Things that can feel awkward when you do them by yourself, in no particular order: Going to the cinema. Eating in a restaurant. Going on a holiday. Well, how about staying in a romantic spa hotel primarily visited by couples? Yep, that too. Thank God, then, that my pain threshold for tolerating potentially awkward situations has risen over the years, because when I left Ibiza at the beginning of December after my second summer of working on the island I was in dire need of some solo time.
After a solid eight months of surrendering my personal life to the demands of the season, working all hours and squeezing in a little time to party as well, I was ready to collapse in a corner, pull a duvet over my head and ignore the rest of the world for an unspecified amount of time. In the name of ‘self care’ – and my then impending 35th birthday – I booked myself in for a two-night stay at Carey’s Manor Hotel and SenSpa in the New Forest.
I had visited this beautiful winter bolthole before with my friend Liz and was lured back by a vision of myself lolling around in the warm hydrotherapy pools, saunas and steam rooms – perfect for relaxing and escaping the cold at the same time. Conveniently located just a 1.5 hour train journey out of London, the hotel combines the epitome of modern countryside chic with a Thai-inspired wellness area, specialising in Asian style massages and body treatments.
I have previously mentioned that I love a luxury hotel room and take great pleasure in lounging around in my dressing gown – open bottle of champagne at hand for a cheeky glass of bubbles as and when the mood requires – soaking in oversized bath tubs and napping in marshmallow soft bedding. It’s actually embarrassing how little desire I have to leave my room at times, and so visiting Careys Manor all by myself couldn’t have suited me better after the whirlwind that was 2017. Because even if I do feel a little weird about travelling alone at times, the benefits make more than up for it.
1. You don’t have to talk to anyone – except room service.
2. You don’t have to make plans for meals, spa treatments or trips outside the realm of the hotel with travel companions.
3. You can be your best (and by best, I mean worst) self the whole time. If that means sleeping in until after lunch, skipping breakfast to eat chocolate in bed and only dashing outside the hotel for an hour before sunset to find the New Forest ponies, so. be. it.
Revelling in the infamous spirit of YOLO and using the birthday excuse to justify just about any treat, I enjoyed one of SenSpa’s amazing massages, tucked into a two-course dinner washed down with pink champagne at onsite restaurant Cambium, which transforms organic local ingredients in a haute cuisine dining experience, and spent hours floating around in the hot tub. I may have felt a little sick when I received my credit card bill at the end of a blissful two days in my own company, but that’s a different story!
Credit: All images by Olivia Ebeling for Tribe Magazine unless otherwise stated. Feature image via Careys Manor Hotel’s Facebook page.