Seaham Hall Hotel, Durham – Review
When the sun shines, and the sunglasses are on, there’s no better feeling than driving through the green hills of Yorkshire. And if you have to leave our lovely region, where better than to end up than the coast? And to make it even more appealing, when your destination is to one of the most renowned Georgian country houses turned 5* hotel and spas in Britain, how can you not be excited?
I’d been pre-warned by friends and colleagues about what Seaham Hall might have waiting for me. Words such as “lovely” and “amazing” were accompanied by the phrase “you’ll fall in love with the place…”.
On the back of the unveiling a brand new Loft Suite, and the launch of their new spa product range by Temple Spa, I’d heard nothing but exciting things and glowing references about Seaham Hall.
And on a baking hot day with a two-hour drive behind me, glowing probably explained the looks on my friend’s face and mine as we made our way to the front door, and saw the place ourselves for the first time.
Stunningly clean; with a bright, crisp exterior, Seaham Hall mixes a look of traditional grandeur, with a splash of modern style. The encased vortex water feature outside the front door is far from out of place in the setting, and we soon found that this was a theme running throughout the hotel.
There was a warm, friendly greeting on check-in, with the reception area immaculate. We’re here for one evening and immediately made to feel right at home. After a fuss-free check-in, we were escorted to our junior suite. The short walk down a corridor and up a staircase again revealed the fusion of Georgian interiors with little touches of present day detail.
Once inside the room, that pre-warning I’d received about the place started to resonate. Immediately we were struck with a modern luxurious feel, from the pile in the carpet, to the mirrors and the features on the wall. A fruit bowl, and a large flat screen TV. Enormous mirrors and a lavish sofa; angel wing wall mounted decoration, and mirrored dress furnishings.
The king size bed was inviting, and there were even more touches for the traveller to get to grips with: A pillow menu, a concierge to collect your car and a tablet to order room service or book a spa treatment, is there nothing that hasn’t been thought of here? Rather than just a place to rest, the room is an experience in itself. Who needs a spa when you’ve got this at your disposal? The Seaham Hall duck for the bath, and the Temple Spa bathroom products married the fun and the luxury aspect of where we were perfectly.
Already, I was enjoying my stay.
“A lot of smiles”
But we needed to explore. We’d arrived late in the afternoon and decided to take a quick look around the grounds. Here, the impeccably cultivated 37 acres were just stunning. Again, you’re in the mix of the old, and the new. And there was an atmosphere around the entire hotel; a certain vibe that I think many others felt too. There were certainly a lots of smiles at Seaham Hall.
We also had a preview of the spa, by paying a visit to the gym. The gym is fairly small, but adequate, with LifeStyle Fitness cardio equipment and resistance machines. There’s a decent free weights set-up, and you get an inviting view overlooking the swimming pool.
After a moderate workout (didn’t feel moderate at the time!), I was looking forward to getting back to the suite. We had dinner to prepare for.
We dined in the Byron restaurant (yes, named after Lord Byron. Upon checking out we were to find out that Seaham Hall was once the poet’s marital home). Shown to our booth in the centre of the room by the well-presented supervisor Rob, we were again treated delightfully.
With a glass of house wine on the way, we took our time to preside over an exciting menu, whilst admiring yet another fine element at Seaham Hall.
Although not a huge restaurant, it’s not small by any means either. Once again, they’ve balanced it out… roomy, but personal. But the grand feel heavily outweighed the modern in here. No robes allowed in the restaurant!
The painting of Byron overlooking us complemented the large windows, the chandeliers, a large fire place and velvet furniture.
I plumped for the Yorkshire Wolds Confit and Smoked Duck to start, followed by Ox Cheek with Horseradish, Salt Baked Swede and sauce of Spring Herbs. My friend choosing to start with the Wye Smoked Salmon with Buttermilk Bread, Cultured Cream and Pickled Cucumber, and Picanha Steak for her main course.
Each dish looked amazing, smelled even better, and tasted outstanding. My favourite out of the two dishes was my duck starter. Served pink, and tender – its soft texture made for a very comfortable eat. I savoured every mouthful. I was mightily impressed with the Ox Cheek too – a dish I’ve become accustomed to in the last couple of years and it’s high on my list of favourite meat eats. This particular serving came with a slightly heavier dose of Horseradish for my palette, which I easily remedied (scraped off!).
Thoroughly satisfied, we retired to the lounge to finish our drinks, before heading up to our room, looking forward to our spa experience the following day.
On the Friday morning, we woke up after having a perfect night’s sleep. The king size bed was the epitome of comfort, and you’d be hard pressed to find a better sleeping vessel than this.
After a quick shower, and Eggs Royale for breakfast in the Byron Restaurant, we made our way to the spa to fully use all it had to offer. Rooms come with robes so there’s every reason to give the Serenity Spa try. And give it a try is something you need to do – it’s simply something else.
Entering via a dark, internal tunnel over a wooden footbridge, lit in a soft vibe-stirring purple – it again twisted the quality feeling of the hotel with the contemporary touch. It immersed you in to a sense of relaxation. You pass (can’t miss) the hotel’s now trademark elephant sculpture, before arriving at the Thai-themed spa, complete with Feng Shui design.
“A nice touch”
There’s an array of treatments available, and I was taken to a room for the Go Guy – The Male Executive facial.
The treatment rooms are a peaceful underground haven downstairs from the spa with sliding screen doors, teak decor and other Far East-inspired touches. My facial lasted for an hour, which I found to be a wonderfully relaxing 60 minutes of my life. A refreshing orange sorbet was served afterwards, which was a nice touch.
The spa is an attraction and destination in itself, and has everything you could possibly want, including a pan Asian restaurant. The pool is huge, and hotel guests have full access to all the facilities. These include a 20-metre pool, steam room, sauna, gym, hydrotherapy pool, outdoor hot tubs and more. We went for a swim, and the water was set to a lovely warm temperature. As was the indoor and outdoor jacuzzi. There were plenty of beds around the pool, with a lot of guests just relaxing and whiling away the hours. It was a beautiful way to spend our last remaining hours at Seaham Hall.
“Appeal is here for all”
The bolt-on modern touches mean that the appeal is here for all. Young and youthful, senior and selective. It’s a great choice for weddings, or a stay for couples, groups or even families. Those people who are used to all mod-cons and bright lights won’t be disappointed, as won’t those who like the finer and more traditional things in life.
And importantly, Seaham Hall has balanced the entire look perfectly, so that around every corner you’re excited to see what’s coming next.
Not long after a £3million renovation project, Seaham Hall is exactly as I’d been warned. Lovely was an understatement, and a place I could fall in love with was not very far from the truth. Occasionally in life, things end too soon. The only downer for me is that my stay was only for one evening.
When I return to Seaham Hall again, it will be for longer.
Seaham Hall, Lord Byrons Walk, Seaham SR7 7AG
Seaham Hall is one of the most luxurious spa hotels in County Durham. Situated amidst 37 acres of beautiful landscaped gardens in a striking cliff top location.
0191 432 9892