When I booked my stay at Ragdale Hall I was told it was very relaxed. “Don’t bring anything smart,” said the receptionist. So I didn’t. However I wasn’t quite prepared for how relaxed it was. Anything above a fluffy white dressing gown and slippers and you will be over dressed during the day, and in the evening a track suit is about as dressy as it gets, you can even go to dinner in your dressing gown. Leaving the shackles of having to decide what to wear at home was amazingly liberating, so before I even started my spa weekend I was in laid-back mode.
Ragdale Hall is vast. On my arrival I was greeted by a member of staff and given a map – and I need it. There is the thermal spa, two indoor pools, an outdoor pool, a gym, two exercise rooms, four restaurants and cafes, 89 treatment rooms, a mind room, various nooks and crannies with seating and lounges where you can relax and just chill out. You can definitely get lost with all the different corridors, and if you do, there is always a friendly member of staff to guide you in the right direction.
With the map in hand, I set off to find the thermal spa. Once there, I thought I was stepping into a tropical rain forest. There’s a rushing stream with a tiny little bridge, a seating area with wicker chairs and 11 different hot and cold treatment rooms, and a pool that goes from the inside of the spa and winds its way outdoors, no matter what the weather is the water is always kept at 34C.
According to the brochure, the thermal spa has been developed by taking ideas from the Greeks, Romans, Europeans, Scandinavians and most notably the Japanese.
Each hot room is heated to a different temperature and offers you a unique experience. There’s a room which stimulates your thoughts, one that makes you feel you are in a tropical hideaway with the humidity to match, another at 42C gives you volcanic experience to help any respiratory problems. If you want to get really sweaty there’s the rose sauna at 100C. There’s also a room to invigorate the senses, and one where you step down into a hidden cave into a pool lit solely by candles where you can float and relax into a dream-like state.
As I went from one hot room to another, I could feel the stress of everyday life evaporate away in the hot and humid atmosphere. Being hot but far from bothered, I ended my stay in the thermal spa by flopping down on a sun-lounger by the side of the pool.
After lunch, which was healthy and diet conscious but delicious, I decided to be just a little more energetic and went for a dip in the pool, nothing too energetic, mind you. By then it was coming up to late afternoon, it is amazing how time flies when you are relaxing, and it was time for my treatment.
I was having an Elemis rebalancing ritual. And it really is a ritual – it is two hours long. First I had a body massage and then a facial which had so many stages - a scrub, cleanse, moisturise, hot feeling, cold feeling and a massage – I drifted off to the land of nod.
Having had all the tension smoothed and pummelled out of my body, I wandered over to a relaxing room which had beds, day beds and a rocking chair - the decor was a cross between an American New England living room and a colonial veranda in India. Then I went to my bedroom in the newly refurbished lodge which is just a short walk from the main building, and got ready for dinner – so I slipped on my track suit.
Dinner was a candlelit affair but totally relaxed. It was a varied menu and although not counting calories, it did indicate which dishes were the healthier options. The evening was enjoyed by sitting in one of the lounges, or some of the guests went into the mind room where there are games like sudoko, puzzles and jigsaws to stimulate the mind.
The next day, I was woken by a tap on my door and breakfast was brought to the room. What luxury having breakfast in bed.
Then I headed down to the studio and joined in with a couple of the classes which were great fun, some of the other guests decided to work out in the well equipped gym and others decided on a walk or a run in the vast grounds.
I had one last dip in the pool before I headed home feeling relaxed and with a new found energy.
It really isn’t surprising that Ragdale Hall is one of the top spas in the UK, it offers everything from an imaginative thermal spa, to exercises classes and a large gym, pools to relax in and or have a work out, plus staff that really do bend over backwards to make your stay enjoyable. I will definitely be back.
Ragdale Hall www.ragdalehall.co.uk Reservations: 01664 433000 Two night midweek break from £266 per person Two night weekend break from £328