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Utopia Spa at Rowhill Grange
Nr Dartford, South East, DA2 7QH
Has a pool
Has thermal facilities
15 treatment rooms
Rowhill Grange is an English country manor house with a spacious, classically-styled spa. The house dates back to 1868, and is set in acres of gardens and picturesque Kent countryside. Utopia Spa has a Romanesque interior, complete with temple-like pillars and frescos of Italian landscapes around the therapeutic pools. Treatments are from Mediterranean-inspired brand Temple Spa, with a focus on both inner and outer well-being.
Rowhill Grange is a charming and rambling nineteenth-century manor house with Edwardian bay windows, set in 17 acres high above Dartford. It's so peaceful among the striped lawns, tall trees and pretty gardens, it's hard to believe you're only minutes from the M25.
If you are staying at the hotel and have heavy bags, you can park by the steps leading up to the hotel entrance. If not, carry on to the spa day-guest car park. The hotel has kept most of its original features but has been updated with plush blue and grey soft furnishings.
Utopia Spa is at the back of the hotel, where staff will greet you with a drink and snack on arrival. The spa reception area is a good size, white and modern -- it had just been refurbished on our visit -- with buffed tiled floors, a grey curved reception desk, scented candles, and a modern turquoise couch with green cushions. A little spa boutique has Temple Spa, ila, L'Occitaine and OPI products to try and buy.
Utopia Spa is set over two floors. The treatment area, which is new and chic, has a very different vibe to the thermal area, which is Roman themed.
The changing rooms have plenty of lockers, each with a robe, towel and flip-flops. Although the locker doors look a little old, the key-code functioned well and there was room to stash our bags and clothes. We liked the separate vanity area: two benches with mirrors, well lit with hairdryers, hair straighteners, body lotion and trays of cotton buds. Fresh towels were folded in baskets just beneath the tables. There are two toilets and four large showers with hooks behind the door and room to dry off. A tiny sauna, big enough for two, wasn't very hot when we visited.
The thermal area has a large round vitality pool surrounded by columns and walls painted with a tromp l'oeil of Roman ruins. It's like stepping into a theatre set: we almost expected the gods to arrive on a chariot from the vast ceiling. Along one side are eight rattan chairs where you can fling your towel before lowering yourself into the warm water. A jet pipe sends a wide stream of water over your shoulders and back, and soothes aching muscles. The swan pipe is very strong, and the bubble-jet beds relaxing. The pool has a bubble fountain in the middle and a waterfall feature at one end. Beyond is a deep round Jacuzzi that seats six.
The small steam room would squeeze in around six people, too. It has white tiles with a black and green pattern around the edge, and was bright, clean and nicely hot. Next to this are two showers where you can cool off.
The 11-metre blue-tiled swimming pool is surrounded by columns and fresco-style paintings of a Tuscan landscape, together with stone statues and urns. The water was cool enough to do a few lengths, before relaxing on one of the rattan chairs and ordering a "mocktail" from the pool butler.
The treatment rooms -- 19 with two doubles -- are upstairs, where a small waiting area has comfortable armchairs and fruit-infused water. The new nail bar has three pedicure thrones and three manicure tables.
The relaxation room is dark and scented, with soothing music. It has twelve curved and cushioned recliners, each with a thick soft blanket, and four egg chairs: ideal if you want to curl up with a magazine. If the sun is shining, head outside to the walled Tranquillity Garden and lie on a lounger among the roses and herbs.
The large and fully-equipped gym is set apart from the rest of the spa, so the pumping exercise music does not impinge upon the serene spa vibe. There is also a small hair salon.
We had the signature Total Harmony Signature Treatment with Temple Spa products (55 minutes, £78) followed by the Champagne Luxury Pedicure (55 minutes, £50, plus £10 for a glass of Champagne).
My therapist, Nicola, met me in the treatment waiting area and led me to a small, minimally furnished treatment room. She discussed the treatment with me then invited me to lie face down on the warm, comfortable treatment bed. I looked down on two scented candles: a charming touch.
Nicola began the treatment by asking me to breathe deeply three times and sprayed Quietude calming mist, which smelt delightfully of grapefruit. She washed my feet and legs with a warm towel, then massaged them with Aaahhh! Cooling Gel.
Nicola massaged each half of my body at a time, rolling back my covering towel to reveal the length of one side. This way of working – rather than doing legs first then back – enabled longer flowing movements. The heat from the hot stones made the massage even more relaxing. Halfway, Nicola invited me to turn onto my back, then massaged my two front halves including my arms and hands. She covered my body so that I was warm and cosy, then cleansed and massaged my face. She used the very tip of the hot stones to massage around my eyes and forehead, which felt divine. She massaged my neck, décolletage and shoulders, moving my head from side to side to stretch and soothe my neck and shoulder muscles. She then applied Be Still serum and my favourite Repose face cream.
The treatment ended gently, with Nicola pressing my body through the towel, then inviting me to inhale deeply three times. Afterwards, she left me to relax while she fetched some water and tea, giving me time to savour the total harmony I felt all over.
My pedicure took place in the elegant new nail bar. I sat on a comfortable leather throne, rested my feet on a footstall over a footbath, which was filled, ready and waiting, and selected my OPI colour (pale cream In The Clouds). Nicola cleaned and filed my nails, then shaped my cuticles. She scrubbed my feet with a pink scrub that smelled fruity, then lowered them into the footbath. She dried each foot, applied a mask, covered each foot in a plastic bag and slipped on some amusing pink booties inflated with warm water. These stayed on for ten minutes, giving me time to read an article and sip my Champagne. Nicola removed the booties, the bags, then wiped my feet clean with hot towels and massaged in some lotion. Finally, she applied the OPI polish, then led me to the relaxation room where I dozed until the colour had dried. My feet looked smooth and clean and the colour was pretty and Summery: I was very pleased with the results.
Treatments at Utopia Spa use natural, paraben-free Temple Spa and ila products. You can try face therapies -- including Caci facials, massages, body treatments, Ionithermie, as well as therapies for men, couples and mums-to-be.
You can eat your spa lunch in the Brasserie, a conservatory that opens out onto a sunny terrace, where you can dine al fresco. You can eat and wander about freely in your robe. The quieter Elements Bar & Lounge has sofas and big, comfortable armchairs.
The spa menu has three starter and main-course options (meat, vegetarian and fish). You can also ask for the bar menu, which has lots of salads (including a superfood salad) and sandwiches, as well as hot food options and a choice of tempting puddings. Staff are happy to adapt the menu choices for food intolerances, vegan or vegetarian diners. We had the fresh, creamy pea soup for starters, with a tasty roast salmon with potatoes and broccoli for main. In the afternoon, you can order traditional teas.
In the evening, we ate at RG's Restaurant. Our starter of asparagus with a soft hen's egg and main of roasted cod and braised fennel were both beautifully presented and delicious.
Our treatments: Our therapist was skilled and attentive, and the products are also some of our favourites.
The relaxation room: We loved the peaceful atmosphere and comfortable chairs and blankets.
The massage pipes in the whirlpool work wonders, and we enjoyed the swimming pool with its Tuscan "views" and cooling water.
The garden is beautifully kept and quintessentially English with striped lawns, statues and gazebos; a romantic oasis.
Customer service throughout is old-school; courteous, respectful, thoughtful and everyone one step ahead of you tending to your every need.
We didn't love
The revamped Utopia Spa looks so delightful that the shabby changing-room lockers and door leading to the thermal area were a small let-down. Also, the sauna was only 35 degrees when we visited: barely warm.
Couples: We saw lots of couples enjoying the spa facilities; the house and gardens are very romantic.
Friends: The thermal spa is good fun. Follow that with a manicure or pedicure and a Champagne afternoon tea.
Foodies: RG's has two AA rosettes; you can either indulge or go for some tasty healthy options.
We awarded Utopia Spa at Rowhill Grange a Good Spa Guide rating of 5 bubbles. Since we last visited, the treatment area has been completely refurbished. We were impressed with the new nail bar and deeply comforting relaxation lounge. They've put a lot of thought into making the customer journey as pleasant, easy and special as possible.
Savant Spy visited in August 2016 and awarded it 5 Bubbles
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Nr Dartford, South East, DA2 7QH
The restaurant RGs serves seasonal dishes and a grill menu; the brasserie Elements offers informal dining.
Five styles of room available from Standard Rooms to Master Suites. Rates start at £89 per room per night (single occupancy).
Monday to Friday: 7am - 9pm; Saturday & Sunday: 8am - 8pm