All hail Ragdale

by Caroline.High

Great treatments, good food, unashamed indulgence... there are plenty of reasons to join the regulars at Ragdale Hall in Leicestershire

I love spas and am a regular visitor to my ‘local’, Ragdale Hall, near Melton Mowbray. Every time I head off in the car across the rolling Leicestershire countryside towards Ragdale, my excitement mounts (well, even 50-somethings are allowed, aren’t they?) at the thought of a few days’ pampering and indulgence.

And from the moment my car is parked for me, and my suitcase whisked away by friendly staff, I’m already beginning to relax.  There’s a welcoming drink while I register – it’s these little things that make Ragdale just a bit special.

So I’m shown to my beautiful room (there’s an ongoing bedroom refurbishment programme at present, but with minimum disruption), where I switch off my mobile phone (yippee!), change into my swimming costume, don the fluffy dressing gown waiting for me in the wardrobe and head downstairs.

The first thing I usually do is have a quick wander round (I don’t bother with the official tour any more, but I always like to take in the feel of the place again). Then I treat myself to a little something in the sunny Verandah Bar, where I always have difficulty choosing between the array of scrummy organic cakes. And shall it be herbal tea or a juice? Decisions, decisions…

Next, it’s off to Ragdale’s state-of-the-art thermal spa – ’12 luxurious and unique heat and water experiences’ they say, and I’ll second that.  I wiggle my toes in delight when my tootsies first feel the bubbling water of the footbath. The Waterfall Pool is kept at a constant 34°, the flickering candles and mood lighting in the Candle Pool are just heavenly, there are experience showers and (for the brave – not me!) the ice fountain.

Time to dry off and head off for something to eat. I’m a real foodie, and always impressed that I can eat so indulgently here, yet so healthily. There’s a mouth-watering selection of hot and cold dishes at the buffet for lunch, and the comfortable wood-panelled dining room makes the perfect backdrop for a relaxed three-course dinner in the evening.

I always try to catch a quick swim in the pool before breakfast (which is served in the room) then it’s time for the serious stuff – treatments! Over two or three days, heaven on earth for me is a back and shoulder massage, a facial, and a foot treatment, so I wait in the airy atrium for my name to be called…

Elemis, Decleor, Clarins, Li’Tya – all the big (and beautiful) names are here, the therapists are charming and I drift off, as I normally do, as my feet are pampered and massaged with an Elemis Sole Delight (luxurious foot bath, pedicure, conditioning foot mask, and massage, £40). I’ve also tried a Reiki treatment from the list of holistic therapies, which was quite an emotional – and hugely helpful – experience.

There’s a lot to do at Ragdale, including fitness and relaxation classes, and a gym if that’s your bag. Although I’ve yet to sample the delights of the latter, I have tried the relax and unwind class. And yes, it worked. If I’m there on my own, I take a book on my visit, or some patchwork, although I’m usually asleep in a comfortable chair (or even a bed in one of the quiet places) before I’m past the first chapter or make a first stitch. Ragdale? It’s magic!