After a long day in an overheated office, it’s a pleasant drive from the centre of Newcastle across to Slaley Hall, not far from Hexham.
We’re here to try their new Twilight Spa experience, and we’re greeted at the spa reception and shown through to the changing rooms promptly. Within ten minutes of arriving (and having declined a kind member of staff’s offer to show us the gym), we’re relaxing on a couple of wicker loungers by the large pool, overlooking the slide, hot tub and treatment rooms on the other side.
The tropical pool area is busy with an after-school crowd for the first hour, so we take our time exploring some of the other bits of the spa. The relaxation room is an appropriately calming space, all neutral tones and comfy corners, with iced water available. The dry heat of the sauna is my favourite – it’s a place I could easily fall asleep (although I don’t think this sort of behaviour is encouraged).
The steam room is too much for me – 30 seconds in I start to feel a bit strange and have to escape to the relative cool of the pool, which felt like a jungle when we first walked in. After a dip in the pool and the whirlpool – and resisting the temptation of a go on the slide – we retire once again to our loungers.
This relaxation malarky is hard work, and by 8pm we’re starting to get hungry. Luckily this Twilight Spa evening includes dinner in the hotel’s Hadrian’s Brasserie, so we shower and change and head up to the main part of the hotel in the original Edwardian mansion. We somehow manage to get lost on the way, and end up arriving at the hotel’s main reception via an empty function suite and several seemingly identical corridors, all devoid of staff, though we’re greeted quickly and warmly when we do eventually stumble on the restaurant (more by chance than design).
Our package includes two courses, which we complement with a glass of wine (it’s a Thursday after all, which is near-as-dammit the weekend in my book). To start, we share a light and flavourful chicken liver parfait, and a chicory and pear salad with blue cheese. We’re both big fans of risotto, so we boringly order the same main course. But when it turns up it turns out to be the least boring risotto in history – creamy, rich, with just the right amount of bite and packed with an array of wild mushrooms of varying shapes, sizes, textures and flavours. After a throughly relaxing evening, a pleasant drive home through the Northumbrian countryside is the perfect way to round things off.
The Twilight Spa package is available between 6pm and 10pm from Sunday to Thursday and costs £35 per person. Includes robes, slippers, use of the leisure facilities and a two-course meal at Hadrian’s Brasserie. www.qhotels.co.uk