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 overlooking the dramatic trans-Pennine trail, Smallshaw Farm is the only property at the end of a narrow country road. A cluster of seventeenth-century York stone barns has 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?
An intimate, 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 contain wooden benches to change by, 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 spacious shower cubicles, tucked away behind frosted glass doors, are all amply stocked with Temple Spa shampoo and conditioner. Accents of turquoise punctuate the neutral décor; we loved the details, such as 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 were immediately taken with the wall partition filled with tropical fish. Help yourself to orange- or lemon-infused water before entering the heat rooms. We began our 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 a spring-like aroma.
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; after ten minutes, we washed it off using the hand-held shower.
The outdoor terrace looks over dramatic hilltops and farmland and has four cushioned loungers and a matching corner sofa surrounding 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.
The spa at Smallshaw Farm has a relaxation room you can use before or after treatments, up a flight of stairs in 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 a Temple Spa Champagne and Truffles Deluxe Facial (90 minutes, £95).
Before beginning, my therapist, Louise, made sure I was comfortable, checking that the bed temperature, room temperature and music was to my taste.
Louise asked me to take three deep breaths to inhale Temple Spa's Breath of Life inhalation essence, containing eucalyptus and tea tree to energise. Louise applied a warm towel to my lower legs and feet to prepare them for a gentle massage which was extremely relaxing.
For the facial, Louise cleansed my skin with a double cleanse and followed this with a gentle glycolic peel using Temple Spa's wonderfully named The Big Reveal. While the peel worked its rejuvenating magic, Louise worked it in using a tapping motion with her fingertips.
After removing the mask and adding a toner, Louise massaged my face using Temple Spa's Repose cream before applying a Trufflesque mask. As the mask got to work, Louise massaged my scalp with just the right amount of pressure: gentle but invigorating.
After she removed the mask, Louise toned my skin and moisturised using Temple Spa's Truffle range. She paid particular attention to my neck using Exalt firming gel in upward strokes; it looked noticeably smoother afterwards. My skin generally felt incredibly moisturised and plump, and I vowed to keep the products on for as long as possible.
Finally, Louise led me to the relaxation room to enjoy a fresh fruit smoothie and a hot towel.
The spa menu at Smallshaw Farm is extensive, with many body treatments for firming, toning, and detoxifying the skin on offer, as well as other quirkily named Temple Spa facials, such as Power Breakfast, My Kinda Skin and Go Guy, the male "executive facial". 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, including Prosecco, tea, coffee or smoothies made with fresh fruit at extra charge.
We loved / we didn't love
The view: Best enjoyed from the comfort of the outdoor hot tub.
The size: Small really can be beautiful ; floating from one experience to the other was seamless.
We didn't love
The limited food options: The small plates were enjoyable, especially eaten on the deck, but the menu could do with more variety.
We were lucky to visit the spa in summer but imagine some deck heating wouldn't go amiss in colder months.
Who do you think would like it?
Smallshaw is a great option for private groups -- whether on a birthday, hen or stag celebration -- who can book the whole spa for a reasonable price.
Small groups of friends would love it, too, while couples will appreciate the romantic setting.
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 an incredibly chic spa offering a good variety of experiences in beautiful countryside. A couple of small extra touches -- such as slightly more variety in the food offer and heating for the deck -- would ramp it up.
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