Let’s be honest, the former spa at Eastwell Manor Hotel, near Ashford, Kent was not exactly a place to be seen, if you get my drift.
When Champneys Health Spa took over the property my hopes were high – a place of well-being that welcomes the likes of Kylie Minogue, Dame Helen Mirren and Dame Judi Dench, as well 007 Daniel Craig and Brad Pitt. It was also a favourite of the late Diana, Princess of Wales.
After a multi-million pound refurbishment of the health club I returned to find a completely different environment. The chic and contemporary décor, all clean lines in creams and white, a mix of tiled and Amtico-style flooring, designer lighting and polished marble reception desks set the scene and receptionist Abbie added to the favourable first impressions.
She led my guest Jacquie and I on a tour of the two-storey building’s pool, treatment rooms and gym which ended in the restaurant – a welcoming space complete with sofas, coffee tables, leather chairs and a choice of tables for two to eight.
“Enjoy some breakfast to start your day,” she suggested and we found ourselves drinking tea and catching up on news in this lovely room with French windows and fine views across the North Downs.
At 9.30am Abbie obviously realised we would be talking all morning so she provided us with a smart Champneys bag containing our robes, flip-flops and wristband for the lockers. The perfect subtle hint to get on with our day.
In the changing room nothing was forgotten; the electronic touch wristband opened the three-part lockers – hanging space, bag space and another shelf for personal items. Hoorah for sensible storage.
There were large individual changing rooms, six super-spacious showers with frosted glazed doors (complete with hooks on the outside for robes and towels) plus body wash and conditioner dispensers, a hair and make-up area with funky seats, Ghd hairdryers and straighteners, cotton pads and cottonbuds, a spin dryer for wet swimming costumes and plastic bags to put them in, plus a fresh drinking water station. Smart, spacious, clean and functional – sorted.
The 20-metre pool was spotless and the water exceptionally clear, always the first sign of whether a spa is on its game!
With plenty of double cabanas – daybeds with cushions and curtains – surrounding the pool we lazed and read the paper and enjoyed more time to chat before giving the hydrotherapy pool, whirlpool, steamroom and sauna a whirl.
At 10.30am, music wafted across the pool and we joined the Aquarobics class before moving on the treatments reception to check our bookings.
We both opted for a full body massage and after 55 minutes of pummeling Jacquie and I met in the relaxation room to lounge on large armchairs and put our feet up on the matching footstools. With duck-egg blue velour blankets to keep us warm we enjoyed more time to chat and a flick through magazines before lunch.
We stayed in our fluffy robes and flip-flops to eat our three-course lunch which was healthy, nutritious and beautifully presented. The spinach soup was a triumph and our main meals – pan-fried sea bass and roast breast of Gressingham duck were a visual delight and tasted as good as they looked! A cheeky vanilla brûlée completed the treat.
There was not too much time to linger before our afternoon treatments. Jacquie was pleased with her sparkly manicured nails and my gold crystal collagen facial was a special indulgence. After plenty of cleansing with a series of delicately fragranced products, the gold crystal mask did its work. The plant and gold collagen, with natural healing properties and, evidently, nutrients which are absorbed by the skin at 10 times the rate of a traditional face mask left my skin feeling soft and glowing. Lovely, lovely, lovely.
By now Jacquie and I were both so chilled out it was difficult to choose between going to the gym or having a little snooze on the poolside cabanas.
... Perhaps we could try the gym next time.
Now you are probably thinking a spa experience at Champneys is pricey.
Well, call in for the deals.
We enjoyed a £99 spa day for two which included lunch and use of all the facilities. Our treatments were extra, ranging from £45 to £75, but at the time of writing there were further offers available including a £45 treatment giftcard which buys £100-worth of treatments.
MEMBERSHIP FROM £2.50 A DAY
Even more tempting is Champneys Health Club membership which starts from about £2.50 a day.
Standard membership (Mon-Fri 6.30am-10am & 6pm-9pm and Sat-Sun 6.30am-9.30am & 5.30pm-9pm) £69 a month (or £680 a year) plus £150 joining fee
Weekday membership (Mon-Fri 9am-4pm) £69 a month (or £680 a year) plus £100 joining fee
Premier membership, open every day from 6.30am-9pm, £120 a month plus £200 joining fee
I might not be able to resist the temptation …
Visit eastwellmanor.co.uk or email fitness manager firstname.lastname@example.org
Eastwell Manor Hotel, Boughton Lees, Ashford, Kent TN25 4HR
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