Celebrity-hit luxury hotel near Alton Towers with 31C heated outdoor pool perfect for spring dip

Luxuriating in a balmy open air pool with a cocktail in hand and the sun beating down on my face, you could have easily have been forgiven for mistaking my surroundings for a tropical paradise.

But for the towering conifers, instead of palm trees, a morning frost still twinkling on the sprawling acres of grass unfurling in front of me instead of a sandy beach, and a distinct 'crispness' to the air, this could quite easily have been the Caribbean or some such other travel destination from the pages of a glossy magazine.

I was however, right here in North Staffordshire just a few miles down the road from Alton Towers in a paradise of a more-typically English style.

The Tawny's jaw-dropping pool is the centrepiece of the hotel. Once a magnificent pond, the owners have cleverly restored the area to create something like no other I've experienced in the UK - or the world.

READ: I tried North Staffordshire’s Michelin-style restaurant and you can see why it’s a celebrity hit I enjoyed a little slice of luxury at the Plumicorn restaurant at the Tawny hotel - embracing its roots just a 15-minute drive from Stoke-on-Trent

READ: We tried afternoon tea with stunning garden vista perfect for Valentine's Day We enjoyed a little slice of luxury at the Tawny hotel just a 15-minute drive from Stoke-on-Trent - and it was a treat for the senses

My visit was on a perishingly cold but sun-soaked day in January. And apart from a five-metre sprint from the pool's edge to the heated changing room, I was lovely and warm as I completed leisurely laps under a cloud-free sky, only stopping to sip on a mojito.

Dried off, it was a leisurely stroll to our hotel room - The Oak - a treehouse with stupendous views over the largest of the lakes.

It's the clever, deconstructed design that seems to offer celebrities and the well-heeled the peace and seclusion they are looking for. Only this month, a pregnant Emily Atack was among the guests looking for some R&R ahead of giving birth to her first child.

In photos shared on Instagram, she could be seen reclining in the outdoor spa bath which is more than big enough for two and completely private. There was something magical about staring up at a star-filled sky in one of the quietest spots smack bang in the middle of England.

The whole site weaves 34 low-impact cabins, picturesque waterfront retreats, and The Plumicorn restaurant, into 70 acres of rewilded gardens and woodland, filled with follies and lakes. There's even a chocolate box cottage where you can go for massages and other treatments.

Scandi-chic interiors are contemporary, with all the mod-cons and clever touches to feel right at home. Even the treats and goodies are sourced from local producers including Lymestone Brewery beer.

Over at The Plumicorn and Feather Lounge bar there's more options to tingle the taste buds with a tantalising afternoon tea or a fine dining style evening feast. The chef delivers an inventive ever-changing menu with dishes such as beef dripping doughnuts and rabbit ravioli.

Stokies will be pleased to know that breakfast options include all the usual suspects alongside Staffordshire oatcakes. If guests are coming from around the world to Staffordshire then it’s good to give them a real taste of Staffordshire, after all.

It is all the brainchild of two local couples - the Scott-Moncrieffs and the Reeveses - who had a shared vision to restore the magical gardens created by 20th Century engineer William Podmore, which had fallen into neglect. Wildlife and nature are all around, and The Tawny even borders an RSPB nature reserve and sits within a recognised dark sky area.

North Staffordshire may be largely known for an unrivalled heritage in ceramics, but the launch of the Tawny, in 2021, has opened-up this formerly underrated part of the country and put it on the map for boutique stays – quite the game changer. It is a beautiful walk around the grounds, a comfortable hour-long stroll, or you could stretch your legs down to the River Churnet or Caldon Canal.

There's no hiding the fact that this is up-scale albeit in a very relaxed and charming way but it certainly delivers on every front. It takes a lot to live up this kind of setting.

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