One thing I noticed instantly about Ragdale Hall is how people’s eyes light up when they talk about it. They can’t help themselves. After briefly mentioning to a few people (friends, my mum, hairdresser, next door neighbour) I was off for my first ever spa day at Ragdale they couldn’t suppress their excitement. A chorus of, “ooh, you lucky thing”, “it’s the most amazing spa I’ve ever been to” and “I adore that place. It’s the pick of the bunch” quickly followed.
As soon as I opened the opulent front door at Ragdale Hall and took a quick glance at all the happy people, floating around in white robes… I knew I was in for a treat. If spa breaks were measured on a fine dining scale Ragdale Hall would have a cluster of Michelin stars. Whether you’re relaxing on the terrace, zoning out in the amazing Retreat or feasting in the dining room, you’ll feel like you’ve entered a parallel world of sublimeness, luxury and heaven-sent bliss. It’s like you’ve suddenly become part of something special.
Throughout the day I kept expecting to turn around and see the glamorous likes of Joanna Lumley or Joan Collins perfectly nestled in a floral armchair, wearing a crisp white robe, sipping a flute of champagne. Ragdale has that air of refinement and celebrity, the whole place is utterly magnificent.
Perfectly manicured lawns surround the property with picturesque afternoon-tea tables scattered neatly. Even the resident cat Raggles has fully embraced life at a dreamy, slothful pace. Gently shimmying from one high-backed armchair in the lounge to another, before crashing out for an afternoon nap upon an antique rug.
The hall itself is impeccably decorated with grand wood paneling, huge wooden staircases, quaint armchairs and footstools scattered with pillows and cushions. In all directions you’ll see blissed-out happy guests, strolling around in snowy robes and slippers. Which, you don’t even need to change out of for lunch or dinner, despite the elegance of the dining room. It’s left a mystery what everyone is and/or isn’t wearing underneath.
Before lunch I decided to go for a swim and a dip in the whirlpool before spending an hour or so in the Thermal Spa. Which, needs to be seen to be believed. There’s a Colourflow Cave oozing scents of jasmine and chamomile, a Candle Pool with a star-lit ceiling and dancing candle flickers everywhere, an indoor/outdoor Waterfall Pool, a heated Thought Zone inspiring positive thinking and many other unique water/ heat/ light and sound experiences. I’ll stop there, before I ruin all the surprises.
The food is also brilliant. Healthy but not in a low calorie I-still-feel-hungry-aferwards kinda way. For my three-course lunch I had beetroot, orange and herb soup followed by a selection of grilled chicken and salmon, roast vegetable ratatouille, seafood pasta and salad from the buffet. There was plenty to choose from including more substantial meals like roasted gammon, chicken curry, vegetable stir-fry and jacket potatoes. Despite being a health spa they had a mouthwatering dessert spread. I opted for the mixed berry triffle topped with cream and a chocolate shard. Should have probably been healthy and had a fresh fruit salad, but who’s judging?
I decided to eat lunch wearing my dressing gown with just a swimsuit underneath, when in Rome and all that. I thought it might feel slovenly to lord around all day in a bathrobe – bit it’s quite the opposite. It felt luxurious and somehow even glamorous.
After lunch I had my first spa treatment – a brand new Elemis BIOTEC facial (60 minutes – £75) – which I was testing out for Wedding Ideas magazine. You can read my full review, as it appeared in Wedding Ideas, at the end of this post. I also managed to sneak in a Clarins Pampering Foot Treatment (55 minutes – £49).
I was only a day guest so by 5pm my experience was coming to an end. As sunset approached the mood started to change with groups of friends sitting around laughing and chatting over a cocktail or glass, or two, of wine.
Unfortunately, as I had to drive home, my day didn’t end with wine and a luxurious hotel bed but it did finish on a high note. I took part in the Sunset Stretch, which was an idyllic way to say goodbye to Ragdale Hall. A 55-minute group exercise class relaxing and recharging with yoga poses while the sun slowly faded on what had been a brilliant day.
There’s so much more to Ragdale Hall than you’ll ever expect. I didn’t even get chance to check out the outdoor pool, croquet, tennis courts, rose garden or take part in any of the zumba, pilates, legs, bums & tums or aqua workouts on offer. There’s only one thing for it…. I’ll have to go back and stay for at least two days, if not an entire week.
Read my review on the must have new Elemis BIOTEC facial here.