Spa review - Ragdale Hall, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire
PUBLISHED: 00:00 20 November 2014
A visit to Ragdale Hall offers a rare opportunity for some serious me-time for two busy working mums.
I have two children, various pets and a husband who works long hours. Weekends are frequently a desperate scurry of taxi-ing said children between assorted sports clubs, washing, ironing, gardening, shopping and wondering where I left my life.
Imagine the joy then when my friend Amanda and I negotiated an entire weekend off to think only of ourselves, and headed off to Leicestershire to the famous health hydro and thermal spa that is Ragdale Hall to experience their new Overnight Reviver Break package.
It’s not an arduous journey by any means, though it would have helped if we’d not been so busy talking we missed two key instructions from the polite Sat-Nav lady and added an extra 25 minutes to our journey time. We did eventually find the Hall of course, and after crunching up the long, gravelled driveway were ushered into the warm and welcoming reception area of this very elegant old house. One lovely man carried our bags in from the car and another took my key and drove it away to a secure car park for its own night’s rest.
Check-in is gently done; no standing about but a seat in the café, a cup of tea and a lady to provide maps and advice. To the map: a highly necessary piece of kit. The Hall has been extended in various directions and Amanda and I both discovered that we not only have no sense of direction but absolutely no recall over which way we last went; possibly too much chatting again…but I suspect we’re not alone there.
Our first port of call was the dining room. Perhaps the best way to describe this is to suggest that for many the house towelling dressing gowns are not only worn for comfort’s sake when wandering between treatments and chill-outs, but because they allow a little subtle belt-loosening after a fabulous meal. Lunches consist of a three course meal with the main event being a hot and cold buffet of glorious proportions, with every item therein too tempting to skip. In the evening a more formal arrangement is in place, with a delicious menu selection to choose from. I chose pork fillet with spiced apple and Amanda went for the roast lamb; both of us remain convinced we chose best. Puddings were (obviously for two women on the lam from daily life) de rigueur and the white chocolate pots, accompanied by delicious desert wines (including a chocolate wine) sent us into a state of culinary bliss.
Ragdale Hall offers a series of exercise classes throughout each day, open to all day-members and residents. We chose – for the giggle factor – a hula hooping class. It was hilarious. Never having been able to crack it before, much to the disdain of my expert daughter, I finally found myself hula-hooping like a circus star; well, almost. I can tell you though, with the large weighted hoops they use it’s no breeze. And being put to shame by two retired ladies who strolled round the room spinning their hoops as they went didn’t help, though it did raise the stakes a little.
After our single bout of exercise – a perusal of the classes list was briefly undertaken and a Zumba class debated, but rejected on the grounds of laziness – we headed off to the Thermal Spa.
The Thermal Spa is a series of spaces each dedicated to plunging you deeper and deeper into mental tranquillity, until you achieve an almost zen-like state and even talking to your best friend becomes an effort not worth making.
Starting gently, in the warmth of the Thought Zone – a room filled with changing light and colour, where silence is required – we progressed through steam rooms, saunas and pools until we finished at the outdoor pool. Each room demands silence, initially a challenge but increasingly easy as the connection to normal life becomes more and more tenuous. Amanda’s favourite space was the Candle Pool: a subterranean pool lit by candles and starlight, where cushions and the gentle warmth of the water induces a meditative state. I loved the Colourflow Cave, a steam-filled room scented with jasmine and camomile where the heat penetrates tired muscles and the silence is golden.
You’d think all this strolling about dealing with ‘enforced idleness’, as Amanda so neatly put it, would be enough, but no – there are further delights in store.
Ragdale Hall offers an extraordinary range of pampering beauty treatments from favourite brands Elemis, Clarins and Decléor. A 50-minute pamper treatment forms part of the overnight Reviver Break package and I enjoyed a simply wonderful Blissful Face & Back Treatment using Elemis products. There’s something so long-lastingly special about a facial and massage treatment that you wonder why on earth you don’t treat yourself more often. An experienced and talented therapist kneaded sore shoulders, gently re-invigorated tired skin and generally made me feel special. Amanda’s treatment, using Decléor, delivered the same result and we both floated back to our room on mini clouds of pleasure.
A long night’s sleep, aided by our delicious meal, ensued and we were ready bright and (not very) early next morning for our breakfast in bed, yet another rare treat, usually experienced only on birthdays and only when these fall on a weekend.
Feeling virtuous, we then did several lengths of the main pool before taking on the challenge of the Thermal Spa again. I honestly can’t think of a better way to pass a Sunday morning. And ending Sunday morning with yet another wonderful meal was simply the cherry on the cake.
Ladies – get yourself there as soon as possible. If you’re wondering what to ask for for Christmas, wave this page under your partner’s nose repeatedly and tell him all about the Ragdale Hall Gift Vouchers. In fact, tell everybody and get yourself away for some even more serious me-time!