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All at sea in Seaham Hall Hotel

Approaching a building that vaguely resembles a mental institution from pre-Victorian times, I had little idea of what to expect from Seaham Hall, a 5 star hotel, with accompanying Michelin starred restaurant. Situated on Lord Byron walk in Seaham, Co. Durham (Actually that should now be Durham, as apparently the general public presumed anywhere starting with the prefix ‘County’ was in Ireland…) the Byron theme runs throughout the part of the hotel where we stayed. Judging by the carpet, Lord Byron walked all around the hotel shitting words such as Beauty on to the carpet; words which when excreted randomly onto a carpet are devoid of all meaning or context.

The room itself was genuinely impressive though. Through the first set of doors into the bedroom/study. A large bed and a small telly, several windows overlooking the magnificent North Sea, a table with a loose top rendering it as much use as a chocolate fireguard, and a large bathroom with 2 sinks, a shower and a bath. A bath with a phone intercom panel next to it. No idea who I’d want to speak to when I’m in the bath, but hey, an impressive feature none the less. The small telly had an arcane speaker system that amplified any background music/laughter track at the expense of the words coming out of the actor’s mouths. Still, you don’t stay at Seaham hall to watch bloody telly, do you? And if you do you’re probably the type of person that has no real understanding as to what money in savings accounts is, and will pay the speakers until they correct themselves.

It’s probably the first room I’ve stayed in that has had a light switch that is beyond my comprehension. I’m no Mensa candidate, but I’m no Wayne Rooney either. Normally light switches are a piece of piss to sort out. I’ve never been worried about using them before. It’s not like when the conversation drifts into politics, and you hope beyond buggery that stuff you don’t really know anything about is discussed and you hope the whole thing just goes away and you can discuss things like what you would do if you had the power to jump 50 feet instead. No, light switches I thought I had nailed. This ‘light switch’ though was like a control panel for an overly complicated remote control plane. The type that looks really fun but you need a degree in electrical engineering to function. (Well, maybe just a better grasp on electrical things than I possess. I’m unsure as to why electricity doesn’t leak out of plug sockets). I ended up just selecting the ‘switch yourselves off every 15 minutes’ setting and left them alone.

On the whole, the room was bloody marvellous though.

So off to the spa. What the hell do you write about when writing about spas? One sauna was hot, one was not so hot. The steam room was hot and wet. One steam room had a small Jacuzzi in it which would probably seat maybe 4 or 5 people in it, but a weird social phenomena set in and it only seemed to be used by couples, while the steam room bit ended up being like a waiting room. Or that’s how I interpreted it. Wrongly, probably. The Jacuzzi was warm and bubbly, with jets powerful enough to smash knots in your back into oblivion. The pool wasn’t too cold, the hot tub outside was great, even though it as grey and wet outside. Bloody brilliant spa, then, as spas go.

Dinner at the white room. Bordering on utter pretension, but every bit as good as I’d have hoped for. Some fois-gras, gaspacho, olives and bread while we examined the wine list desperately seeking a red price at below £50. Found a couple at about £25 so plumped for a Merlot which it turned out they didn’t have. They offered a substitute which they described in a way that I can’t recall as we were only bothered about not being tricked into accidentally buying one of the £500 offerings, so when he said they’d honour he price of the original pick we breathed easy and got stuck into choosing some grub.

4 starters and 4 mains were the choices. I was terrified that the portions were going to be tiny (I had snuck out to Asda to get some Doritos to eat later as my granny had told me to always be prepared) The portions were tiny, but they were so good I don’t want to eat any other food again. All food now tastes hideous in comparison. Despite the tiny portion, we were given bread before the starter, a wee glass of parsnip soup, and various other titbits to keep us going. We ended up full, but whether that was just because I didn’t want to ruin my taste buds with normal food again is unknown.

Breakfast was delivered to the room the following morning, and I’d gone for the full English, which was superb. Felt a bit weird having people delivering my breakfast to the foot of my bed, while I lay about in bed like Lord Fauntleroy of Uselessness but didn’t know what else to do. What can you do? Offer to help? Bit weird. Tip them? Sod that, this place costs a fortune already. So I lolled around hiding behind the complimentary newspaper wondering if we’d all die of swine flu or not.

Check out at 12, but we were allowed to use the spa all day, so had a splash around until I was bored and had raised my internal temperature by a degree or two, and then went home. 1 night bed and breakfast, dinner and a drink in the bar on arrival was just under £500 all in for both of us. Value for money? Probably not. I will say that it is probably worth it for the food alone, but I doubt I’ll think that when my car breaks down and I remember I’d wasted the money to repair it on a piece of duck. If someone offers to take you to Seaham Hall, snatch their bloody hand off.

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