09:00 Tuesday 14 May 2013

Hoar Cross Heaven

Written byLouise Elliott

Set in 70 acres of glorious grounds Hoar Cross Hall Spa Resort offers its visitors a unique opportunity to spend time in glorious relaxation from the stresses and strains of everyday life.

Located in the small rural village of Hoar Cross, just a few miles from the hustle and bustle of the brewing town of Burton-on-Trent, the drive into Hoar Cross — a former stately home which was completed in 1871 for the Meynell Ingram family — takes you through beautiful green and lush countryside, to the most breathtaking of buildings which has a distinctive Elizabethan style with Jacobean overtones.

My friend, Maxine and I, had been invited to spend the day at the spa to indulge in a day of relaxation and pampering — and we were not disappointed.

We were met by friendly, efficient and attentive staff who gave us a tour of the facilities — which included a saltwater vitality pool, whirlpools, tropical showers, sauna and steam rooms. There is also an aptly named snooze room (a particular favourite of mine) as well as a relaxation room with massage chairs, an atrium lounge, slumber lounge and gym.

Our day began at 9.30am. After changing into our swimming costumes and wrapping ourselves in the complementary white, warm, fluffy towels, we paid a visit to the pool area, a comfortable area with a glass roof which allowed the sun to shine down into the pool creating a feeling of being outdoors. The pool was warm and welcoming and provided an opportunity to go for a gentle swim before we relaxed in one of the jacuzzis and took time to enjoy the body jets. We even escaped to the magical dimly lit cave at one end of the swimming pool where we could relax in the tranquil surroundings whilst watching other visitors enjoy their time in the pool.

The whole ambience of the spa is, as you would expect, one of total relaxation. Although we were told later there were over 150 people using the spa facilities that day, we didn’t feel as if there were that many people visiting as it has been designed in such a way that we didn’t feel crowded or rushed — just very special and wanted.

Following a morning of enjoying the facilities — including a rather welcome coffee and (I know you shouldn’t) a delicious chocolate muffin in the coffee shop where we lounged in our robes and chatted with feet tucked under our bathrobes, we both indulged in one of the many treatments on offer — opting for a back massage.

The extensive range of treatments available at Hoar Cross allows the visitor to enjoy a range of essential oils, nourishing masks and hypnotic aromas with a range of more than 40 spa treatments from world-renowned product houses Clarins, Elemis, Spa Find, Thalgo and Jessica.

The treatment area was, like the rest of the spa, tastefully decorated with large sofas, fluffy blankets and cushions in the waiting area. There were candles dotted around the tables with low lighting and soft music, and a general feeling of warmth, making you feel sleepy — but in need of a little pampering!

 

 

The back massage was, without a shadow of a doubt, one of the most effective massages I have experienced. Before our visit, Maxine and I, like the rest of the guests who indulge themselves at the spa, were required to fill in a short medical questionnaire. Before the massage my therapist — Jade — asked a few questions about my general health — such as stress levels and sleeping patterns to ascertain which oils would best suit my requirements.

The treatment lasted a wonderful 40 minutes and included a back and head massage in a small aromatherapy oil smelling room, which left me glowing with radiance from the inside out.

Afterwards I felt unbelievably relaxed and sleepy — so our three-course meal in the restaurant was a welcome diversion over my over-whelming need to put my head down for a few zzzzs!

Guests who book in for a spa day receive a three-course lunch as part of the spa package in the light and airy restaurant. Dining in a bathrobe did seem a little strange at first — especially as the restaurant staff were adorned in crisp white shirts in surroundings that were tastefully decorated in beige and browns and high end decor — but, as everyone else was dining in their bathroom too we quickly learned to relax even more and simply enjoyed the food.

The food was a very welcome surprise to me. I was, perhaps naively, expecting salad and fruit and nothing of any real substance. What I was offered, however, was a well planned and delightfully tasty menu of choice. There was a choice of starters and where Maxine opted for the soup of the day (vegetable) I enjoyed a deliciously cooked salmon. A salad bar gave guests the opportunity to help themselves to as much as the green stuff as they desired and we were also given a choice of breads. The main course also gave a choice, with both of us opting for the breast of chicken with buttery mash and vegetables, all cooked in a tasty white sauce. I was pleasantly surprised at the portion sizes — there was plenty on the plate and, to top it all off, even a choice of sweets. And, where I opted for the healthy — and very colourful —  choice of a very fresh fruit salad, Maxine chose the fruit crumble and custard (again. a very big portion!).

Following lunch we both felt reluctant to do anything other than lie down — so we headed straight for the snooze room, a room adorned with huge bean bags, fluffy blankets and squishy cushions. There were fairy lights in the ceiling which slowly changed colour and a rather hypnotic fire effect on one wall. After half an hour it seemed such a shame to sleep for the rest of our visit so we forced ourselves into the very welcome steam room to clear our senses and bring us back to real time!

Guests at the Grade II listed Hoar Cross — whether a day guest or an overnight staying in one of the 96 beautifully appointed bedrooms — can not only indulge in the spa facilities but also enjoy the grounds, and with 70 acres — including a perfectly sculptured Italian garden — there is certainly plenty to explore whether on foot or by hiring one of the bicycles in the grounds.

Classes are available to suit all visitors — from those designed to soothe the mind such as yoga, Tai Chi, Chi Kung and pilates — to classes designed for those visitors that are feeling a little more energetic — aerobics, step n tone, zumba and even a feel good class entitled strictly ballroom which will teach you how to put a little magic into your dance steps. Visitors who prefer outdoor activities are not forgotten either — with a choice of activities including tennis, archery, a nine hole golf course, croquet and boules.

Away from the classes and back to my day, our afternoon was spent lounging in the steam room and jacuzzi before it was time for a warm shower to dress for afternoon tea. The facilities in the changing rooms were fabulous with lots of free hairdryers, soap, shampoo and moisturising lotion, and once we were changed Maxine and I retired to one of the many lounges to wait to be accompanied to the main part of the house where we were to indulge in afternoon tea.

We were lead by a porter through the spa and passed the hi tech, modern gym and the spa boutique selling a range of goods from candles and clothes and plenty of gift ideas and into the main reception area of the house.

The house itself — which houses 96 bedrooms including a royal suite, penthouse suites, superior rooms and master bedrooms —  has been designed and decorated to complement the stately ‘Downton Abbey’ feel. Antique furniture and paintings adorn the main corridor — the Long Gallery — off which there is The Drawing Room, The Dining Room, a small family chapel and the Champagne Bar which is where Maxine and I were treated to afternoon tea.

Now, afternoon tea is certainly an elegant affair at Hoar Cross. Whilst we relaxed in large leather sofas in a room overlooking the grounds, we were waited on hand and foot by attentive, waiting staff eager to please. We were given a choice of teas and a booklet explaining the origins of the teas and were then brought a selection of finger sandwiches the fillings of which ranged from egg and cress, salmon, and chicken or soft white and brown bread all served on a silver platter.

The was then followed by every girl’s dream — a choice of 14 cakes and freshly made, still warm scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream — all served beautifully on a silver three-tier cake stand. Unfortunately we just couldn’t manage to eat all of the cakes on offer. Fortunately though, the very friendly young man offered us a cake box to share the cakes that were left and take them home. My thoughts are that that particular young man will make someone a very good husband one day!

For your chance to win a spa day at Hoar Cross Hall with a freind, click here.

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