Curled up on the velvet sofa in front of a roaring fire, I gaze up from my book to take in the misty formal gardens and forest beyond through the floor-to-ceiling windows. I am all alone in the formal lounge of this stately home that was once the getaway of the Rothchild family. There is nothing better than peace, solitude and time to really revive the soul – something often lacking in our busy city lives these days. But Champneys Spa Resort in Tring, just 35 minutes from London Euston, offers so much more with sustenance for body and soul.
Driving up the long sweeping entrance you can feel the tensions start to ebb away. After checking into my beautiful Mansion room with views across the formal gardens I was given a tour of the spa facilities so that I could enjoy everything that was on offer. I quickly changed into swimsuit and fluffy white gown to start my aquatic relaxation.
My spa session starts energetically enough with laps of their lovely indoor pool but as I start to unwind, I consider whether this is really what I am here for. Luckily it is time for my massage so I pull myself out and go and get ready in the spacious pool change rooms. In fact this is one great thing about Champney’s, there is not just one change room but many near all the different aquatic experiences, and a separate one for day guests, so that there is plenty of room. With large rain showers, GHD hair straighteners and hair dryers as well as cotton buds and pads, they are well stocked.
After a very busy week, including a number of work-outs in the gym, the bamboo massage seems ideal. The therapist uses bamboo canes to pull and stretch the muscles while also conducting a lymphatic drain which helps you detoxify as well as unwind those knotted muscles.
If I am honest, this is not a relaxing massage, not while you are having it anyway. However after the treatment the tension in my muscles was definitely released and I slept like a baby that night!
I retire to my room to get ready for dinner – the only time those fluffy enveloping gowns are not welcome in the dining room. While the dining room is pleasant, it isn’t a place for five-star, six-course meals. This is a place to feed your body and soul with all the good things it needs to be the best it can be. Noticeably absent on the table was salt and butter, the later being replace with a bean dip to go with your bread. The à la carte gave a good variety of tasty looking dishes that were also healthy.
I started with the Asian marinated beef on an oriental vegetable salad. The beef was unfortunately overcooked so lost some of the flavours and its soft texture. The marinated salmon on steamed tender stem broccoli was exceptional as was the lemon curd slice that I chose for dessert. I certainly could have eaten more but importantly I didn’t need more, I was full without being bloated and had the added bonus of feeling virtuous about what I had eaten.
I popped into the lounge for an after dinner coffee (decaf of course!) before deciding to have an early night with my book.
Drawing the blinds in the morning I took in the breathtaking views across the formal gardens and the extensive grounds beyond. Half bathed in fog with the sun streaming through it offered an early morning tranquility that beckoned. Having not brought my wellies, my stroll was mainly confined to the formal gardens but it was an invigorating and uplifting way to start the day.
My ideal healthy breakfast is fresh fruit, bircher yoghurt and coffee but who has the time to chop and prepare all that fruit and muesli. Luckily it is all here and ready to go, so after enjoying this and a cheeky piece of toast with Marmite, I decide to go for a proper walk around the grounds. With around 170 acres of parklands, wetlands and forest it is a welcome break from city life.
While check-out is at a leisurely 11am, there is no need to rush off as with lunch and an afternoon in the facilities included in the packages, Champneys makes sure that you are getting full benefit of what it has to offer.
Another experience worth doing while here is the Thalassotherapy pool. Your body is pounded and stimulated by mineral-rich warm water shooting from waterfalls and massage jets – just 25 minutes is all you need to unwind and ease out those last knots.
After changing into my fluffy gown and slippers once again, I padded off, surprisingly hungry for the lunch buffet. The mixture of salads, cold dishes and hot dishes were delicious, while once again being healthy and well-rounded and I am not ashamed to admit that I went back for seconds!
Tearing myself away from this tranquil place to return to busy urban life was definitely difficult but I am sure it won’t be long before I return to recharge once again. And if they are ever in need of a writer-in-residence, they have a willing volunteer!
Champneys Resort Tring, Chesham Road Wigginton Hertfordshire, HP23 6HX.