BAILIFFSCOURT HOTEL & SPA - Climping, Sussex
One of my absolute favourite country hotels has got to be Bailiffscourt Hote & Spa in Sussex. Not only is it a stunning old medieval manor house full of antiques, four poster beds, secret tunnels, tapestries, log fires, roaming peacocks and its award-winning Tapestry Restaurant, but it's also home to a wonderful spa. Located in a beautiful barn within the hotel grounds, the spa has an indoor and outdoor pool, hot tubs, sauna & steam rooms, relaxation areas and a sun deck. Specialising in Temple Spa products, all the treatments are heavenly. I highly recommend a massage and facial which will leave you feeling blissful and smelling gorgeous. And if you fancy taking in some sea air, the hotel is literally a two minute walk from the sea. I can't wait to go again!
FALLOWFIELDS FALCONERY - Kingston Bagpuize, Oxford
Located in the grounds of a lovely country hotel (Fallowfields Hotel) just outside Oxford, is a brilliant falconery. I went along recently and spent a fantastic 2 hours enjoying a falconery session, where I learnt all sorts of fascinating things about kara kara birds, owls, falcons, turkey vultures and kestrels. I even got to enjoy the thrill of having a harris hawk and a barn owl swoop in and land on my arm, where we had a little chat before they flew off again. I took my brother as a surprise (he's never had so many birds on his arm!) and he loved it too. After the session had finished, we enjoyed afternoon tea in the hotel garden. A great way to spend a day!
TINTORERIA DONTELL - Barcelona
A Spanish friend of mine gave me the tip-off for this fantastic restaurant cleverly disguised as a dry cleaners in the heart of Barcelona. On arrival, you literally walk into a dry cleaners where the receptionist sits amongst an array of garments 'ready for collection'. In exchange for your name, she gives you a code to unlock a secret door, which opens to reveal an entrance into a pink neon corridor leading to an impressive yet cosy restaurant. Booking is essential and at approx €50 per head, it wasn't that cheap, but both the food and service were excellent and I would definitely go there again. In fact, I think they're opening a secret sister restaurant hidden behind a souvenir shop, so if I find out more, I'll let you know. Oh, and I don't think they actually do dry cleaning!
CRAZY BEAR HOTEL - Oxford
If you're planning a weekend away and want a hotel with a difference, then visit the Crazy Bear near Oxford. It's a unique, unusual getaway in the heart of the countryside. The rooms are individually designed in a stylish yet eccentric and sometimes quite kitsch manner. The reception can be found inside a refurbished red London double decker bus, plonked on the lawn, adorned with topiary bears. The cosy wooden bar was my favourite place, complete with log fire and laden with chandeliers. There are two restaurants - one English and one Thai. My friend and I tried the Thai and the food was sublime. If you don't fancy trekking to Oxford, there's a Crazy Bear restaurant/bar in London.