In previous years you’d likely have found me scrolling the internet mid October to bag a birthday adventure in Europe for the end of the month. Now though, I see my birthday as an excuse to flip my routine on it’s head and to spend time doing something different. No airports, no big adventures and no passport control.
This year I was ready to relax. Fully. So that’s exactly what I did.
Mum and I packed our overnight bag and we headed to Donnington Valley Hotel and spa out in Newbury, not too far from my family home for two day one night spa stay.
Donnington Valley is located in the heart of Berkshire, west of London and on the border of North Wessex Downs. Just as I did, you can grab a train direct out of London Paddington to Newbury which takes about 40 minutes making it a perfect weekend break distance from the city.
During our stay at Donnington Valley I have to say we were blessed with the most gorgeous Autumnal weather.
As we enjoyed the spa facilities on the first day, robes and slippers galore, we looked out over the grounds (which by the way include a golf course for those of you that enjoy a game) and were greeted with an abundance of golden leaves out of every window we peered. There’s something so magical about autumn weather and the colours it brings. It’s definitely become my favourite time of year.
We continued our spa day with an Aromatherapy massage treatment before retreating to the quite room within the spa and reading our books. The minutes melted into hours on the loungers and it was absolute heaven to not have to be anywhere, anytime soon. We read, we sipped tea and we read some more. We chatted, we sipped tea and we chatted some more.
P.s. They use Decleor oils at the spa here which, if you’ve ever used or smelt, are absolute HEAVEN on this earth.
Though we had no desire to move, we had indeed booked a table in the hotel restaurant for 6.30pm so around 6pm we surrendered to our rumbling tummies and freshened up in our room.
It felt like absolute heaven to not have to travel anywhere for anything (obviously aside from a couple of footsteps here and there). It was a real luxury to have everything under one roof.
At 6.30pm we headed into the gorgeously cosy bar where just the sight of the fire seriously warmed our already relaxed bones before continuing through to the restaurant for dinner…
The food was wonderful. We had three courses with a glass of wine and enjoyed every second of it.
My favourite dish? I actually have to say the mac’n’cheese took the spotlight, though the Scallops with cauliflower puree and puy lentils came close joint second with the Loch Duart Salmon we had for main. Oh and the Courgette and walnut loaf I had for pudding was INSANE.
I guess what i’m trying to say is that the food was amazing. It really was an unexpected pleasure with a side of very friendly service.
On the morning of my birthday, after a 10-hour sleep, we woke to another clear blue sky and at 7am we popped our trainers on to head out and explore the surrounding area. We’d heard there was a little castle to be found nearby and so we set off (following the warmth of the sunshine) to find it.
About a 20 minute walk from the hotel, signposted, we found Donnington Castle – a 14th century striking gatehouse.
You can’t actually go inside the castle but the views over the downs are equally visible from ground level. If you stay at Donnington Valley I highly recommend a walk in the fresh air to get here.
Come summer I can imagine it’s a popular picnic spot!
Upon returning to Donnington Valley, my dad was ready in the restaurant to join us for a breakfast before we checked out.
The perfect end to a perfect birthday getaway.
If you’re in need of a weekend getaway and are looking for options viable from London, I highly recommend taking some time to escape the city in this countryside retreat.
Find out more, enquire and book your stay on the Donnington Valley Hotel and Spa website here.
Where are your favourite spots to go to to escape the city? I’d love to know!
Love as always + happy adventuring,
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