I am so excited to tell you about the most wonderful two days Mr Green V and I spent at The Grange at Hencote Estate, in Shrewsbury, Shropshire. I was kindly invited to visit before heading back to Brussels, so it was the perfect time to enjoy some post-Christmas and pre-travelling relaxation.
Hencote Estate is tucked away in 65 acres of beautiful countryside just outside of Shrewsbury; close enough to civilisation if you need it, yet far away enough to feel disconnected from the world, in the best way possible. I have to confess, this was my first proper trip to Shropshire, and I’ve always imagined it to be a countryside idyll; peaceful, tranquil and green – and I wasn’t disappointed! The Grange is a refurbished hay barn, with seven ensuite bedrooms and a neutral colour palette which, in addition to the subtle lighting, can’t help but create a calming and inviting atmosphere.
Hencote owner, Andrew Stevens, previously the CEO of the Bank of Qatar, plans to dedicate The Grange to improving the lives and wellbeing of its clients. As a result of his high-powered position, he often would work incredibly long hours, and consequently neglected his wellness. After coming across an article talking about a wellness clinic, he decided it was time to look after himself a little more, and so visited the clinic before ultimately being advised to improve his wellbeing. Mr Stevens soon found that by implementing various things into his life, like a 10-minute nap during office hours for example, he was much more productive, more efficient and reenergised.
Inspired by his outlook, The Grange is testimony to his reassessment of how he was living his life, and it serves to offer wellness and relaxation for individuals along with corporate retreats as well.
The Grange offers you a chance to switch off (both your mind and your phone!), relax and unwind, whilst being looked after in the most beautiful surroundings.
As someone who often works 50+ hours a week, I have to say I’m not the best at switching off, in fact it can be pretty difficult for Mr Green V to lure me away from my computer! However, I was surprised at how easy it was to let go – to not stress about checking my emails, or posting on social media. In fact, for a great deal of our stay, my phone remained in the bedroom – something which never normally happens!
I absolutely loved the personal touch at The Grange, it’s something which you don’t tend to get much in hotels, so it was a real treat. From unpacking your bags, to washing any items needing a clean, the idea is to make the guests’ lives easier. As the first vegan to visit, I was genuinely touched by the fact that Olivia Britton, the lovely Grange Manager, made sure we had synthetic (rather than down) bedding, and she even included Vegan Living in the main room’s magazine collection. I often feel anxious when staying somewhere new – I worry about vegan options, about being able to communicate what being vegan actually means and how it affects my lifestyle, and in truth, I worry about coming across as picky or demanding as a result. That’s why I really appreciated the questionnaire which was sent out before our trip, which asked if we had any dietary needs, so I could explain everything I needed to re food, without that awful feeling of arriving somewhere which might not be prepared for a vegan visitor!
When I spoke to Olivia, she said that it was important for her to have plenty of information from clients prior to their stay, so she can think about every aspect of a client’s visit before they arrive. Pretty fantastic for us vegans!
We arrived just after midday and were greeted by Olivia and Jaydean who helped us with our luggage to our bedroom, the Courtyard. First impressions of The Grange were that it was exactly the place I needed to be. The decor, the cosiness of the main room, with the crackling fire, array of books and magazines, the smell of lunch wafting through – yes, this is my kind of place.
Lunch was served not long after we arrived and settled in, and the chef who would be looking after our nutritional needs for the next two days was Marcus Bean, celebrity TV chef, and owner of the Brompton Cookery School – and my new favourite person! Oh wow, the food was just incredible – high end vegan cuisine at its very best.
Post-lunch we were shown around the vineyard (which is already bearing fruit) and the forested area at the bottom of the vineyard, known for its wildlife. I understand that Olivia is keen to set up a little camera down there to see exactly what animals are there – how sweet!
Next it was time for our massages, which was a lovely surprise, and as you know I am most partial to a massage! I was first and Liz, the masseuse, led me to the treatments pod, which lies separate to the main building. I enjoyed an hour of relaxation and massage – the perfect thing for my ‘laptop’ back, and I walked out of the pod feeling a couple of inches taller! I am a big advocate of wellbeing, and I think there are few things better that a full body massage. Liz was fantastic, and it was honestly the best massage of my life! I think the separate pod, with relaxation music, candles and the smell of essential oils just added that extra luxury to the treatment.
Whilst the other guests had their massages, I enjoyed a berry, ginger and turmeric smoothie and a read of the latest issues of Vegan Living, snuggled up in the main room, listening to the comforting sound of pots and pans as Marcus set to work on our evening meal.
No alcohol is served at The Grange, but there is a constant supply of lemon or cucumber infused water, so it’s super easy to keep yourself hydrated. The food is prepared with healthy nutrition in mind, there isn’t a lot of sugar used, there aren’t any odd processed ingredients, and everything is as natural as possible. It’s natural, clean cooking – oh, and absolutely delicious.
After dinner, Mike headed off for his massage, and I caught up on a bit of reading in our room, wrapped up in one of the complimentary dressing gowns, feeling like I just never want to leave.
After a deep and delightful sleep, we were bright eyed and bushy tailed for our 8am yoga class. Before we started, however, we were given a morning drink of hot water, lemon and fresh ginger, which is very good for digestion and hydration. In fact, since we’ve come back home we’ve been making it every morning ourselves, which I think fits in rather well with Hencote’s goal of encouraging guests to continue what they experience at The Grange, and keep it up long term.
I do love yoga, and I am trying to commit to a regular practice, so it was great to take a class and start the day feeling fresh, stretched and ready for action! Michele was our yoga teacher for the morning, and she gently encouraged us to stretch deep, connect our minds and bodies and prepare ourselves for the day.
After yoga, we were treated to a wonderful brunch, with a little bit of everything, including three different plant milks to choose from! We needed this fuel as we were due to head up The Wrekin, a steep hill about 20 minutes by car from Hencote, with the best views of Shropshire.
The Wrekin was pretty cold, but the views were awesome, and our guide, local PT and gym owner Mike, had even brought along some vegan energy balls for us! Again, spending time outside and getting active reminded me how much I enjoy being in nature, walking or running and how amazing I feel afterwards. It’s another thing I hope to take from my time at The Grange and implement more regularly in my life.
We arrived back at The Grange, and after a clean up it was time for lunch. I’ve had a fair few risottos in my time, but the first taste of this was incredible – so flavoursome, so delicate… I actually was eyeing up Mr Green V’s after I finished to see whether he would leave any I could pinch, but he enjoyed it just as much.
Finally, before we were ready to say farewell, I had some one on one time with Maria, a nutritional therapist who would be working with the other guests to help put together a plan and offer advice on anything we were struggling with. This was brilliant, as I was able get a professional, non-judgemental opinion on a couple of things that had been on my mind for a while.
As it was time to head home, Mr Green V and I both felt so well-rested, de-stressed and relaxed, although this was tinged with sadness at the thought of leaving the beautiful Grange and surrounding estate at Hencote.
I feel inspired to make 2017 my healthiest yet, both physically and mentally, and my time at The Grange has certainly put me on the right track.
If you’re in need of some downtime, to take yourself away from the chaos of everyday life, I genuinely can’t recommend The Grange enough. But be warned… you may never want to leave…
The Grange’s wellbeing programme starts from £300 per day per person, which includes massage, yoga, fitness, 1 on 1 nutrition, full board and a luxury suite. The Grange offers 3 and 5 day programmes for guests to really benefit from the programme.
For bookings email firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 07512 524 500