New spa & afternoon tea

A cosy new spa in an old seafront cellar and a show-stopping afternoon tea at the stylish Brighton Harbour Hotel

Brighton’s lovely seafront Harbour Hotel and its Jetty Restaurant have been open a few months now but a couple of new additions have just made it a top place to hang out and enjoy a bit of pampering, even if you’re not staying – namely a spa in a grotto and a colourful afternoon tea.

Unusually, the hotel burrowed into its heritage basement to create its new spa which has some fun, quirky styling.

There are several vintage touches in the spa

On the upper level is a lap pool complete with inflatable palm tree and giant rubber duck. There’s also a spa pool that will fit about six.

Explore further and you’ll find a frankly slightly spooky stone staircase with a rope bannister which leads you down to a wonderful grotto space in the old vaults where you can now chill – or rather, the opposite – in a hot tub and sexily-lit sauna and steam room, then lounge about on day beds.

There was a bit of excitement when this area was discovered during the hotel renovations. In fact, behind a brass statue of a lady relaxing in the buff, look out for a bricked up archway – this is where the contractors accidentally went too far with the exploration and found themselves in the back of the Fortune of War pub on the seafront!  It got me thinking though, if they’d left the access open how on a warm day you could have made a bikini-clad dash from the sauna, through the bar – grabbing a fortifying shot on the way – then across the pebbles and straight into the sea!

No, they’re not vats of wine!

Another nice bit of styling – the two large wooden hot tubs here look like the kind of thing people used to press grapes in with their feet. They were occupied by couples on my visit and I didn’t fancy playing gooseberry but if you want to ensure you and your other half/mates have a space to yourself then book the private grotto that leads off the public area.

Pool – minus giant rubber duck

As well as doing a few laps in in the pool, I had a treatment on the upper level of the spa during my visit. My 25 minute ‘express facial’ surprised me by going further than slapping on a few products. I had the dreaded ultra violet consultation to check the state of my skin (no sun damage thankfully), had exfoliator pushed in deep into my pores with a tingly vibrating brush (loved that bit) and a steamy hot towel wrapped round my face at a couple of points. The products are ESPA. Plus, unlike some other facials I’ve had, they didn’t skimp on the relaxation part either – with candlelight and floaty music as you’d have for a massage. My skin felt great afterwards but don’t make my mistake – try to swim and steam first so your moisturiser doesn’t start to dry out.

Of course when you’re feeling good on the outside you might as well make your insides happy too, which is where the afternoon tea comes in.

Tea for two

I’ve enjoyed a fair few afternoon teas in my time and nosyied at pics of plenty more. Some have left me and friends ooh-ing and ahh-ing, others, even at well known hotels, have been a bit on the dull and overpriced side. Well let me tell you, The Harbour Hotel’s version is definelty on the Instragram side of things. If you book this for a treat for someone else – or indeed yourself – they and you won’t be disappointed.

Of course there were some fat scones, with separate dishes of jam and clotted cream. Not having a very sweet tooth myself, I was pleased to see the savoury side of things hadn’t been neglected though, with, among other things, some really tasty smoked salmon crostini and a cheese scone with chilli jam.

The cakes – mini frangipanis and chocolate eclairs – weren’t sickly sweet either (seriously, the sight of a cup cake piled with icing makes me want to heave) and the zingy mini fruit trifles added a bit of showmanship. Contents seem to vary looking at the website menu but there’s usually a mini trifle. The tea is usually served in The Jetty restaurant which is a nice light space and, though you’re across the road, you do get a sea view.

Come Saturday night in Brighton, adjoining ‘Wild’ West Street with its big chain bars is the main drag for the tackier kind of hen night. The Harbour Hotel is altogether something more classy for a bit of girlie indulgence, or, of course, to hang out as a couple. With Mother’s Day coming up it’s also a good option to get booked up now if you’ve a mum to treat.

So how much does this double indulgence cost? Well I’m pleasantly surprised by the package prices. A refresh spa morning with use of the facilities, a choice of 25 minute treatments then lunch in The Jetty is £65.00 per person on weekdays, £80.00 on Sats. An afternoon version with 40 min treatment and afternoon tea served in The Snug is £72.50 per person weekdays, £87.50 per person weekends.

The Harbour High Tea on its own is £19.50 per person, including bottomless Tea Pigs tea (or you can upgrade with Prosecco or champagne). It’s served 3.00pm to 5.30pm. There’s also a cream tea version with a selection of scones for £12.50.

Corner suite with sunken bed

I had a peek at the Harbour Hotel’s rooms too and they’re just as fab – light, with injections of colour – and hey – complimentary gin and sherry! I could just see myself holing up here for the weekend!

Brighton Harbour Hotel & Spa, 64 King’s Rd, Brighton BN1 1NA 0844 811 1104  brighton-harbour-hotel.co.uk  The hotel is an easy 10 min walk from Brighton Station.

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