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Spring getaway by royal appointment; David Prentice celebrates in style at Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire.

Byline: David Prentice

THE Windsors weren't the only wedding party celebrating on April 29 this year. That was the date, exactly 10 years ago, that I tied the knot with my own fairy-tale princess, and unlike 'commoner' Kate she has genuine blue-blood running through her veins! (Well her grandad was the legendary Dixie Dean, after all).

To celebrate in regal style we enjoyed a three-day spa break at the noble sounding Thoresby Hall Hotel on the edge of Sherwood Forest.

Children are not allowed - but don't think that means staid and stuffy.

Thoresby Hall looks stately and sounds grand - but it doesn't have delusions of grandeur.

It's a budget spa break with posh bits attached, which offers all things to all people.

Fancy some Butlin's style entertainment? Then there are nightly cabaret shows in the modern wing of the huge complex - Bee Gees tribute, Blues Brother Soul Sister and Songs From the Shows were the offerings on the three nights we visited. If you crave something a little more cultural, there's a resident soprano in the Grand Hall or the Thoresby Players performing murder mystery plays.

For the more energetic, there are tennis courts, a croquet lawn or a putting green.

Guests get to dine in three different restaurants for each night of a long-weekend stay - and the trio reflects Thoresby Hall's rich variety.

The Blue Room is the high point of the culinary offerings. Set in a sumptuous room with wall coverings of silk damask, soaring ceilings and ornate mouldings, the chef carries two AA rosettes - deservedly.

My trio of pork - belly pork, braised cheek and pork loin - was outstanding, while my wife's elegant fish creation was equally well received.

The other dining experiences are the rustic Italian restaurant called Fenocchi's or the Pierrepont Carvery which offers theatre-style buffet with a wide range of food.

Of course Thoresby Hall is a Spa Hotel - so instead of spending Saturday afternoon watching 22 footballers get hot under the collar, we lounged around for a couple of hours in a sweltering array of steam rooms ... plus a very welcome - yes, really - ice cave!

There are hydrotherapy pools flanked by foot spas and heated loungers, an aromacave (a more moderately heated steam room, with aromatherapy essences added) and a sanarium - a sort of sauna for wimps at 50-60 degrees centigrade and with medium humidity.

It was perfect. The good sized (18 metre) swimming pool has a glass roof; you can swim along looking out at the rooftops of the old house with its chimneys and gable ends.

If Hogwarts had a swimming pool, this is what Harry Potter and his friends would see during a swimming lesson.

There are a bewilderingly huge number of other activities which can be booked - archery, rifle shooting, falconry demonstrations, ghost walks or tea-time quizzes - or you can simply do as we did and borrow a couple of bikes from reception and explore the wonderful grounds.

All staff were unfailingly unhelpful, without being gushing.

Meal prices are included in the cost of the break, and while drinks were pricey, there were no complaints at us enjoying a bottle of wine on our room terrace watching the wildlife - rabbits, grey squirrels and peacocks - wander by.

Perfect for a royally relaxing weekend away.

TRAVEL FACTS THORESBY HALL is a two-hour drive away in Nottinghamshire, just off the A1. Three night breaks start from pounds 244 per person.

This summer guests can upgrade a standard two or three night, half-board break from pounds 50 per person so it includes a two-course lunch for each day of the break and all drinks.

See www.warnerukhotels.co.uk

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ROYAL BLUE: The sumptuous Blue Room restaurant (inset) at the magnificent Thoresby Hall Hotel in Nottinghamshire
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England)
Date:May 31, 2011
Words:623
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