Sam Lewis sparkles with a Shimmering Gold Facial at The Vineyard in Berkshire
The therapy to try
Oenophiles may want to indulge in the red grape body wrap and polish, but for something more decadent, the Shimmering Gold Facial is the Champagne of all treatments.
Expect a thorough cleanse, exfoliation and face mask with skin products containing Champagne, pearl and caviar extracts guaranteed to give your skin a glow. The finale is a head massage and the application of a 23-carat moisturiser.
A top treatment that leaves you with a sparkle and glow.
A recent hotel renovation has given the rooms a lift, but the spa area itself (pool, steam room, Jacuzzi and sauna) can seem a little sterile and could do with a zap of zen.
It’s all about the wine at Relais Chateaux hotel, home to 30,000 bottles (from £25-£20,000) that are ready to be poured, sipped and savoured. Peer through the glass floor in reception for a glimpse of some of the best, and don’t miss the mural depicting a famous blind-tasting scene from 1976 when Californian wines came out top over French wines. The story prompted owner, Peter Michael, a British-born entrepreneur best known for launching Classic FM, to buy a vineyard in Sonoma.
But, while Californian wines play a star role on the wine list (the Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley Au Paradis 2012 won Wine Spectator’s 2015 Wine of the Year), you can order a wide variety of wines from around the world, including Japan, India, Greece and, of course, France, if you want to take the challenge yourself. Best of all, the ‘Short’ Wine List features over 100 wines by the glass with a complimentary glass delivered to your room on arrival.
Great wine is best enjoyed with good food and you can expect the best with tasting menus artfully created by head chef, Robby Jenks (previously sous chef under Michael Caines at Gidleigh Park). Each glass of wine is carefully selected and labelled, apart from one that arrives in a black glass giving guests the opportunity to guess whether its white or red, old or new world, and even the identity of the grape.
Even the lowest grade room is spacious and while some suites are expansive, open-plan affairs, don’t expect extravagant furnishings. While most are modern, the top suites are more traditional with roll-top bathtubs, separate walk-in showers, four-poster beds, with nods to the wine theme reflected in the decor. All rooms have Nespresso coffee machines and REN toiletries.
A gastronomic getaway that oenophiles only dream about. However, you don’t have to know your chardonnay from your riesling to appreciate a stay. Mid-week, the mainstay seems to be corporate types — there are conference facilities and a wing with 16 open-plan suites. Weekends are more about couples, so leave the kids at home.
B&B priced from £247 per room. Nearby attractions include Highclere Castle, a Downton Abbey location, showcasing a park designed by Capability Brown; Newbury Racecourse and the golf course next door.
The Discovery five-course tasting menu costs £75, plus £55 for seven wine pairings.
The Shimmering Gold Facial costs £45 for 25 mins.
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