Next door neighbour to the historic Morritt Country House Hotel near Barnard Castle, The Garage Spa has been on my radar for some time. Since being beautifully transformed from an ancient stopping station into a luxuriously-furnished boutique spa just over a year ago, I had a feeling The Garage Spa was going to be something special.
Richie and I decided to treat ourselves to a spa break for Christmas this year and I’m so glad we did! 2015 is all about saying yes to new things and that means exploring new places across the North East, so even though the spa was over an hours drive away, I couldn’t resist the chance to try somewhere new so we booked the Moonlit Drive evening package for only £35pp and hopped in the car as the sun began to set.
Rushing out of the cold and into the warmth of a roaring log fire in the ‘forecourt’ of the rustic country lodge, Richie and I were soon invited to change into our warm robes and leave the real world behind. After a short tour of the spa and its facilities, Richie and I melted effortlessly into the spa’s luxurious surroundings.
I don’t know about you, but my ideal spa experience demands more than your average hot tub/steam room/sauna combination and happily, The Garage exceeded my expectations almost immediately. From the six individually furnished changing rooms with enormous rainfall showers and personalised toiletries, to the cocoon chairs and deep armchairs with soft, fluffy throws perfect for snuggling into, you really feel right at home here.
As we quickly discovered, the beauty of booking the Moonlit Drive experience meant that after a while, we had the whole spa to ourselves! Slipping between the warm Salt Relaxation Room and therapeutic steam room, we felt the stresses and strains of Christmas, 2014 (and the after-effects of our New Years Eve hangovers) slip away. Dipping our toes into the heated bubbles of the wooden barrel hot tubs, powerful jets pounded warm water on our aching shoulders and lower backs before we dared each other to take a dip in the icy cold ‘plunge pool’…
Next, we popped our heads outside to the Secret Garden, where a quirky coal-fired Shepherds Hut sauna, sunken seating area and enormous outdoor hot tub greeted us. Now this, is how to score extra points! Full of hidden surprises and little touches like our pre-heated robes laid out ready for our arrival, hot tubs that you can control yourself, outdoor showers and the coolest sauna I have ever seen, The Garage really do know how to spoil you.
A handful of stars glittered brightly in the inky black night sky above us, as spotlights cast a warm glow in the steamy air around us, creating the perfect spa ambiance. Despite it being only five degrees outside, we were perfectly warm in our Secret Garden and sat back in perfect bliss and watched the bubbles froth and multiply between our toes. If our evening wasn’t already perfect enough, a glass of chilled prosecco for me and an icy cold beer for Richie found their way to our watery haven and we sat for almost an hour in our outdoor hot tub before being invited back inside for a complimentary mud pit treatment!
I don’t want to give away too many of The Garage Spa’s secrets and spoil the magic for you, but while you’re there you might like to treat yourself to one of their sumptuous additional treatments. Our 45 minute Mud Pit Treatment is just one of their innovative ‘MOT treatments’ designed to cleanse and tone your skin and invigorate the senses. Using Rasul mud from the Austrian Alps that smells like cinnamon, we took a seat on the heated marble benches and enjoyed an influx of warm steam to clear our airways as we covered ourselves top to toe in mud.
Richie and I couldn’t help but giggle as we covered ourselves in mud and transformed ourselves into mud monsters. The mud pit chamber is gently lit with ever-changing lights, one minute you’re bathed in deep green light, and the next cool blue or fiery red. As we sat in the now dry heat and let the mud soak in, we rubbed salt flakes over our skin to exfoliate as the ‘rains’ came from discreet jets in the ceiling. We felt a world away from daily life, suddenly emails and work didn’t matter – only laughter and relaxation and well-being.
After hosing ourselves down, we popped our heads into the other treatment rooms – the Hammam – a tiled room with a luxurious heated tile bed that’s generously draped in towels and heated to body temperature to help relax your muscles during a treatment and the amazing Dry Float tank, a warm water bed to lie back and relax on. If that isn’t enough, there’s also the ultra private Cabriolet Hot Tub – a beautiful circular silver bath on secluded outdoor terrace, gently lit by candlelight in the evening and completely cut off from the world.
There was just enough time for one last dip in the hot tub before an invigorating rainfall shower experience in the cool bathroom-style changing rooms. Once dried and dressed we returned to the roaring fire lobby where fresh glasses of fizz and canapes awaited us…
Five star treatments, full of surprises and plenty to keep you occupied – I can’t recommend The Garage Spa enough!
Without a doubt I’ll be back, sooner rather than later.