I’d define any break less than an hour away as a ‘staycation’. I don’t subscribe to the view that you need to be at home to enjoy a staycation. Rather, I think that making a conscious effort to slip into ‘holiday mode’ and explore what your local area has to offer – whether you choose to stay at a hotel or not – counts as a staycation.
Last week, whilst musing about potentially hopping over to Vegas again in the coming weeks, a moment of genius resulted in me booking a spa break for my Husband and I.
My experience at Aire Spa in Barcelona had set the spa-bar very high, so I turned to the good spa guide to find a snazzy north-west based luxury spa. I selected Ribby Hall Spa Hotel after a glowing recommendation from a colleague of mine. I called up and booked in for their ‘Spa Dinner Break’ package, before spending the next week counting down to relaxation time!
Here’s the highlights from our overnight chill session, and the reasons I think you should get yourself booked in – pronto!
Elemis Resurfacing Facial
Mr Spence wasn’t fussed about having any facials or massages, so whilst he frequented the gym and checked us in to the hotel I was whisked away for my hour-long Elemis Facial. It was total bliss!
The facial is more than you might expect from the title! Yes, your skin is treated to a series of resurfacing enzyme treatments and masks… but in addition you’re treated to a very relaxing massage of the feet, hands, arms and scalp. It was utterly fabulous and left me so relaxed that I was a bit concerned I might have fallen asleep and snored during the treatment. If I did snooze, the therapist was kind enough not to alert me to it.
Before I left, my therapist noted my product recommendations for me to take away and invited me to take up on of the heated day beds for a drink whilst overlooking the Zen Garden and bar area.
Aqua Thermal Journey
The spa at Ribby Hall offers a ‘circuit’ of saunas and steam rooms building from a moderately warm aromatherapy room through to a bum-scorching-ly hot sauna. The idea is that you progress through the pleasantly-named ‘aqua thermal journey‘ enjoying the heat interspersed with water therapy pools and an ancient greek style foot bath.
I was delighted to find that the foot baths were emptied and re-filled between each user. As someone who isn’t the biggest fan of feet (who is?!) knowing that I was avoiding other people’s ‘foot juice’ was very encouraging!
My favourite part of the aqua thermal journey has to be the Balinese steam room. It’s very hot, very steamy and beautifully scented! The mentholated air fills your lungs and opens the nasal passages and intermittently, a shower of warm water sprinkles from the ceiling – which felt just like the warm rains of Indonesia!
Dinner @ The Orangery
I’ve eaten in many hotels over the years – as a travelling auditor and as a wanderlust-filled twenty-something in the midst of a quarter life crisis. One thing I have learnt is that the food quality is not always in line with the perceived quality of the hotel. 5* hotel doesn’t always mean 5* food, and sometimes a 3* hotel can have incredibly good nosh.
On this occasion the Orangery was actually as good as advertised, perhaps even better.
There’s a tasting menu and an a la carte menu – we opted for the a la carte, given that we always swap our courses half way through, thus sort of creating our own tasting menu. All of the food was exceptionally good! Each dish featured a mix of complimentary flavours and was cooked very well. The staff were friendly, but not to the point where you feel like you have to engage in awkward conversation for just a little while too long.
As a chocolate lover, I would recommend in particular the dark chocolate fondant I had for dessert – it was so good I wanted to bathe in it!
Breakfast was also pretty scrumptious – I chose fruit and yoghurt from the continental buffet with some toast, then potato cakes and black pudding with a poached egg for my ‘a la carte’ breakfast choice. Both the buffet and hot option are included in the hotel package, as was £25pp for the evening meal, making the spa dinner package quite good value if you fancy stopping over!
The Hotel Experience
The hotel itself was charming and cosy – the rooms are nicely decorated and the bathroom was fitted with a ‘rainfall’ shower as well as a bath and normal shower, which is always nice. I was extremely happy to see a wide selection of hot drinks and ‘real’ milk (none of those weird little UHT cups) in the room.
What’s nice is that there is a shortcut from the hotel rooms to the spa, so you don’t need to wander through the hotel lobby in your towelling robe and swimwear!
Would I go again?
I like variety, so typically I tend to favour trying somewhere new over staying in the same location. Having said that, I would be inclined to go back to Ribby Hall – especially for a special occasion. It’s the quality of the spa and the lovely food which make this spa break extra special! Given the price (£235 + per couple) it’s not a cheap option for a spa day, but I thoroughly enjoyed the visit, so it was worth every penny!