Sybaritic Spy tries an Elemis Couture Touch treatment
Take me with you...
Ramside Hall is set in 350 acres of leafy grounds near the buzzing city of Durham. If you are staying overnight, book into one of the modern spa bedrooms close to the Spa at Ramside so that can just wander along the corridor in your robe.
Shall we spa?
There is plenty of spa to play with here. The thermal suite has two saunas, two steam rooms, a caldarium and mud Rasul, as well as a 25-metre swimming pool that attracts members and serious swimmers alike.
The huge, circular hydro pool is the main focus of the spa and where we spent most of the day, taking short dips in the bubbly water before snoozing on large, well-padded loungers. We did leave our loungers long enough to venture into the spa garden with its outdoor whirlpool.
Upstairs is a quiet realm of treatment rooms and a post-treatment Sleep Sanctuary in which to relax or snooze without interruption.
We tried an Elemis Couturetreatment (85 minutes, £165) which combines a massage with a facial.
Having to choose the time for each element sent me into a tizzy of indecision - I love massages but as the cold weather is making my skin looking dry and dehydrated, opted for a 30-minute massage following by an hour’s facial.
Leanne, my therapist, began the treatment with an in-depth consultation, giving me time to talk about my painful back and tight shoulders. Leanne then checked how I usually care for my skin and identified key issues, such as dehydration and regular breakouts of milia despite weekly exfoliation at home. She then asked for one word to describe how I wanted my skin to look post-treatment. Brighter, please.
Leanne began the treatment with some guided breathing before performing a deep tissue massage using Frangipani Body oil to relax me. As the oil contains both frangipani and coconut, I wondered if I might end up smelling like a cake, but it was just slightly sweet and absorbed easily into my skin. Leanne quickly found the tight knots around my shoulders and showed them no mercy. She then applied some Instant Refreshing Gel containing arnica, camphor and menthol to cool the area.
The facial began with a really good cleanse using an Omega Rich Cleansing Oil containing pomegranate, winter rose and chia seed oils. I usually use a lotion cleanser but liked the feel of the oil on my skin - the pH balancing formula helps, Leanne said, to support the moisture barrier.
Leanne then used Dynamic Resurfacing Facial Pads containing lactic acid and a probiotic complex to help accelerate the skin’s natural cell turnover. I was impressed with the effect these had on my skin and plan to give them a try at home.
Leanne then turned her attention to my jawline with a firming and lifting massage. A layer of Pro Collagen Marine Essence cream (which promises to soften fine lines and give the skin a glow) completed the treatment.
How did it measure up?
My skin certainly looked much brighter and firmer after the facial. I felt wonderfully relaxed after the massage and looser around my habitually tight shoulders. Leanne not only personalised the treatment, but I picked up a few tips for home care, too.
Spot of lunch?
The spa’s award-winning pan-Asian restaurant, Fusion, offers plenty to choose from, including Bento boxes, sandwiches with an Asian twist and full meals such as Pad Thai. Guests can eat in their robes during their spa day.
We opted for sweetcorn soup with chicken, which was offered as a starter but was hearty and filling, followed by a vanilla panna cotta with ice cream and shortbread biscuits. We felt smugly healthy when our spa partner opted for Tempura prawns with chips.
Breakfast, afternoon tea and evening meals are also available at Fusion.
Got all day?
Make an energetic start with a few lengths in the 25-metre pool, then take a tour of the sauna and steam rooms. Don’t forget to try the cold-water bucket shower if you are feeling brave - you may even get a round of applause from other spa goers. Wimps (like me) can opt for the warmer experience shower. Then head outside to the spa garden and enjoy the fresh air from the comfort of the bubbly hydro-pool before taking lunch at Fusion. A treatment and snooze in the Sleep Sanctuary should see you on your way.
Short on time?
Take a seat by the huge hydro pool and don’t move except to slip into the bubbly water. Use the jets to massage your back, neck, thighs and even your feet. Top up with flavoured waters at the hydra station.