With a view of scenic Yorkshire, Andrew Boulton breaks out of his spa treatment comfort zone at Raithwaite Hall Country Retreat …
Due to a combination of ridiculous traffic, my own malfunctioning internal compass and the cruel whims of a malevolent winter it was decidedly dark by the time we arrived at Raithwaite Hall, but anyone sensible enough to arrive in daylight will enjoy one of the most spectacular drives in England on the approach; winding their way through the Yorkshire moors down to the sea and up to what is undoubtedly a striking building and grounds.
The hotel is modern and welcoming, the second of those two qualities can unquestionably be attributed to the warm and engaging staff that greeted us on our arrival and looked after us throughout our stay. The room itself was comfortable and smart, with quite possibly the softest bed known to humanity and a shower so large you could comfortably scrub down a minky whale.
There are the ‘Big Four’ in any spa’s arsenal: the pool, the hot tub, the steam room and the sauna (the unofficial fifth is the spinny thing that dries your trunks). Raithwaite offered all four, although no imaginative additions to the facilities one would expect. Nevertheless, the spa environment is relaxing and cosy. Away from the pool, the treatment rooms are thoughtfully designed to give a calming and indulgent experience. I opted for a Body Polish which was like being sanded down and then greased up, only in a really brilliant way. My wife raised an eyebrow when I opted for this one (even the lady who did the treatment remarked that this wasn’t usually favoured by the chaps), but on inspecting the two kilos of dead skin that I had been relieved of I can’t help but think I made the wise choice.
For all the experiences and facilities offered at a spa, I can’t think of anything more relaxing than eating myself into a food coma at a lovely restaurant. And Raithwaite Hall does not disappoint by any means in the culinary stakes. Or steaks for that matter, as the fillet steak I shovelled (yes shovelled) into my mouth was just about the finest piece of meat there has ever been. That is until I tried my wife’s dish, the delectable pork belly, and entered into complicated and difficult trade negotiations to secure a dinner swap. Breakfast, if anything, was even more gratifying especially as we enjoyed it in the conservatory looking over Raithwaite’s classic Yorkshire views.
The charm of Raithwaite is surely its beautiful setting. ‘Nestled’ is a word often inappropriately used to describe places that are no better than ‘plonked’ or ‘shoved’ into their environment. Raithwaite is the personification of ‘nestlement’ (not a word), delightfully tucked into it’s beautiful landscape and looking entirely at home with its combination of historic and modern buildings.
Hospitality is probably the word that best embodies Raithwaite Hall. We encountered a great many of their staff and each one was noticeably courteous, friendly and genuinely interested in us as their guests. Combine such quality service with a striking environment and it’s difficult to see how one would not enjoy a stay at Raithwaite. If something like a sauna that recreates the sensory experience of living in Jurassic earth is how you choose a spa, then the simplicity of Raithwaite’s offering may not be for you. But if excellent customer care in a delightful environment is your cup of tea then grab your flip flops, give a final warning to your dry skin and come along. It’s time to shower the minky whale friends.
– Explore. Raithwaite is set in such a beautiful part of the country you’d be mad (and/or lazy) not to take the time to appreciate it.
– Eat. For a man who lives mostly on Monster Munch followed by a sense of lingering regret, a delicious experience like this is quite sublime. Order everything.
– Treat. While sitting by the pool reading Nuts and eating Wine Gums may be a tempting proposition, your stay at Raithwaite won’t be complete without a treatment. Be daring, go for something you wouldn’t normally go for.