Posted on November 8th, 2011
Check in to mind and body rehab.
Want to put yourself back together away from the stresses of everyday life?
I was hoping the Spa Hotel at Ribby Hall Village would let me do just that after a hard Monday through Friday.
When you look on a map and see it’s a mere 10 minutes away from Blackpool, you do wonder if you’re really in for a relaxing weekend.
But rest assured you certainly do feel like you’re escaping the hustle and bustle when you enter Ribby Hall Village. Set in the heart of the Lancashire countryside, tucked away near the quaint village of Wrea Green, you make your way up a drive lined with holiday cottages and lodges to arrive at the Spa Hotel, which sits grandly behind a lake.
I’m a sucker for cosy romance, so I felt instantly comforted by the fairy lights draped over the building.
We arrived to a smiley reception despite us checking in at 11pm and I felt relaxed just by stepping into the lobby. The design of the hotel is clean and simple: wood dominates, but the browns, beiges and oysters don’t overwhelm you with blandness thanks to the furnishings being a mixture of bright purples and greens.
Walking through the hotel to our room, we were hit with a familiar smell. “It’s new car smell,” announced my other half. It’s not surprising really, as the hotel only opened in August this year. And I hear £5 million has been ploughed into it, so I was expecting top-spec rooms and a luxurious spa.
Our room followed the same floor-to-celiing wooden design as the rest of the hotel. The bed was huge and a plasma TV was mounted on the wall: perfect for a weekend of chilling out. The en-suite bathroom got a tick from both of us thanks to the Molton Brown toiletries and waterfall shower, which was enough to bring you back to life before you even hit the spa.
As we settled in and unpacked, a knock at the door brought a pleasant surprise. A hamper full of goodies packed with mini sandwiches, scones and soft drinks arrived to welcome us and restore our energy after a long journey. It’s those kinds of thoughtful touches that really make a hotel stand out and encourage you to visit again.
We awoke to a still and calmingly beautiful landscape the next morning, but we slept so well we nearly missed breakfast, even though it runs until 10am. With five minutes to spare, we were shown to our table by an obliging chap who already knew my name.
After a scrumptious breakfast of buttermilk pancakes with bacon and maple syrup, we sleepily shrugged on our robes and headed for the spa where we were to experience the Aqua Thermal Journey.
In the Aqua Thermal Journey, you’re taken through seven different heat experiences designed to ‘invigorate the senses’, which they certainly do – taking you from beetroot-faced hot to crushed-ice cold. This is the ideal spa day for those who need to relax but don’t always know how.
That might sound odd, but I can only sit in a steam room or sauna for so long and get bored after 20 minutes of floating in a pool. This journey, though, gives you a programme to follow and takes two hours to complete. You feel like you could do it all again when you’re finished – you’re that blissed out. A personal highlight was the Balinese salt inhalation room where it felt as though you were inhaling cleaner air somehow, followed by a refreshing plunge shower.
And after you’ve experienced the rooms of varying heat and mood lighting, you can luxuriate in your feeling of wellbeing in the outdoor hot tub. Now that is living – looking out at the countryside on a clear day in a bubbling hot bath.
I enhanced my glowing feeling with an Indian Head Massage, just one of a vast menu of treatments on offer. Even though the title doesn’t allude to it, this treatment begins with a back massage – just the ticket after sitting hunched up in an office all week. The treatment rooms were minimal, clean and fuss-free. I guess they were going for ‘tidy room, tidy mind’.
The therapist only spoke to me to ask what type of oil I would like, which was perfect, and let me drift away while she massaged my decollete, neck, shoulders and head. I just wish it had lasted longer than 30 minutes.
The hotel’s restaurant is called The Brasserie, which belies the standard of its food. The dishes are haute cuisine standard and presented as such, but the surroundings are relaxed and unpretentious. I donned a strapless dress and high heels but the attire overall was relaxed and it suited my other half, who enjoys good food without having to get out the trouser press.
My main course of lamb cutlets with pea and mint salad, sweet potato fondant and parmesan frites is getting my mouth watering again just thinking back.
You might think you’ve made a mistake if you’re looking for an adult retreat when you drive in and see a children’s playground, but the hotel and spa itself are totally children-free. The mood is chilled with the odd girly group celebrating birthdays and hen dos or simply enjoying some pamper time.
The hotel is filled with people wandering around in their robes and white spa slippers; everyone is collectively experiencing a process of renewal and rejuvenation from the outside world.
The decor is stripped back – if it’s not necessary, you won’t see it. That’s not to say it’s basic and bare, you just get the impression they’re trying to keep everything as free from clutter and complication as possible.
If only we could transfer that concept to the rest of our lives. But then spas wouldn’t be such a treat, would they?
Prices for a dinner, bed and breakfast package including the Aqua Thermal Journey start at £99 per person per night.