Ragdale Hall is a large, comfortable country house in the Leicestershire countryside. Follow the long driveway down to the hotel, catching glimpses of the attractive gardens and red brick house along the way.
This is a dedicated spa retreat so you will be pampered from the moment you arrive – simply hand over your keys and luggage to the porter and you are ready to spa (the car is parked for you and your luggage magically appears in your room).
Shall we spa?
Pick up a map of the spa on arrival so you don’t miss anything. There is plenty of spa on offer here including six pools - one of which is on the roof - 12 heat and water experiences; and a wide array of temping treatments, daily exercise classes, and - most importantly - plenty of inviting loungers on which to unwind.
Relax in the sun streaming into the Pavilion lounge, hide away in the Retreat for a snooze, chill outside in the courtyard or curl up by the pool with a book. The design at Ragdale Hall encourages you to do as little - or as much - as you wish.
We tried The Clarins Serenity Facial (60 minutes, £86).
The treatment began with a soothing back massage using a Clarins Relax oil containing chamomile. Next up: some guided breathing which my therapist, Baljit, walked me through whilst stimulating pressure points on my face, hands and feet.
The hot stone massage on the shoulders and décolleté was very effective - I could feel the knotted muscles untensing as Baljit worked across them.
The facial began with a deep cleanse followed by some exfoliation and a facial massage to get the blood flowing. To boost my dehydrated skin, Baljit mixed a Clarins SOS Hydra face mask with some Beauty Flash Balm and allowed it to soak in; while this worked away, Baljit massaged my hands and feet using copious amounts of Clarins super rich hand cream. A little day cream and eye cream finished this lovely treatment.
How did it measure up?
The bed was warm; the products removed with warm mitts, and I enjoyed the massage elements of the treatment. My skin felt clean and nourished afterwards; it looked brighter and felt softer, too. I loved the hot stone massage on my shoulders - the rich products smelt wonderful and soaked in quickly. I also liked Baljit’s gentle hints to cleanse more thoroughly, and use a serum more often. Duly noted.
Spot of lunch?
The large, wood-panelled dining room is busy with people in robes or gym gear so we felt comfortable en robe. The buffet lunch includes a full roast dinner and other hot dishes, alongside a wide selection of fresh salads. I opted for nicely rare roast beef with all the trimmings, while my spa partner went for poached salmon and salad followed by apple and banana crumble.
Things are a little more elegant at dinner time: the lights are dimmed and there’s table service. My duck breast was deliciously pink and moist, and served with a walnut vinaigrette. My partner’s pork was served with fondant potatoes and an apple puree. The Veranda bar offers drinks and lighter snacks throughout the day. You won’t go hungry here with plenty of choice whether you prefer to indulge or be healthy.
Got all day?
Pick up your schedule of pre-booked treatment times and then plan your day. Start with a good swim in the 25-metre pool, then spend an hour or two in the thermal area.The scented room and candle cave called us back several times, and there are plenty of other heat rooms to try. Book in advance for one of the many free exercise classes - from Ballet Fit and Drums Alive, to Zumba and Yoga. Add a short treatment or two at the Beauty Express for hair and eyebrows, or hand and feet prettifying.
Leave enough time to change and head to the rather smart Twilight Bar where cocktails are shaken with skill and enthusiasm from 4pm. Feeling romantic, we chose a pale pink Valentine’s special cocktail made with rose liqueur and Prosecco; more adventurous guests can try a range of classic and new optons..
Short on time?
Head straight for the rooftop pool. Slip into the warm bubbly water while gazing out across the quiet countryside and then curl up on the comfy recliners in the glass-fronted lounge. If you can, squeeze in a quick tour around the thermal areas before your treatment. Most spa days and stays include one or more treatments.