A spa retreat which starts with breakfast in bed!
DAVID RHODES goes solo at Ragdale Hall and discovers there's no puzzle to providing the perfect pampering spa - just give the people what they want...
Images: Courtesy Ragdale Hall
Ragdale Hall Health Hydro and Thermal Spa
After a two-hour drive I turned off the monotonous M1 motorway and then followed leafy country lanes into the heart of the Leicestershire countryside where I found Ragdale Hall Health Hydro and Thermal Spa.
On arrival, I couldn't help but notice the lack of traffic noise and
tranquillity of the surrounding freshly ploughed farm fields, which I
later learnt were planted with Rape seeds and in the summer months would
provide a gorgeous yellow vista for spa-goers looking out over the quintessential English countryside.
Looking up at the exterior of the Victorian architecture of the
original Ragdale Hall, as I entered the building, I was pleasantly
surprised to find a trendy modern, recently-refurbished interior.
There is no formal check-in desk. On arrival luggage is whisked away,
cars valet parked and guests given a warm welcome and quietly ushered
to a small lounge where the Ragdale team explain the layout of the
facilities (and supply a map). Treatment times are confirmed and you're armed with a personalised 'Activity Planner'.
Within five-minutes of arriving, I was shown to my spacious, luxurious
room, where unsurprisingly I found my tagged luggage waiting for me. This efficient service was the shape of things to come...
The map is essential for first-time visitors to find their way around
Ragdale Hall which is built in a well thought-out quadrangle shape to
accommodate the extensive spa facilities. There are an array of rooms and spaces to chill out, relax, enjoy a herbal tea in the cafe or simply shop for your favourite products in the shops.
There's even a Mind Gym for exercising the brain on a variety of
games and jigsaw puzzles. This is also the only place where guests
can access wireless Internet reception, ensuring the rest of the
Health Hydro remains a place a peace of tranquillity.
A day at Ragdale hall starts with 'breakfast in bed'. Yes, every
guest is served a healthy breakfast in their bedroom during their stay.
I couldn't wait to try out the Thermal Spa. First stop was the
'Thought Zone' which, with its calming ambiance and mood lighting, was
a brilliant way to relax, totally unwind and reflect on the day ahead.
The 'Candle Pool' is a must for everyone. It is literally like
entering a cave chamber, through the glass door and into the pool via
curved steps into the pool which has a number of inlets so guests can
enjoy the candle lit ambiance in privacy.
The 'Scented Room' has water dripping through heated scented holders
with the aroma drifting peacefully throughout the heated room.
Now totally relaxed, I chose to combine hot and cold experiences to
improve and stimulate my circulation. First up was the 'Volcanic Salt
Bath' which is effective for improved breathing, followed by the 'Ice
Niche', 'Rose Sauna', Colour Flow Cave and Cave Shower.
Next up was the outdoor pool, which is entered from inside the warmth
of the Thermal Spa and leads to a sheltered outside pool where I was
also able to enjoy an outdoor swim in the warm morning sunshine.
The 'Indoor Waterfall Pool' is surrounded by an artificial rock
façade which would not be out of place in a tropical or seaside
resort. Similar to everything else in this Health Hydro, the indoor
pool is cleverly designed with curved shapes to allow for privacy,
while also catering to guests wanting to swim lengths.
Leaving nothing to chance there is a separate 'Exercise Pool' with
'Aquagym Equipment' for exercise classes.
Mind relaxed and muscles warmed, it was time for a treatment. The
treatment waiting room has its views of adjoining farm fields and it
furnished with a variety of comfy chairs, a rocking chair and even a
double bed for those wanting a nap before their therapy in one of the
50 treatments rooms, six manicure and six pedicure stations or dry
For the more active, Studio Fitness and Exercise Pool Classes are
held throughout the day and are followed by a vast array of evening
presentations tailored for female guests. (Apparently 90 per cent of Ragdale
guests are women, however there were a fair share of male guests during my stay and didn't feel out of place).
Dinner, which is served in the dining room (and not the bedroom!), offers a menu with a wide selection of healthy options. Travelling alone, I was offered a choice of dining alone or the social table.
Although the majority of guests are women, there were lots of couples enjoying a
romantic break, with some just chilling out, and mother /
daughter, or girlfriends dining together. The dress code is casual so
the dining room was an eclectic mix of casual attire and bathrobes.
As I retired from my pampered day at Ragdale I realised there is no puzzle to providing the perfect spa day - all you have to do is give the people what they want!
The SPA Traveller Awards UK Best Spa for Solo Travellers.
• Arrive early to enjoy the full range of facilities
• Ragdale allow guests to use the facilities after checkout, so plan to depart as late as possible
• The Retreat is so relaxed, many guests dine in a bathrobe
• Pack light - there's plenty do - free reading books and magazines and even a mindzone
• Spend time familiarising yourself when you arrive