With a sniff of summer in the air, a dip in an outdoor British pool is suddenly a possibility: even better if that pool comes complete with fab food, free wi-fi and a super-luxe suite to spend the night in. Sarah Drew Jones experiences Tylney Hall Hotel in Hampshire – and rounds-up five more Pride of Britain UK hotels with outdoor pools
Three things on my wish list when it comes to a country house hotel: wood panelling, manicured gardens and a lavish spa.
Tick, tick, tick and big congratulations to the gorgeous Tylney Hall Hotel, in Hook, Hampshire, because it’s just become my new favourite UK retreat.
Exquisitely beautiful, but never so grand that it feels intimidating, Tylney Hall wears its Grade II listed Victorian history well; despite the fine antiques, mullioned windows and acres of crystal, silver and starched white linen, it never feels stuffy or snobbish.
This is the kind of hotel that wraps you in a cocoon of discreet luxury, where the world takes a step back and time slows down, while you relax, unwind, breathe.
And swim. Tylney Hall boasts two fabulous pools – one indoor, at the heart of the spa, and the other, gloriously, outdoor (but heated).
Nestled in a secret garden, where blowsy roses climb the walls, the pool is straight out of a Richard Curtis film or an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel
I adore swimming in the open air and always make this a priority when booking a hotel in spring, summer and even autumn, but Tylney’s pool is a rare delight, and, as outdoor pools go, close to perfection.
Nestled in a secret garden, where blowsy roses climb the ancient stone walls and wisteria tumbles over the teak steamer chairs, this is a pool straight out of a Richard Curtis film or an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel.
It’s glamorous, A-list, aristocratic, blissful.
Mosaic-tiled, with steps you can stretch out on and enough space to swim laps, the pool is the highlight of the hotel. Spend the day here sunbathing, reading, having fun with the family…
You can enjoy lunch or afternoon tea – even a cocktail or glass of wine as the sun slips behind the trees.
Paths wind their way from the pool across the hotel’s gardens and, if you can bear to rouse yourself from a sun-lounger, it’s well worth taking an hour out to explore. With more than 60-acres there’s plenty to see, from water gardens and rolling terraces to woodland trails, orchards, Victorian greenhouses, a lake with a boathouse and an American redwood-lined lawn that delivers stunning views across the county.
The hotel offers clay pigeon shooting, archery, croquet, tennis, even hot-air ballooning inside its grounds. And, like all top-drawer country house hotels, there’s an 18-hole golf course.
But why bother with all that when the spa has so much to offer?
Set in the old stables, the wellness suite has a gym, that lovely indoor pool with a hot tub, saunas in the changing rooms and an extensive range of treatments. Say hello to thermal mud massage, eucalyptus and French lavender body scrubs, aromatherapy facials with warm organic oils, mani, pedi, spray tans, the works.
Tylney’s restaurant, The Oak Room, is just the right side of fancy: dress up if you like (and when you see the vaulted ceilings, stone fireplaces and tuxedo-clad pianist you’ll be glad you did) but the atmosphere is relaxed and the food, amazing.
My tip? Save room for dessert: the Belgian chocolate delice with blood orange purée and Grand Marnier macaroons was laugh-out-loud superb. And – bonus! – you can burn off the calories in the outdoor pool next morning.
If all this Tylney talk has made you long for your bikini, here are five more fabulous UK hotels with outdoor pools from Pride of Britain…
Tropical gardens, delicious food and two spectacular pools – one indoor, one outdoor – all make The Nare one of Cornwall’s top hotels. Perched on the stunning Roseland Peninsula with views across Carne Beach, it’s a haven with super-fresh Cornish food (Portloe lobster! Afternoon tea!) and fun activities, including tennis, croquet, billiards and boat trips exploring the coves of the Helford River. A one-night stay costs from £284 per room (two sharing) including breakfast and Cornish cream tea.
The Thurlestone Hotel is close to lovely Salcombe in South Devon, a perennial fave of the surf-and-sailing set. The hotel is family friendly with an indoor and outdoor pool, racquet sports and a kids’ club. Owned by the Grose family since 1896, the hotel has just celebrated its 120th anniversary and is the oldest family run hotel in the UK. The x2 AA Rosette-winning restaurant re-opens at the end of March 2017 after a refurb, and upcoming spring specials include a package with a South Devon gardens tour.
In the chocolate-box market town of Helmsley in North Yorkshire you’ll find the Feversham Arms, a couple-friendly hotel with a decadent outdoor pool that’s kept open and heated year-round. Expect a stylish bar, an award-winning restaurant and the decadent Verbena Spa. Plus, the wild North Yorkshire Moors are within walking distance. A one-night stay costs from £160 per room (two sharing) including full English breakfast.
Right on the rugged banks of the River Tees, 18th-century mansion, Rockliffe Hall, boasts a world-class spa that’s won multiple awards. This five-star hotel’s got eight thermal rooms and a 20-metre pool (and you can enjoy the attentions of a “spa butler” to keep your drinks topped up, whether it’s Champagne or a healthy juice). In the gardens, you’ll find a championship golf course and the pretty Spa Garden with a hydrotherapy pool, Jacuzzi, decked lounging area, fire pit, water feature and sweeping views across the estate. An overnight stay at Rockliffe Hall costs from £220 per room (two sharing), including full English breakfast and use of the indoor spa.
The Bailiffscourt Hotel and Spa in West Sussex is just a few minutes’ walk away from Climping Beach. An Art Deco-era hotel, the emphasis is on wellness and relaxation, with a Scandi-style spa and indoor and outdoor heated pools (plus, a Californian outdoor hot tub). The suites have four-poster beds and oak beams – and, if you can tear yourself away, Arundel Castle and the Cathedral city of Chichester are close by. A night’s half-board accommodation costs from £250 per room (two sharing) including use of the spa.
Sarah Drew Jones was hosted by Tylney Hall Hotel, a member of Pride of Britain Hotels, a collection of 48 privately owned independent British hotels. A one-night stay at Tylney costs from £250 per room (two sharing) including full English breakfast and use of the Health Suite facilities. To book go to www.prideofbritainhotels.com
Words: Sarah Drew Jones for Feet on the Ground
Pictures: Pride of Britain