When it comes to any kind of getaway, trip, weekend away, or simply a relaxing spa day, if you’re looking to eat – which of course everyone is at some point – you need to make sure gluten free options are available for a smooth running experience.
It sounds silly, but it isn’t, and simple changes and options make a huge impact on your day. So when treating two of my best friends to a relaxing spa day, we needed to make sure their were gluten free options on the menu for me, and veggie a plenty for Lauren.
I love a good massage, so when we were invited to come and try a spa day at Kettering Park Spa Hotel, part of the Shire Hotels group, we jumped at the chance to enjoying a day zoning out and some nice lunch in the sun.
Just two hours from my hometown of Southend, which involved an enthusiastic car sing along, we arrived to be greeted by the spa manager, who provided us with robes, slippers and towels, before booking us in for a back, neck and shoulder massage (my favourite).
Slipping into swimsuits, we had a good old natter in the jacuzzi before a swim in the calm indoor pool, before popping to the treatment room for our complimentary massage.
I’ve had quite a few back massages before – a large amount being in Thailand – but this was definitely one of the better experiences. With soothing music in the background, I chose a deep tissue massage over a relaxing one.
Having just returned from Leeds Festival, I felt my back needed a good click. The treatment lasted 25 minutes, although you can choose longer 1 hour massages, and I was asked a few times if the pressure was OK. This is so important in a massage. As much as I love the quiet, and zoning out to the point I’ll dribble and/or fall asleep, there’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re be battered with a baseball bat. So top points on that one.
Emily also went for a deep tissue, and Lauren the relaxing one. Emily admitted, after the masseuse highlighted she had some tensions in her back, that she’d look into getting back massages more often to help with this. Any excuse I say!
And then for what I was looking forward to most. Lunch. For anyone observing you might not think Kettering Park Hotel had any gluten free options. The menu isn’t separate, nor labelled, but after speaking to the manager and chef, they explained that as they cook all their food fresh, anything, bar an odd pastry dish, can be adapted to be made gluten free.
If I was them this is something I’d definitely stress on the menu, as the options weren’t just minimal, they were exceptional. From pasta to fresh ciabatta, to fluffy brioche buns, and multiple desserts that ranged far greater than the typical fruit salad and ice cream.
Our eyes widened in amazement as countless dishes were brought out for us to try – all specifically made gluten free – at our table out in the sunny hotel garden.
Here’s what we enjoyed:
Gluten free bread board selection
Sauted Tiger Prawns, charred lime, sweet chilli sauce
Norfolk Crab and Chilled Asparagus Soup
Bread and Croutons
Mixed Fish Grill – Fillet of salmon, sea bream and red mullet, caper mayonnaise, samphire, lemon and thin fries
Tiger Prawn penne, chilli, garlic, white wine, thyme and parsley
Roasted summer vegetable with gluten free penne
Handmade Rump of Beef Burger with gluten free brioche bun and roasted sweet potatoes
Minted new potatoes
Fine Green Beans with chilli and pine nuts
Tomato and Gem Lettuce Salad
Lemon posset with gluten free shortbread with raspberry compote
Fresh strawberries and sorbet (melted by the time I took my snap!)
Cheese selection and gluten free crackers
When it comes to highlights, my favourite starter had to be the ciabatta with oil and balsamic. Call me simple, but this is something that’s rarely available, or done this well, so a crisp piece of bread smothered in fresh butter went down very well indeed.
As for the mains, the two pasta dishes (one veggie, one with prawns), were lovely and light, with a soft olive oil and fresh tomato dressing. Too often pasta is served in thick sauces, but this was perfect and original, highlighting the individual flavours of each dish.
A special shout out too to the sweet potato fries with barbecued pickle dip, which accompanied the burger. All three of us couldn’t get enough of these, sprinkled with crunchy sea salt. Easily the best sweet potato fries I’ve had. Although the bun was impressive, the burger was a little too over-cooked for my liking. Definitely get the fries on the side though. 100% needed!
Finally for the highlight of the whole menu – lemon posset with gluten free shortbread with raspberry compote. This is a dessert that I would never usually opt for. Give me a long list of gluten free desserts, and something cakey or smothered in chocolate usually catches my eye, but after mountains of food, it was the perfect slider, both light yet cream. I liked it so much I didn’t stop talking about it!
We finished the day lounging in the pretty garden, sipping water (must keep hydrated after a massage) and reading books we brought. I even managed to top up my tan.
Whether you’re looking for a girly spa day, overnight stop over, or a way to extend a trip a day longer, Kettering Spa Hotel is the perfect way to do so. Located by the motorway has its ups and downs, as the traffic noises weren’t ideal, but being so close to the Kettering motorway turn off, makes it an ideal spot to stay away an extra day either side of a trip. Who wouldn’t want a spa day before heading back to reality?
A huge thank you to Kettering Park and The Shire group for having us as guests for the day. As always, all opinions and images are my own.