SenSpa at Careys Manor, Brockenhurst
We found paradise in The New Forest
We checked in on a sunny Thursday afternoon after a slightly traffic-filled journey (one thing it seems you can never escape, even in the countryside), totally ready for relaxation and pampering. It began from the second we drew up to the fairy tale hotel, and our car was parked for us, allowing us to take in the beautiful lush gardens and red brick entrance hall that greeted us. From that moment, we entered the world of Careys Manor.
After a quick explore of the facilities we were shown to our room, where we found a bottle of Laurent Perrier chilling alongside a little box of chocolates - now that's what Itchy calls a welcome. We unpacked, kicked off our shoes and jumped onto the king size bed. Bliss. We were quite tempted to pop open the champagne and stay exactly where we were, but the spa was calling.
Literally 30 seconds away from our room, we discovered the SenSpa. Complete with hydrotherapy pool, herbal sauna, crystal steam room, laconium, tepidarium and experience showers, this is a spa fan's heaven. Itchy gleefully shed our robe and slippers to sink into the hydrotherapy pool, which is essentially the biggest jacuzzi you've ever seen, with strategically placed jets to soothe your tired muscles, surrounding you with a stream of bubbles. We especially enjoyed the reclining bubble loungers, where we lay back and let the air do the work. From here, we moved through the labyrinth of secret rooms, each with their own calming benefits. Intermittently we also braved the ice room, complete with icy water bucket, a sink full of actual pieces of ice to rub onto your body, and a cooling experience shower for the less brave.
Itchy was so relaxed that we almost forgot it was time for our treatment. We opted for the Nam Water Relaxer, making the most of SenSpa's unique Vichy shower treatment rooms. Enjoy a relaxing suite of treatments in our Vichy room. We lay on a gently warmed hammam slab whilst our therapist polished our body with freshly prepared Himalayan crystal salt and organic aloe Vera. We tried to forget that we were laying naked (except for those attractive tiny paper pants) and embrace the relaxing body scrub. Never has so much love and attention been lavished on our left leg, then our right leg, working up through our body. We were soon totally at ease, and as the warm Vichy water jets were directed along our spine to soothe and release tension, we wished it could last forever. This was followed with a whole body massage, focussing on our tense back and shoulders. The treatment ended with with a head massage using ancient Ayurvedic techniques to clear and calm the mind - and boy, did it do the trick. Itchy floated out of the treatment room on a cloud of calm, with the softest skin we've ever felt and a dopey smile on our face.
By this stage, we'd pretty much forgotten about the champagne, so when we returned to find it waiting for us in our room, we got excited all over again. We sipped the bubbly goodness as we prepared for dinner at The Zen Garden, which was once again, literally 30 seconds from our bedroom. If only all dinner plans were so straightforward...
And if only all Thai restaurants were as tasty as this! We hungrily devoured the set menu, which was at times a little more spicy than advised (!), along with spring rolls, steamed vegetables with garlic, crispy duck and egg fried rice. Everything tasted healthy and fresh, without the film of grease sometimes associated with this kind of cuisine. Our only problem was with how warm the restaurant was, as it was basically in the spa, which was obviously heated to a high temperature for the comfort of spa visitors in their swimsuits - we felt pretty overheated in our evening wear. Luckily the waiting staff were attentive and opened all available windows and doors, allowing a cool breeze to roll in. Phew. We rounded off the meal with a dessert of Pineapple Carpaccio with agave syrup, fresh basil and coconut sorbet - seriously refreshing, and just what we needed to leave a sweet taste in our mouths. Yum.
Once again we thanked whoever placed us in a room so close to the restaurant and spa, as we practically rolled into our huge, comfy bed and dreamt of the perfect day we'd had at Careys Manor and SenSpa. We'll be back.