Fancy a weekend of pampering? Try out one of these spa breaks as reviewed by the Natural Health team!
Fancy a weekend of pampering? Why not try out one of these spa breaks as reviewed by the Natural Health team?
THE SETTING… Nestled in 163 acres of lush parkland and with a stunning river running through its estate, Galgorm Resort and Spa offers peace and relaxation in an idyllic setting just 30 minutes from Belfast city centre. The hotel boasts 75 bedrooms and suites, two restaurants and a luxurious spa. Inside the décor is grand but welcoming, with opulent chandeliers, gilt-edged paintings and imposing fireplaces.
PILLOW TALK… We stayed in a superior riverview room, complete with a deliciously comfy king-sized bed. The décor was tasteful and chic in cream and brown tones.
THE MEAL DEAL… There are two dining options at Galgorm – the 2AA Rosette River Room Restaurant with its a gourmet menu and refined, elegant surroundings, or Gillies Bar and Grill where guests can enjoy hearty pub food in a more informal setting. We chose to eat in Gillies after being drawn in by its large open log fires, exposed beams and stone walls, not to mention the warm and lively atmosphere. We thoroughly enjoyed our dinner – a goat’s cheese tart for me and a succulent steak for my husband.
THE SPA ATTRACTION… We happily whiled away an afternoon in Galgorm’s amazing spa, meandering from the laconium to the rock sauna to the caldarium and the aroma grotto. We weren’t brave enough to try the outdoor hot tub during our wintertime visit, preferring instead to laze about in the hydrotherapy pool. With a range of treatments to choose from, I plumped for a decadent two-hour Jasmin Mali Ritual treatment.
TOP MARKS GO TO… The hotel staff were warm, friendly and eager to help with any requests. The concierge arranged a tour for us of the local area, including the Giant’s Causeway and Bushmills whiskey distillery, which was fantastic. If you don’t want to stray from the hotel grounds there’s plenty of spectacular scenery to be enjoyed, including the picturesque River Maine with its resident heron!
LOW POINTS… The fact that the resort isn’t located nearer to my house!
THE DETAILS… Call 028 2588 1001 or visit the website: galgorm.com. Costs from £89 per night for a double room, breakfast and use of the spa facilities.
THE SETTING… Set in Malvern, famous for its spring waters, this spa is a short taxi ride from the town centre. Outdoor types won’t have far to go for a brisk hike across the hills: they are part of the view from the spa’s hydrotherapy pool, which is fed by the Malvern springs.
PILLOW TALK… We stayed in a standard twin room – the highlight of which was undoubtedly the comfy beds. The room itself was perhaps a little cramped for two people, but the walk-in power shower helped make up for it.
THE MEAL DEAL… There was a wide range of choice, catering for veggies and carnivores. In the afternoon, we went for a pineapple, orange and banana smoothie followed by a lovely salmon roulade. Dinner was delicious – especially the crème brûlée.
THE SPA ATTRACTION… The facilities in the thermal suite included the Kelo sauna, the Salt Grotto, the Herb Sauna and the Crystal Steam room, all of which were wonderfully relaxing. All the rooms were well maintained and not too busy. The cold areas included a bath of ice which could be rubbed on the skin and an amazing ‘fog’ shower that smelled of spearmint. I treated myself to the Holistic Total Body Care with Hot Stones Massage plus a wonderful facial treatment. Pure bliss!
TOP MARKS GO TO… I love being outdoors, so the heated outdoor hydrotherapy pool was pure bliss. Fed by the famous Malvern Springs, there were several areas all with different arrangements of water jets, including a gentle hydrotherapy ‘bed’. They were all so effective, I almost didn’t need my massage!
LOW POINTS… The salt grotto and the crystal steam room both saw periods of inaction, which was a bit disappointing – especially since we only had one day to sample all the different facilities.
THE DETAILS… Call 01684 898 290 or visit themalvernspa.com. Day packages are priced from £65 per person. Overnight stays start at £87.50 per person per night. Malvern Spa is offering Natural Health readers a 15 per cent discount off the cost of a spa break. Quote Natural Health offer when booking.
THE SETTING… Billed as the UK’s first ‘eco spa’ Titanic Spa is set within a converted textile mill in a secluded location in the Pennines Although the sheer drop driving up and down to the spa was a bit, shall we say, scary, the location was absolutely beautiful – set at the bottom of a very steep hill with greenery all around. It snowed during our stay which made it all the more magical.
PILLOW TALK… The accommodation was fantastic. I stayed in a deluxe apartment which had all of the modern appliances and a balcony to sit out on to look across at the picturesque countryside. There was a fully fitted kitchen if you wanted to cater for yourself, together with a dishwasher and washing machine. I didn’t actually want to get up in the morning as the bed was so comfortable but my experience awaited me.
THE MEAL DEAL… The dining area was basic but good enough for its needs. The food was very nice and the menu was varied.
THE SPA ATTRACTION… The spa was blissful and very relaxing, while the Titanic Heat experience was an amazing experience. This is based on ancient bathing rituals and includes various experiences of differing temperatures – from a sauna to a steam bath to an aromatherapy room and an ice room. There was also a plunge pool to cool off in (this was very cold as I discovered when I jumped straight into it) and a lovely foot bath area. The swimming pool was very nice with lots of loungers around the outside and there was also a small gym. There were a vast number of treatments on offer, using products by top natural brands Decleor and Elemis, and the prices were very reasonable. The treatments I had were fantastic – a facial and a Swedish massage.
TOP MARKS GO TO… I really couldn’t fault the staff, who were very friendly and helpful throughout the whole of our stay. LOW POINTS… The only small complaint I had was the fact that the dining area had a walkway through it leading to the swimming pool area.
THE DETAILS… Call 0845 410 3333 or visit titanicspa.com to make a reservation. An overnight stay costs £139 which includes dinner, breakfast, two treatments and use of the spa facilities.
THE SETTING… Set in the heart of the Berkshire countryside in 200 acres of National Trust property, Cliveden is one of the grandest stately homes in Britain. The awe-inspiring Italianate mansion is the perfect place to hole up for the weekend.
PILLOW TALK… Our sumptuous suite was decked out with ornate marble fireplaces, swagged velvet curtains and antique furniture. The beds were seriously spacious, while the bathroom was just as roomy, and you could probably host a small party in the bathroom!
THE MEAL DEAL… Don’t come here to lose weight, as it would be a crime to miss out on the delicious menu. Expect lots of serious gourmet delights. If you want something less formal, the Club Restaurant has lighter snacks and gastropub style dishes.
THE SPA ATTRACTION… Set in the charming walled gardens, the spa is a great place to unwind, or to lap up a bit of history in the swimming pool where Christine Keeler notoriously seduced the Secretary of State, John Profumo. You could easily spend a day here, flopping from the hot tubs to the pool to the steam room and back again. My Carita Ideal Intense Hydration Facial, £90, left my skin soft and dewy and my senses in a state of bliss.
TOP MARKS GO TO… The deliciously decadent breakfast in bed, the beautiful walks around the estate and the staff who deliver topnotch service without a trace of stuffiness. Oh, and they allow dogs here too. LOW POINTS..
sort of lifestyle.
THE DETAILS… Call 01628 668 561 or visit clivedenhouse.co.uk. Prices start at £210 for bed and breakfast.
THE SETTING… Set in 300 acres of perfectly manicured Hertfordshire countryside, The Grove is a seriously opulent affair and it comes as no surprise that it’s a favourite of the England football team. We even saw Ashley Cole and John Terry on the golf course (and not a girl in sight).
PILLOW TALK… The rooms are a WAG’s wet dream. Our stunning suite had all the mod cons, including a massive TV that rises from the bottom of the bed at a flick of switch, a minibar stocked with vintage wines and a vast marbled bathroom.
THE MEAL DEAL… Choose from fine dining in Colette’s, gastro-pub style cuisine in The Stables by the golf course or the popular Glasshouse – all of which serve delicious food.
THE SPA ATTRACTION… One of only 10 ayurvedic ESPA spas in the world, it’s easy to see why the glamorous Sequoia Spa wins so many awards. The black slate, ozone-treated pool elevates swimming to an art form and my ESPA Rehydrator treatment was the most blissful few hours of my life.
TOP MARKS GO TO… The exquisite reception rooms or lounges, which are the perfect place to while away an afternoon, surreptitiously oggling the Russian oligarchs and their wives at play.
LOW POINTS… The Glasshouse serves delicious food, but the buffet-style dining tends to encourage a pile-it-high, eat-all-you can mentality. Of course, this could be a high point for some, but not if you’re watching your weight.
THE DETAILS… Call 01923 294 294 to make a booking or visit the website: thegrove.co.uk for further details. Prices start at £295 per night for bed and breakfast.
THE SETTING… New Park Manor Hotel oozes British history. The spa is located in an old hunting lodge and hidden among the vast countryside, with its ancient trees and freeroaming ponies in the New Forest.
PILLOW TALK… Our room was hidden away from the grandeur of the hotel’s main lobbies with its rustic décor and fabulous views of the surrounding woodlands.
THE MEAL DEAL… Food at the Stag restaurant is described as ‘modern English rustic’ featuring an array of seasonal produce, such as venison, game and sole.
THE SPA ATTRACTION… Using locally sourced herbs in its treatments, the Bath Spa is at one with the New Forest’s natural environment. And The Herb and Hay Detox is the perfect pampering treat for anyone needing to chill out!
TOP MARKS GO TO… Relaxing in the spa’s hot tub in the middle of winter with rain falling down around me, and looking out to the woodlands with nothing else on my mind other than how at one with nature I felt. A moment to remember.
LOW POINTS… Braving the ‘ice rain’ shower after sweating it out in the sauna was perhaps not the best idea I’ve ever had – there’s cold and then there’s super chilled!
THE DETAILS… Call 01590 623 467 or visit newparkmanorhotel.co.uk. The Ultimate Detox 10-day retreat costs from £1,895 per person. Visit theultimatedetox.co.uk.
Prices correct at time of going to press.
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