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Five Lakes Spa – the spa that wasn’t

A friend and I were supposed to be going to V Festival this weekend. I should have been blogging about the beauty items I’d packed and festival essentials. We were conned. We had purchased our tickets on eBay and they just never came…. the seller ignored my emails and it seemed the phone number she had provided was fake. What a COW!

We knew if we stayed at home we would mope about so on Friday, when it was clear that the tickets were not going to be arriving, we looked into booking into a spa. I thought with one day to spare we could get some amazing deals but no such luck. The ones that we did find had availability were really expensive – I’m talking around the £200 mark per person and although it included full use of facilities, didn’t include any treatments.

I had a look on laterooms.com and the first hotel that came up we ended up booking – Five Lakes Hotel, Golf, Country Club and Spa in Maldon, Essex. We got a deal of £125 including breakfast for the both of us and included full use of the facilities. It’s sister company is Sopwell House spa in St Albans which is one of the spas we had wanted to go to but was fully booked. The price of the hotel was almost 1/4 what we’d paid for the V tickets, and we were getting that money back so we thought we’d treat ourselves to a couple of treatments while we were there. The spa does ESPA and Clarins treatments and we had both decided for definite we would get the ESPA back, neck and shoulder massage for £32.

We got a bit lost on the way there – it is in the middle of a countryside village which seemed to have nothing there other than houses, a village shop, pub and the occasional golf course. When we saw the sign to Five Lakes we drove down the long winding lane and were impressed – although it didn’t look modern it was large and just not really what we had been expecting, although not the kind of place I’d want to have my wedding if you know what I mean!?

The lobby was quite grand and as we walked through the entrance we saw lots of people looking chilled walking around in robes and slippers…. oh yeaaaaahhhhh we were going to get a piece of that! Checked in and asked the receptionist how we could book treatments. We were told they were really busy so we’d have to call from our room to check the availability. Whaaaaaat?! This was something we completely had not considered! Hot footed it up to the room and were straight on the phone to the spa…. voicemail…. eeeek….. this was the whole reason for our trip! Dumped our stuff then went down to the spa to find out for ourselves. Fully booked. G u t t e d. Fully booked all of Saturday AND all of Sunday. It seemed all the people sitting around in robes were looking at us smugly thinking ‘ha, I’m about to go and have the most gorgeous head massage ever’ and ‘I’m off to get my skin exfoliated off with a lovely gorgeous scrub’.

Again, we were conscious of turning into Moping Minnies so went to the pool which was quite nice. The photo we had seen on the site made it look gorgeous

and it was just like that, but it was a bit of an odd shape – we felt we were swimming in circles, and were dodging the splashing kids. It was still lovely to start the whole relaxation process though. After our swim we went for a sauna – haven’t been in one of those badboys for a while, and man, I love them so much! I can’t stand the heat for too long but when you’re in there it’s good stuff. Straight out of there we had an ice cold shower, then into the steam room. It’s strange – the same kind of heat but while one is a dry heat, the other is wet making the experiences totally different. I think I prefer the steam, but it really stang my eyes. Another cold shower then we went into the jacuzzi which was nice, but my friend said she’d heard something about jacuzzis that you can contract vaginal diseases in there as it’s so hot – is this true? I’ve never heard it before in my life and manage to convince her otherwise!

After a while 3 silly teenage boys got in so we got out to go back to the sauna but the ladle to the sauna was on the floor outside of the door. We opened the door and the heat was immense. Too hot to even put your face inside. We suspect that the boys had emptied all of the water onto the coals (are they coals?!) and legged it, dropping the ladle on the way. Idiots. So, back for another steam, cold shower then back to the room for a full on shower and to get ready for the evening.

We were absolutely parched and having drunk all the water we’d bought with us, called Room Service for 2 1l bottles of water. When I was in 6th form I worked in a hotel as a waitress and there was no extra charge for room service, so I’d assumed the same would apply nationwide. I was wrong – the 2 bottles came, along with a bill for £10.25. £10.25 for 2l of water! We had been charged £2.95 for the room service charge alone. Guzzled that down and felt a hell of a lot better and got ready for our evening meal.

There had been a choice of 2 restaurants for dinner – the ‘proper’ restaurant, and brasserie. We decided to splash out seeing as we were ‘on holiday’, and when we went down we knew we’d made the right choice – the brasserie looked like a motorway service station cafe! The restaurant we chose was really lovely – french, classy and amazing food. Even though  I had to pay £23.50 for my fillet of beef with 6 chips it was worth it – cooked to perfection and not a line of fat inside it. The waiters were lovely and did the full on pulling out the chair, refilling glasses routine which it what I like from a restaurant when you are paying those kind of prices.

After dinner we went to the bar for a couple of drinks and listened to the pianist, then went up to the room where we fell straight to sleep. This morning we had breakfast in the brasserie which wasn’t actually as bad as it had looked the night before. We had planned on another swim/sauna/steam session but we were feeling so relaxed and chilled that we couldn’t actually be bothered so headed home when check out time arrived.

Although our weekend hadn’t gone to plan on more than one count, we did have a really lovely time and both of us have felt the benefits. I’d recommend a girlie mini break like ours to anyone, it certainly did us the world of good, but I think a treatment or two each would have been the icing on the cake. If you are planning on going to a hotel which has a spa in it, please make sure that before you book your accommodation, that the spa has availability to treat you, and that you book in with the spa too. Take loads of water with you, its important to stay hydrated after sauna, steaming and spa treatments – en route I had bought a 1.5l bottle of Buxton in Tesco for 60p, and there I was paying nearly £4 for 1l in the hotel! If anyone has any links to websites that do spa deals please let me know, this has really whett my appetite for The Real Deal! While the hotel was nice and we had a fantastic time, I’m not sure I’d go back…. well maybe just for the restaurant!


  1. August 22, 2010 / 11:14 pm

    Sorry to hear about the V tickets, that's the downside with ebay isn't it, too many scammers, hope you manage to get your money back.

    Great review on the spa, enjoyable read :), love your writing style. How disappointing about the non spa treaments but glad you both enjoyed your break regardless. Me and a friend are going for a mini break to Hoar Cross Hall in Staffordshire, can't wait!! Haven't found any discount or late deal sites either, boo.

    Sadie x

  2. August 23, 2010 / 2:53 pm

    Oh Alice, sorry about the V tickets AND the lack of treatments. Fancy that- going to a SPA and not being able to have a treatment 🙁

    Still nice to have a break- so glad you enjoyed it anyway xx

  3. August 29, 2010 / 1:23 pm

    Really late to this! But Spabreak Direct http://www.spabreak.co.uk/ are very good – a lot of their deals include a treatment or two, and when you book you can ask to book more – I went to a lovely place in Surrey with a friend in April, and we had two inclusive treatments, and we booked manicures and pedicures on top. xx

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