At 5 Star Weddings we have the privilege of reviewing the world’s best hotels and venues; it’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it. We’ve visited hotels on the other side of the world and put our feet up in tropical spas, but finally we’ve found a world class destination on our doorstep: Sopwell House in Hertfordshire, a stone’s throw from 5 Star Weddings HQ.
Sopwell House, once home to Lord Mountbatten, is a sprawling, white Georgian mansion near to the historic cathedral city of St Albans. Having been a hotel since the late 1960s – and under the careful management of its current owner, renowned hotelier Abraham Bejerano, since 1986 – the 4 star hotel is expertly run for optimum comfort for all its guests, and won a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence in 2014.
With that accreditation it was almost guaranteed we were in for a heavenly stay and we were not disappointed when, on arrival, we were greeted warmly by staff, who relieved us of our bags and showed us to our spacious, modern room. I started to wonder if we could, perhaps, just live here (it’s close to the office!) when I saw the beautiful garden views, the neatly folded robes and slippers awaiting us on the pristine white bed, the Espa products in the bathroom, and the king sized tub. But we didn’t come here to hide in our (very lovely) room, we came to get spoiled rotten and, luckily, the hotel boasts a breathtaking, recently refurbished spa.
The spa at Sopwell has been designed to cultivate a relaxation state of mind for its guests. The décor is inspired by natural sources and Japanese influences, and there is a definite feeling of Eastern ritual when removing one’s shoes and stepping into soft slippers to enter the elegant spa. Wrapped in my luxurious robe I waited for my therapist, along with a few other guests, enjoying the cucumber water and trying not to doze off in the peaceful low lighting. I opted to indulge in a melting honey hot stone massage treatment by Clarins (all the spa products used at Sopwell are either Clarins or Espa) which involved me lying face down on a table while my therapist spread thick, warm, sticky honey all over my body.
It was not quite like anything I’ve experienced before, and was a little like being “slimed” on Saturday morning TV, except for the warm, relaxing sensation and delicious Clarins scent… Okay, it was perhaps a little more decadent than being slimed. After the honey came the hot stones rubbed on pressure points on my back to complete my therapy, followed by a hot cleansing cloth to remove the honey. The treatment took just over an hour, and was intended to help eliminate toxins while relaxing mind and body. I did feel wonderful afterwards; warmed, relaxed, and limber from the massage. A full list of the treatments available, as well as prices, can be viewed here.
We’re big advocates at 5 Star Weddings of remembering to pencil in some relaxation time before the big day; after months of wedding planning intensity – table plan turmoil, the mystery of how one of your bridesmaids dropped three dress sizes in the two months since you bought her dress, worrying what the best man will unearth for his fully interactive Best Man Speech/Powerpoint Presentation et cetera, et cetera – can take its toll on your emotional wellbeing. We’re confident in adding Sopwell House Spa to our list of recommended relaxation retreats for the week before the wedding.
And after a treatment there are plenty of dining options, depending on tastes. Smaller snacks, teas, coffees, and alcoholic beverages are served in the light, bright conservatory (which welcomes one and all with a very casual dress code, permitting bathrobes and slippers!) there’s a brasserie for all day dining, and afternoon tea is available in the cocktail bar or restaurant. We opted to try out the exquisite dining room for a sumptuous three course dinner featuring a delectable grilled trout and lobster linguine.
Of course, visiting Sopwell House from a wedding planning point of view, we took interest in the facilities available and found that the hotel is ideal for big weddings. The original house and additional out buildings are expansive and there are a variety of suites available for your big day, whether you want an elegant indoor affair or a sun-soaked summertime outdoor celebration, and the venue is licensed for legal ceremonies.
The hotel staff are professional, warm, and approachable so the planning of your wedding would be in eminently capable hands with the team there. There is, of course, plenty of room to house your wedding party for an overnight stay too, so if you are not local then this beautiful, historical hotel is a really great choice for a wedding venue that provides everything you could need, from relaxation to accommodation.
For photo galleries, menus, contact information and more, visit sopwellhouse.co.uk.
Have you ever visited Sopwell house for afternoon tea, cocktails, or spa treatments? Or perhaps attended a wedding there? We’d love to hear your comments..
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