out their treatments included Aromatherapy Associates, Germaine De Capuccini and met the standards of being natural and Organic. This made me extremely happy as being the green beauty advocate I am, I probably would have politely declined the use of products being used on my skin if it contained harsh chemicals that I have been successfully avoiding since the year 2014 began.
Leanne gave me some time alone to remove my robe and comfortably position myself on the treatment bed ready for her to rid my neck, back and shoulders of the knots I seemed to have somehow accumulated for as long as I can remember. Leanne began by rubbing small amounts of Aromatherapy Associates Relax Body Oil and started to apply moderate pressure with her palms to the base of my back in what felt like a figure eight pattern working her way around both sides and back into the centre. Using my spine as a guideline, she worked her way up my back by applying medium pressure to each lymph node.
I recall twinging at parts with a slight grimace as her skilled hands got closer to the centre and top of my back. She politely asked what my day job entails to which I replied sitting down at a desk working from a laptop for most of the day. Leanne explained this could be one of the factors as to why my shoulder blade area upwards was incredibly tight, that coupled with the training that I do and bad posture. After working my spine Leanne paid special attention to wear I needed the pressure most, the shoulder blades!
My partner could vouch for the numerous times I have practically begged him to put his thumb deep into the crease of both shoulder blades when in discomfort through tightness and in all honesty I wanted Leanne to apply that same extra pressure similar to a deep tissue massage to really work this long-standing problem area of mine, but as my dinner reservation was less than 45 minutes away I decided to stick with the medium pressure that was being applied.
We struck up a conversation at this point and the discussion conveniently turned to a favourite topic of mine, food! I listened with excitement as Leanne gave her recommendations on The Oak Room Menu. This delightful conversation acted as a much needed distraction as Leanne finally turned her skilled hands to my neck, and my was I wincing an awful by this point.
I must point out I had been recovering from a cold and blocked nose prior to our stay at Danesfield House and was extremely impressed that Leanne picked up on this, putting a few drops of Aromatherapy Associates Support Breath Essence in a folded up tissue for me to deeply inhale after my massage appointment came to an end. This small and very thoughtful gesture left a lasting positive impression on me.
Despite the medium pressure applied, my back, neck and shoulders felt renewed and significantly less tight than they had been upon my arrival at Danesfield House. Leanne advised me to take it easy for the rest of night and drink plenty of water as my body would be naturally tired and a little dehydrated due to my lymph nodes being moved around.
Leanne demonstrated great skill and instantly put me at ease during my 30 minute appointment with her. Her ever friendly persona and knowledgeable advice to prevent tightness building up in these areas was greatly appreciated and left the Spa facilities more relaxed as I made my way back to our suite to quickly get changed for a Michelin Star Dining Experience my partner and I would not forget in a hurry!
Dinner was at 9 pm in The Oak Room, a charmingly designed room fitted with large mirrors and ornate wood carvings which on light wood kind of resembled carved Ivory. Our waiter was Callum and he was amazing, very pleasant and helpful. For starters we ordered Foie Gras with Brioche Toast and Scallops with Sauce Vierge, the food came quickly and was packed full of flavor with exceptional presentation.
For our mains we had Breast of Duck with Red Cabbage mash and Herb batter Cod with Hand cut chips and broken peas, the mains were exceptional. My partner said it was the best Cod and Chips he had ever tasted before and we have tried fish and chips from numerous places. For desert we chose the Pressed Banana Tart, we were already stuffed from the main so we were glad to see a moderate sized desert when the plates came, the tart was also excellent.
As both of us are not really drinkers we avoided the alcoholic menu and instead had two mocktails, my partner had an Apple Grenadine concoction while I had the Elderflower with lime and Mint, the mint leaves were crushed at the bottom of the glass imparting a fresh flavour which worked wonderfully with the fragrant Elderflower. We both ordered another Elderflower mocktail each. I would like to personally thank the Head Chef Billy Reid and his team for a superb fine dining experience, we both cannot stop talking about the food we ate that day and will most certainly be back in the new year please god to relive that same experience.
After dinner we retreated back to our bedroom, my partner cleverly brought our Kindle with a hdmi lead and we watched some saved episodes of an American TV show on the large flat screen TV.
As it neared the time for us to retire for the night, I realised that I had forgotten to bring some lens solution for my contact lenses. I had my glasses with me but I wanted to go in the pool the next morning which glasses wouldn’t be convenient for. My partner suggested phoning reception to see if they had any and to my pleasant surprise they did, Yashar on the night desk brought some up for me for which I was extremely grateful.
You can imagine how silly I felt when I realised I didn’t pack our toothbrushes or toothpaste either (so typical me!) My boyfriend once again recommended I ask for help, I picked up the phone again very apologetically and Yashar ran up the stairs with 2 toothbrush travel kits.
It wouldn’t of been the end of the world but it’s little things like this which can taint an otherwise perfect night. I was extremely impressed with the Danesfield service and the foresight to exceed what was expected of them, that is what you call A class delivery!
After breakfast, which consisted of a full English, a cheeky pan au chocolate and a bowl of freshly picked seasonal fruit accompanied with a glass of fresh grapefruit juice, I set aside an hour to return to the Spa Illuminata facilities, only this time it was to relax in the Jacuzzi, have a little splash around in the 20 ft pool and spend some time in the steam and sauna rooms whilst my partner opted to relax in our suite.
Now I had seen pictures of the glorious pool area via the website, but nothing could convey seeing this part of the spa facilities with ones own eyes. The huge glass window panes overlooking certain parts of the hotel’s grounds played part in the tranquility felt and absolutely loved how wonderfully bright and airy it looked.
I took a few moments to observe and take in my surroundings and noticed few people sat at each side of the pool on the lounger quietly reading their choice of morning newspaper without a care in world, completely relaxed and oblivious to everyone around them. Grand yellow painted pillars reinforced the feeling that same feeling of majestic experienced in our suite and once the Jacuzzi became vacant, I made it my priority to experience this first.
The gentle bubbles and pressure jets massaged my entire body and lower myself further to be completely submerged in the warm waters. It wasn’t long before I was joined by a group of female guests to which I learnt was also their first time in visiting the hotel. We all got chatting about our night before, the food we ate, our thoughts about our room and our overall score rating of ten.
It was clear the ladies mutually felt the same way I did about my experiences up to that point and with half an hour already spent in the ever relaxing Jacuzzi I decided to check out the Seam room. Upon entering I noticed it wasn’t as steamy as other steam rooms I had previously used but took it as an opportunity to clear my blocked nose with a few deep inhalations whilst stretching out my limbs.
Feeling refreshed from the steam room, I decided to conclude my spa experience by braving the dry heat and sit in the Sauna room for 10 – 15 mins. I must admit, I am not a fan of Sauna’s at all, and usually cannot stay in for more than a few minutes before wanting to come out but wanted to ensure I experienced as much of the spa facilities as possible.
The Sauna had two wooden benches around the perimeter, a lower deck and an upper deck. I chose to place myself on the lower deck right near the door should I want to make a quick exit without having to climb over people. Despite being quite full, silence filled the room as everyone closed their eyes, relaxed and focused on their breathing.
After what felt like 10 or so minutes, my body was politely telling me it had had its fair share of dry heat and took this as a sign to exit the Sauna and return to the female changing area that was equip with individual shower and changing cubicles, spacious dressing tables, large mirrors and high end hair dryers.
Dressed and hair styled, I returned back to our suite to spend the last hour reflecting on our wonderful stay at the glorious Danesfield House before getting ready for our hours drive home. We checked out of our suite at noon but mutually decided to explore the magnificent outdoor grounds and surrounding scenery this Grade II Country House had to offer.
As I mentioned at the very beginning of this article, my visit to Danesfield House is one my partner and I would fondly remember during our lifetime. Aside from the stunningly beautiful country hotel and grounds, our majestic suite, sublime food and amazing beauty treatment, it was in fact the staffs A Class Customer Service that really blew us away and am best pleased they value and get the importance of this attribute!
Aside from those that have already been mentioned within this article, I would like to take the opportunity to say a Special Thank You to Georgia, my point of contact in relation to our complementary overnight stay pre and post visit. Georgia’s communication throughout was second to none. Georgia ensured she kept me informed at every stage in the lead up to our visit, was kind enough to check if we had any dietary preferences in relation to our dinner reservation, enquired about any special arrangement’s we may of had AND even organised a last minute request for a message treatment whilst she was on annual leave in Cornwall.
Should you perhaps be interested in visiting Danesfield House Hotel and Spa yourself after reading this article, the numerous packages this country hotel in Marlow has to offer can be found online by visiting Danesfield House website, Danesfield House Facebook or by simply following them on Twitter.
Photo Credits: All photographs within this article belong to Anthony Francis Slowley with the exception of the swimming pool photograph courtesy of Danesfield House.
Disclaimer: This is NOT a sponsored post nor has any money been exchanged. The visit to this venue was complementary in exchange for a review. All opinions shared within this article are honest and entirely my own.