English country house hotel meets Vegas at the wonderfully eclectic Ragdale Hall in Leicestershire, where rejuvenation is high on the menu. Jane Anderson reports
Ragdale Hall has been revitalizing mums (and dads) for 45 years. From its humble beginnings in 1973 when it was purchased by Slimming Magazine’s Audrey Eyton (of the F-Plan diet) who turned it into Ragdale Hall Health Hydro, to today, owned by Michael Issacs and Penny Nesbitt, it’s still a haven for those who want to shed a few pounds, though these days it’s more about wellness and relaxation.
It’s a place to come and have some fun and pampering with your fellow mums, partner, or for some sweet alone time, hanging out in your white waffly dressing gown with a cup of mint tea or a glass of champagne before your next divine treatment.
Arriving at Ragdale Hall, the rolling countryside in front of this mighty red brick castle is sure to blow any cobwebs away; especially uplifting if you’ve arrived from the city, juggling work, school runs and the weekly shop!
Inside this sprawling spa hotel, there’s a wonderfully eclectic décor across its many chill out zones and restaurants. My favourite was the Greenhouse lounge area with its cactus wallpaper, macramé lightshade, succulents, and hanging chair, located next door to the quirky ‘mind gym’ with its puzzles and colouring books, designed to give your brain a gentle workout.
The glorious thermal spa lies at the heart of Ragdale. Here, you can take the time to indulge in a proper swim in the indoor pool before heading to the array of thermal spa experiences including a warming scented room with a large crystal, a volcanic salt bath room, and even a cavernous candle pool (though the candles are electronic ones which was slightly disappointing if not practical).
Don’t miss a stimulating time in the cave shower where you can choose from thunderstorm, mist or full on freezing waterfall, guaranteed to make your skin tingle. The Rose Sauna has a great view of the outdoor meandering pool with its jets and waterfalls to massage tight shoulders.
There are plenty of fitness classes to join throughout the day including the Aqua Gym with its submerged training equipment and night-clubby neon wall lights – all very buzzy and uplifting.
The highlight of Ragdale is its gorgeous new rooftop infinity pool. Climbing up stairs past an extraordinary fanning gold cascade of a sculpture and coloured perspex stools with a touch of the Las Vegas about them and you’re up onto the raised lounge level with swinging chairs and loungers to flop on. Steps lead down into the sublime outdoor infinity pool with that epic countryside view. There are jets to massage you and best of all the steamy pool stays open late so you can even catch a sunset from there.
Once you’ve booked a treatment at Ragdale, all you have to do is plonk yourself in a comfy chair in the spa atrium and wait for your gentle, smiley therapist to collect you. My 50-minute Blissful Face & Back Therapy was truly blissful! Eating in the main dining room feels a tad like an institution as half the guests are in their dressing gowns and half dressed for dinner, though the atmosphere is lively with some hen groups and birthday celebrations. The menu is coded by a rough calorie guide, but there’s no stigma about eating exactly what you fancy.
The Verandah Bar is a funkier option with pale cream wood clad walls, fun coloured glass chandeliers, and the feel of a designer tearoom with yummy cakes if you just want a tea break and a bar if you need a tipple!
Surprisingly there are quite a few shopping opportunities at Ragdale with two boutiques and a full on beauty shop stocking Clarins, Elemis, Decleor, Sap Find and OPI. There’s also extra value with regular talks and workshops such as Adrian Hunt talking home therapies in the hotel lounge.
My fellow mum, Anna, and I have a cheeky pedicure each before we leave on the Sunday. There’s an energetic workout class going on next-door with plenty of get up and go. Happy sounds amongst the birdsong and sunshine at this all-singing, all-dancing wellness retreat that’s kept pace with the modern day wellness yet hung onto its traditional spa ethos.
A two-night midweek break at Ragdale Hall Spa costs from £342 per person including all meals, a 50-minute Bliss Face and Back Therapy or a choice of two 25-minutes treatments, and use of facilities, complimentary robe throughout your stay and flip-flops.
Nearest airport is East Midlands.
Nearest main train line station is Leicester.