“Happy we who can bask in this warm September sun,” wrote Henry David Thoreau, and we have been happy little Spa Spies indeed this month. We have harried across the land reviewing spas before the votes start coming in for our Good Spa Awards 2018. There has been quite a lot of sunshine, but also a fair amount of wind and rain later in the month, as the UK got lashed by a couple of testy storms. Still, there is nothing better than cosying on up in a hot-tub or having a warming massage when the temperature turns colder – a spa is surely the best place to be, whatever the weather. It’s been hard to choose highlights from our many amazing experiences this month, but here goes…
My high point this month was visiting the stables at Lucknam Park after my blissful ESPA Mindful Massage and stroking the soft velvety nose of one of the beautiful horses. The equestrian school stables are such a peaceful place to be: one of the staff members showing me around said she loved to come here at the end of her working day to relax. Suddenly equine therapy (yes, it’s a thing) makes total sense. The Miraval Resorts in California have been running award-winning equine experiences designed to unleash creativity and confront fears for years. At Lucknam Park you can book a Saddle and Spa Day, riding through 500 acres of parkland before lunching in the Brasserie and spending the afternoon in the spa. The day includes one-hour instructional hack to suit all abilities. I can’t wait to go back and do this with a friend.
I was lucky enough to experience Hypno-Reiki at Ragdale Hall Spa in September. As then name suggests it’s a combination of two incredibly relaxing holistic treatments - hypnotherapy and reiki. 50 minutes later I felt full of energy with a calm and balanced mind, a feeling which lasted for weeks afterwards. I’ll be writing more about this treatment soon…
This month, I finally found a skincare routine that works! I was lucky enough to get my hands on Caudalie’s new Vinopure skincare range, specially formulated for oily-combination skin. The toner, serum and mattifying fluid have become my new best friends – they provide fast results and smell divine to boot. My face feels smooth and hydrated without being oily, and my blemishes are soothed speedily away. After a month of continued use, my skin is glowing like it never has before.
This month, I went to The Midland in central Manchester and loved the Art Deco design – think high ceilings, original cornices and shiny marble floors. The hotel’s restaurant, Mr Coopers, has a large tree in the centre, while the basement spa is a stylish delight. Don’t miss a drink in the Art Deco bar – keep your eyes peeled on the front door and you may even spot someone famous (the hotel has hosted everyone from dignitaries to pop stars to fashionistas since opening in 1903).
I knew that Cowley Manor would have countryside charm, but I wasn’t expecting it in the abundance I found. Just outside Cheltenham and set in 55 acres, Cowley Manor, part of the Curious Hotels Collections, is a hidden gem. The petite church was built in the 13th century and sits comfortably next to the Manor house which dates back to 1850. The acres of gardens are incredibly well kept with seating and quirky touches thoughtfully placed. We were delighted when we found the pictured water feature tucked away at the edge of a woodland -- quite dramatic when you stand at its foot. There is loads to explore at Cowley Manor, a day isn’t long enough. I had an amazing night’s sleep and enjoyed the early morning walk.