I was frazzled, tired, time poor and in desperate need of rest and relaxation to decompress. That’s why I booked a one-night spa break at a Champneys Health Spa – there are four dotted around the UK – founded in 1925 by naturopath Stanley Lief, a leader in holistic wellbeing.
I headed for Champneys in Hertfordshire and found it tucked away in the quiet, leafy village of Tring. Turning into the gated entrance, the long leafy winding driveway took me through verdant scenery to the imposing Rothschild Building.
The house, built by Emma Rothschild in 1901, makes for a right regal eyeful. It emerges out of 170 acres of lush and beautifully manicured landscape.
The expansive, sprawling interiors have been newly refurbished and carved into areas and rooms offering a myriad of treatments and restful experiences in calming environments. it seemed to me to be a potentially potent potion for healing.
Certainly a loyal clientele (all ages, mainly women but some blissed-out men) is quite at home, happy to mill around the building, or simply draped over a sofa with a book, in the terrace garden or in any of the quiet rooms, just chilling in between treatments or activities.
It’s all done at a gentle pace; ambient music, fragrant aromas and a general easy-going vibe. The views are beautiful over designer gardens while inside, decor is a mix of pastels or muted shades of autumn depending on where you are.
If this resonates, then Champneys is for you.
Plenty of people visit just to use the facilities for a day, and if you choose to spend a couple of nights there’s a selection of price points: deluxe, suites, luxe, superior and standard with increasing levels of comfort and views.
At the very least though the room will be ensuite, with TV, coffee and tea and luxurious linens and of course a hairdryer.
I opted for a luxe room chosen for its location on this vast resort. It’s a spacious room which comes with priority parking, a large ensuite, a small sofa, an armchair and really lovely views over the grounds.
Food and Drink
Food is a huge part of the wellbeing ethos. For those who need guidance in choosing a balanced meal there are plates divided into sections to fill with essential fats (think walnuts and flaxseed oil), fibre-rich carbohydrates (wholemeal pasta, brown rice and sweet potato), healthyprotein (oily fish, lean meat and pulses) and non-starchy vegetables (asparagus, beetroot, baby corn, broccoli and mixed peppers).
At breakfast I opted for the signature dish: the Cloud 9 egg. I had never seen a sunny-side-up egg created quite this way. The egg white and the egg yolk are baked separately and so it looks like the yolk is sitting on an omelette. It is served with granary toast and is quite delicious.
There is a terrace bar serving snacks, sandwiches and light meals and you can take tea in the graceful Drawing Room.
There is a huge list of treatments on offer from massage, reflexology, (I can vouch for both of those treatments – very, very good) facials, mani/pedicures, physiotherapy, hydrotherapy, thalassotherapy, hypnotherapy and even the services of a medium – a case of whatever works.
The spa is a well-oiled operation (so to speak) and very popular so booking for a treatment in advance is essential as it’s very unlikely you will get a treatment as a walk-in. There is also an onsite private GP service.
There are several away-from-it-all sections that offer deeply restful spaces such as the water bed room (warm water beds are available in a dark room with restful music) and the darkened jacuzzi room with several beds, where the only sounds are moving water or whispered chat.
The swimming pool comes with a jacuzzi as well and a well-equipped gym is on standby when relaxing gets too much.
Not forgetting that a good walk is rejuvenating too and the meadow like grounds are a delight to explore
Great: There is no doubt that when it comes to relaxation, Champneys have nailed it.
Gripe: Check-in and check-out is frantic. Arrival time is 4pm and of course at that time there’s a deluge of those coming for the day spa experience and those checking in. The queues can be chaotic.