In the picturesque village of Hurworth, just outside Darlington, Rockliffe Hall lies in a magnificent 375 acre estate on the banks of the River Tees. With an extensive, state-of-the- art spa and championship course (tipped by some as a future Ryder Cup venue), this is the perfect destination for a play and stay pamper break. We had booked an overnight short spa day, and arrived in time to enjoy lunch in the contemporary Brassiere Restaurant, with stunning views over the estate, before an indulgent afternoon.

The modern, high-tech spa is Rockliffe’s jewel in the crown. The 20-metre swimming pool and adjoining hydro pool are slick and stylish; take an energising swim followed by a hydro massage of increasing strengths – from relaxing to punishing – between dips. Alongside the pool is a thermal bathing suite with five chambers of varying heat, cold and humidity which enable you to tailor your experience to suit; try the short sharp shock of moving from the Sauna to the Igloo (great for skin tone) or aid detox in the more relaxing temperatures of the Tropicarium.
The Spa suite is a retreat in every sense Dark mahogany décor and candle-lit corridors are calming and soothing, the cocooning treatment rooms are spacious and well appointed, with subdued lighting and uber-comfortable treatment beds. Experienced therapists will happily tailor any treatment to suit or offer advice on alternatives.

We had both chosen a Sacred Nature signature treatment – the 90-minute Body Bliss – that began with an ayurvedic Indian head massage in a semi-darkened room within a circle of candle light. Soft gentle music, perfumed oils and the experienced hands of the therapist soon relieved tensions in both head and neck. This was followed with a Chakra Balancing back massage using hot poultices of dry herbs wrapped in linen and a therapeutic foot massage. It was possibly the best overall treatment I have ever experienced and special mention must be given to Rockliffe’s excellent team of intuitive therapists.

There are 61 rooms with two distinct styles; the traditional Old Hall section of the building includes chandeliers and classic furnishings while the more contemporary New Hall rooms are all clean lines and bold accents. Rooms in both are spacious and airy, with large, luxurious bathrooms with the emphasis on comfort.

We dined in the glamorous, fine dining Orangery, complete with jazz trio. The restaurant has a triple AA rosette and was buzzy on a midweek evening. There is a flagship 7-course tasting menu (£65 without wine) or choose from a confident a la carte menu for contemporary takes on traditional dishes such as halibut with shellfish butter, capers and potato dauphine.


Subscribe to NCG