Middleton Lodge is an enchanting 200-acre estate with award-winning hotel and two Michelin recognised restaurants. In June 2023 the estate opened its highly-anticipated 2100 Sq metre Forest Spa; inspired by the concept of forest bathing, guests are encouraged to slow down and connect to nature. At its heart is the heated outdoor pool; the thermal spa features a sauna with panoramic views, a tadelakt steam room, an arch stone plunge pool, and a relaxation zone complete with fireplace and pool views.
- Outdoor swimming pool
- Outdoor hot tub
- Steam room
- Plunge pool
- Relaxation zone
- Aromatherapy Associates
Our Spa Spy review
Middleton Lodge is set in a 200-acre estate near Richmond, North Yorkshire. The main stone-built house has just 16 bedrooms and is available for exclusive hire. Guests can also stay in one of 30 rooms in the restored Dairy, Coach House or Wall Garden, or one of two self-catering cottages named Farmhouse and Hope House.
The two-acre walled garden within the grounds was redesigned by renowned landscape architect Tom Stuart-Smith and is home to The Fig House, which can also be hired for gatherings and private events. Two restaurants - Forge (for fine dining) and Coach House (a modern kitchen and bar) - take care of sustinance beautifully..
The aptly-named Forest Spa - purposely built within the wooded area of the estate - aims to connect guests to nature. Park up amongst the trees and follow the path to the main reception area. From there you can walk to your cottage, or straight to the spa.
What's on offer?
The spa itself is attractively set around a 15-metre pool within its own courtyard surrounded and sheltered by trees - you really are in the middle of a forest. On one side you’ll find a pool house containing a lounge; a separate thermal spa building – with sauna, steam room, cold plunge and showers – can be found across the courtyard.
The attractive lounge has pale flagstone floors, white walls and exposed wooden beams under a high ceiling; fold-back, floor-to-ceiling doors let light stream in. In the centre is a large wood burning stove which keeps thing cosy even with the doors open. A wooden seat softened with a sheepskin rug surrounds the stove, and several lovely huge cream sofas with floral cushions invite you to snuggle up. Small tables and chairs are positioned by the windows so you can have lunch overlooking the pool. Against the stone wall at the far end is a nail bar.
There are four well-equipped individual changing rooms each with its own shower (with Comfort Zone shower gel, shampoo and conditioner), loo and vanity basin with Noble Isle Rhubarb hand wash and hand lotion. The loos have wooden covers on them to create more of a seating area. Each room has a hairdryer and a well-lit mirror. You’ll find 16 half-height wooden lockers just outside the changing rooms, requiring you to fold your clothes and carry them to the lockers which lock with a physical key (no remembering of codes here). Reception staff do offer to take larger coats and hang them separately. If you want an extra towel, grab it from here.
While the indoor pool was slightly chilly for this Spa Spy (although we believe this has now been nudged upwards), the outdoor hot tub was delightfully warm on our visit, as was the sauna and steam room.
There are wood burning stoves in both spa buildings (fuelled using logs from the estate) as well as comfortable sofas to tempt you to curl up and relax. Wherever you are, spa butlers will pop up and offer you drinks and snacks.
When its time for your treatment, walk across stepping stones laid out as a path in the wildflower meadow - through medicinal herbs, grass, foxgloves, daisies, and poppies – to one of six separate treatment huts. Two of these are set up for bathing, with tin bathtubs and log burning stoves; the other four are dedicated treatment rooms.
The relaxation room has wide padded window seats on two sides and soft throws to keep toasty post treatment.
Tell us about the treatments
We began our treatments with a bathing ritual for two (45 minutes, £120) in one of the bathing huts. I opted for the Rose Bath Experience; my spa partner the Voya Seaweed Bath Experience. Both were drawn and ready for us on our arrival.
We spent half an hour soaking in the warm scented water before drying off, applying oil and padding across to the relaxation room to snuggle under a blanket and sip herbal tea. A fantastic way to begin a spa day.
We then tried the Aromatherapy Associates Ultimate Aromatherapy Experience (90 minutes, £130); our spa partner opted for a Full Body Swedish Massage (60 minutes, £95).
Sharnelle, my therapist, led me through the rain to a treatment hut and invited me to take a seat so that she could read my consultation form, which - I confess - indicated that I was pretty stressed and in need of a lift.
Sharnelle then shortlisted three aromatherapy oils and asked me to select the one I was most drawn to – feeling like Goldilocks. I rejected number one (too strong) and number three (too wishy-washy) and deemed scent number two (a reviving oil) to be ‘just right’.
Listening to the pitter-patter of the rain on the roof, I settled down on the warm bed, lying face down. The treatment began with a back massage; Sharnelle paying particular attention to the pressure points beside my vertebrae before moving on to the backs of my legs and my arms.
Turning over, Sharnelle worked hard to sculpt and lift my jawline before moving down to my body where my tense neck and shoulders finally relinquished under her hands. By the time she reached my feet, I was dozing off.
Coming to, I sipped a glass of water and sleepily allowed Sharnelle to lead me to the relaxation room where my spa partner was waiting. Over a cup of herbal tea and some frozen grapes we compared treatments: the long strokes of the Swedish massage seemingly worked their magic, particularly on the back and legs.
The treatment menu at the Forest Spa highlights Voya products created from organic seaweed, as well as botanical essences from Aromatherapy Associates, and includes a range of facials, massages, scrubs and wraps. Signature treatments include a Forest Therapy Massage, a Herbal Seaweed Sugar Glow Wrap, an Ocean Fresh Facial or a Voya Secret Garden Escape. Guests can also book in for manicures and pedicures.
You can lunch en-robe in the spa or get dressed and walk across to the Coach House which serves food all day and into the evening. Our scorched mackerel with potato and egg salad served with homemade focaccia bread was both fresh and tasty. Our hungry partner opted for the chicken burger with salad.
The next day we lunched in the spa, taking a seat by the window overlooking the pool. This time, we enjoyed smoked salmon with more of that lovely homemade bread; our spa partner loved the rich mushroom risotto. For dessert, we ordered one lemon posset with blueberry compote and homemade shortbread – and two spoons.
Between Thursday and Sunday guests can dine in either the Coach House or Forge, where a delicate six course tasting experience has been created. We settled down in the former and both opted for the light crab and pea salad to start, followed by chalk stream trout in an oyster sauce, and a pink, tender lamb fillet.
We loved / we didn't love
The setting: to be surrounded by old oaks, yews, beeches, pines, and newly-planted fruit and flowering trees was a joy
The use of traditional materials throughout: this is a rustic spa with elegant touches, a calming palette and squishy sofas.
The loo seats in the changing area are a modern take on an old fashioned ‘thunderbox’.
We didn’t love
Getting wet between our room and the treatment hut wasn’t ideal but there are plenty of umbrellas to grab; despite being summer this is Yorkshire after all.
As the changing rooms are separate to the lockers, we suggest dressing lightly.
Who do you think would like it?
Green spa goers: the estate has a ‘recycle and reuse’ ethos with biomass boilers, electric kitchens and car charging units, an anaerobic digester and low food mile menus. It is a perfect model for the future of spa-ing.
Forest bathers will love the fact that most of the spa is outside. Take some time to walk or cycle around the estate – help yourself to a bike from the rack provided.
Anyone looking for peace and quiet: a maximum of 16 people in a spa this size guarantees tranquillity, as well as a good amount of privacy.
A nourishing and balanced Forest Spa menu has been created. Plates are healthy and inspired by the produce growing in the estate’s two acre walled gardens.
Guests enjoying the evening spa package can dine at the estate to plate inspired Coach House restaurant, or on Thursday to Sunday evenings Forge, the estate’s fine dining restaurant. Dining at the estate restaurants is for evening packages only.
Middleton Lodge Estate has a 30 bedroom hotel, rooms are placed in the Coach House, Dairy, Walled Garden and Orchard.
There are two self-catered properties that can be booked for larger party stays.
Monday – Sunday 9:00am until 9:30pm
Travel and Parking
Onsite car parking and electric car charging units available
The estate is a ten-minute car journey from Darlington train station