Sometimes leaving the hum drum of daily life behind for even one night can be all you need to refresh. Even more so when your hum drum is in a busy city like London. I often don’t notice how much the noise, busyness and general frantic pace of London has been getting to me, until I have some time away from it. Releasing ourselves from the exhaustion of the daily commute, abandoning the noise of the traffic outside our flat, and taking in surroundings other than tall buildings can be hugely therapeutic and gives you the boost you need to then come back to it all with a new surge of energy afterwards. Of course, we’ve recently left it behind completely and the last two nights in our new home have largely been spent marvelling at just how quiet it is. I can hardly believe the lack of noise.
But I’ll save news on the move for another post, as today I want to talk a little about a lovely staycation we had recently at the Wyboston Lakes Hotel and Spa.
I have to admit that until recently I never quite understood the true virtues of a staycation. Of course spending a night in a hotel is never something to be sniffed at, but it can be an expense. And surely if you’re parting with your cash for an evening or weekend away you want it to be somewhere new, somewhere different, somewhere a million miles away from your everyday home. Somewhere that involves travel, and adventure and new sights.
But I think I’m finally starting to ‘get’ it. Because what I’ve realised is that sometimes you don’t have to go all that far to get all of those things. Sometimes places that were right on your doorstep all along remain largely un-explored and can feel like an adventure. Just one that doesn’t include a long journey home at the end of it (which let’s face it is everyone’s least favourite part about going away).
My revelation comes in a big part due to our stay at Wyboston Lakes, which was a small slice of luxury in the midst of a busy and exhausting time. The Wyboston Lakes Hotel and Spa resides on the grounds of a lake in Bedfordshire, a mere 40 minute train journey from London. We were celebrating 7 years since the day we met and decided a little night away was just what we needed. I was newly pregnant at the time (although we hadn’t yet told anyone) and as a result was exhausted all of the time and finding travelling in and out of my various freelance jobs a real struggle. We wanted somewhere that wasn’t miles away but offered a little something different from the city, and Wyboston Lakes with its spa and outdoor hydropool, glorious grounds and a restaurant that was getting rave reviews, seemed to tick all the boxes.
We opted for a Friday night stay, so that we could head out of the city at lunchtime before the trains got too busy and then be back home by Saturday evening and still have Sunday to get organised before a new working week. As soon as were on the train, I immediately felt relaxed, partly thanks to the little crosstown doughnuts delivery GB picked up for us before we hopped on, but partly just in anticipation of a giant bed and a chilled out couple of days. After a super fast train to St Neots, we hopped in a taxi and were at the hotel in no time. Luckily there was no queue for check in and before we knew it we were in our room testing out the giant bed (me) and the giant flat screen TV (GB).
As we were only staying one night, our spa day was split into two and we had afternoon access on the Friday ahead of dinner at the newly refurbished Waterfront restaurant, as well as morning access in between breakfast and lunch on the Saturday. I actually much preferred this format, as a whole day in the spa can sometimes feel too much but a few hours on each day was perfect. After checking out the bathroom toiletries in our room (Molten Brown and Elemis – a good sign) and GB making himself a coffee in the snazzy coffee machine, we got straight into our robes and headed down to the spa to check it out.
Obviously with me being preggers, my spa experience was slightly limited to that of GB’s but honestly I didn’t mind one bit. The Y Spa at Wyboston really is a treat even if you’re not partaking in any treatments and just want to relax – it has the prettiest little garden out the back, which is filled with comfy seats and loungers for those who just want to sit outside in the sunshine with a drink and get their zen on. The garden space is also home to an outdoor hydropool with jacuzzi, and even a little seated hut area complete with fire should you visit in winter. While GB checked out the two saunas (one regular temperature and one extra hot for seasoned sauna go-ers), the steam room and the freeze wall, I spent most of my time zoning out on a lounger in between dips in the warm pool.
Just a small note on this – I know there is some contention over hydropools and jet streams during pregnancy and obviously you should check everything out ahead of a spa stay, but although this pool is classed as a hydropool it doesn’t actually contain any of the minerals which some of the more pro hydropools do, and stays at an even temperature throughout. With it being outside I decided it was safe enough as the water was no hotter than a warm bath and half of my body was outside in the cool air. There was one middle section with a jacuzzi which I stayed out of, but the rest of the bubble and jet streams were extremely mild and not able to cause any harm. I was obviously aware of my pregnancy at this point and told myself I’d only stay in the pool for short stints and get out should I ever feel too hot. There is so much conflicting advice when you’re pregnant, I think you have to do what’s right for you personally, and of course consult your midwife with any questions beforehand (which I did).
The weather on Friday was a little overcast but still mild and totally perfect for being outside in. The warm pool was perfection and I honestly could have sat there well into the evening if it wasn’t for those pregnancy hunger pangs calling. Just one tiny thing to mention regarding the spa – if you do want to enjoy a drink or something to eat while there don’t forget to bring some cash or a credit card down with you. We got caught out slightly thinking we could just add things on to our room but I believe the spa may be owned separately from the hotel and therefore this doesn’t apply. Thankfully in the end they allowed us to start a tab which we just paid on checkout, so that I didn’t have to troop back upstairs in a soggy swimsuit to retreive some cash but it’s something to bear in mind. Also if you have a lunch or afternoon tea included within your spa day (which we did on the following day) you are able to go to the restaurant in your robes to avoid having to change in the middle of your spa experience. Again though – bear in mind that drinks aren’t included in any of the pre-paid packages (something you may be forgiven for assuming) so you will need some cash for that even if you’ve booked and paid for everything upfront.
After a few hours of relaxation at the spa and feeling pretty zen, we headed back up to the room for a hot shower and a change ahead of dinner. Dinner (and breakfast) is always one of the things I most look forward to when staying away, and I think that poor food or service can so easily tarnish an otherwise lovely hotel. The Waterfront Restaurant at Wyboston has been recently refurbished and was gaining some attention online, so I was really hoping it would live up to expectation.
I needn’t have doubted it though, as it was honestly gourmet quality food with MasterChef style presentation. We had fantastic service from the loveliest waiter (whose name I totally forget but he told us his Brother was one of the Chefs at the restaurant and his pride to be working there and serving us was so sincere. Hopefully he’ll remember us and accept our thanks for making our dinner experience so special), and to top it all off, we enjoyed a window seat which had an evening view out over the lake (it’s not called the Waterfront for no reason) as the sun set. It was gorgeous.
We went all out and had a three course dinner (I had an excuse of course, but spa relaxation fairly takes it out of you) and knowing we were celebrating an anniversary, the hotel kindly sent over a bottle of Prosecco, which obviously GB had to enjoy on his own (he had a great night, especially as he’d already ordered a pint by that point!).
The food really was impeccable. We started with a board of different freshly breads with oil and vinegar, before moving on to a starter of chargrilled chill and garlic king prawns (me) and a Thai beef salad (GB). We both knew from the starters alone that we were in for a treat with our mains, and as GB had ordered a steak (something he only orders at places he knows it’s going to be good) he was practically salivating on it’s arrival.
I had the free range Cotswold chicken which came rolled and stuffed with celeraic, wild mushroom and shallots and a cannelloni pasta filled with chicken leg and vegetables. The presentation was so good I almost didn’t want to dig in, but the idea of pasta with chicken intrigued me enough. It’s a combination I’ve never had before but it really was delicious – soft pasta filled with different flavours and all dressed in a tasty gravy. GB had a fillet steak which was the thickest steak I’ve ever seen. GB must have proclaimed how good it was about 5 times throughout the meal, so I know he was pleased with his choice.
We finished things off with not one, not two but three desserts (I know!). After being totally undecided between the sticky toffee pudding and the lemon meringue pie, I settled on our waiters recommendation of the meringue, while GB opted for the dark chocolate dream – a mousse served so beautifully with salted caramel, candied nuts and raspberry gel. But no sooner had we polished off those two, than our kind waiter was bringing us a slice of the sticky toffee too, telling us he couldn’t let me leave without trying it too. It might have been my favourite of the three actually, which meant that even though I was full to the brim I still ate every last crumb of it.
Nursing a major food baby (as well as a real one) we retreated back to our room in a slight coma of deliciousness, before flopping onto our giant comfy bed and falling asleep while watching the opening ceremony of the Olympics. I was trying really hard to keep my eyes open long enough to see Andy Murray carry the torch for Great Britain but the bed and abundance of pillows was just too enveloping and I had to give in.
The next morning, we awoke to the most beautiful sunshine and took ourselves down to breakfast where we bagged another window seat and were able to enjoy the great view in daylight this time. Looking out that window, while eating our way through the largest selection of breakfast foods (what is it about hotel breakfast buffets that turn you into an indecisive greedy so-and-so that wants a bit of everything?) I honestly felt a million miles away from London.
And that same feeling continued as we spent another morning at the spa, lounging under gorgeous sunshine and dipping our toes in the pool with a glass of something cold in one hand. If someone had told me they’d secretly transported us to a resort in sunny Spain over night, I wouldn’t have doubted them at all, it was entirely like being abroad.
When we emerged from the spa and got back on dry land, we spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the grounds of the hotel and sitting outside by the water enjoying a drink from the bar. The hotel is home to a large golf course too, which accounts for the size of the grounds (and makes it a great place for families and couples alike with something to occupy everyone). The Lake spans across the back of the hotel and is flanked by beautiful trees, greenery and flowers. On this particular day in August, the water was clear and still, the sun reflecting off of its surface, and the trees and flowers were in full bloom. It was certainly not the sight I’d expected a short train ride away from Kings Cross and smack in the middle of Cambridge and Bedford. Aside from the electricity pylons, there was nothing about our surroundings that hinted at a city location.
By the time we checked out and found ourselves London bound once again, I was singing the praises of a staycation and feeling in a total state of exhausted bliss from the relaxation that I slept the whole journey home and was back on my own sofa in the flat watching the Olympics in no time at all.
It was only one night, but it had felt like a proper holiday and we started the next week with a renewed sense of motivation. Staycations folks – I really can’t recommend them enough.
Check out the Wyboston Lakes if you’re keen for a little spa break that won’t involve too much travelling, and if you are nearby then definitely visit the Waterfront Restaurant for probably the best hotel meal you’ll ever have!
*We were guests of the Wyboston Lakes Hotel and Spa in order to write this review, but as always all opinions are my own and I wouldn’t recommend somewhere I didn’t truly enjoy. It’s definitely a place I’d return to again!*
A huge thank you to the team at Wyboston for accommodating us.