Donnington Valley raises autumn spirits

Liz Nicholls

Donnington Valley Hotel

Missed summer? You’re sure to feel the glow with a minibreak at Donnington Valley Hotel, Golf & Spa

Summer this year has offered a bit of a false dawn: a scorching few weeks followed by soggy second half…

But if you weren’t able to jet off to sunnier climes August onwards (like the rest of the world, judging by social media) I recommend a stay at Donnington Valley where the warm welcome is sure to top up your mojo levels.

Backing on to the rolling landscaped golf course (which is even prettier in autumn mizzle) the privately owned four-star hotel and spa has earned rave reviews and several industry awards for its top-notch hospitality and food. No wonder it’s become a popular choice for everyone, from walkers to wedding parties.

I arrived in the middle of a stressful week, fairly frazzled, and within about five minutes of being ushered into the calm sanctuary of the spa, Gabriele had kneaded the tension from my poor shoulders with a Sonoma Aromatherapy Massage. As well as feeling a warm afterglow which lasted days afterwards, the indulgent Germaine de Capuccini skincare products left even my knackered skin feeling peachy and bright.

There are lots of great packages on offer, such as the half spa day including a 25-minute treatment tailored to you, such as a Walkers Leg Therapy massage or an express Royal Jelly De-Stress Facial. You can enjoy a bento box or afternoon tea and plenty of time to relax in (or alongside) the turquoise pool which is a heavenly haven with a jacuzzi, sauna and aromatherapy room – or hit the gym as well if you haven’t melted into total relaxation by that point. If you have opted for a spa break (check out the autumn package deals) you can then float along the corridor and straight into an immaculate room for a totally restful and comfortable sleep in a luxurious kingsize bed, and you can keep the good vibes going the following morning with the best breakfast in Berkshire.

Strictly Pro Dancer Karen Hauer recently checked in to The HangOut, Donnington Valley’s an al fresco dining grill and chill area where she and star chef Darren made their own pizzas hot & crispy from the oven. The HangOut has stayed abuzz all summer and continues to sizzle into September, under the fairylights. You can settle in (under cover if the heavens open) to relax and enjoy a perfectly mixed cocktail or glass of wine or three, with live music on Saturday evenings. Inside (in the huge cosy beamed Bacchus wine bar and restaurant) or out, the food is of epic feast proportions: I can heartily recommend the Donnington Burger with Ogleshield cheese and the trio of Berkshire sausages with bacon bubble and sticky onion jus. Sunday roasts (12-2.30pm) also earn high praise – and all the winter warmers are sure to raise your spirits even on a cold day.

The staff are amazingly kind and helpful and will help you forget your everyday cares and worries – I felt as though I’d been away somewhere far-off for a few days.