When life gets a little too hectic, I like to go and hide at a decent day spa for a few hours.
I’m fortunate to live very close to Ribby Hall Spa, and I’ve visited numerous times over recent years. I love spas – it’s a time and space where NOBODY bothers you, the phone doesn’t ring, and you’re utterly untroubled by the outside world.
Last year when Flea went to PGL, I took myself off for a micro-break at Champneys but this year, I figured why drive so far? After all, once you’re in a spa, it really doesn’t matter where you are.
I booked an “advance spa dinner” package at Ribby Hall Spa. This means you check in at lunchtime, enjoy the afternoon at the spa, have dinner in the restaurant, stay overnight and then have breakfast in the morning, with a couple of hours free to use the spa.
The total cost for the package, including a one-bedroom suite (see the tour below if you’d like to know what it looks like) was £174. On top of that, I paid for some treatments in the spa. These were a NEOM full de-stress massage at £62, and a manicure and pedicure at £31). It’s expensive but I figure what it saves me in stress-related gin consumption probably off-sets the cost, right?
I’d suggest booking treatments at the same time you book your accommodation. The spa is usually pretty full and booking a day ahead meant we had a bit less choice of treatments and times. Having said that, it never feels crowded or hectic, which is testament to how well laid out the spa is. There are numerous areas to sit and chat, and different rooms to relax, from a room with heated beds, blankets and views over the trees to a private lounge with deep leather sofas and squishy cushions.
I arrived early at the spa for lunch with a friend. We ate at The Orangerie, the main restaurant at the hotel. We both had a really delicious spring vegetable hash served with a crispy duck egg, and shared a basket of home-made bread. There may also have been wine…
After lunch, we headed off for a treatment. While my friend had a facial, I had a full body massage with a guided meditation.
Admittedly, I’m Northern and I do cringe a bit at the phrase ‘guided meditation’. But even the most Northern of you will love this one. It really just means a massage using 24 essential oils that promote relaxation and wellbeing, with reflexology and a meditation that helps you to focus on relaxing breathing techniques. It takes just over an hour and is the perfect way to kick-off a spa day, helping you to ‘let go’ of worries and negative thoughts.
Having been pummelled and pressed, we headed into the spa area for the “aqua thermal journey”. This is a series of pools, steam rooms and saunas mixed in with an ice shower and foot spas. A new addition this year is the juice and smoothie bar and outside seating area which is very pretty, overlooking woodland and fields, next to the existing outside spa and sauna. It has plenty of heaters so the Northern weather won’t chill your extremities too much!
We spent a good three hours in the spa before heading to the nail treatment area for manicures and pedicures. If you want your nails prettied up, it’s best to do these at the end of the day so polish can dry properly.
Dinner was also at The Orangerie and was just as impressive as lunch. We opted for a fresh asparagus salad, followed by locally sourced fish of the day – a beautiful salmon fillet with side salad and dressing, served with a glass of Pinot Grigio. The food here truly is exceptional.
After dinner, I headed back to my suite, which was really spacious. I lounged about on the corner sofa watching The Vampire Diaries (I am nothing if not cultured) and ignoring the Maltesers I’d brought with me. I was too stuffed from dinner!
The bedroom area is small but the beds are very comfortable. I liked that you can order pillows from a “pillow menu” if the ones available aren’t quite right. There’s also a flat screen TV in the bedroom and free, fast WiFi throughout the entire hotel, although reception inside the spa itself can be patchy. Maybe that’s no bad thing.
The nice thing about staying overnight at a spa is that you don’t go from your super chilled-out state straight into “drive home, cook dinner, open laptop”. And the breakfast in the morning is a bonus. I had scrambled eggs and mushrooms with fresh coffee, and it was included in the package I bought.
If you fancy it, I took a short video showing exactly what the rooms are like:
For my money, Ribby Hall Spa is probably one of the best day spas outside London. It certainly is much smarter and more luxurious than Champneys, although it is a little smaller. There are only 38 rooms here, which adds to the feeling of quiet and seclusion. The accommodation is beautifully finished and spacious, whereas the rooms at other spas I’ve visited can be a bit utilitarian.
Ribby Hall Spa Hotel has won a clutch of awards since it opened including 2 AA Rosettes, 4 AA Stars and a recommendation in the Michelin Guide, as well as 5 stars from the independent Good Spa Guide. If you’re looking for a luxury spa break outside of London with excellent dining and a laid-back feel, you should certainly take a look at Ribby Hall.
Details: Ribby Hall Spa Hotel is an adults-only hotel in Lancashire. Spa Breaks start from £99 per person, per night, with day spa packages starting at £32. For more details check out their website.
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