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With Valentine’s Day coming up, you’re quite possibly on the hunt for a romantic retreat where you and your other half can spend a weekend of indulgence while keeping your training on track. The Vineyard, which nestles just outside the small village of Stockcross near Newbury, offers 49 sumptuous rooms, an award-winning spa, a functional gym and cuisine of the very highest order. In other words, it has everything it needs to become the perfect choice.
Its proprietor, Sir Peter Michael, who owns the sprawling Peter Michael Winery in Sonoma, California, chooses the wine for The Vineyard’s cellar. You can see some of his 30,000-plus selections as soon as you enter the hotel because they line a glass-walled corridor known as the wine vault that runs from the back of the decadent lobby. The corridor opens into a bar in which a Last Supper-style painting, called 'After The Upset', depicts a 1976 blind tasting that has become famous in the wine world because it was the first occasion on which Californian wines were voted superior to French wines, and by French wine tasters, too. The painter, Gary Myatt, has done a delightful job of portraying the wine tasters’ horror on discovering which wines they’d picked.
Room at the inn
MF stayed in one of the hotel’s spacious luxury suites, which looks out over an intriguing William Pye water feature called Fire and Water. This was commissioned by Sir Peter to demonstrate how two opposing forces in nature can combine to create a thing of beauty, and consists of a marble pond with seven flaming torches that dance mesmerisingly on the glassy water. As well as a soft, comfortable king-size bed and lounge area, the suite has an elegant bathroom with a tub that’s easily big enough for two.
Before dinner MF hit the hotel’s gym to work up an appetite. Although basic, it has a good selection of free weights and a decent-sized matted area for yoga, stretching and floor-based bodyweight workouts. There are also two running machines, an elliptical trainer and a recumbent bike. After a few dumbbell-based tabatas, we were eager to tuck into a five-course taster menu and a well-deserved glass or two from the wine cellar.
We made our wine and food selections in the cosy Cocktail Bar, opting for a selection of muscle-repairing meat washed down with a tasty Malbec from Sir Michael’s vineyard. We particularly enjoyed the guinea fowl with parsley terrine, almonds, chicory and blood orange, and the protein-packed duck breast with butternut squash, red kale and wild rice. To finish, MF tucked into a delicate white chocolate and passion fruit terrine, exotic purée and coconut – a devilishly sweet end to the night’s feasting.
The next morning we paid a visit to the hotel’s 5 Bubbles spa, where MF opted for an Exclusive VitaMan Signature Body Treatment. Part sports massage, part exfoliation, it consisted of well-executed deep tissue work, a skin-cleansing clay mud wrap and a gentle head massage that left us feeling fresh and unknotted. We were also a given a list of Vitaman products to use at home to replicate some of the body-soothing effects of the treatment after a big gym session.
A stay at the Vineyard is as romantic as it is restorative, making it the perfect Valentine’s Day break for the fitness-conscious couple.
To make a booking, go to the-vineyard.co.uk
Nick Hutchings worked for Men’s Fitness UK, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Nick worked as digital editor from 2008 to 2011, head of content until 2014, and finally editor-in-chief until 2015.