Light, Air, Water. These are the perfect ingredients for relaxation and recuperation on holiday. In our busy lives, we need moments to stop, rest, just gaze at the horizon. Holiday time provides the longed for opportunity to refocus on our health and wellbeing. Perhaps you’ll find those moments at Kurhotel Skodsborg near Copenhagen and take home a little piece of that health and wellbeing with you.
The hotel started life as a sanitorium, founded in 1898 by Dr Carl Ottosen, who had studied health and physiotherapy in the USA. In those days, before doctors could rely on antibiotics, recovery from illness was often about letting the body do its own healing through rest and a healthy diet. Dr Ottosen’s principles of light, air, water, nutrition, exercise and rest are very much part of the hotel’s ethos today, where outstanding spa and fitness facilities are combined with a professional health centre. While I was there with my daughter in the early summer, we were able to reflect on how Dr Ottosen’s principles are still the key to a healthy and relaxing holiday.
Water washes over you
Water surrounds you, bathes you, washes away your cares. Water is playful, as children we splash and squeal in the pleasure of it. We found the spa at Kurhotel Skodsborg was a truly beautiful space to relax in water. There are pools, relaxation rooms, many different saunas and a four season water experience that left us giggling at the tweeting of spring birds and the thunderclaps of autumn. There’s even a snow dispenser so you can recreate that authentic Scandinavian experience of running out of the sauna to roll on the fresh snow! We loved the delicate ornamentation by artist Marlene Bach with washed out stencilled patterns on the walls, inspired by the geometric tile patterns of a Moroccan hammam, and the coloured glass panels of red, green and blue, set into the glazed roof.
When you have finished your sauna, put on your toweling robe and walk across to the private jetty where you can jump into the water and cool off with a yelp of pleasure at your own daring! In winter the tradition of hot spa followed by cold dip from the jetty continues and once the water is warm enough in summer they set up swimming lanes so that you can take your swimming exercise in the sea. After our exercise class I jumped in fully clothed while the Danish ladies around me stripped off to enjoy a frisson of chill water on bare skin.
Light and air by the sea
I especially love to be beside the sea because of the soft light, the play of reflections on the water and the wide skies as you watch the horizon. The sea is hypnotic and therapeutic with a different aspect to enjoy in every season. I love the summers of Scandinavia with warm days spent amidst nature. It’s no surprise that the area of North Sealand just north of Copenhagen is a favourite for Copenhageners to spend their summers by the sea.
The healthy choice is the easy choice
At Kurhotel Skodsborg they like to make the healthy choice the easy choice, with healthy but delicious menu options. Each day a different Dr Ottosen’s juice drink is available, made from fruit and vegetables pressed by a slow juicing method to maximise the vitamins and minerals in each glass. Perhaps you’ll get the performance-boosting combination of cucumber, celery, pear and apple or the anti-inflamatory beetroot, apple, watercress, lemon and ginger. These were created by top Copenhagen cocktail maker Gromit Eduardson to be fresh and delicious as well as healthy.
Tea with Georg
The hotel even has it’s own healthy but delicious take on afternoon tea, served on elegant Georg Jensen china. No scones coated with clotted cream and jam here! Instead you get thick slices of smoked salmon, served with paleo bread made from nuts and seeds and a small pat of soft whipped butter. There are cakes but they are less sweet, flavoured with dark chocolate or fruit and a distinctly nutty texture. I loved the round of shortbread which crumbled in my fingers, sandwiched with raspberry jam like a sophisticated jammy dodger. We washed it down with a fennel tea in homage to the liquorice-loving Danes. Tea with Georg is served in The Lounge where you sit in comfort on squashy velvet sofas. (130DKK)
“ Man has more endurance when work is interchanged with rest” wrote Dr Carl Ottosen and isn’t the chance to relax and catch up on your sleep is one of the joys of being on holiday? Studies have shown that health and wellbeing are closely linked to the amount of sleep you get, which makes perfect sense to me. There is a virtuous circle, that is mentioned in this article, in which the better we sleep, the more energy we have to exercise which then gives us the benefit of greater health and vitality. By the time I’d spent a day or so at Kurhotel Skodsborg I found the atmosphere so restful that I didn’t want to leave, even though here is plenty to see in the area.
My room with understated soft green décor reflected the royal forest of Dyrehaven behind the hotel and from the balcony I could watch a perfect white sail drift across the horizon. The white squashy sofas on the sunny roof terrace transported me to lazy days in some trendy Greek beach bar and I even discovered another terrace above the spa that was perfect for sunbathing.
Wherever you are heading on holiday this summer, I hope you take the opportunity to relax, unwind and enjoy your healthy holiday.
About Kurhotel Skodsborg
Kurhotel Skodsborg is an contemporary Nordic spa hotel situated just north of Copenhagen in the North Sealand region. You’ll find it on the coast road, beside the ocean, yet only a 30 minute train ride to the centre of the city. There are 80 rooms and suites as well as meeting rooms and conference facilities. If you’re looking for a relaxing weekend destination you’ll enjoy the extensive spa and fitness facilities, the private jetty for ocean swimming, the rooftop terrace with sundeck and restaurant and lobby bar serving healthy Nordic cuisine and cocktails. Rooms at Kurhotel Skodsborg start from 1900 DKK (£180/€250/$280) per night for 2 people bed and breakfast with use of spa. Check the best prices for Kurhotel Skodsborg and other Copenhagen hotels on my Hotel Booking Page
For more information about things to do in and around Copenhagen and North Sealand, check out the Visit Copenhagen website and the North Sealand website as well as the Visit Denmark website for other parts of Denmark. Heather and Sophie-Anne used the Copenhagen Card which covers free transport on the trains from Copenhagen to North Sealand as well as free or reduced price entry to many of the attractions in and around Copenhagen.
More things to do around Copenhagen
Thanks to Kurhotel Skodsborg who hosted Heather and Sophie-Anne for their stay at the hotel, Wonderful Copenhagen for their support on this trip. This article was also brought to you in partnership with Legal and General.
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The air was chill but the rising sun surprisingly bright as we reached Stonehenge at a much-too-early hour when any sensible person would have still been in bed. Everything around us was still; no coaches, no crowds, not even an open gift shop. This was Stonehenge as you imagine it to be, standing alone in the Wiltshire landscape as if the builders had abandoned the stone circle for us alone to find.
But sadly the Stonehenge experience isn’t always like this. A couple of years ago I had visited with my blogging friend Barbara – she wrote about our day here. Although we were lucky enough to be first in the queue as Stonehenge opened and had the monument to ourself for a brief 5 minutes, it wasn’t long before the perimeter of the circle was flooded with other visitors. This is one of the major tourist ticklist sites and a convenient coach tour destination for day trips from London, so by the time we left, the experience was far from magical.
On a typical visit to Stonehenge you can skirt around the stones and photograph them from a distance, but without walking among them. This time our early morning tour allowed us to walk into the circle and hear our excellent guide Pat Shelley of Stonehenge-Tours.com tell us all about the stones and the stories and myths that surround them. But first a warning; don’t touch the stones, don’t kiss the stones, don’t hug the stones, don’t lick the stones! Those of us who visited Stonehenge as children will remember that this was once an open monument where you could walk among, sit upon and even picnic by these stones, but these days they are now treated with almost religious care for their preservation.
The stone circle was a masteriece of engineering with the sarsens weighing up to 50 tons being brought on rollers from the Marlborough downs and the smaller blue stones used in the inner circle being brought by river from the Preseli Hills 150 miles away in Wales. The lintels that sit balanced on the top of the larger stones are held in place with interlocking joints and were slightly curved to make the circle – you can see the bulge on top of some of the stones and the hole on others that have fallen. While it is clear that Stonehenge was built to be aligned with the sun and is part of a wider landscape of other stone circles and burial barrows, no-one really knows why it was built or exactly how it was used. Our guide Pat confided that Stonehenge is believed to have been built for ceremonial and ritual purpose which is archaeological code for ‘we’ve absolutely no idea!’
If you’d like to visit on a special sunrise or sunset tour of Stonehenge that will enable you to have that magical experience without the crowds, you need to plan well ahead. The early morning visit including access to the stone circle can be requested in advance at a cost of £30 per person via the Stonehenge website (this does not include a guided tour or even an audioguide) but guides like Pat Shelley also offer the special tour including transport from Salisbury and a guide for £98 per person. Twice a year you can walk within the stone circle during the winter and summer solstice but you will still be sharing the experience with thousands of other visitors. The normal entry price is £14.50 and is bookable in advance, by timed entry. A free audio-tour is available for download on iTunes here.
While you’re in the area there is plenty more to visit, so I would make a weekend or few days to stay in Salisbury while you explore the surrounding area – more information on the Visit Wiltshire Website.
On the road from Stonehenge to Avebury you will pass Silbury Hill, which at 40m high is the largest man-made chalk mound of its kind in Europe. The flat topped cone shape is too regular to be natural, yet no-one knows why it was constructed and no burial chambers have been discovered. There’s no public access to the base or top of the hill but on the opposite side of the road you can walk up the hill to West Kennet Barrow. This Neolithic long barrow or burial mound has a stone chamber at one end that you can enter and you are free to walk along the top of the barrow, with the wind blowing in your hair.
A more personal experience of the stones at Avebury
If you were disappointed at having to share Stonehenge with crowds of other visitors, I recommend that you drive 40 minutes north to Avebury, a larger site of standing stones that is also managed by English Heritage. Visiting Avebury is a much more personal experience and while the individual stones are not as impressive as Stonehenge, you can wander among them, touch them and hug them at will. The stones are well spaced out, making large stone circles across the landscape and a village has grown up in the midst of them, making for a pleasant visit, since you can wander freely around the stones, banks and ditches and then finish off with an excellent pub lunch at the Red Lion.
The beautiful cathedral is as much a living place of worship and community as a tourist attraction, and the spire can be seen for miles around as you approach the city from any direction. If you are spiritually inclined I’d recommend attending evensong or the Sunday morning service to hear the beautiful music and choral singing. The cathedral has undergone a major repair programme over recent years and you can read the cathedral blog to find out what’s been going on behind the scenes. You won’t find a crypt or hear a peal of bells here, since the cathedral is built on shallow foundations due to the high water table and too much vibration could make it unstable.
A perfect photography spot can be found from the footpath that runs in between the water meadows, leading to the Mill House Hotel at Harnham a pub and restaurant where we had supper, in a 15th century building with a garden, with views of the river and mill pond.
800 years of Magna Carta
In the chapter house of Salisbury cathedral you can see the best preserved of the four original copies of Magna Carta, sealed in 1215 by King John in an agreement to preserve the constitutional rights of his nobility. The ‘Great Charter’ guarantees certain rights, including the right to a free trial and copies were sent around the kindom after King John made peace with his barons at Runnymead, to ensure he didn’t change his mind (which of course he did).
The interactive exhibition has been created within the Chapter House to commemorate the 800 year celebrations with films and displays about the charter’s history and volunteer guides on hand to explain everything. Within a darkened enclosure, you can see the actual Magna Carta, written on vellum and with the mark where the seal would once have been, which signified the king’s approval.
Salisbury Cathedral Close
The cathedral is enclosed in a grassy close of 80 acres, surrounded by the houses that were constructed in the middle ages to house the clergy but have since been enlarged and beautified with grand Georgian facades. The houses, walls and gatehouses form a barrier that was designed to separate town from gown in troubled times – normally when the church was charging to local people too much in taxes. There’s plenty to see within the close including Mompesson House, an elegant Queen Anne style town house that is open through the National Trust, The Rifles (Berkshire & Wiltshire) Museum that tells the story of the County infantry regiments and the Salisbury Museum that houses local archaeological collections found in the area.
Visit Arundells, home of Sir Edward Heath
While you’re in the Salisbury Cathedral Close, be sure to visit Arundells, the former home of British Prime Minister, Sir Edward Heath who lived here from 1985 until his death in 2005. The Grade 1 listed house has all those ingredients that make a perfect country gentleman’s residence; the gravelled courtyard with wrought iron gates, the honey stone Georgian frontage and the gardens leading down to the river. Inside the house is preserved as it was when Sir Edward lived there and reflects the passions of his later years. In the hall you’ll see models of his yacht, Morning Cloud and he described the rich man’s sport of ocean racing as ” like standing under a cold shower tearing up £5 notes.”
In the sitting room is a grand piano which visitors are invited to play, covered with silver framed photos of the great and the good, while the terracotta formal dining room, filled with Chinese artworks, saw many a Sunday lunch with everyone from pop stars to royalty. As you walk up the stairs you’ll admire the hand painted wallpaper depicting Chinese fables and stand behind Sir Edward’s desk in the study looking along the length of the garden towards the river. This is certainly a house that oozes the personality of its owner.
Stay within the cathedral close at Sarum College
I stayed at Sarum College while attending the Social Travel Britain conference and highly recommend it if you are looking for tranquil and comfortable accommodation right opposite the cathedral. Parts of the college date back to the 18th century and it is now used as a Christian study and conference centre, but anyone is welcome to book one of their 40 rooms. This is the only place that you can stay within the cathedral close, so you can drink in that cathedral view in the early morning, before other visitors are allowed in. The en-suite bedrooms are fresh and simply furnished and there is a refectory that serves excellent home cooked meals using local ingredients. Should you wish to venture out of the cathedral close to eat at one of the nearby restaurants, you can borrow a key to get back in after the gates are locked at 10.30. Probably not the place for party animals though.
More places to visit in the South of England
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In this article our guest author, Susan Foster shares her girl’s weekend getaway at the historic Hotel del Coronado, set by the sea in San Diego, California.
My friend Cherie and I traveled quite a bit together in college and for some years afterwards. These trips came to a halt during the years we raised our children. Recently however, we have enjoyed a girl’s weekend getaway together every-other year. A perk of midlife has been the significant upgrade in the accommodations we can now both afford!
This year’s destination: San Diego
Cherie is from Virginia and I live in Montana. This year, we chose to meet at the warm coastal resort town of Coronado, just across a bridge from San Diego, California.
Deciding to splurge, we booked a long-weekend stay at one of the leading San Diego hotels, the historic and luxurious Hotel del Coronado. Built in 1880, it is now an American National Historic Landmark.
A glitch in our plans!
Our flights were originally scheduled to arrive into San Diego late morning on a Friday, within minutes of each other. Unfortunately, an airplane mechanical difficulty delayed Cherie’s arrival until evening. I found out by reading a text from her just before boarding my own flight:
Despite feeling horrible for Cherie, the Hotel del Coronado was a lovely place to spend an afternoon alone.
I explored the sprawling grounds and beautiful building, walked several miles on the hotel’s private beach, ate a lovely ocean-side meal, and watched an incredible sunset from the balcony of our full ocean-view room.
Once Cherie finally arrived, we salvaged the rest of her day by enjoying a light meal and some talented live music downstairs in the Babcock and Story Bar.
Saturday was a full day!
Wearing the matching outfits we had unknowingly packed, we headed down to the beach for a walk, then consulted the helpful hotel concierge to assist with the planning of our day.
Old Town Trolley Tour and a day in San Diego
It had seemed unnecessary to rent a car. A cab from the airport cost about $30 US, and the village of Coronado is an easy walk from the hotel. Coronado offered more than enough to entertain us, but we decided to spend a day exploring San Diego. We purchasing discounted Old Town Trolley Tour tickets ($33 US each) from the concierge, which turned out to be the perfect way to experience the city.
The trolley route covers 25 miles in about two hours, and the driver provides an entertaining and informative narrative. Passengers can get on and off as they please at any of the 11 different points of interest. Trolleys cycle through each stop about every half hour throughout the day.
Typically, I prefer to be “off the beaten path” and avoid tourist-type activities. With our limited time schedule though, I enjoyed the comprehensive overview of San Diego provided by the Trolley Tour. We disembarked at five stops.
Our first stop was Balboa park in San Diego
Home to 15 museums, and a vast number of other interests, several days could easily be spent at Balboa Park. A free, narrated 15-minute tram tour of the park convinced us both to return someday with more time to explore.
Next up: Little Italy, San Diego
This hilly community with many enticing shops and restaurants is, according to our driver, the largest “Little Italy” in the United States. Had we desired Italian food, this would have been a perfect place for lunch. Or – we could have had a pint in the British Pub we discovered there!
Visiting Old Town, San Diego
We couldn’t leave without a stop at Old Town San Diego. Established in the 1700’s, we enjoyed walking through the historic buildings.
Our concierge recommended El Agave Tequileria. The authentic Mexican food and margaritas (mine was avocado!) were excellent.
A stop at San Diego Harbor
You could easily spend an entire afternoon at the San Diego Harbor. We just briefly walked up and down the harbor, but enjoyed seeing the ships and submarines which can be toured there.
Shopping at Seaport Village, San Diego
We enjoyed the quaint shops here, and saw some incredibly beautiful jewelry.
The sea wall was the perfect place to sit and sip a cup of coffee.
The setting sun looked like a ball of fire, back-lighting the sailboats and ships at sea, and the beautiful trees in the park. We were so enchanted we lost track of time, and missed the last trolley – which we had planned to take to the Gaslamp District, known as the “happening place” for nightlife!
Back to Hotel del Coronado
Reevaluating our plan, we took a taxi back to the Hotel del Coronado. Once there, we ended the day with a glass of wine and some tasty snacks. The February temperatures had cooled enough to need a coat, but we were comfortably warm sitting by an outdoor fire-pit at the Sunset Bar.
Sunday: Relaxation and spa day!
After a walk on the beach we reported to the Del’s Fitness Center, to join a group for a yoga session on the beach. It was my first yoga experience, and I absolutely loved it, perhaps thanks to the ocean setting!
The Spa at the Del offers over 50 different treatments and advance reservations are recommended. We pampered ourselves with manicures, pedicures, and facials, and enjoyed all of the delightful spa amenities, such as the steam room, hot tub and sunbathing by the infinity pool.
We watched the sun set while enjoying delicious “Charred Brussels Sprouts,” followed by salad and wood-fired pizza outdoors at ENO Pizzaria and Wine Bar.
It would be impossible to fully sing the praises of the Hotel Del Coronado, without making this article much too lengthy. You can read the article on my own blog with more about the history and amenities of this glorious hotel.
My only complaint is that our stay was much too short. Planning our next reunion will be easy – returning to San Diego and the Hotel del Coronado is a must!
About Hotel del Coronado
Hotel del Coronado is a luxury seaside resort in Coronado, California, just minutes from downtown San Diego. In existence since 1888, the hotel is now a beautiful National Historic landmark and a world-class luxury resort. Rooms rates are from $425 USD; book mid-week for lowest rates and be sure to check the resort website for special offers. Website | Twitter | Facebook
Read more about Hotel del Coronado in Susan’s article: Hotel del Coronado – Perhaps a glimpse of heaven
Susan received some complimentary services from the Hotel del Coronado during her stay, however all opinions expressed are her own.
Thanks to Susan Foster for sharing her weekend in San Diego. Susan’s blog the most – of every moment is about making the most of all life’s moments with recipes, tips, inspiring stories and excerpts of life in Montana. You can connect with Susan on Twitter | Facebook | Google+ | Instagram | Pinterest
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