Perched high on the edge of the Peak District National Park is Smallshaw Farm: a cluster of 17th-century York stone barns with slate roofs transformed into neat and inviting cottages. Once a dairy farm, Smallshaw is now a sumptuous self-catering retreat with a day spa located in a lovingly converted and extended cowshed. Resist the temptation to explore the 700 acres of grounds and head to the spa to sample the Himalayan, herbal and panoramic saunas; aroma steam room; rasul; and foot baths.
- Herbal sauna
- Himalayan sauna
- Panoramic rustic sauna
- Rasul mud room
- Aroma steam room
- Massage foot spa
- Relaxation room
- Tropical experience shower
- Double treatment room
- Nail bar and pedicure area
- Water station
- Male and female changing rooms
Our Spa Spy review
Perched high on the edge of the Peak District National Park, and the only property at the end of a narrow country road, Smallshaw Farm is a cluster of seventeenth-century York stone barns that have been transformed into neat and inviting cottages. Once a dairy farm, Smallshaw is now a sumptuous self-catering retreat with a surprise: a cowshed lovingly extended and converted into an immaculate day spa.
What's on offer?
A small, chic space decorated in tasteful neutrals forms the reception area, which has a stone-clad counter and a stone feature wall displaying Temple Spa products. Staff warmly welcomed us, and invited us to sit on a cream Chesterfield couch to complete consultation forms and sip fruit smoothies.
Stylish female changing rooms lead off the reception area and contain wood benches by which to change, as well as a vanity unit with two hairdryers and a pair of hair straighteners placed in attractive wooden crates. More of these crates are dotted around the spa, holding anything from rolled-up white and turquoise towels to strings of fairy lights.
The basin for hand-washing and the two private spacious shower cubicles behind frosted glass doors are all amply stocked with Temple Spa shampoo/conditioner. Accents of turquoise punctuate the neutral décor; we loved the wall-mounted Kilner jars containing pearly beads.
The eight small metal lockers each contain a robe, flip-flops, a bag for wet swimwear and two towels: one for the spa and a separate one for showering (a nice touch).
We were in the thermal area in a flash and immediately marvelled at the wall partition filled with tropical fish. Help yourself to lemon-infused water before entering the heat rooms. We began our spa journey on the outdoor terrace, where four cushioned loungers and a matching corner sofa surround a hot tub heated to a toasty 40 degrees. While bubbling away in the warm water, you can see the hypnotic sails of wind turbines in the distance.
Start your indoor spa journey at one of three foot spas, each attractively decked out in black, grey and silver mosaic tiles, and filled with warm water. Put on the jets and give those hardworking feet (and toes) a treat.
A spacious, aromatic steam room with elegant curved seating is eucalyptus scented, ideal for clearing the sinuses; for a lighter, fresher scent, try the lavender-infused herbal sauna where sprigs of real lavender create the smell.
The traditional sauna is billed as a "rustic panoramic sauna". Built with un-edged alder timber (the rustic) and clear glass windows looking out towards Yorkshire farmland (the panoramic), it is both stylish and inviting, with a comfortable, dry heat.
If this sauna is too hot, try the cooler Himalayan sauna or cool down in the spa's tropical experience shower, selecting either the "cold mist" or "Caribbean storm" setting.
We slathered ourselves in warm, vanilla-scented mud in the rasul mud room, which you can book for an extra charge. Allow the steam to soften the mud before slapping it on your limbs, washing it off after ten minutes with the hand-held shower and turquoise flannel provided.
The spa at Smallshaw Farm has a relaxation room you can relax in before or after treatments, up a set of stairs into the loft. A palette of soft greys and creams complements the glass lanterns, wicker furniture and fairy lights strung over wooden crates. Take respite on a corner sofa or slump down on one of four plump beanbags made from soft corduroy and draped in fluffy throws. We spent a good amount of time here flicking through magazines and sipping chilled water.
Tell us about the treatments
We enjoyed an In Good Spirits back massage (30 minutes, £35) followed by a Windows of the Soul eye treatment (30 minutes, £35)
My therapist, Sophie, greeted me cheerfully in the relaxation room and led me to a light and spacious double treatment room with a sloping ceiling and twin beds.
The treatment began with a hot face towel and a fresh smoothie, which I sipped slowly while Sophie soaked my feet in warm bubbly water, exfoliating them using Temple Spa's Sugar Buff -- a great way to start.
In the scent test, I opted for uplifting scents to keep me alert for my two-hour drive home later. As I lay face down on one of the warm treatment beds, Sophie asked me to take a deep breath so that I could inhale a blend of eucalyptus, lavender and menthol.
Sophie then drizzled a warm, zesty essential oil on my back in preparation for the massage. Sophie adopted long strokes to relax my back and shoulders, together with an effective kneading motion to work out the stubborn knots.
Sophie checked the massage pressure on a couple of occasions, together with the temperature of the bed and the room; I felt like I was in good hands. I usually drift off during massages but this one, with its zingy oil, made me feel quite energised afterwards. It was the desired outcome.
For the eye treatment, Sophie massaged the skin around my eye sockets, using her forefingers to apply gentle, targeted pressure, then massaged in a good layer of Temple Spa's anti-ageing Skin Truffle. The indulgent cream contains Champagne, gold, and black truffle to smooth fine lines and even out skin tone. With Mediterranean ingredients, Temple Spa products feel light on the skin and give a summery aroma.
I felt uplifted and pampered as I followed Sophie to the relaxation room to sip a cup of Earl Grey tea and munch on an almond biscuit afterwards.
The spa menu at Smallshaw Farm is extensive, with many body treatments for firming, toning, and detoxifying the skin on offer, as well as quirkily named Temple Spa facials -- think Power Breakfast, My Kinda Skin, Go Guy (the "male executive facial") -- and a decadent Champagne and Truffles Deluxe Treatment. Massages and reflexology are specialities here, too.
For £7.50, you can order a snack plate which includes three generous bowls of fresh fruit, ready salted peanuts and plain tortilla chips, followed by a selection of biscuits.
You can order drinks for an extra charge at reception including Prosecco by the bottle, glass or mini bottle; tea, coffee, or smoothies made with fresh fruit.
We loved / we didn't love
The service: Mary and her team looked after us brilliantly all day, adopting a discreet, friendly service that was noteworthy.
The small touches: The scented candles that flicker all over the spa (and are on sale in reception) are hand-made by the woman who cleans the spa.
We didn't love
Longing for a swim: Despite Smallshaw's extensive range of thermal facilities, a pool would be a welcome addition.
Who do you think would like it?
We saw couples, mother-and-daughter duos and small groups of friends enjoying the spa on our visit.
Holidaymakers staying at Smallshaw Farm Cottages should indulge in a treatment or carve out some time to use the thermal facilities.
What bubble rating did you give this spa?
We awarded Smallshaw Farm and Spa a Good Spa Guide Bubble Rating of 4 bubbles. Smallshaw Farm is a really stylish little spa with a good range of treatments and thermal facilities, as well as great customer service. It's one swimming pool away from spa heaven.
Charming grade II listed cottages provide self-catering accommodation with views across the peak district. Each cottage comes with its own garden, Finnish BBQ, outdoor eating area and access to an outdoor hot tub with a view.
- Monday - closed
- Tuesday - 9.30am to 12.30 pm & 2pm to 5pm
- Wednesday - 9.30am to 12.30pm & 2pm to 5pm
- Thursday - 9.30am to 12.30pm (facilities only) 2pm till 5pm & 6pm till 9pm
- Friday - 9.30am to 12.30pm & 2pm to 5pm
- Saturday - 9.30am to 12.30pm & 2pm to 5pm
- Sunday - 2pm to 5pm