A Travel and Lifestyle Blog
According to the weather forecast, it was due to rain all day. In fact, some weather reports were threatening that the arrival of Autumn was going to be marked via gale force winds and torrential rain! However, driving along meandering, leafy lanes that take you through the Essex village of Stock, cloudy, but dry skies overhead, we were wondering if the weather gods had taken pity on us. You see, Mum and I were off to Greenwoods Hotel and Spa, to enjoy a lazy day, a little pamper and overnight stay. We were grateful the rain was holding off as the grounds of Greenwoods are beautiful. A stroll around them would be far more pleasant without the winds blowing my already unruly hair into a birds nest! I would hate to give the other guests of the hotel the wrong impression……
Turning onto the gravel driveway, the traditional 17th Century, Grade II listed manor house comes into view ahead. Mum and I had been guests of Greenwoods before, but not for a few years. It had since changed hands to new owners and had a little refresh. We were excited to see what was new. Greenwoods Hotel and Spa is situated about 30 minutes from where we live, and about 6 miles from the City of Chelmsford. The village of Stock, that it nestles beside, is a historical, idyllic place to live. It was recently named as the 42nd best place to live in Britain according to a Sunday newspaper…as long as you have around a million pound budget!
Myself and Nik had bought my Mum this spa break for Christmas last year. Mum had wanted me to accompany her as her guest, but with everything going on in Nik’s cancer treatment, we had struggled to find a date! So, as you can imagine, we were ready to don our robes, find a cosy corner and get our zen on.
But first, lunch! We knew that we could not check into the hotel until 2 o clock, so we arrived at 12.30 with a view to fuelling ready for the exhausting practise of relaxing….
The style of Greenwoods Hotel and Spa is very traditional, but with modern touches. It is a beautiful Essex hotel which along with the grounds, is very well maintained. It is actually one of the top Essex wedding venues! The bar area and lounge have a real English Country home feel with mismatched wing back chairs, dark wood panelled walls and a mix of velvet and leather button back sofas. It even has a library…..heaven! It is incredibly welcoming and feels like what it is, a historical building. This was why we were surprised when the bar manager walked over to a flat screen tv on the wall above the beautiful fireplace, and put the football on! There were just three groups of ladies in the bar including us, and the football was put on. We all found this very strange.
The football aside, we did enjoy a gorgeous lunch. I had a vegan burger served with sweet potato fries, while Mum had a smoked salmon and crayfish salad. We both said our meals were amazing. We had opted for a cold glass of wine to accompany the delicious food, so we already felt our troubles start to melt away.
The guest bedrooms at this Stock Hotel are all decorated very classic, and beautifully. Our room had been set up in error as a double, but a quick phone call down to reception had it changed into a twin in no time. The room was impeccably clean, with that beautiful bed linen that only good hotels have. What is it about hotel bed linen? It is always so fancy to sleep in! We were glad to see that our window had a view of the garden too. I love throwing open the curtains in the morning and playing make believe that it is my garden I am looking over. (Anyone remember my gorgeous view at Longueville Manor, My Jersey recommended stay....) A girl can dream right?
Keen to get to the sanctuary of the spa, we had a quick change, then made our way down to the treatment area. The friendly spa receptionist hands you a robe and slippers, yours to use for your visit. These are lovely and comfy for being around the spa area, but you do have to change to go upstairs for food and drinks. There are water fountains everywhere throughout the spa area, so you can keep hydrated. There is also a tea/coffee/juice bar down in the reception area of the spa. It is worth noting here that if you do order a glass of wine or something to be brought down to the spa, even if you are not in the pool area, you can only have it in a paper cup. This was different to previous visits, and I have to say we did find that disappointing. Not the end of the world, but something to be aware of.
The “wet” area of the spa is small but perfectly formed. Loungers line the pool, light floods in from windows and the area is kept at a lovely warm temperature. We settled in and picked up our books. Bring on the nanna naps!
Unfortunately, we were advised that we could not have any treatments due to the spa being full. We were able to have the treatment that came with the package we had booked, but the only time that could be done was 10am the following morning! So not on the day that was our spa day, (you have to check out by 11am the next day). I personally feel this could be managed better. In my opinion, you should be advised at the time of booking your break if they cannot accommodate treatments. That is what many of us go to a spa break for! (I would love to know your thoughts/experiences on this).
Anyway, the break was about Mum and I spending time together, and we had a lovely day. We had a little swim, cleared the impurities out from our skin in the sauna and bubbled our troubles away in the jacuzzi. Dinner was booked for 7pm so we wandered up to our room to change for dinner, chilled, relaxed and feeling a little bit lazy.
The dining room of Greenwoods is gorgeous. The tables are set beautifully, the decor decadent and the ambience just right. It feels classy and elegant. When I booked, I told them I was vegan so I had been asked to pre-order my dinner a few days before. Mum chose from the evening menu. Again, I do feel I have to be honest here too! I should point out that the following problem only arose because of my dietary requirements, but I know you trust me to be honest with you.
My meal was awful. I had only had a choice of two items in each course anyway, so my options were very limited. The starter was great. It was a spinach stuffed mushroom and I really enjoyed it. My main was not so great. It was supposed to be linguini in a rich tomato sauce. Unfortunately it was just over cooked pasta in a sauce with zero flavour, but a whole lot of heat! It genuinely had no taste whatsoever. I could not eat it.
I hate not eating something that has been cooked for me. It makes me feel rude and uncomfortable. But, I just couldn’t. The waitress was apologetic, looked embarrassed, but there was nothing else they could offer me. For a high end hotel, they really do need to cater better for dietary requirements. A vegan diet is not unusual now days so I am hoping that my experience will not be the norm here. I am sure they will get their act together. Also, having said all of that, Mum said her meal off the normal menu was amazing. She really enjoyed it and it was of great quality. Plus………..the wine was good!
A few drinks in the bar area, and we were ready to go back to the room and have a cup of tea. There are tea/coffee making facilities in the rooms, so we had the indulgence of making a cup of tea and getting in bed. I love doing that with my Mum. It takes me back to when I lived at home and Mum would come into my room Sunday morning, cup of teas at the ready, to hear about my Saturday night out. We laughed a lot, read our books and just settled into the comfiest of beds.
A good nights sleep under our belts, we were woke early to venture down for breakfast. Again, the package that we had booked included our breakfast. You had the usual options of full English, continental buffet and fresh fruit. There wasn’t really much I could have on the menu, but the waitress did not hesitate to get the chef to rustle me up some avocado on toast, which was delicious. Pots of hot tea, fresh fruit to follow, we left he breakfast room fuelled for the day.
It was a beautiful Autumnal morning. A walk around the grounds after breakfast was just the perfect way to prepare for our treatments. We were all chilly and rosy cheeked, the fresh, crisp air giving us a natural glow. The facials in the toasty, cosy treatment rooms were only going to enhance that! We were both having the “Greenwoods Facial”. A hydrating facial with the indulgence of a massage to the face, shoulders and scalp. Bliss! After an hour in that room I felt like I was drifting out of the spa!
Our stay at Greenwoods Hotel and Spa certainly had a few niggles, but was not terrible. We had a lovely stay. Time spent with my Mum is never bad time! Also, I cannot fault the rooms, my treatment or the presentation of the hotel. It seems where they fall short is client experience. The level of service and attention to detail does not, in my opinion, match the stunning location and grandeur of the house. It should be, and could be just wonderful with a few minor tweaks. Remember of course, this is just my experience and opinion. It is a popular place here in Essex, voted one of the tope wedding venues in the County, so they must be doing some things right! I can only, and will only, ever give you my honest thoughts.
I purchased this package through Buyagift.com, and it cost £250 for two people. It included an overnight stay, dinner for two and breakfast for two. You also both got a 25 minute facial, which we upgraded o a luxury facial. (If my dinner had been better, I would have said it was great value)
I would love to know what you think. Do you have certain expectations when a building looks a certain way? Do you have a certain level of service you expect from a 4/5 star place? Have you been disappointed by somewhere you visited and it didn’t live up to how you imagined it? Let me know what you think!