With all the Valentines love floating around, it reminded me of a trip I took last year to Lifehouse Spa, in Thorpe-le-Soken in Essex which I’ve not blogged about. It was the first time I had been to a *proper* spa in all my twenty-eight years, and was really looking forward to unwinding and chilling out. I took my Mum with me, an avid spa-goer to get her spin on things too.
As we drove out of London and into the countryside, and eventually losing mobile signal, we knew we were close. Lifehouse is in the middle of a little village with 130 acres of grounds and 12 acres of listed gardens which as I walked through, felt I was in The Secret Garden!
The first thing we noticed was just how friendly and welcoming everyone was. As we walked from the car park, the gardeners stopped what they were doing to greet us hello, and it was the same with all staff members throughout our stay.
The choice of rooms at Lifehouse are Good, Great or Best but each of them is special in their own way. The ‘Good’ rooms that I saw had their own patio doors which led out to their own little table and chairs within the grounds – gorgeous! We had a Best room which was fab – a really generous size, twin beds, which we so comfortable, a Juliette balcony overlooking the courtyard, a dressing table and bathroom.
The first thing I noticed in the bathroom were the Elemis goodies for us to use! My favourite thing was the mirror – when you had a shower the mirror would steam up, as expected, apart from a perfect square in the middle, so you could still see yourself – I neeeeed one of these in my home! The shower is turned on from a button next to the sink so you don’t have to get cold waiting for it to come on and sorting out the temperature once you’re in there, and has a massive head for a shower like heavy rain – bliss!
Once we’d changed into our complimentary Lifehouse robes, which are pretty much uniform for anyone staying, we went off to explore.
The upper level of the spa area is where all the treatments take place – apart from OBE (Oriental Bathing Experience) which is Lifehouse’s signature treatment, and you can read more about here. In the middle of the level is The Hub – where you go to book, or check in for your treatments. Mum and I both had massages booked in – we chilled out at the juice bar until we were called for our 90 minutes of bliss.
I had the ScenTao of Asia massage which was ultra-relaxing. It involved a full body massage using ScenTao oil, then a hot stone massage which is something I had never had before. It was a strange experience but I soon got into the swing of it! The weirdest part was when a hot stone was put between each of my toes – I just wanted to giggle, and knowing I shouldn’t made it even harder to keep my laugh in! It finished off with a facial massage. I was a bit wary – the last time I’d had a ‘facial’ involved extractions and a pretty red face for a few days after. This was nothing like that – this was definitely a massage. I was blissed out.
My Mum had the Classic with a Twist – a full body massage which lets you choose 3 key areas to have extra work on. Unfortunately my Mum fell asleep so I can’t tell you much about the treatment – other than it must have been pretty relaxing for her to drop off!
We met in the Chill area – a quiet room where people go after their treatments, or if they just want to chill – there are reclining chaise lounges with blankets for you to put over yourself, or massage chairs which are absolutely amazing. I need one of these for my home too! They manage to tip you so you are laying completely horizontal, while the machinery gets to work on your body – ohhhhh it’s making me wiggle remembering it – just fantastic.
Once we had summoned up enough energy to move, we went down to the pool area for a dip. As well as the swimming pool, which to be honest, we didn’t venture in to – there is a plunge pool, jacuzzi, salt room, sauna and steam room. The poolside showers come out as different levels of rain which was a lovely touch. I had never been in a salt room before – they are meant to be great for respiratory and skin problems – it was a lot more bearable than the sauna or steam room (I’m a bit of a wuss!) and the glowing salty wall was lovely to look at.
We had just enough time to get showered and dressed before heading off for our second treatment. I had a Deluxe Manicure – deluxe because as well as a standard manicure you get a nail analysis to treat your nail type, exfoliation, massage (all the way up to your elbows) and cuticle care using LeRemedi products. The manicure was done using Jessica polishes, and I thought a lovely touch was that you get to take home a mini bottle of your chosen colour.
My Mum had Reflexology – she gets reflexology done quite a lot – she said it wasn’t one of the best she’d ever had, but was good all the same.
At the end of your treatment you are given a postcard which your therapist recommends some products for you to use. What I like is that that’s literally all they do – write them down for you to visit the shop at your own free will if you want to – there is no hard sale.
As the sun began to set, we couldn’t believe we had manage to relax the whole day away. What about all that time we wanted to put in at the gym, and the fitness classes we wanted to do?! Yeah right!
Lifehouse doesn’t agree with the whole health spa ethos – this is a spa, not a health spa. If you want wine – have a glass! They don’t like to promote bad sugars though – so there’s no Coca Cola etc on their menu. Lots of groups had gathered around and were drinking champagne – it made me want to be there with a big group of my friends, chilling out and relaxing!
The Water Lillies restaurant is fairly informal, but you are required to be dressed properly while you’re there. The food was nice – it was quite contemporary, with little metallic baskets of fat chips and the like, but I probably wouldn’t go there again if it was a stand alone restaurant.
We had planned to have a girlie night watching TV and chatting, but the minute we hit those beds, we were sound asleep – probably one of the best sleeps I’d had all year. My mum really had planned to wake up early and go to Zumba, but when I finally woke from my slumber, she was still there in the bed next to me. Far too chilled.
We had lot less planned for that day – we wandered around to see what else was on offer – we found the Library, which as well as having lots of books on health and wellbeing, had more massage chairs – these ones were much more vigorous, and computers with internet access.
Mum chilled out in the sun on an oversized deck-chair while I had a Lifehouse Consultation, which is an hour with a wellness consultant who speciailises in lifestyle and diets. As it was such a lovely day, we sat outside while we chatted – I was having some health problems at the time which we discussed in detail, and about my lifestyle in general – we spoke about how I could try to combat stress, different food choices I could make which would benefit me, and she also gave me advice on sorting out my health concern – which thankfully is now sorted. Chrissy was very easy to speak to and made me feel at ease immediately. If I’m honest, I did wonder how the session would benefit me, but I walked away feeling refreshed and armed full of knowledge – it was very useful.
Before we knew it, it was time to check out. We had an absolutely amazing weekend in a really stunning location, I just wish we’d have stayed longer – it’s hard work fitting in all that relaxation! I think in future I’d definitely book for two nights to try to aid the time warp feeling. And I’d hope to bump into Jeff Brazier again – him walking round in a dressing gown helped the whole experience for sure 😉
If you like the sound of the Lifehouse Spa check out their website – www.lifehouse.co.uk – for my first spa experience it was fantastic, and left me wanting to try more… and more! They quite often have good deals on, so be sure to check out their Offers page too.
Some of the photos displayed were provided courtesy of Lifehouse Spa.