The Tennyson Suite
Inside the spa area
Where: Grayshott Spa, Surrey
Who went: Kimberley Smith & Linda Hookem Smith
Treatments: Two-days, one-night weekend break with Rose Cocoon Wrap treatment
In a nutshell: Escape to the countryside to a historical spa and health getaway, a stone’s throw from sprawling National Trust grounds
Best for: Indulgent de-stressing with a health focus or a fab kick start to a post-baby health regime
Watch out for: The evening lull as health-conscious guests turn in early
Review: “As soon as we turn into Grayshott’s gravel drive, an enveloping calm surrounds us. Coming from London via the motorway, the fresh air and serenity is positively bursting from the place, albeit in a soothingly gentle way. Nestled within acres of National Trust lands, the friendliness of the staff, comprehensive tour of the facilities and having our bags whisked directly off to our room gets us off to a great start.
“The old building, once rented by poet Lord Tennyson (whose name adorns one of the largest suites), has been extended and modernised but retains its Victorian charms. Reminiscent of its health and fitness retreat past, Grayshott has a very caring, almost medical element to its treatments and consultations. This focus is reassuring and friendly and puts health, fitness and wellbeing to the front of your mind, which is especially pertinent for pregnant visitors.
“Every guest is offered a chat with the staff nurse and all mums-to-be will have their condition noted, so the therapists ensure treatments are moderated accordingly. With a well kitted out gym, frequent exercise and well-being classes plus access to a nutritionist, if it’s post-baby body advice you’re after or a health overhaul to give your weigh tloss plans a boost, Grayshott’s an ideal place to get motivated. Mums-to-be are well catered for too, with diet advice to ensure you’re giving you and your baby all the essential nutrients for keeping you both strong and healthy, and advice on pregnancy niggles such as swollen ankles, aches and pains.
“The treatment I had was the Rose Cocoon body Wrap as a luxurious treat. Suitable for anyone including mums-to-be in the second and third trimester, it gently cleanses, using skin-soothing properties of damask rose, that leaves your skin feeling deliciously silky.
“My therapist began by washing my feet while explaining the treatment. She then stepped out of the room to give me time to change into the paper knickers provided (nicer than the sound!) and settle myself on the reclining bed. For mums-to-be recline at an angle comfortable angle that doesn’t put pressure on their bump, but anyone else can lie flat.
“The treatment begins with exfoliation that is designed for sensitive skin. The exfoliate is crushed almond husks which are a gentler alternative to salt or sugar scrubs. My therapist then warms the shower to allow me to rinse the product off and gives me plenty of time to dry off and get comfortable again before returning to the room to apply the moisturising rose-scented products. She coats my skin with a gentle massage and finishes with a to-die-for foot massage and gentle scalp rub, though this is optional if you don’t want your hair messing up!
Then the wrapping up begins. For non-pregnant guests, this is done in plastic sheets, which keeps your body heat close to the skin, allowing it to better absorb the essential oils and moisture from the products. For mums-to-be, you don’t want to be getting too hot and bothered, so the you’ll be covered in a fluffy white towel, which keeps you warm and comfortable but not too hot.
Once I am cocooned, my therapist turns up the soothing music and leaves me to relax for 15 minutes, while my skin soaks up the products and my senses perk up with the uplifting damask rose scent. When she returns I bring myself back to reality, totally relaxed and, after being instructed to leave the products on for as long as possible, I leave feeling floaty, my skin a-glow.
“General facilities at the spa are excellent, with a roomy gym and plenty of brand new machines, should you wish to have a workout. The pool is new, clean and quiet with a small hydrapool with jets and fountains, separate from the main swimming area. As with many spas, the steam room, sauna, plunge pool and relaxation rooms are separated for men and women so bear this in mind when planning your couples break. Elsewhere, the pool, gym and exercise classes can all be enjoyed together, as can the complementary tea and coffee area where you can sup a cuppa and snack on fruit while browsing magazines in your robe.
“Staff are fabulously helpful, from fetching fresh towels to recommending dishes on the menu and talking you through treatment options. Nice touches include iced flannels to take into the steam room and sauna and organised early morning walks around the grounds and surrounding national trust woodlands.
The fabulousness of your room will depend on your priorities and budget as Grayshott caters for guests with a wide range of requirements. If you’re heading to the spa for a last taste of freedom before baby makes three, you can go all out on the luxury and book one of the fantastic suites for the full pampering experience. If you’d prefer to concentrate on your health, diet and getting active, you may prefer one of the simper, single rooms as you’ll be spending most of your time using the facilities.
“Classes include relaxing options such as yoga or more energetic (and-less-suitable-if-you’re-pregnant) spinning.
“Food will be included in your package, and is another reminder of Grayshott’s healthy image. An far updated and tastier version than the lemon juice and maple syrup diets of old, you’ll notice the famous Grayshott plates when you head to lunch. These will be explained in your heath assessment but the gist is that colour coding helps you plate up the buffet-style lunch with healthy proportions of carbs, salads, meats and proteins. Mums-to-be are encouraged to plate up a snack for mid-morning and afternoon when you might find yourself have an energy dip. The kitchens will keep this in the fridge for you until you want it. And of course, if you’re especially hungry, you can ignore your colour-coding and load up your plate with no judgemental looks from the lovely members of staff.
“Evening entertainment is put on daily. We attended a talk discussing ways of letter go of negative energy and in essence, thinking yourself happy. These talks are usually by an expert in health or wellbeing and if they pique your interest, you can book a one-on-one session to discuss them further. Otherwise, sports and films are regularly shown in the cinema room and you can borrow DVDs for no extra charge to watch in your room.
“Did we achieve the promised health on departure? Well, a certain serenity definitely surrounded us on our journey home!”
If you’re a mum-to-be, prepare for your trip with Grayshott’s blog post on enjoying the spa in pregnancy.
Price: Two-day a la carte spa breaks from £420 with two treatments included and access to all facilities
Treatments highlights: Rose Cocoon Body Wrap, £67 for 55 minutes. Maternity Reflexology specifically for mums-to-be, £56 for 40 minutes. Reiki, for anyone or tailored for mums-to-be, £82 for 65 minutes.