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 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!

Nails of the Day – Barry M Mushroom

I really like Barry M’s range of polishes – they are fantastic quality, long lasting and are normally on special offer in either Superdrug or Boots for 2 for £5.

When Metro Chic et al came out last year, I wasn’t really feeling the whole sludgey nail vibe so I didn’t go for it – this year how ever, I’m aaaaaall about the sludge, so decided to try Mushroom by Barry M for starters.

Two coats, with Poshe topcoat over the top.

I would describe it as a grey-beige sludge. Helpful!? It it supposedly a good dupe for Chanel’s Paticuliere, which I’m not going to bother trying because I’m quite satisfied with the results Barry M has delivered.

 It goes on easily, the brush isn’t stupidly skinny and it looked great after just one coat. I don’t know why but I am never satisfied with just one coat. It looked perfect, but still I had to go for round two – does anyone else have the same issue as me?! Its chic, sophisticated and a really nice autumney nail (gah – it’s meant to be summer!)

I have been wearing it for 3 days now with Poshe topcoat and it’s still in immaculate condition. Highly recommended.

Lilash – Eyelash Growth Stimulator

My eyelashes have always been short, straight and stumpy. So much so that I had considered getting semi-permanent lashes. I set out researching and found that they can actually damage your natural lashes, making them worse than when you first started…. still, I thought it’d be worth it in the long run and I’d just keep on getting them reapplied to avoid the bald-eyed look. Then I stumbled across a YouTube video reviewing Lilash and giving it rave reviews… as I searched on all I could find were good things, so this was the route I decided to go down.

Lilash isn’t available to buy in the UK as yet, although I know of one online shop based in the UK who is trying to become a stockist – if this comes to fruition I will be sure to let you know. You can buy it from, where you will be given a 90 day money back guarantee, or good old eBay. (Don’t forget if you are buying from abroad you could also have to pay customs charges). I bought direct from Lilash on their Black Friday Sale – if I remember rightly I got a 30% discount and paid around £70.

Lilash say that if you give them a video testimonial they will give you a tube for free – this was my plan but for some reason I never got round to it (that procrastination I spoke about earlier kicking in!) I wonder how soon they would actually get round to sending you your free tube anyhow seeing as the one I paid for was hard enough to get hold of. I waited ages. Ages. Weeks and weeks and weeks. I emailed them numerous times and tried investigating to get a phone number by using all their trading names inputted into Google, but kept arriving at a dead end. In the end it was a member on their Facebook page who gave me contact information for them. It seemed lots of people had had similar problems. Anyway, when I got through they said that my order had been cancelled (who knows why?!) but they sorted it out and within a few weeks my shiny new tube of Lilash was at my door (and yes I had to pay customs. Grrrr).

So – it’s a tube which is similar to a see-through liquid eyeliner. You have to apply it like you would a liquid eyeliner, at night before you go to bed and let it get to work.

I decided to document my progress via YouTube videos. The first video is so rubbish that I’m not going to bother linking to it – I think you can still see results from 2 weeks to 7 weeks….

If you can’t be bothered to sit through all of those videos let me summarise it….. it works. Really well. Before I started the treatment my eyelashes were so short that when I looked upwards none of my lashes went above the crease of my eye socket. By the 7th week nearly all of my eyelashes touched just under my eyebrows. The outer corner lashes were some of the first to grow, as well as the inner most lashes. The middle lashes were the last to lengthen but they did get there in the end.

The tube of Lilash lasted me around 9 weeks. My lashes didn’t seem to get any (or much) longer than they were at 7 weeks of use. Once I stopped using it I decided to just leave my lashes and see what happened. For 5 months my lashes remained super-long, then all of a sudden reverted back to their former glory. i.e. now!

If you’re looking to grow your eyelashes I really, wholeheartedly recommend this product. I think that Black Friday is in October so it’s not long until they’ll have a discount again. Their Facebook page seems to be much better maintained these days and there are even some promo codes posted every once in a while. Please let me know if you decide to buy it, and keep me updated on your progress – I’m really interested to see if it works as well for others as it did for me, or if it’s down to the individual.


Hello! I am Alice, 26 years old, newly single mama of two hailing from North London. Love cosmetics more than your average girl (well, more than most of my friends!) and have been advised to start a blog… so here I am, it’s not as if I don’t have anything else to do with my time. Ha! I am a serial avoider-of-what-I-should-be-doing, and that’s exactly why this blog is being started!

This is me…. hi!

So – I hope to test out some products, do some swatches, tests of product vs product and just generally chatter. I’m up for videos, pics, anything really, so if you have any ideas or suggestions please get in touch and let me know.

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