MOST people will agree that listening to waves crashing onto a beach is great way to relax. I recently had that pleasure – not on a beach but as part of a spa treatment harmonised with the sound of the sea hitting the shore then fading away.
Or so it seemed as the therapist did her work, the mood music played and I blissed out. I was the beneficiary of the just launched Blue Health spa and wellness package at Seaham Hall, a boutique hotel situated on Durham’s bleak but beautiful North Sea coast.
The treatment took place at the hotel’s Serenity Spa and began, unexpectedly, with the therapist washing my feet in warm scented water as she went through the preliminaries, leaving me in an already calm state – much better than walking into a therapy room and being directed to the massage couch after a few brief exchanges.
I then underwent a rejuvenating 60-minute back massage and facial using sweet-smelling oils and creams produced by ishga, an organic skincare brand derived from mineral-rich seaweeds harvested from the Outer Hebrides in northwest Scotland.
Next, I was led into to the Swell Relaxation Suite for an immersive sound experience based on rousing music created by traditional Gaelic instruments. Via headphones, it plunged me into an even more relaxed state and I practically floated back to my suite half an hour later.
It was a struggle to resist sinking into the comfy super king-sized bed awaiting me. Instead, I returned to the Spa to check out what else it had to offer. Plenty, it turned out, including a 20-metre pool, gym, outdoor hot tubs, Jacuzzi, sauna and steam rooms, plus an assortment of treatments.
Independently owned and designated North of England Hotel 2023 by The Times, Seaham Hall is a grand 18th century country house set in 37 acres that was once the marital home of Lord Byron.
After serving time as a whisky smuggling conduit during the US Prohibition era and, more mundanely, as a hospital and nursing home, it was expensively refurbished and turned into a luxury hotel in 1997, with the 5 Bubble-rated Serenity Spa located discreetly in a modern oval shaped building.
Exterior of Seaham Hall
Seaham Hall’s outer Georgian splendour continues within, intermixed with plenty of contemporary glamour. My suite, one of 21, was more than generous in size with a separate lounge area and spacious bathroom, its colourful, modish décor offset by elegant floor to ceiling sash windows that looked out on to the gardens. And let’s not forget that bed, which would have done Morpheus proud.
Downstairs, The Dining Room offered an interesting taster menu in a formal, Chandelier-lit setting, while the laid-back Ozone served up tasty pan-Asian cuisine amid the Cherry Blossom vibe of the Serenity Spa. Afternoon cream teas and light bites were available from the Bar & Lounge.
Inside one of the suites
Although one could comfortably spend one’s entire stay here without ever leaving the grounds, guests are encouraged to experience the benefits of being near the sea in keeping with Seaham Hall’s wellness ethos.
The beach is only 10 minutes away by foot and I joined a group for a walk along the shore on an autumn day that was typically blustery but graced by a cloudless blue sky. We were in search of sea glass, remnants of discarded coloured glass from one-time local bottle-making factories, pummelled and smoothed by the sea for more than a century, each tide bringing in fresh finds for collectors that come from all over.
Having managed to bag a few of the gem-like stones ourselves, we proceeded to the former mining town of Seaham, where we came across the weary-looking Tommy, a striking 3m tall statue of a WW1 soldier perched on the seafront.
The following day I was back down on the beach, this time kitted out in a wetsuit for a spot of kayaking under the expert supervision of local firm Adventure Access. Others chose paddle boarding. It was windy again but thankfully we were confined to the harbour and marina, and so sheltered from the choppy seas. Still, there were enough swells rolling in to cause a few flutters followed by the satisfaction of arriving back on land with no more than wet feet.
The morning was rounded off with a hearty brunch and hot drink at waterside bar and café Flamingo. Then it was back to the hotel for a couple of hours in the spa before checking out, feeling utterly invigorated from my weekend get-away.
by Angela Cobbinah
Seaham Hall’s Blue Health Suite Sanctuary experience is available from £625 per night, per person, based on two people sharing. Bookable from Wednesday-Sunday from September 2023.
Nightly rates at Seaham Hall start from £300 in a Junior Suite on a B&B basis. For more information or to book, please, visit https://www.seaham-hall.co.uk.