A couple of years ago my friend and I decided to enjoy a day out together instead of giving each other Christmas presents. We chose to celebrate in January, to give us something to look forward to in the cold, dark post-Christmas months. And our place of choice? Eden Hall Day Spa. This week we took our annual trip, and had as restorative a time as always, with perhaps the best food so far.
Eden Hall is a most beautiful Victorian building not far from Newark. Built in around 1872 as Elston Towers, a mansion house for preacher Robert Middleton, it is the most stunning place to go and spend a relaxing and restful day. Our only criticism is that there are overnight facilities to stay the night. The setting really is lovely – set back from the main road and surrounded by green fields, the building is magnificent to look at. And despite being converted to a top-class spa, it’s retained its original features inside. And one of the best bits? From the moment you enter, you’re cocooned by its warmth; perfect in January!
Our day started at 9am when we were welcomed by friendly staff offering us a cup of cherry tea. Nice, but not as good as the hot chocolate we enjoyed last year! Checking in is super-easy, and I love that the staff are so knowledgeable and kind; they clearly understand that people are a little disoriented and it takes time to slow down and relax.
Having changed in the incredibly clean and spacious changing rooms, we chose to have a cup of coffee in the Conservatory – a lovely place to relax, plan your day and enjoy the views over the countryside. There’s also a divine breakfast menu to choose from if you’ve had an early start. On arrival you are allocated a lunch-time slot, times for pre-booked treatments and given a gym class timetable, so it’s well worth spending a few minutes getting your head around all of that, however tempting it might be to immediately flop by the pool and read. Don’t be daunted by the prospect of an exercise class; the schedule indicates each class’s intensity and includes a lot of fun options too, like hula-hooping! I did this class last year and as well as getting me out of breath, it made me laugh so much.
My friend had pre-booked a massage, so whilst she went to be thoroughly pampered, I made my first trip to the gym. I’m training to do a 10km at the moment so took the opportunity to do some intervals on the treadmill. I’m not usually a fan of gyms that aren’t my own, but I loved this one. Wide windows let natural light flood in, the machines were easy to use, and the music great! After that I nipped into a toning class and loved the opportunity to do something different. And the day after, I definitely felt it!
We met up for a pre-lunch swim and relax by the pool. I love that there are very few notices, but those there are remind guests to be mindful of the calm and tranquil atmosphere- ensuring that it’s so easy to switch off and genuinely relax. Sadly the outside area of the pool was closed (well, it was frosty and foggy) but we still enjoyed our swim.
By this time I’d thoroughly worked up an appetite for lunch.
The food at Eden Hall is one of its many highlights, and I can’t understand why the team don’t make more of this on their social media and website (although you can view the current menu here). It really is delicious. It’s not often that I find so many options on the menu that I would like, but this is definitely one of them. In addition to an inclusive three course meal, there is an amazing salad and bread bar – with everything from Greek-inspired mezze (think hummous, marinated artichokes and olives), to prawn cocktails, cold meats and fish, beetroot and feta salad, carrot mouli, and all the breads – granary, olive, cheese. You really could just have that and be completely satisfied!
My friend and I both chose Cajun salmon with pineapple, mango and tomato salsa, then polenta and parmesan served with roasted vegetables and vine tomato. They were absolutely pictures – so artfully served that it almost was a shame to eat them. For pudding, the chocolate brownie with mini meringues and Grand Marnier cream was truffle-like and rich, whilst my baked pineapple with lemon sorbet, honeycomb and caramel sauce was light and refreshing.
The staff are polite and lunch was unrushed – we sat for 1.5 hours before moving into the conservatory for complimentary coffee and tea. After that pretty epic meal there was no way we could swim straight away, so we whiled away a good couple of hours reading. Oh, and if you get hungry later on, you can order all kinds of cakes, treats and gelato to enjoy in the Conservatory. I do think they additional food and drinks are rather expensive, considering the overall cost of the day and any treatments. But I suppose this is a captive audience, and it is a day of treats.
The spa area has a multitude of areas for relaxing in – including a saunarium, herbal caldarium, thermal spa suite and massage jets. There used to be the most amazing minty steam room which I loved, but it was done away with in a recent refurb. My favourite areas are the tropical rain shower, thalassotherapy room and warm foot bath. I was disappointed that the minty room had gone, and also the refurb has made this space a little too dark for my liking. But, you know, I can live with that! If you can bear to, make the trip outside to have a soak in the hot tub. It is so tranquil with its view over the gardens, and come dusk, the fairy lights are switched on in the surrounding trees to create a magical environment. The slumber room is also a must-visit with its moulded beds, swinging cocoons and cosy fleece blankets.
All too soon, it’s time to leave. Just one day here is nourishing, restful and good for the soul. Book your day now…
1. Take a couple of bikinis or swimsuits – putting on a damp bikini if you’ve changed for a class or massage is never pleasant.
2. Pack a water bottle. There are several water dispensers dotted around with plastic cups but it’s easier to remember to drink if you’ve got it with you.
3. A good book or magazine is a must!
4. Be prepared to disengage from the rest of the world for the day. There is no reception in the changing rooms, and using your phone in the pool and slumber areas is very discouraged.
5. Watch out for the sale dates and special offers on the website.
6. Don’t plan too much! The day whizzes by incredibly quickly and it’s meant to be about relaxation.