From the get go, you could tell that this is a place that prides itself on person-centered service. We drove, but if we were to get the train, we were offered a free pick up from Thorpe-le-Soken, the nearest station. I have to admit, the thought did cross my mind to see if they could use the same chauffeur service to take me back to our car in the car park after I spent the day being so relaxed.
This isn’t just a sauna, steam room and swimming pool kinda spa hotel. Although they do have all three of these facilities and the swimming pool is particularly special – the sun even broke the habit of a lifetime and came out, shining through the glorious floor to ceiling windows. The hydro-pool is much like a giant bath in which I could honestly have spent all day. If you want a top tip, we were struggling to stop floating away while relaxing on the seats with headrests and water jets behind us, but funnily enough after the buffet lunch we didn’t float so much. Funny that isn’t it?
The salt inhalation room is a little less overbearing than the steam room and leaves your skin actually feeling like you have moisturised. As you might expect, the plunge pool is a small, square and very, very cold… it wasn’t too bad save for the fact I shot out of it so quickly I nearly lost my bikini in front of bewildered spa veterans who had been sitting in it for a couple of minutes with no problems. The relaxation room was probably one of my favourite features however – I don’t understand why more spa’s don’t have these, so it’s definitely worth spending some time there post-treatment.
The range of treatments that Lifehouse has to offer is mind blowing. We were having a look at the leaflet and you can even have food allergy testing. You can book yourself on a full-on wellness break with a consultation and treatments tailored to you. I’m usually quite a fidget, but my ESPA Swedish full body massage was so relaxing, I thought it had only been 10 minutes, and not the full 55 when it finished. The spa staff are very friendly and well trained (Lily, who did my massage even wished me luck for an upcoming job interview as I left), and it is absolutely screamingly obvious that they enjoy their job and are treated well. I haven’t been that relaxed without the aid of alcohol for a long long time, and they even go through aftercare with you so you don’t ruin all the hard work.
Seeing my Mum’s reaction when she drove down the drive to Lifehouse was priceless – it is after all, truly breathtaking. Set in Thorpe Hall gardens, Lifehouse is ALL about views. You can sit and soak your feet in the foot baths while gazing out of the floor-to-ceiling windows, or have lunch looking at the tranquil lake complete with waddling ducks – I can’t tell you what type of ducks they are, my eyesight isn’t that good. They have wellington boots in reception for you to borrow to explore the grounds – when my Mum asked what they were for I can’t say I wasn’t tempted to tell her that the spa area gets quite wet. We would have loved to have time to have a brisk, fresh walk around the grounds after, but we got word of an incident on the road we needed to take home and had to leave pretty abruptly (or we would of missed the X-Factor final).
We ate lunch in the upstairs restaurant which is also a juice bar – it was a buffet lunch with three courses. I had pasta salad and ratatouille, two rolls and a cake, and unfortunately filled myself up before I could try any more. You can tell the ingredients are fresh and the food is prepared by hand, it’s in the taste. The cakes in particular were enjoyed by my Mum, and were so well presented I actually didn’t want to eat mine. With the juice bar overlooking a small pond, it has outside seats which you could sit in and be whisked away to the South of France on a hot day.
Having visited previously for an overnight stay I can give it to you on good authority that the breakfast and dinner are of the same high quality. The atmosphere for dinner is warm and friendly and it’s a great way to end a spa day, getting ready and feeling all clean and popping to the restaurant for some nice, full-flavoured food.
If you can’t get there overnight, at least go for a day. My Mum, who has never been before, was fully converted to the Lifehouse way within one day and one treatment. She already wants me to book us in overnight for her birthday… I haven’t got the heart to tell her I’ve already bought her some really nice tea towels.