After a rather indulgent birthday weekend in London, I rocked up to Champneys Tringin dark glasses, feeling like one of the many infamous celebs that have been rehabbing here since 1925. Champneys is the perfect country retreat for the over-partied Londoner, a Grade II listed Georgian manor in 170 acres of wood and parkland, where bewigged portraits smile knowingly upon the guests, who waft about serenely in robes. Staff are respectful rather than over-friendly: perfect if you’re spa-ing solo or want to remain incognito.
As a destination spa, Champneys Tring has pretty much everything you could want – thermal facilities, swimming pool, gym, huge new nail bar, swanky shops, classes, health and beauty talks, tennis courts, and acres of lush woodland, plus the spa and medical centre.
The Detox and Wellbeing Spa opened on the 5th October 2015, offering guests a “sea and mineral treatment detox” with products by French marine-based company Thalgo. Along a quiet corridor, opposite the Thalassotherapy pool, the detox spa reception area is likely to catch your eye. It’s gleamingly modern, a kind of cool, space-age-mermaid kingdom, with stone and seaweed patterns reflected in the glass and latticed lights. There are large comfy chairs in mermaid hues, while the dappled lighting subtly makes you feel like you’re floating underwater.
In the small changing room, I changed into a chic grey Thalgo robe and my swimming costume, then my therapist took a health questionnaire as I sat on a silky blue chair, sipping a kidney-cleansing algae drink (not as bad as it smells!).
I was given a choice of three ‘Voyages of Discovery’ – Detox, Wellbeing and Circulation, or Slim and Tone. Each journey has six steps help you meet your goal and takes two and a half hours to complete. I chose Wellbeing as I’m fairly sure that no amount of seaweed is going to give me the body of Gisele!
Step one was a detox footbath: three timed minutes in hot, then cold, then hot seaweed-infused waters. For step two, I was led to the stunning thalassotherapy pool, with floor-to ceiling windows overlooking landscaped gardens, and a huge waterfall cascading down a slate wall. The mineral-rich water was warm as a bath and came up to my neck. You move around six sections, each with different massage jets. After 20 minutes, I emerged reluctantly, my limbs syrupy. Utter bliss.
Step three varies according to your chosen journey. I changed out of my costume and into some disposable pants, then followed my therapist along the treatment room corridors with rippled walls and driftwood sculptures, glancing in rooms that contained intriguing cutting-edge treatment devices, including a hydrotherapy bath, an iPulse slimming machine and groovy looking Floatation pod.
We entered a small, stylish treatment room with slate floors, a shower and a massage bed covered in a layer of cling film. I lay face down while my therapist applied the Natural Marine Mud on my legs, arms, back and stomach. The mud was bracingly chilly, but once I was wrapped in film, it heated pleasantly. I lay for 20 minutes in the darkened room and happily dozed. My therapist returned to unwrap me, then left me to shower off the thick mud, which left my skin soft and hydrated. You can pay a small amount for extra treatments, such as a salt scrub or a scalp massage.
After this, for step four, I had a physio-thermal infrared chamber, a bit like a sauna with intense heat aimed at your spine. You sit for 20 minutes in your disposable thong (with a small towel for modesty if you wish) while infrared heat works its magic – amazing for aching backs. My therapist kept me supplied with water, cold flannels and magazines as the temperature slowly increased to sweltering. I love intense heat, but beware: it might be too much for some.
Step five is the option of the salt infused steam room, a small white chamber that could comfortably hold three people. But as I suspected it would have left me too overheated after the infrared, I had a Salt Inhalation Treatment instead. My therapist led me to a room where I sat on a reclining chair. She then attached a funnel of salty steam held beneath my chin and left me to relax for 20 minutes. At the end she handed me some cotton buds soaked in eucalyptus, camphor and mint to insert up each nostril – not a look I’d wish to share with a romantic partner, but it certainly cleared my sinuses!
Finally, step six, and my therapist led me to the relaxation room with a cup of Thalgo tea. I lay on one of six water beds, snuggled up under the fur throws and drifted off like a happy water baby.
After a healthy, balanced and delicious buffet lunch (Champneys have genius plates that divide your proteins, fibre and veg portions) I emerged minus the dark glasses, feeling fresh and revitalised.
Normally, I would expect a detox to be a punishing, joyless experience, but the wrap and Thalassotherapy pool were heavenly, and the whole ‘voyage of discovery’ felt like an adventure.
As an add-on to packages at Tring, prices for the Detox and Wellbeing treatment journeys start from £79. Or book a Detox Day from £149 which includes lunch and use of hotel and spa facilities.