Spa & away

Round & About

Donnington Valley Hotel & Spa

Michelle Miley takes some time out to indulge in an afternoon of relaxation and pampering at Donnington Valley near Newbury in Berkshire

We have all been told about the importance of finding the right ‘work-life balance’ but as a working mum it can often seem impossible to devote any real time to yourself. So, a Sunday afternoon spent unwinding at the spa was a rare and welcome retreat from the mayhem of a lively toddler and the ever-expanding washing pile.

Donnington Valley is a four-star spa set in a stunning parkland in Berkshire. It is light and airy with incredible views of the immaculate landscape outside giving it a very calming atmosphere. My husband and I instantly felt at ease as we lounged poolside wrapped in soft, fluffy robes basking in the peace and serenity around us.

Wellbeing is at the heart of what the spa offers with an extensive list of Decléor signature face and body treatments. Professional therapists combine the most luxurious products and the latest techniques to leave you feeling revitalised and renewed. Beauty treatments range from Decléor‘s holistic facial to an Aroma Massage, or a stress-relieving body wrap. Pre and post-natal treatments or essential nail treatments are also available.

As my feet have been rather neglected lately, I opted for the 25-minute Soft Feet treatment. My feet and legs were exfoliated with 1,000 grains exfoliator to remove dead skin then massaged with zesty butter mask to hydrate and relieve tension and stress. Next warm mitts were used to remove the mask and finally hydrating body milk was applied to moisturise the skin. The Soft Feet massage left me feeling thoroughly relaxed and my feet were very soft and smooth.

Bento style lunch was served poolside where we supped a crisp Sauvignon Blanc and tucked into delicious salmon, potato salad and pickled vegetables, and chicken caesar salad, spicy cous cous and coleslaw. Afternoon tea is also an option.

Donnington Valley Spa is a fantastic place to take some time out and catch up with the girls or, as we did, spend a few hours with your partner away from the house and kids. My husband and I both left feeling fully rested and recharged – ready to take on the bedtime routine!


For more information on spa days and treatments at Donnington Valley

Shining spa

Round & About

Donnington Valley Hotel & Spa

Michelle Miley checks into Donnington Valley Hotel & Spa, near Newbury.

Life can sometimes feel like such an obstacle course of practical demands that “me time” feels like a distant, pre-children dream. So, checking into the Donnington Valley Hotel & Spa (awarded a five-bubble rating by The Good Spa Guide) for an overnight break was a very surreal experience…

Amid a glorious patch of Berkshire countryside (Highclere Castle is a hop away), the four-star, family-owned Donnington Valley is a place that melts your cares away. First of all, the spa itself. I’d heard brilliant things about the Ultimate Vitamin Glow Facial, one of the signature Decléor treatments industry experts hail as a skin saviour. I was in brilliant hands, my face and neck cocooned in warm, fragrant face food. I can’t remember when I’ve felt more relaxed (though normally I’m embarrassed about my skin) and our faces felt miraculously “bouncy” and glowing, days later.

I almost felt as though some kind of “reset” button had been pressed, and the joy of a stay is that you can build on that, indulging all your senses and whims. So, after floating about with my friend in our fluffy white robes, we headed to the 18-metre swimming pool for a swim (well, a plop, being seven months pregnant!), a soak in the jacuzzi and some light steaming in the steam and sauna rooms.

Checking into our hotel room (a cosy dream of neutral tones, comfy bed and pillows fluffy enough to suit a princess), I tucked into the beautifully wrapped velvety truffles and switched on the giant TV, thinking ‘this is the life’! My date for the evening (my husband) arrived in time to join me for a view of the sunset over the golf course (distracting him from the fact I’d devoured all the complimentary orange marmalade and banana & butterscotch biscuits!). As I often wish men would realise, it’s the little things that make you feel really special, and the White Company smellies in the bathroom, and pre-dinner bubbles in our goodie bag, did just that.

Dinner in the 2-AA Rosette restaurant, in a private booth, did not disappoint. The restaurant has an extensive wine list, from a £16 carafe to £200 bottle; hubby had a dry, Aussie pinot that went beautifully with his crispy squid and I loved my smoked duck followed by hearty venison and marrowbone jus. The modern setting is romantic and luxey; high-beamed ceiling and brass chandeliers (special mention to the pink-and-gold koi carp wallpaper in the ladies!) As for dessert: roasted pineapple with coconut ice cream and a chocolate fondant won our hearts; 10 out of 10! The staff in both the spa and restaurant put their heart and soul into serving and it was perfect.

Big hint to anyone out there wanting to treat the one you love… For overnight spa packages, or treatments, visit