Seaham Hall and Serenity Spa

The lowdown

Perched on the rugged Durham coastline, Seaham Hall is a boutique spa hotel with a large spa and generous grounds. A well-groomed Georgian country house, it’s a hug of a hotel with a relaxed atmosphere and happy, helpful staff.

Location-wise it’s a wellness winner too, adding the option of fresh sea air and bracing walks into the mix, alongside the hotel’s sizable spa, which offers a holistic feel-good experience.

Serenity Spa has a 20m indoor pool, plenty of thermal features – indoor and out – and a great range of elevated treatments. Bedrooms continue the relaxation theme with comfortable modern suites and huge beds that are crying out to be breakfasted in. And Seaham Hall’s two restaurants keep foodie types deliciously happy too, with the upmarket Dining Room offering an imaginative locally inspired menu, and popular Ozone dishing up pan-Asian favourites next to the spa.

The nearest beach is just across the road from the hotel and is popular with beachcombers hunting for treasured ‘sea glass’, sea-tumbled pieces of glass from the bottle factories that once flanked Seaham’s coastline.

The hotel’s around a 20-minute taxi ride from Durham Station which has plenty of direct trains into London’s Kings Cross and is 13 miles from the city centre.

Spavellous for

A restorative spa break by the sea, a spa day with enough to keep you entertained and relaxed for hours, great for couples, solo spa-goers, foodies and staycationers. The hotel is dog-friendly too, though we didn’t see any canine guests during our stay.

Spa info

Spacious Serenity Spa has a peaceful vibe from the second you arrive, with swathes of cherry blossom and other elements of Asian styling adding to the calm and charm. Guests heading to the spa from the hotel do so via a candle-lit tunnelled walkway and are greeted by a supersized elephant.

Central to the Asia-inspired spa is the large and relaxed indoor pool, surrounded by wooden chairs and loungers. It’s lovely and light and leads out to the Zen spa garden with its inviting infinity-edge hydrotherapy pool and pair of sunken hot tubs. Back inside there are seventeen treatment rooms and plenty more thermal experiences: another large hydro pool, saunas, a steam room and a couple of icy plunge pools. There’s also a hammam and ice fountain.

With its range of different experiences, it’s a great place to spend a spa day, or Twilight session, and is perfect for some contrast therapy, alternating between hot and cold experiences.There’s also an OPI/ Taittinger Champagne nail bar. And a gym with free weights, resistance, and cardio equipment, plus a yoga and Pilates studio.

Treatment highlights

The spa offers a great range of treatments by natural Scottish skincare brand ishga, whose naturally nurturing products contain nutrients extracted from hand harvested Hebridean seaweed. Plus, Mediterranean-inspired treatments from British brand Temple Spa. Among the elevated spa experiences on offer is the new 90-minute ishga Five Senses Sound Ritual, which includes an additional half an hour in the spa’s new Swell sound therapy suite, and I was lucky enough to be one of the first to experience it.

The ishga Five Senses Sound Ritual is an innovative, bespoke treatment that combines ishga’s seaweed mineral-rich products, a top-to-toe spa treatment and soothing sound therapy. And, in case that winning 90-minute treatment trio doesn’t leave you relaxed to the max, there’s a 30-minute sound therapy finale in the hotel’s new Swell room. This sounded like my kind of treatment.

My therapist led me to a large room with a large and inviting heated massage table in the centre facing a wall bathed in the projected seascape images. Lighting was low and voile curtains gave the treatment room a light and airy feel.

The treatment started with a seated foot scrub with ishga’s aromatic salt scrub while the therapist talked me through my consultation card and what to expect. She explained that it had been designed to target all the senses to maximise relaxation, using bespoke sound therapy to deepen the experience. Next came a sensory test where I got to pick my preferred body oil. She described the four options, and the ingredients and benefits of each, then placed the two oils she felt best fitted my treatment goals onto cotton pads for a sniff test. I was drawn to the Muscle Recovery oil which sounded spot on as it’s designed to ‘relax muscles while having an overall energising effect’ and seemed perfect to chill out the muscle tension in my shoulders while leaving me energised enough to be able to write a coherent review. The therapist then offered me some (huge!) paper knickers, which I politely declined, preferring to risk getting oil on my own. She left the room while for a few minutes while I got changed and made myself comfortable on the cosy massage table.

The body treatment started with three deep inhalations of my chosen oil before the therapist began applying the fresh lemongrass-scented salt scrub to my back. The crunchy salt crystals and fragrant oil felt invigorating as the scrub was smoothed and swirled over my skin. The removal of the scrub also felt great, with the therapist gently dragging a taught moist towel down my back then backtracking upwards to remove any remaining grains. I appreciated not having to leave the comfort of the couch to shower the product off like you often have to with body treatments that involve a scrub.

Once the scrub had been removed, it was time for the massage. Focusing on the back and shoulders, the therapist used intuitive sweeping, circling motions that worked in harmony with the soundtrack which was was progressing to include swirling wind and was doing a great job of transporting me to a deserted faraway beach. Hot stones were also introduced, adding to the soothing multisensory experience, and I lost all track of time.

When the therapist asked me to turn over to face up for the facial part of the treatment, I couldn’t actually work out whether I’d fallen asleep. I appreciate this might sound strange, but the relaxing combination of treatment and sound therapy can induce an almost meditative state (according to science, not woo woo btw). Turning over for the facial brought me back to reality, which I was pleased about as I didn’t want to miss any of the enjoyment of the treatment.

The facial kicked off with a double cleanse, first with Ishga’s thick and luxurious Marine Cleansing Balm, then the slippier Active Cleansing Lotion which felt fresh and effective. This was followed by a swoosh of refreshing toner and the application of the Ishga’s popular exfoliating face mask. The mask felt great, and I love that the exfoliating magic is worked by tiny fragments of seaweed. The treatment was definitely at the gentler, more relaxing, end of the facial spectrum, helped by the immersive soundtrack which had moved on to include the sound of a distant harp.

Next, the therapist applied a nourishing facial oil which she massaged into my skin with smoothing and pitter-pattering rain drop strokes. And, just when I thought the treatment couldn’t get any more soothing, she introduced some cool stones to gently massage the area around my eyes. This felt amazing and I later found out the ‘stones’ included smooth Seaham sea glass for a unique and local twist. Finally, the therapist applied ishga’s hydrating new Hydra Plus cream, containing hyaluronic acid, which she lightly pressed into my skin and left to sink in while I enjoyed the treatment finale, a relaxing head massage with warm oil.

As the treatment journey reached an end, I was struck by a momentary feeling of sadness before remembering that further relaxation awaited, and I was gently guided to the new ‘Swell’ sound therapy suite.

The Swell Room is Seaham Hall’s latest spa addition, a softly lit and cocooning space for deep relaxation with two luxurious ‘vibroacoustic’ beds which emit subtle vibrations that ebb and flow to the bespoke soporific soundtrack.The generously padded heated recliners are topped with a cosy blanket and face a moody seascape mural.

As I arrived at the Swell Room, I was handed a small bowl of mango sorbet and popcorn, so my taste buds weren’t left out of the multisensory experience. And a pair of over ear headphones to complete the escapism.

Once I’d made myself comfortable on the bed, I had a quick scoop of refreshing sorbet, donned the headphones and breathed deeply as I sank into the sounds of nature and Gaelic instruments. I loved the immersive nature of the treatment, the variety of sounds, and their unpredictability which somehow made it more effective at delivering the promised deep relaxation. I consider the word ‘journey’ to be a tad overused in wellness circles, but it’s spot on to describe this sound therapy experience which effectively transports your mind to another, almost dreamlike, place.

I just about managed to stay awake and resist the sleep-inducing lure of the sound. I enjoyed the whole experience, taking in the sensations: sounds, tastes, vibrations and, at the end of the treatment, the scent of Uplifting Aroma Spray.

When the experience came to an end, I felt uplifted and appreciative of the experience and having had the opportunity to enjoy two full hours dedicated to pure relaxation – plus my skin felt deliciously soft and smooth.

rooms

Seaham Hall offers suite only accommodation, with twenty-one large rooms giving it a personal, boutique hotel feel.

Shared between the main Regency house and the glass-roofed modern extension, rooms have a contemporary-classic feel with comfortable large beds, jewel toned cushions, minibars, complimentary snacks and large flatscreen TVs. Furnishings give a nod to the location, with breaking waves adorning wallpaper and carpet, and colourful glass lampshades referencing Seaham’s industrial past. There are playful touches too like the branded pink rubber ducks and hidden wardrobe wallpaper depicting burlesque dancers swinging from chandeliers. You’ll have to crack the complex lighting system to see them though!

The two storey Ada Lovelace suite is particularly luxurious with twin slipper baths looking out over the grounds. There are also hot tub suites with their own private garden and Scandinavian wood-fired hot tub.

One of the suites has been designed for wheelchair users with step-free access.

If you’re thinking of booking for a group, it’s worth having a look at the cottage that sleeps 4.

And several of the ground floor rooms can accommodate dogs, on request.

wining & dining

The hotel’s main restaurant, the Dining Room, champions local and seasonal ingredients with a menu that’s ‘inspired by the untamed beauty of the North Sea and the lush Durham countryside’.

I enjoyed a beetroot starter with confit egg yolk and perfectly cooked Skrei cod (the king of cod apparently and only available from January to April due to migration patterns), and my spa buddy sung the praises of her ‘super tender melt-in-the-mouth’ fillet steak. I followed up with a fresh Amalfi lemon crema which came with fennel pollen ice cream and pretty petal-dotted meringue, and we enjoyed mocktails created around our favourite flavours.

Seaham’s second dining option is the pan-Asian-inspired Ozone restaurant in the spa building which serves crowd-pleasing favourites like Peking duck, fragrant Thai curries and tapas selections. You can dine here in your spa robe during the day, and Ozone has its own bar.

The hotel also has a 24-hour bar in the main house.

You can enjoy breakfast either in the Dining Room restaurant or in the comfort of your own room.

why so spavellous?

Seaham Hall has a lovely unstuffy atmosphere and all-round appeal with its winning combination of friendliness, facilities, spa treatments, food and suites. Plus, the fact that it’s on the coast, albeit a rugged pebbly bit of it, adds an extra ‘Blue Health’ element, with the extra wellness benefits of spending time near water.

The hotel’s friendly atmosphere makes it great for a solo spa visit, as well as a couple’s or group stay, and it would be a good shout for a northern staycation or stop-off en route to Scotland. We particularly liked the variety of thermal experiences in the spa, and the Swell sound therapy elevates the already luxurious spa experiences to the next level.

Seaham Hall is part of the Pride of Britain Hotel Group which handpicks independent hotels of a certain calibre. We’ve stayed in, reviewed and rate other hotels in the group, including Whatley Manor and Lucknam Park.

spavellous tips

The usual ‘bring two cozzies’ rule applies – you’ll likely want to head to the spa more than once if you’re staying at Seaham Hall to make the most of both indoor and outdoor spa facilities.

Make time to head to the beach to collect a Seaham sea glass souvenir.

Cricket fans should keep an eye out for international cricketer Ben Stokes who’s a local ambassador for Seaham Hall and is allegedly partial to a cold dip in the plunge pool.

Pick your room when you book. Rooms in the Georgian house have the sea views while those in the newer wing have a slightly more contemporary feel. Or maybe having your own hot tub is a must?

spa-goers say

‘I came out of the ishga Five Senses Sound Ritual feeling like I’d been on holiday.’

‘We come here every year for an anniversary treat and I look forward to it all year.’

WEBSITE

aDDRESS

Seaham Hall, Lord Byron’s Walk, County Durham, England, SR7 7AG.

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SR7 7AG
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