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Grayshott Health Spa
Hindhead, Surrey, GU26 6JJ
Has a pool
Has thermal facilities
36 treatment rooms
This traditional spa retreat, with a health-farm feel, offers a great range of treatments in a peaceful, rural location; there are 47 acres of lush, well-maintained grounds, complete with a lake. A spa break at Grayshott is a particularly good option for anyone looking to kick off a lifestyle change or to rest and recuperate. Advice and activities abound.
Grayshott Spa is set deep in leafy Surrey. The drive winds through dense shrubbery to the grand red brick manor. Carved into the archway over the entrance is the Latin phrase "pax intrantibus": "peace on arrival". (As you exit, "salus exuntibus": "health on departure"). Astonishingly apt, given that the inscriptions date from 1887, when Grayshott was built as a private home.
The spa is in a modern, purpose-built extension.
Grayshott Spa has everything you need to be healthy: Indoor (large enough for lengths) and outdoor (summer only) heated pools, indoor and outdoor tennis courts, a well-equipped gym and a wide range of exercise classes. The 45 acres of grounds are surrounded by 700 acres of National Trust land, should you fancy a stroll.
Of the 56 rooms, 24 are suites. We were lucky enough to stay in a junior suite with a wonderfully indulgent large bathroom and sliding glass doors overlooking the grounds and fountain.
Grayshott has impressive separate male and female heat facilities, good for the more modest. The crystal steam room is a lovely place to relax, and the sauna was a good temperature.
The spa has 36 treatment rooms and a huge choice of therapies, including treatments for men as well as mums-to-be. Try massages, scrubs, wraps, dry floatation, facials, thalassotherapy, manicures, pedicures and then pay some attention to your hair. You can also try complementary therapies such as reflexology, shiatsu, and acupuncture, alongside newer therapies such as Emotional Freedom Technique. The seven-day Grayshott Health Regime aims to get your digestion into good shape so your body can restore and cleanse, and you can leave with a spring in your step.
The team of fitness and nutrition advisors give daily talks on a variety of subjects range from the lowdown on essential oils to an introduction to acupuncture. Also in the cinema, you can relax with a movie each night.
Grayshott hosts focused spa breaks for: De-stressing, Balance, Repair and Restore, Mother and Daughter, Anti-Ageing, and Indulgence.
If you are visiting Grayshott for two or more days, you are invited for a full health consultation to ensure staff cater for your needs, and are aware of all medical issues that may affect your treatments. This information goes on file so therapists can check it before your treatments.
I had the Ultimate Radiance Facial by Oskia (65 minutes, £85), an organic British product house that Grayshott have recently added to their spa menu, alongside Murad treatments.
The name Oskia derives from the ancient Greek for "to deliver" and "beauty". Oskia facials use a set of movements designed to lift the face naturally and to stimulate the lymphatic system.
Lil, my therapist, cleansed my face with a rich balm, using a series of lifting movements with her fingertips as she did so, which felt deeply relaxing. After exfoliating, she massaged me with an oil that was actually a melted candle. The oil was warm, and it smelled, and felt, amazing as Lil massaged it into my face. She used definite and deep pressure movements with her fingers, this time focusing on stimulating the flow of lymph.
Lil applied a Renaissance face mask, which she left on while she exfoliated, then massaged my arms and hands.
I was so deeply relaxed, I briefly dozed off. I was surprised when Lil told me the treatment was over and that she had removed the mask and applied some moisturiser. It felt like ten minutes since I had entered the room; I was so deeply relaxed, it could have been two hours.
Lil brought me some water and advised against swimming (which I had been planning to do), in order to leave the products on my skin overnight so that they had maximum effect.
Afterwards, my skin looked smooth and glowing, if a little red from all the manipulation. However, this settled down within an hour.
The next morning, I tried the Essence of Grayshott (75 minutes, £95). This body treatment, created to celebrate Grayshott's 50th anniversary, uses Grayshott's signature oil blend of benzoin, orange and ginger.
The treatment is not a massage, as such. The movements are very gentle and designed to work in a subtler way, working on imbalances in the chakras (a Sanskrit word that denotes an energy centre in your body). While I lay face down on the bed, Catherine, my therapist, performed a series of movements that swirled around the chakra points along my spine; she also spent some time with her hands resting on the points corresponding to the base and heart chakras. I could feel a distinct drawing sensation on the lower point: the base chakra. Catherine said that there was "an empty feeling" in my heart chakra and a feeling of "lack of support" in my base chakra, comments that aptly reflected my personal situation.
Using reflexology, Catherine could ascertain where the weak points were in my body. She picked up on a weakness in my lower back (correct, and to do with being tall).
For the last part of the treatment, Catherine sat down behind me and focused on the acupressure points on my face and head; this felt wonderful and incredibly relaxing.
At the end of the treatment, I went to the relaxation room and closed my eyes, in a very serene state. I felt deeply relaxed and slept like a log that night.
The food is a selling point at Grayshott. Executive chef Adam Palmer says his motivating phrase for meals at the spa is "inspiration not deprivation".
Breakfast is a buffet, served in the dining room, with sunlight streaming in through the original leaded and stained-glass windows.
Lunch is also a buffet. Your plate is colour-coded into three sections to help you apportion the correct amount of carbs/protein/vegetables for your meal. The food was delicious, light, and healthy, with a lovely range of salads, cold Thai chicken, and a pork and parma ham terrine.
Dinner is a la carte from a menu created by the chefs each afternoon, once they have seen what is available and seasonal. My carpaccio of tuna with caviar and watercress, and stone-baked halibut, served with lentils, purple sprouting broccoli and pumpkin puree, were delicious. Finally, a pudding of spicy baked pineapple on cinnamon quark with grated pistachio. A wonderful meal with definitely no sense of deprivation!
We loved the food, the sense of peace and tranquillity, the beautiful Grayshott grounds, and walks in the wild National Trust land beyond.
We also loved the feeling of being in a place dedicated to optimum health in very comfortable surroundings.
We didn't love the water temperature in the indoor swimming pool and hydrotherapy pool. Both were a little chilly for our sensitivities.
Grayshott feels very "old school", so would appeal to anyone who doesn't want a "flashy" spa experience. Grayshott is a place that has done things well for a long time, and this makes the spa feel very comforting.
This spa will also suit you if you want to focus on your health or address a particular issue -- mental, physical or emotional -- as Grayshott has a knowledgeable and experienced team.
Foodies are well catered for, too; Grayshott has exceptional food: light, healthy and delicious.
We gave Grayshott Spa a Good Spa Guide rating of 5 bubbles because its 50 years of experience really shows -- in a good way! Grayshott knows what it is good at -- offering a retreat if you want to focus on any aspect of your health -- and they do this very, very well.
Many of their customers return again and again over the years. Unhesitatingly, so would we.
Sybaritic Spy visited in March 2014 and awarded it 5 Bubbles
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Grayshott, Hindhead, Surrey, GU26 6JJ
The Executive Chef has created innovative, healthy and delicious spa cuisine, consisting of a continental buffet and à la carte menu for breakfast, a three-course buffet lunch, and a three-course à la carte menu for dinner. The Bubbles Bar serves refreshments.
59 rooms and suites available, from Single Rooms to Manor Suites.
9am - 6pm every day