Hotel Rating: Richmond Harbor Hotel & Spa

Lobby of the Richmond Harbor Hotel

For working parents like me who live in the city, escaping to the country for a spa vacation can seem like a distant dream.

But having discovered such an oasis of calm just a stone’s throw away in south-west London, I and an equally weary friend waste no time arranging an overnight stay. Located on the edge of Richmond Park in the leafy borough of the same name, Richmond Harbor Hotel & Spa is considered a luxurious rural retreat in the city.

Eager to begin our pampering vacation, I roll in two hours before the official check-in time, a clear violation of hotel etiquette. But the understanding staff just grabs my bag and sends me down to the spa for a glass of Prosecco – a very welcome first taste of the laid-back hospitality that defines the Port of Richmond.

Exterior of the Richmond Harbor Hotel

High life in the hotel

Perched atop Richmond Hill, with wild deer on its doorstep (or at least across the street in the park), the Richmond Harbor Hotel & Spa is a white-facade Georgian mansion with lots of character.

The hotel reopened with a new look last spring after a fire destroyed the third floor in 2019, two years after the former country house was acquired by Harbor Hospitality Group. The expert renovation team retained the original spiral staircases and other historical features, but added luxury amenities and vibrant decor to suit modern tastes.

This balancing act between tradition and modernity is evident from the moment we step into the marble-floored lobby, where a self-service shelf of Hunter wellies hangs opposite kaleidoscopic modern artwork. And while the central wooden table is covered in the leafy ferns found in Richmond Park, a bronze branch that appears to be growing from the ceiling turns our expectations on their head again.

The lobby at the Richmond Harbor Hotel & Spa

The nods to park life continue in the armchair-strewn adjacent drawing rooms and in the hotel’s 90 rooms, where bright prints of deer, foxes, and the like adorn the walls.

My boyfriend and I have ample opportunity to look at the decor while struggling to find our own deluxe suite. The spa-side Prosecco may have been a factor, but hard-to-see signage makes it difficult to navigate the hotel’s sprawling main building and recently remodeled annexe.

However, this little subtlety is quickly forgotten when we finally find our room. Richmond Harbor dispenses with unnecessary frills and frills, just what guests need to feel at home. Furnishings are simple and streamlined, but homey. And the color palette is neutral with accents of patriotic red, white, and blue, and textured Mulberry Home wallpaper behind the bed.

Richmond Harbor hotel room

Aside from the expected coffee maker and preset radio, other nice touches include decanters of complimentary gin and sherry (“Reminds me of visiting my grandma,” says my bleary-eyed friend).

White Company toiletries in our ensuite shower room are also a welcome treat. And the monogrammed bathrobes and matching slippers in the closet are just perfect for slipping back into the spa.

Spectacular spa

The 2019 fire also engulfed the health club that was formerly on the site of what is now the Richmond HarSpa & Club. Used by guests and residents alike, the remodeled version features 13 treatment rooms, a relaxation area, a spa garden with cedar hot tubs and a hydrotherapy pool, and a juice bar.

For fitness kicks there is a 20-metre indoor pool with sauna and steam room, training studios and a large and well-equipped gym. To balance exploration and relaxation, my boyfriend and I decide to do a few laps in the pool before our pre-booked treatments.

Richmond Harbor Hotel pool

Or at least they should be booked in advance…a technical error means my friend’s massage was not recorded in the central system. But despite being understaffed due to illness, the spa receptionist quickly managed to reschedule my buddy’s appointment.

This “can’t do enough” approach makes up for a few other hiccups during our stay, as the always friendly staff goes above and beyond, even when they’re obviously pushing the limit. After mentioning that I’m a bit tired, an excited-looking staff member recommends a vitamin energy drink from the spa cafe before confiding, “I’ve had four this morning.”

The entire team deserves to be pampered with HarSpa’s signature sea, mind and body treatment, a 160-minute head-to-toe experience that includes a foot bath, body scrub and massage, and a bespoke facial. Emerging from this marathon of indulgence with muscles thoroughly untied, I feel reinvigorated and properly primed for an evening of food and drink.

food for the soul

Judging by the chatter from neighboring tables during our Saturday night visit, the hotel’s restaurant, The Gate, appears to be popular with Richmond residents and guests alike.

Named for the gates to nearby Richmond Park, the restaurant is a multi-level, skylighted, glass-walled dining and bar area that spans the entire rear of the hotel and extends onto a large, landscaped patio. The main dining area is bordered on one side by a marble serving counter, while the bar area has a 1970s Moroccan vibe with embroidered cushions, velvet banquettes, huge fringed lampshades, and hanging potted plants.

The Gate restaurant at the Richmond Harbor Hotel

The traditional but not stuffy menu is less eclectic, focusing on comfort fare like (presumably fancy) fish and chips, as well as plenty of grilled meats and a “plant-based” section with decent vegetarian options.

Although this harbor hotel is nowhere near the coast, my main course of monkfish tail with wilted spinach, confit tomatoes and balsamic glaze is the standout of my meal. And my girlfriend is equally impressed with her starter, salt beef carpaccio with shaved parmesan.

Portions are large too, and combined with the generous helpings of house red we enjoy, none of us can handle dessert.

But when we return for breakfast the next morning after a relaxing bath and steam, we manage to live up to The Gate’s excellent breakfast selection. A buffet of granola, fruit, yogurt and other fresh foods ticks all the healthy boxes, while our poached eggs on sourdough toast and chorizo ​​potato hash leave us feeling pampered.

In fact, health-boosting indulgence pretty much sums up our much-needed hotel stay.

Richmond Harbor Hotel & Spa rates start at £140 per night on a B&B basis. Spa and gym memberships start at £110 per month; Hotel Rating: Richmond Harbor Hotel & Spa

Fry Electronics Team

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