TRAVEL: A luxury spa hideaway in Suffolk

One of the cottages at Potton Hall in Suffolk

One of the cottages at Potton Hall in Suffolk - Credit: Contributed

Eileen Wise and her sister, Deborah, enjoy a relaxing spa break at Suffolk hideaway Potton Hall.

The flags of Zambia and St George flutter in the breeze atop Potton Hall, a discreet country spa set in 10 acres of fields and gardens at the end of a narrow lane on the edge of the Dunwich Forest.

It is here where Priscilla (from Zambia) and John (from the UK) Westgarth have over the past seven years created a haven for those in search of relaxation and repose, just the destination for quiet weekend with my sister.

And didn’t we need it. It’s been a long year for most of us, confined to spaces of various sizes with limited access to friends and family.

With spa treatments, a lovely restaurant, pool and surrounding walks in a beautiful part of east Suffolk on offer, this was a great way to kick off the summer.

Priscilla Westgarth and the team in the Yurt cafe at Potton Hall

Priscilla Westgarth and the team in the Yurt cafe at Potton Hall - Credit: Contributed


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Opening a spa was not the original plans when the Westgarths bought the hall, an old farmhouse that still has vestiges of 300-year-old stonework, including tall, original brick chimney stacks.

John had retired from his accountancy business and Priscilla, also an accountant, were simply looking for a quiet estate in east Suffolk, with a large garden and in easy reach of Norwich City’s Carrow Road stadium, where John has a season ticket.

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There was also a large barn, home to a glorious Steinway concert grand piano that was used primarily by classical musicians as a recording studio.

The previous owners had built up a business renting it to recording labels, including Chandos, based in nearby Colchester.

Priscilla and John agreed to carry on this business.

Today, Potton Hall Spa and Potton Hall Cottages are the main focus, at least for Priscilla.

“When we first moved in, I was looking for things to do and it all started when I decided to plant a meditation garden to grow vegetables to make healthy drinks,” said Priscilla as she took my sister Deborah and me on a tour.

Eileen and her sister, Deborah

Eileen and her sister, Deborah - Credit: Contributed

Priscilla was soon sharing her health drinks and homemade lunches with local ladies who came for relaxation and meditation sessions on the camomile lawn.

As ideas for the spa took shape, Priscilla trained as a beauty therapist and she build a Yurt, first for yoga but more recently it became a café that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Al Fresco dining at Potton Hall in Suffolk

Al fresco dining at Potton Hall in Suffolk - Credit: Contributed

The sauna and steam room near the pool that had been put in for the family’s use now served as a draw for her wellness visitors.

The atmosphere at Potton Hall is rustic chic and family friendly.

Priscilla’s enthusiasm for what she offers is infectious.

She admits that when the place is busy it can take time to serve everyone and even makes a note of this on the menu.

“Covid has made it quite hard to manage the staffing numbers, but we do our very best,” she says.

Her sister Wamba, also a therapist, has joined the team too.

My sister had both a facial and a full body massage with Wamba, both of which were enjoyed greatly.

My pedicure and massage with Maggie were also terrific.

One of the treatment rooms at Potton Hall

One of the treatment rooms at Potton Hall - Credit: Contributed

The spa uses the luxury Elemis line of products.

We also sampled brioche sandwiches for lunch, with salmon and avocado, served by the pool and the spicy prawns for dinner were especially delicious.

Smoked salmon and avocado on toast at Potton Hall, Suffolk

Smoked salmon and avocado on toast at Potton Hall, Suffolk - Credit: Patricia Tobin

The Potton Hall cottages are set back from the garden and can accommodate up to four people and pets.

One of the rooms at Potton Hall

One of the rooms at Potton Hall - Credit: Contributed

They have one double bedroom and a single with a pull-out couch too in the living room area.

Both have a nicely appointed kitchens and bathrooms with showers (no tubs).

Priscilla stocks the kitchen with essentials for breakfast, including milk and juice in the fridge and a selection of breads, croissants, fruit and cereals.

Relax in a hammock at Potton Hall

Relax in a hammock at Potton Hall - Credit: Contributed

There’s free WiFi. Outside the cottages there are three large hammocks offering yet another area to lay back and relax.

The pool at Potton Hall

The pool at Potton Hall - Credit: Contributed

And beyond the swimming pool is a lush wildflower meadow that makes a beautiful backdrop on a summer’s day.

This summer it hosted a sculpture park.

“We are still on our journey,” said Pricilla as she took time out to talk about herself and her business.

And some journey it has been.

She recounted the story of how she and John met 11 years ago during a training week when she applied to join John’s accountancy business, as a franchisee.

She had moved to the UK from Zambia in 2003 after her first husband, who was British, died not really expecting to stay.

She joined John’s firm and within six months the pair had married.

Potton Hall Spa and Cottages are a hidden gem in a delightful setting.

It’s a combination of quiet luxury and friendly vibes that give it its unique charm.

You can enjoy Potton Hall as a spa away day but with the addition of the cottages, for people coming longer distances, it’s now possible to turn the experience into a fully fledged holiday.

Cottages start from £250 per night. For treatment prices and bookings see the website, pottonhallspa.co.uk

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