There are certain things that need to be in place for a really brilliant holiday with girlfriends. Somewhere fabulous to lounge. A well-equipped kitchen, plus options for eating out when you’re too
drunk lazy to cook. A hot tub. Access to spa treatments. And – wait for it – plenty of ways to burn off the food and alcohol the morning after. Ahem, what? Yep, it’s true. Maybe it’s an age thing, but my friends and I have stopped leaving our trainers behind when we go away together. We can still party for Britain, but we want to work it off the next morning. Which is what makes the Hunter Lodges at the Celtic Manor in south Wales – where I spent a lavishly louche evening making cocktails recently – so perfect for a girlie trip.
In the grounds of the Celtic Manor resort and sleeping 8 to 10 people, these self-catering lodges are gorgeously styled – all Scandi-fabulous wood-lined walls and tactile, contemporary decor. With a wood-burning fire and squishy sofas they’re the cosy embodiment of hygge in the winter and, with their panorama over the glorious Usk valley, brightly airy in the summer.
That’s only the start of it. Their genius is that they’re thoughtfully set up with all the details you could want for a hooley with your girlfriends. When you’ve tired of using the (much nicer than your own) kitchen, there are 10 resort restaurants to choose from, and you can get hampers delivered or even have a chef come and cook for you. There’s both a sauna and a hot tub, and the games room can be set up as a therapy room if you want to dial up a beauty therapist from the spa.
And when you’ve done partying, you’re all set up to work off last night’s excesses. Hunter Lodge guests can use the Celtic Manor gym, which had even me – most definitely not a gym-lover – itching to get stuck in, with its super-smooth Technogym equipment. The pool is marvellous both for swimming and lying next to with a book (and check out the starry sky above, when it gets dark). If you prefer to get outdoors, there’s loads of great walking – the best walks are a shuttle bus ride away at nearby Newbridge, though there’s plenty within the grounds. If you have a head for heights, there are high wires to play on, and of course there’s the world class golfing.
So far so good, but aren’t the Hunter Lodges wildly expensive? Well, here’s the thing. Actually, no. Midweek winter breaks, with two people sharing a room, start at £84 per room. Which is £42 pppn. Seriously. It’s a steal.
And if my endorsement isn’t enough, take it from Barack. When President Obama stayed at the Celtic Manor for the Nato summit in 2014, instead of hanging out in the Presidential Suite, he stayed in a Hunter Lodge. If it’s good enough for the Obamas…
There’s just one problem. You’ll be so reluctant to leave at the end of your stay that they’ll need Obama-style Secret Service personnel to drag you away…