Carden Park is a golfers’ paradise in the Chester countryside. The light and spacious spa offers ESPA treatments alongside a pool, thermal facilities and two relaxation areas. Set over two levels, the 20-metre swimming pool is the hub of the spa with a sauna, steam room and warm hydrotherapy pool with swan fountain. There are ESPA and Jennifer Young treatments, plus two relaxation rooms: one dark for snoozing, the other light for reading.
- Single sex facilities
- Family swim times
- 20m swimming pool
- Hydrotherapy pool
- Steam room
- Heated tepidarium beds
- Two relaxation rooms
- Private ladies lounge
- Complimentary refreshment area
- 13 treatment suites including two dual rooms
- Nail bar
Our Spa Spy review
Close to the England/Wales border, Carden Park is a large resort covering over 1,000 acres of countryside. As you approach, a mile-long drive bends though a golf course and finally reveals the modern hotel, which was built in the 1990s.
The estate has a huge amount on offer, including an aerial rope course, an off-road driving course, laser clay shooting, mountain biking and crazy golf. If that sounds like too much work, try the spa. Set over two floors in the main hotel building, the heat facilities, pool and changing rooms are downstairs, while the treatment rooms, relaxation rooms and gym are upstairs
What's on offer?
The spa reception uses bold maroons and reds to accent a calming space. A small seating area, with shelves stocked with ESPA products, is where you fill in your consultation form on arrival. The reception desk overlooks the swimming pool, giving a glimpse of what's to come.
The main changing rooms are spacious with plenty of wooden lockers, benches, three showers with a basic body wash, a vanity area with hairdryers and mirrors, and a private changing cubicle. Female spa guests are encouraged to use the ladies-only changing lounge upstairs -- perfect for a girly get together. To one side is a changing area with large lockers; to the other is a vanity area with mirrors and hairdryers. A lounge area has armchairs, sofas, a fridge stocked with water and fruit juice, and a television on the wall. Apparently, groups like to have music videos playing when they're getting ready to go out in the evening, but we turned off the daytime TV shows.
The 20-metre swimming pool is the hub of the spa: a double-height ceiling and blue lighting give a sense of calm and space. There are wicker tables and chairs along one end of the pool and thermal experience rooms just around the corner. Drift between the traditional wooden sauna and herbal steam room, both of which would comfortably sit six, monsoon showers, and heated tepidarium beds. The deliciously warm hydrotherapy pool has a swan fountain to pummel tired muscles.
Upstairs is a quieter spa area next to the gym. In the spacious entrance is a refreshment station with hot teas and cool fruit juice, and a nail bar. The two relaxation rooms offer some more serious chill out time. Both rooms are painted purple and have similar purple seats and loungers. One room is kept dark -- perfect for snoozing -- and the other is lighter so you can read or flick through a magazine.
Tell us about the treatments
We had the signature treatment Ultimate Unwind (85 minutes, £99) devised exclusively for Carden Park with Espa.
Anna, my therapist, made me feel instantly at ease with her warm, friendly manner. She led me to a small treatment room and gave me an overview of the treatment and checked my concerns. She rubbed two oils onto my hands and told me to pick the one that stood out, as that is usually the one you need. After a hearty swim in the pool, I was drawn to the Fitness oil for my body, and the anti-oxidant-rich Regenerating oil with jasmine and frankincense for my face.
Anna left the room while I disrobed and lay face up on the bed. On return, Anna applied Pink Hair and Scalp Mud, then invited me to turn onto my front. She applied oil to each side of my body with long, flowing Balinese strokes; her pressure and pace so perfect, I drifted away. She then focused on my back, using her forearms to smooth out any knots, extending my arms above my head to give me a long, blissful stretch. Anna held up the towel while I rolled onto my back, then massaged each side of my body with long strokes. She focused on my legs, stomach, arms and chest, stretching and smoothing until I felt utterly and happily unwound.
Anna wrapped me up warmly before beginning the facial. First, she cleansed, then massaged in oil before smoothing warm rose quartz stones across my skin. She placed the rose quartz on my chest and applied a relaxing night mask, massaging my scalp as it set. She moved my head from side to side, massaged my neck and pinched my ears, cupping and warming them with her hands. She removed the mask with warm cloths, applied an eye cream, serum and moisturiser, then led me to the relaxation room and brought me some water.
My skin looked and felt radiantly smooth and plump: bags and blemishes gone. I left the hair mask on overnight and woke with glossy locks. I loved the warming scent of the body oil and kept it on as long as possible: one for my wish list.
Carden Park Spa offers ESPA and Jennifer Young facials, massages, wraps and scrubs and treatments designed for men and mums-to-be. Try exotic Thai or bamboo massages or glitz up with Jessica manicures and pedicures.
Lunch is served in the Vines Brasserie. This is just outside the spa, but most people eat in their robes. The menu offered four options when we visited: chicken caesar salad; salmon; goat's cheese with a cous cous salad; and jacket potatoes. Our package only included one course, so we opted for the jacket potato with tuna and sweetcorn, which came with coleslaw and a small salad -- very pretty and filling. You can also order sweet treats, wine and champagne, coffee and tea, and fruit juices.
In the evening, we enjoyed a delicious vegetarian pasta dish served with Carden Park’s own sparkling wine at Redmond’s restaurant.
We loved / we didn't love
The hydrotherapy pool and tepidarium beds: The pool area does get busy, but flowing water drowned out the chatter as we dozed on the wonderfully warm mosaic-tiled recliners.
Our treatment: Our therapist, Anna, was attentive, skilled and charming, and delivered a bliss-inducing treatment. The oils smelled wonderful and our skin drank the products.
Our room: We stayed overnight and wished we could make our garden courtyard suite with its views, lovely deep bath and cosy wall-fire our home from home.
We didn’t love
The occasionally lively and loud piped music dented our inner calm at times.
The spa is quite old school, with its Buddhas and purple walls, but it does what it does very well: a traditional spa experience in a fast-moving world is sometimes just what you need.
Who do you think would like it?
Friends wanting to catch up and hens: The separate lounge is geared up for groups; you could even book in for afternoon tea.
Families: During the school holidays, Carden Park offers lots of activities for children and there are kids' swim times in the pool. We'd love to return with our little ones in tow.
Sporty and active types: There’s so much to do at Carden Park, you can reward yourself with a spa afterwards.
What bubble rating did you give this spa?
We awarded Carden Park Spa a Good Spa Guide Bubble rating of 4 bubbles. The wet and thermal facilities are pleasant and varied, and the spa has a good range of treatments as well as plenty of space to relax. The staff we met were genuine and friendly. Carden Park is great for groups of friends celebrating, or simply catching up.
Fine dining in Redmond’s Restaurant; informal dining in The Vines restaurant, two bars serving light bites and afternoon tea.
196 rooms and four room types available, from King Rooms to King Suites.
7am - 10pm every day