The Melville Hall Hotel & Spa
Isle of Wight
14-16 February 2014
Reviewed by Meresa Bergin
I was thrilled to be asked to review the Valentines Break which is being offered from 14-16 February at The Melville Hall Hotel and Spa on the Isle of Wright before the break goes ahead.
First port of call was to talk to Sue at (www.visitisleofwight.co.uk) who was to assist me with booking my stay. I found the website easy to navigate and I was able to find what I was looking for quickly, also on the site I was able to look at places to visit on my break and some romantic facts and places to visit. Sue asked when I would like to travel and explained she would book our ferry travel from Portsmouth Harbour to Ryde Pier Head (as part of the Valentines Break, ferry transfer is free). She also explained the trains on the Isle of Wight were currently not running and suggested others ways to reach our hotel.
On the day of our break we boarded the train to Portsmouth which was a quick and pleasant journey from our home in Brighton. Upon arriving the ferry was easily located at the end of the platform and well signposted. We waited in the quiet café located in the waiting area which was warm and staff where friendly, we noticed there were toilets and a small shop nearby.
Soon it was time to board the ferry; the staff where very helpful to explain what I needed to do as I had never travelled by ferry before. Inside there was lots of places to sit and space for our luggage. The journey was quick and smooth, it was lovely to watch all the boats go past as we crossed to the Island. Again the staff where very informative when we left the ferry at Ryde Pier Head explaining where to go to catch the replacement bus as the trains were not running due to flooding. We were offered a taxi from the ferry to the train station but it was only a five minutes work so we declined.
Arriving at the train station we were told the replacement bus was once an hour, so although there were buses to Sandown which run more often we decided to wait and had a small walk around Ryde which was lovely, with lots of little shops and the pier. We went back to wait in the waiting room and it was explained normally the train runs straight from the ferry to Sandown twice an hour and there is a normally a five minute wait for the train when the ferry comes in. There are also taxis readily available at the ferry port and train station.
We arrived at the hotel at around 3.30pm and our first impressions were that it was a stunning building with a beautiful garden at the front with lovely seating areas. At reception a member of staff was ready to assist us; check in was quick and formative explaining the timings of the leisure centre and spa treatments, also booking us in for dinner at the hotel’s onsite restaurant Summerhill.
I was very impressed as we entered our room; we had been given a superior room with a four poster bed and Jacuzzi. The bed was scattered with rose petals and looked very romantic, it was explained on the Valentines weekend break there would also be wine, chocolates and strawberries waiting for the guests. The room itself was beautiful, the four poster bed framed the room and we had a lovely view of the garden from the window. With a large wardrobe and chest of drawers there was plenty of space to put our clothes.
The bathroom offered a Jacuzzi which my husband was ready to try out right away! And toilettes and a warmed towel rack to place your towels and dressing gowns which the hotel provided, both rooms were clean and fresh.
Once we had unpacked we changed into our dressing gowns to explore the leisure centre (there are changing rooms there if you would rather come down and change) and picked up the towels we had been told the reception would provide for the use so we didn’t have to use the room towels.
Entering the centre we saw there was a sauna, swimming pool, Jacuzzi and two detox cabins, outside there is also another large swimming pool and areas to sit when the weather is warm as well as another heated Jacuzzi.
I decided to use the sauna as my husband went for a swim, I found the experience very refreshing and calming, spending half an hour in there before cooling off in the Jacuzzi where my husband decided to join me and we spent another a long time in there relaxing together which was very nice and made us feel very close. We were eager to try the detox cabins as we had been told they offer a lot of health benefits such as easing headaches, aches and pains, as well as circulation problems, there is a leaflet at the reception explained the many other benefits of using the cabins, but they appeared to be in high demand.
We decided to return to our room to get ready for dinner and use the Jacuzzi in our room which was easy to use and allowed us to have an intimate and sensual bath together. After we had dressed we went down to the Summerhill restaurant, we were a little early so we sat in the lounge which boasts wonderfully soft sofa’s and newspapers to read but we were more interested in the beautiful large fish tank which had colourful fish which was very calming to watch.
The restaurant leads out onto a bar area which is again large and cosy, there are some board games provided to use which looked like an interesting way to kick back and unwind on the night as a day of pampering yourself.
Once we had been seated we noticed how beautiful the room looked in the restaurant, we had tea lights on our table and the room opened up onto the outside area with the pool which would be lovely in the summer. The staff where once again outstanding with service and attention as we ordered our meal, nothing was too much for them.
The menu offered a varied range of food and also had good choices for vegetarians and a wonderful dessert choice, my husband decided to have sticking toffee pudding and when the waiter noticed the bottom of it was slightly burnt he offered another.
After our meal we were able to sit and relax with no rush to leave our table which you can find in some restaurants, which allowed us to talk about how much we were enjoying our night away and how relaxed we felt.
We decided to call it a night and headed to bed, the room was warm and the beds comfortable as we easily fell asleep. There was little noise and we barely stirred all night.
Upon waking we felt refreshed and ready for another day of pampering; my husband made us both a hot drink with the kettle, tea and coffee provided in our room alongside some herbal teas. We spent some time lazing in the bed together which was a rare treat away from our normal routine at home before we decided to head down for breakfast. Again there were lots of spaces to sit and the waiter was very pleasant asking if we had slept well and offering us the paper I had ordered the night before. She took our breakfast order, my husband choose a full breakfast and I had smoked haddock, she explained we were free to use the continental breakfast area which had cereals, toasts, fruit salads and fresh fruit juices. Our food arrived and again it was outstanding for the price, we sat for a while as we read the newspaper and then headed to our room to get ready for our hot stone massage we had ordered the night before.
We waited in the lounge where once again our attention was drawn to the fish tank, when the therapists where ready to do our massage we were shown down into the treatment rooms. My husband was a little unsure about having the treatment as he had never had one before but I was eager he tried it as he suffers with a bad back. I was led into a beautiful room which was very sensual and calming, the room smelt amazing. The therapist explained I needed to remove my top and lay on the bed which was covered in rose petals and looked very inviting.
Once I was ready she returned and explained what she would be doing and I was to tell her if I did not like something and she could change it. The massage began with a standard Swedish back rub which was amazing and so relaxing I could feel myself drifting away. I did however begin to experience pain in my shoulder and the therapist used less pressure on it but explained it is best to apply more pressure to this area as I clearly had a lot of tension in my shoulder. The rose oil that was being used filled the room and really added to the mood, keeping you in the romantic spirit.
After a while she began to use the hot stones which were very hot at first but my body became used to it and it felt wonderful, I could feel my shoulder easing up. When she had finished she placed the stones along my spine which she explained would help my back. I was left once she had finished to change, I was told to take my time so I relaxed on the warm bed for a while taking in the scent and experiencing the sense of being there.
My husband reported he had found the massage very helpful for his back and the therapist had explained it also assist with a lot of other issues such as circulation problems, headaches and detoxing your body, we were told to drink lots of water to help flush them from our bodies. I would fully recommend the treatment which is two for one when booking the Valentines Break package.
We spent a short time in the sauna after our treatment before we got dressed to leave; we both said how sad we were to leave and how wonderful it had been. Bringing us closer together and it was lovely to be able to spend some time together away from the world, the hotel and spa truly make you feel like you are a world away from your normal life and worries.
Check out was easy and quick, the staff where again pleasant and informative as to where to catch the replace bus back to the harbour and where the sea front was from the hotel. It was also explained they had a lunchtime menu of sandwiches and healthy salads for those who truly wanted to just retreat into the world of the hotel and spa, not needing to leave at all.
As we waited for our bus we had a stroll into town where we found a small amount of lovely looking shops, a glass blowing shop caught our eye but it was shut sadly but we would like to return to view it, it would be a lovely thing to do for valentines as a keepsake. The beach was empty and stunning; we had a wonderful walk down to the water and looked at the breath-taking white cliffs of Sandown and the island.
The break in full was a real treat, we felt very special and taken care of, and the hotel was outstanding for the price and spa very varied and well worth the price. It is easy to reach from the Pier both by car and public transport.
We will definitely be returning to the island and hotel again, possibly for our wedding anniversary later in the year.
Here are some romantic facts we found on www.visitisleofwight.co.uk:
140 years ago, on 12th August 1873, Winston Churchill’s parents, Lord Randolph Spencer-Churchill and Jennie Jerome, met on a boat off the Isle of Wight. They fell instantly in love and within three days were engaged to be married. www.visitisleofwight.co.uk/events/exhibition-winston-churchills-island-p990191
The Isle of Wight Walking Festival, which covers the island’s entire 72-miles of coastal path, is the UK’s biggest walking festival. A popular walk, on a programme of over 300, is the Speed Dating Walk which has so far resulted in five weddings and a baby. Attracting single walkers across the country, the walk aims to create long-lasting friendships between like-minded people, but also gives participants the chance to meet a perfect partner.
Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote some of his most romantic poetry while living on the Isle of Wight and lives on not only in his work but also in the Tennyson Trail – a 15-mile walk from Carisbrooke Castle to The Needles. The last few miles of the footpath at Freshwater Bay are perfect for a lover’s stroll and will most certainly impress with its romantic and dreamy scenery.
Princess Beatrice Mary Victoria Feodore, daughter of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, married Prince Henry of Battenberg on the 23rd July 1885 at St Mildred’s Church on the Isle of Wight.
WIGHTLINK FACT BOX:
Meresa Bergin travelled to the Isle of Wight with Wightlink (0871 376 1000 www.wightlink.co.uk) on its 22-minute passenger catamaran service between Portsmouth Harbour and Ryde Pier Head, one of three routes. Car ferries also operate between Portsmouth and Fishbourne (45 minutes) and Lymington and Yarmouth (40 minutes).
For bookings and special offers, as well as information about attractions and events taking place on the Isle of Wight visit www.wightlink.co.uk.
A perfect getaway break for Valentines.
Prices start at £189 per person. Book NOW as there is limited availability, For more information or to make a booking visit www.melvillehall.co.uk/valentines_break.html or telephone 01983 400 500.