The best of... Yorkshire Spas
OLIVER DAVIDSON travels to the heart of England and discovers a burgeoning
spa culture amid the dramatic scenery made famous in Emily Bronte’s classic
novel Wuthering Heights
Our journey to into “God’s own country” started
on the open road which led us into the heart of England; driving over rolling
hills, traversing through valleys and climbing up sharp escarpments. This was
our dramatic introduction to Yorkshire – the largest county in England.
Less than four hours from London by car –
straight up the M1 motorway – or by train from King’s Cross station, Yorkshire
is easily accessible from the capital and is well worth the trip up north not
least for its unexpected collection of historic and modern-day spas.
During our whistle-stop tour of Yorkshire, which
is made up of four counties (which used to be known as the Ridings) we
discovered a five-star luxury spa in a former coaching inn, the ideal location
for a spa and golf break and stepped back in time to glimpse the spa town crime
writer Agatha Christie escaped to when she was missing feared dead for 11 days!
This is a county that has inspired such writers
as the Bronte sisters, who lived in the old Parsonage at Haworth, and the
explorer and cartographer Captain James Cook who was born in Marton in 1728 and
who went on to circumnavigated the world twice before his untimely death at 50
in Hawaii. So, with our 21st Century GPS at the ready we set out on our journey
to circumnavigate up and over the North Yorkshire Moors and the Yorkshire Dales
to bring you Yorkshire’s best spas.
The Feversham Arms and Verbena Spa
Clockwise from left: Champagne-on-ice; Bedroom suite; Children enjoying the
outdoor swimming pool...
Our family spa holiday started in style at a
former coach house,
The Feversham Arms and
Verbena Spa in the pretty
market town of Helmsley which lies on the edge of the North Yorkshire
We followed the discreet sign-posting and turned
towards a sand-coloured stone building which houses the welcoming reception area
along with a tempting peek at the aqua pool through the glass doors.
Greeted by name on arrival, it wasn’t long before
our car was valet parked in the underground car park and we were comfortable in
a spacious spa-suite overlooking the outdoor hot-tub and heated swimming pool
which nestled below our balcony in the courtyard.
The Verbena Spa is
housed on the ground floor of the newly-built eastern wing of the hotel.
The owners, Simon and Jill Rhatigan believe
visiting a spa should be uplifting and life enhancing within a fresh, natural
and joyous environment and have chosen the Elemis and Anne Semonin
treatment menu to offer all the ingredients you might need to feel and look
better while relaxing.
The Verbena Spa has a saunarium, aromatherapy and
salt vapour rooms, monsoon shower and foot spa, with the ever popular outdoor
heated hot-tub and pool. And for guests seeking a quiet nook or cranny to read a
book or magazine the home-from-home relaxation area with its deep-cushioned
sofas is the perfect place to hide.
The Rhatigans’ have left no stone unturned in
their endeavour to turn what was originally a 17-room inn into what Simon now
describes as “a modern, country hotel, with good food, art and a great spa to
chill out in”. Twenty-two of the 33 rooms are suites, each one different while
enjoying similar features and earthy colours on the walls. Televisions are all
high-end Bang & Olufsen and the large beds are adorned with duck-down duvets and
Egyptian cotton sheets.
The popular market town of Helmsley is
the starting point of the Cleveland Way National Trail and the Ebor Way.
With its close proximity to many remarkable attractions in Yorkshire,
Helmsley is ideal for short breaks or adventurous family days out.
The more hardy traveller can slip on a
rucksack and walking boots for a trek over the North Yorkshire Moors
while those seeking some sea air have the coastal resorts of Robin
Hood’s Bay or the busier seaside town of Whitby to choose from.
Join the throng on market day every
Friday in the large square, where Sir Giles Gilbert Scott's gothic
memorial to the second Baron of Feversham and a stone market cross
dominate. Watch the world go by from one of the attractive pubs and
tearooms flanking Helmsley square or go shopping for gifts and local
The SPA Traveller tips
• Try to pre-book your spa treatments before your
• Don’t calculate your time by distance as with
the narrow lanes and busy motorways it takes longer to get anywhere
• Expect to put on a few kilos as you won’t be
able to resist the hearty Yorkshire fare
• Try to explore the countryside. The North
Yorkshire Moors are probably at their best in autumn when they are covered in
Rudding Park Golf and Spa
Privately owned, the award winning Rudding Park Golf and Spa
Hotel set in beautiful parkland is just three miles from the historic spa town of Harrogate and within easy access of both York and Leeds.
During check-in we were asked the names of our children. Less than five-minutes later we were shown our rooms in the new Follifoot wing and there was a bottle of fine wine for the adults, two large Mickey Mouse-shaped biscuits, each personalised with our childrens’ names, plus goodie bags and colouring sets.
These personal touches are what makes a memorable holiday.
The Spa at Rudding Park will always be remembered for its “Big Apple” which is centered in the relaxation room and is
a feature throughout the spa. There’s even a green apple in the water jug!
Clockwise from left: Carita product range; The signature apple which is found
throughout Rudding Park Spa...
With four Aromatherapy Associates inspired treatment rooms, including a hammam, a Carita beauty area, steam room, experience shower and relaxation rooms, there are many ways to re-energise body and mind.
A wide selection of Aromatherapy Associates treatments is available for men and women, from facials and massages, scrubs and manicures, to the Rudding Signature Package, a Spiezia
organic Rejuvenating Uplifting Facial.
The new Lava Shell Massage takes the traditional hot stone treatment to the next level. Relieve the deepest aches and pains with this full body massage which uses the natural benefits of heated Tiger Clam Shells from the Tropics. The smooth shells are glided over the body with varying pressures and techniques and is tailored to meet your individual needs. Hydrating oils are used to moisturise the skin as the warming energy of the shells helps to revitalise and re-balance the body and mind.
Clockwise from left: Hot lava shell massage; The Rudding Park library; Signature "Sawgrass" hole at Rudding Park Golf
Club par 3 course...
The new extension includes 44 fantastic new bedrooms, four luxury spa bedrooms on the lower ground floor, bringing the total number of bedrooms to 90, including eight Suites and Junior Suites, four Spa bedrooms and a family bunk room.
The contemporary Clocktower restaurant and bar has a magnificent conservatory with a 400-year-old Catalonian olive tree in the centre. All dishes on the seasonal Yorkshire menu are sourced locally and even given the distance in miles on the menu.
As an avid golfer, I found Rudding Park to be the perfect Golf and Spa combination short-break. It enjoys the most comprehensive golfing facility in the North of England with spectacular facilities, a challenging 18-hole parkland championship course, and a nine-hole par three course designed around the world’s most famous par-three holes,
including Sawgrass PGC.
See The SPA Traveller next month for our review on the Hydrating Body Wrap.
Follifoot, Harrogate, North Yorkshire
HG3 1JH, England
T: +44(0) 1423 871350
E: [email protected]
• Aromatherapy Associates
Harrogate Turkish Baths
As you enter the Harrogate Turkish Baths, one can’t help but admire the intricate Victorian décor and the superbly restored Turkish Baths.
It’s like stepping back in time, with the Bath’s Moorish design, great Islamic arches and screens, walls of vibrant glazed brickwork, the arabesque painted ceilings and terrazzo floors.
Although Turkish Baths were common in Victorian times, only seven remain which date back to the 19th Century. Three of the seven, including Harrogate, are in England (the Victorian Health Suite in Carlisle and the Health Hydro in Swindon are the others).
But none of them is as historically complete and in full working order as Harrogate’s Turkish Baths. Their importance lies in their decoration, elaboration and rarity.
Turkish Baths, or ‘hammams’ as they are named in Turkey, are for many aspects of health, not just for external cleanliness.
Harrogate’s forefathers established a Turkish Baths for the town in the late 19th Century as part of the development of the spa town. Their location, in the stunning Royal Baths Assembly Rooms, quickly helped to establish Harrogate’s international reputation and, as we found, has stood the test of time.
Check-in is quick.
The changing area is unisex, wooden cubicles with thick burgundy curtains. At the end of the cubicles a heavy antique door leads to the Frigidarium which has rows of leather-covered beds.
Tiled floors lead past the plunge pool to the showers before entering the eucalyptus-scented steam room and taking a bracing dip in the cold plunge pool.
The three interconnecting Hot Room Chambers were the highlight of my visit to the Baths.
The showers lead through a large (and quite heavy) curtain to the Tepidarium (warm) which is lined with tiled benches to relax on for 10 to 15 minutes. This is followed by the Calidarium (hot) and Laconium (hottest) allowing the warmth to continue its therapeutic effects.
Guests can repeat this cycle as often as they wish and then spend half an hour cooling down in the Frigidarium (Relaxation Room).
Day spa guests can also pre-book from a wide selection luxury treatments or just spend time unwinding in the beautiful steam rooms and feel the stresses and strains of life just melt away.
The Turkish Baths and Spa are a great place to unwind your mind and invigorate your body. In the words of the famous Turkish hammams, “customers will feel exhilarated, euphoric and totally relaxed after their visit”.
And who knows this could have been where the Queen of the who-dun nit’s Agatha Christie disappeared to in 1926 when she went missing after her husband left her for another woman.
Christie vanished from her home in Berkshire leaving a note saying she was going to Yorkshire. Her disappearance caused an outcry from the public, many of whom were admirers of her novels. Despite a massive manhunt, she was not found for 11 days and was identified as a guest at the Swan Hydropathic Hotel (now the Old Swan Hotel) in Harrogate.
But in the film, Agatha, starring Dustin Hoffman the Turkish Baths were featured – adding to the mystery of what she did during those lost 11 days…
An award-winning day spa tucked away on an A-road between Huddersfield and Dewsbury, Eastthorpe Hall is a family-run Day Spa, converted from the owner’s family home into a true spa.
Guests are greeted by the fragrance of Indian incense gently burning away in oak pot-plant holders near the entrance to the house.
The owners and staff are the friendliest The SPA Traveller has encountered anywhere.
On entering the spa, there’s a notice banning mobile phones, iPhones, Blackberries, computers and anything else that beeps or has a ring tone. I also noticed all clocks had been deliberately stopped.
Beige-robed visitors wander around the beautiful gardens or curl up in the lounge or by the heated indoor pool reading before and after treatments, or enjoy a quiet swim or steam box and sauna.
The restaurant, set in a cosy conservatory overlooking the gardens, was full of girlfriends and mother-daughter combinations all enjoying the tasty, yet healthy lunch and glasses of crisp cool champagne…
It wasn’t long before I joined the bleary-eyed relaxed brigade!
A true hidden gem!
Britain's first eco-spa near Huddersfield was the next stop. Titanic Spa is a converted mill overlooking the Yorkshire
This a very popular and very busy Day Spa, with gaggles of ladies coming and going, and couples checking in for romantic spa breaks.
It’s easy to settle into the spa routine, as everyone is wondering around in bath-robes to and from the heated indoor swimming pool with hydrozone, poolside steam and sauna rooms and the Titanic Heat Experience.
The chill room was the first The SPA Traveller has encountered, offering a choice of private cubicles or a dimmed circular bean bag area to relax, chat with friends or just unwind.
The Bistro serves beverages, light lunches and dinner.
The 12 deluxe self-catering apartments to stay in overnight are well decorated; enjoy a huge sitting room with a balcony and a modern bathroom stuffed with fluffy robes downstairs and a pared-down-to-perfection bedroom with a skylight upstairs.
Other Yorkshire Spas:
The Spa at De Vere Oulton Hall
An incredible, mid 18th century mansion with beautiful gardens converted into a luxury hotel. The Spa at Oulton Hall offers a stunning complement of therapeutic and rejuvenating face and body care treatments, using only the best products with the finest ingredients, from top European skin care house, Germaine de Capuccini.
Customers may choose from a variety of treatments which include traditional massage alongside ritualistic massage therapies from around the world. If you are looking for pure indulgence and total relaxation, Oulton Hall can provide you with a haven where you will find the most incredible unique sensations, where the mind, body and spirit converge to feel an unforgettable and deeply pleasurable experience.
Devere at Oulton Hall
Rothwell Lane, Oulton, Leeds, Yorkshire, LS26 8HN
T: +44(0) 113 282 8066
E: [email protected]
• Germaine De Capuccini
York, North Yorkshire YO23 2GB
T: +44-(0) 1904 641 241
E: [email protected]
• St Tropez
Places of interest:
Moyles – Hebden Bridge
The owner Simon Moyle has created a hotel and restaurant which is a must to visit for anyone walking the Pennine Way or simply seeking some good, honest Yorkshire fare.
All 11 five-star bedrooms are all conveniently located above the restaurant with
views of the local park and gardens and an easy from Hebden Bridges quaint array
of speciality shops.
The restaurant is light and airy and the atmosphere is informal. It has rapidly gained a reputation for very good food.
All the ingredients are fresh and as many as possible are sourced locally and the bar is renown for its good selection of cask ales.
Moyle said: “We are proud to have created a reputation as a bar of quality and distinction that can compete on a regional and national level.”
As we tucked into our tender steaks and chinked glasses it was hard to believe we were sitting on the high street in Hebden Bridge as the atmosphere was more conducive to a swanky restaurant in London.
But the piste-de-resistance was our rhubarb crumble which literally melted in the mouth and was the perfect way to end a memorable meal on our last night in Yorkshire.
Moyles Hotel & Restaurant
New Road, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, HX7 8AD, United Kingdom
T: +44 1422 845272
E: [email protected]
For more information contact Welcome to Yorkshire: