Taking time out is always important, but it’s even more special when you are on the road to recovery post-cancer. Here Spabreaker, Julie Ross, talks about her Recovery Retreat at Lifehouse Spa and Hotel in Essex.
In December 2012 at the age of 49 I was diagnosed with breast cancer; devastating news to anyone and upsetting for my husband and three children. The NHS were amazing and immediately worked on a treatment plan. Although gruelling, the chemotherapy, operation, and radiotherapy were completed by late summer. My sister-in-law had purchased a Spabreaks.com voucher for me just before I was diagnosed but due to the length of the treatment it expired. My husband then contacted Spabreaks.com who didn’t hesitate to extend the voucher and also suggested a location that would be perfect for me to relax and recover; Lifehouse Spa and Hotel in Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex. I also timed the break to coincide with the end of my daughter’s final year university exams.
When you first arrive at Lifehouse you are met with a lovely, long, winding driveway, keeping the hotel nicely tucked away from the main road. One bonus you see straight away is that there is plenty of parking, which is great as you don’t need to stress about finding somewhere to park. Don’t be fooled by the way the building looks from the outside, although it seems basic, it is beautiful once inside. The staff during check-in were very friendly and even gave a tour of the hotel and spa facilities, so you feel completely relaxed knowing where everything is. You are given an itinerary of you stay, which is a great idea as it lets you know when your treatments are booked in, as well as your meal times – especially helpful if you are a bit forgetful like me!
The hotel is modern and spacious with large windows flooding the public areas with natural light. Decor is relaxed using natural colours on modern fabrics and furniture. The rooms are large, bright, and totally luxurious – perfect for a peaceful night’s sleep. The bathroom is very impressive and spotless, with ESPA toiletries for those that pack light.
The great thing about the spa area is that the reception gives a central point, and from there all the facilities are easily found. The gym is well equipped and spacious, and the pool area is clean with towels in abundance! The salt inhalation room was also strangely relaxing! We would recommend visiting the pool facilities in the evening when it is dark outside, as the lighting at this time gives a really relaxing ambiance.
My daughter and I were both booked in for a 55 minute Recovery Treatment. This is a perfect treatment for anybody, not just someone recovering from an illness like I am, as it gives you a chance to choose how you would like your treatment to be. Both of us were met by our therapist who immediately made us feel comfortable and relaxed. The Recovery Treatment starts with a chat about you and what kind of thing you are looking for, which means that the treatment is tailored to your needs and helps you get the most possible from the session. From this I chose a back, neck, and shoulder massage with ESPA essential oils, followed by a mini facial, and my daughter had a full body massage. A unique part of the treatment is that you are shown some relaxation breathing techniques at the end of your session and are given an inhaler stick to take home with you. This is a lovely addition to what is already an amazing treatment and gives you something that will remind you of your stay.
The restaurant at Lifehouse has a nice modern feel to it with the tables well spaced out. This is great as it means that you don’t feel like you are intruding on someone else’s dinner from sitting too close. The food here was one of the highlights of our stay, better than we could have imagined. Breakfast had a great selection of continental and cooked food, so there was something for everyone. Dinner was delicious, especially the puddings which were perfect for someone with a sweet tooth! The portions were perfectly sized as well, leaving us satisfied but not uncomfortably full.
Lifehouse is perfectly located in the countryside, with beautiful gardens surrounding the whole resort. We were lucky enough to have a garden view room, allowing us to look across the whole landscape. Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to go out for a walk around the grounds but would definitely recommend it to anyone visiting in better weather!
Overall Lifehouse is a fantastic place to stay! We would both definitely recommend it to anyone seeking a relaxing break away, where the staff are there to cater to any of your needs and make you feel 100% comfortable.
– If, like us, you have small feet then we would suggest you bring your own flip flops for the spa. Although flip flops are provided, they are very large (understandable as they have to fit everyone) and so are quite difficult to walk in – we felt like we could trip over at any moment!
– Pack light as the hotel has an informal air – guests use the robes provided in the rooms. Have something smart/casual for dinner though.
– Relax and enjoy!
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