Lounging around in a robe and slippers, occasionally slipping off your seat for a spell in the steam room, hot tub or sauna isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it most certainly is mine…
I know if my sister was reading this she’d be tutting with disapproval, muttering something about ‘spending my money more wisely’ but hey, that’s what big sisters are for… Meanwhile, I was in for five star treatment on my ‘Sparkling Spring Tranquilitea’ spa break at Rockliffe Hall this week.
Rockliffe Hall is in Darlington which is around an hour’s drive from Newcastle, making it far enough to make it feel like a mini breakaway, but close enough to go along for an afternoon or long weekend. After being greeted with champagne upon arrival, Ashleigh and I were handed our robe and slippers and shown to the sumptuous changing rooms where we picked up a warm towel from the pile (nice touch), and headed into heaven.
It’s clear from the moment you step foot into the spa that attention to detail was a priority. The heated indoor pool takes centre stage, before your breath is literally taken away by the enormous hydro pool/hot tub with its ferocious bubbling jets and fountains. Where on earth to try first?!
We started with a few gentle laps in the pool to loosen up before heading next door and letting the bubbles soothe our aching bones.
I don’t know about you, but my biggest pet hate is hot tub hoggers who sit and wallow all day, leaving less than a centimetre for you to creep into, before awkwardly climbing out again before you end up on their lap – thankfully this is not a problem at Rockliffe Hall (see, I told you it had been well-thought out). The hydro pool is so huge that 30 people could fit in it comfortably, and each segment has its own massage station which caters to individual needs.
The hidden airbeds under the water are perfect for stretching out and enjoying the gentle bubbles, while those with sore muscles should head to what can only be described as oversized taps which generously pour water over your neck and shoulders with a strong stream of water. Those amongst us with serious aches and pains need only stand under the vigorous fountains in the centre of the hydro pool for five minutes while their entire body is bathed in a ferocious jet of water that soothes and massages muscles leaving you feeling refreshed and anew.
Next, we decided to explore the intriguingly-titled ‘Tepidarium’. Once your eyes adjust to the dimly lit room, six beautifully-tiled mosaic beds suddenly swim into view. Shaped to the countours of your body, we climbed onto the heated stone beds, looked up and lost ourselves in the twinkly ceiling and tuned out of our inner monologues and into the soothing spa music that’s subtly played. Utter peace and perfection.
Rockliffe Hall’s spa features a number of well-being rooms, all with weird and wonderful names. From the Tepidarium we dipped a toe into the Tropicarium and allowed the deep heat to open our pores, before slipping into the Caldarium to sit back, close our eyes, and do nothing but breathe gently for fifteen minutes as the aromatic steam infused every pore. Feeling positively serene by now, we decided to brave the Igloo – a room bathed in blue light with an altar of ice flakes in the centre. The idea is to take a handful of ice and rub it on your hot skin to boost circulation and soothe inflammation. Let’s just say this room isn’t for everybody, so it wasn’t long before we retreated back to the Trepidarium and our warm stone beds once more.
Reminiscent of a Victorian shoe shine station, Rockliffe Hall’s foot spa is another must not miss. Essentially a beautifully tiled mosaic bench, at the press of a button your feet become submerged in a whirlpool foot spa where hot and cold pools stimulate sore feet. There’s room for four, so you and your friends can still sit together and chat which is another simple, but effective touch.
Thankfully there are plenty of loungers and cocoon chairs to retreat to when you’re ready for a lie down, all with sumptuous cushions and an up-to-date range of the latest glossy mags and newspapers to read at your leisure. It’s definitely the little touches that make Rockliffe Hall’s spa so special; helpful and unobtrusive staff bring you iced water and fresh fruit smoothies to drink by the pool or sip whilst in the hot tub, while the pre-warmed robe and towels make you feel even more snug and spoilt.
At £47.50 per person, we both agreed our ‘Sparkling Spring Tranquilitea break’ was fantastic value for money. The three hours we had to relax and lounge around flew by all too soon, but the powerful monsoon showers made the getting changed and going back to reality part less painful, not to mention the fact we were only heading upstairs for afternoon tea on the The Brasserie’s beautiful balcony.
Once dressed, we were led to a table overlooking the golf course and grounds and served seasonal afternoon tea. The atmosphere was so peaceful and thankfully the weather was on our side too, which made everything perfect. Tucking into a selection of salmon, ham and red onion relish and cucumber sandwiches before warm fruit scones (which Ashleigh quickly declared to be the best scone she’s ever tasted), we enjoyed a trio of desserts for our third course: mini bakewell tart, carrot cake and Eton mess (the Eton mess was a little pot of PERFECTION – I could happily eat that every day for the rest of my life!) If I was being picky, not having our afternoon tea served on a cake stand wasn’t quite the same. The novelty of eating from a cake stand is part and parcel of afternoon tea for me!
Feeling serene as we headed back to the car, Rockliffe Hall absolutely exceeded my expectations and I have a feeling that it will be hard to beat. The five star spa treatment certainly put a spring in my step and the spa certainly has that wow-factor and high level of customer service made us feel special which is exactly what a spa should do.
*Checks bank balance* ….How soon can I go back?!
– Our ‘Sparkling Spring Tranquilitea’ break included full use of the spa facilities and included afternoon tea, it was possible to upgrade and include a treatment if you wanted to.
– I wouldn’t normally take my phone into a spa, and don’t advocate taking pictures to show courtesy to other spa users, however on this occasion, images were taken discreetly and for the purpose of illustrating this blog post.