Newmarket's Bedford Lodge & Spa is a ten minute walk from the town centre and a stones throw from the world famous training gallops. Lucy Ford paid a visit.

Built as a hunting lodge for the Duke of Bedford in the 18th century, the Bedford Lodge and Spa became a hotel in the 1940s. It’s a place to stay that’s a ten-minute canter from the centre of this bustling market town, a place that’s the spiritual home of British horse racing, with over 50 stables and 3,500 racehorses.

The hotel has been altered and extended over the years – not least with the addition of the spa, which opened in 2013 – and now has 77 rooms and offers a real mix of modern and Georgian look.

Bedford Lodge and Spa

We booked in to a twin room which was very pleasant without being spectacular, nicely decorated and with Molton Brown toiletries in the bathroom. In the evening, we had dinner in the hotel’s restaurant, a beautifully-decorated space whose lemon sole was superb, perfectly cooked and almost falling off the bone.

There was a lot to like, but we did run into one or two issues. On a chilly Autumn night the room was so hot we could have smelted iron, and we had to open a window to cool down. There was also a snafu at dinner: though mine was superb, my friend’s Thai green curry arrived as plain boiled rice alongside a piece of dry chicken, not a drop of curry sauce in sight. The kitchen did manage to rustle some up, but by the time it arrived the appetite for it had gone.

Things to do

The Spa at Bedford Lodge

The hotel’s spa isn’t attached to the main hotel building is a short walk across a gravel drive – there’s a lounge there, so if spending the day you needn’t traipse back and forth and risk spoiling your zen.

The spa is equipped with a hydrotherapy pool, outdoor rooftop hot tub, thermal area with sauna, steam room and ‘hammam’ – a Turkish bath.

Bedford Lodge and Spa

I was checked in by the very friendly ladies on reception for a ‘Deeply Relaxing Lavender Floatation Treatment’. If that doesn’t mean much to you, I’ll confess I had absolutely no idea what to expect either. The answer proved to be getting ‘foil-wrapped like a Christmas turkey’ (my therapist’s description, not mine) after being exfoliated and covered in lavender oil.

I was then laid on a what looked unnervingly like a pool table covered with a tarpaulin, which proved to have warm water beneath. That was slightly disconcerting at first (Could it leak? Would it? How would I escape without the use of my arms?) and I initially struggled to feel the promised ‘soothe, smooth and de-stress’, but the chilled music, dimmed lighting and beautiful aroma from the candles did the trick after a while and I enjoyed a tranquil 30 minutes that proved blissful.

Bedford Lodge and Spa

Horseracing and heritage

If you come during the flat racing season – roughly April to October – you’ll probably get down to a meeting, but even if there’s nothing on this is a great spot for the equine lover. Get up before breakfast and wander along to the town centre gallops to watch grooms and their steeds pounding the turf.

Other local attractions include, the new National Horseracing Museum and a National Gallery of British Sporting Art. There is a ‘Discover Newmarket’ tour that offers a unique opportunity to visit racing’s headquarters. Group or individual tours are available. See www.discovernewmarket.co.uk

Cambridge

Just a 30 minute drive along the A14 is the charming university town of Cambridge, where you can pursue the shops along the cobbled streets or have a punt on the Cam.

Spa breaks at the Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa start from £394 for two people, including a treatment, lunch in the spa, use of spa, three-course dinner and bed and breakfast. The Deeply Relaxing Lavender Floatation Treatment costs £60 for 60 minutes. bedfordlodgehotel.co.uk