Seaham Hall – Hotel Review
Seaham Hall, Durham
by Emma White
Rocking up to Seaham Hall for our overnight stay was intriguing from the outset. The vortex water sculpture bubbling and swirling around right outside the traditional Georgian façade hinted at a distinctive and quirky interior – and the hotel does not disappoint.
Inside, the strange but beautiful combination of classic British architecture and Balinese/Indian spa, is punctuated with an adventurous collection of sculpture and art. The distinctive and stylishly plush interior sets it apart from the usual, predictable hotel decor. It might not have worked, but it really has, the overall effect is unique, luxurious and relaxing.
We started off sitting outside for lunch, on a formal terrace, next to the faux beach. Yes, a faux beach, with actual sand and deck chairs and even some beach huts and a beach volleyball net. It’s kinda weird, but kinda cool, and I found myself thinking that this hotel would be somewhere I could bring my little boys for a night away, leaving them happily building sandcastles with daddy whilst mummy sneaked off for a couple of hours in the spa. Definitely an idea to float past Mr White the next time a special occasion comes around.
“Enter another world”
Meanwhile, our cocktails arrived and we noticed that the sea (the real one) was visible from our table. It sparkled through the trees whilst we ate a very good Caesar salad and sipped our cheeky wee cocktails. The lunch menu was well-balanced, classic British fare and the caesar salad with hot salmon was delicious and plentiful.
We were shown to our room, which was a spacious suite with a very plush, comfortable bedroom. There was a separate lounge with squishy sofas and a luxurious bathroom with a sunken bath and a fantastic shower. The room looked over the terrace with great views. We sipped some bubbles and changed into our incredibly soft (why are they never as soft at home?) robes.
We left our rather fabulous suite, and sauntered on down to the spa, admiring the dramatic artwork, by Art Curator in Residence Julie Anne Parsons, on the way. Descending the stairs, past the waterfall sculpture, we spotted the Koi and followed a mysterious watery path through the underground tunnel and entered another world…
The treatment started with a foot soak in warm water soaked in lemongrass. I had the Ytsara Samunprai massage, followed by the Sundari facial. The massage blended heady Balinese scents with confident, sensitive pressure from a warm, fragrant poltice. The facial used a combination of masks and exfoliating treatment with a hot oil treatment dripped onto my face. I could almost hear my skin whispering ‘thank you’ as the oil nourished my neglected and dehydrated ‘just-turned-40-and-should-be-looking-after-myself-better’ face. I drifted off into a little cloud of sandalwood and delicious lemony scents, feeling decadent and pampered.
“Hard to fault”
For dinner we opted for the 7-course taster menu, a sample of the chef’s favourite dishes. Our attentive waiter introduced each beautifully presented dish. The dishes varied from beef cheek pizza to wild sea trout with girolles, shrimp and salsify. My favourite was a very charming guinea fowl, sweetcorn and bone marrow dish. It was beautifully balanced with a cheeky piece of crispy skin on the side.
Complementing the food was the great service. Jillian the house manager entertained and informed us by answering our questions about various topics. She was knowledgeable about the wine list, the vortex sculpture outside and the hotel’s interesting history featuring Lord Byron. We came away full of both the food and the history of Seaham Hall.
The overall experience at Seaham Hall is hard to fault. The service and the overall atmosphere is outstanding. The very different aesthetics of the spa building and the hotel are seamless. The very clever design of the subterranean tunnel makes the perfect peaceful transition between the two spaces. The staff were professional and welcoming without exception and the spa/hotel combo worked perfectly as a girly getaway. However, I would be equally confident in bringing my small rabble of children and my husband for a mini break. Thanks Seaham – and see you again soon!
Call Seaham Hall, tel: 0191 516 1400, seaham-hall.co.uk