On a road trip across the North West, Spabreaks.com’s Danielle Deer revisits some long standing favourites as well as discovering new gems…
I started by visiting Carden Park Hotel, which has always been a favourite spa of mine in the North West and they have just had plans signed off for a brand new spa to be built, and I can’t wait to see it. It will be adult only and will run separately to the other facilities and the hotel but the existing spa facilities will continue to operate for children and hotel guests.
The existing spa is already lovely and it’s perfect for groups. You can imagine sitting there with a couple of drinks and great views over the golf course. When I visited it was one of those days where it was grey and the sun was shining through. It’s a great group venue with loads of good facilities. There are also activities available including Go Ape, archery, mountain biking and vineyards to visits. They are introducing new packages at the moment and they are especially good for groups.
I stayed overnight at DoubleTree by Hilton Chester and it’s so welcoming, I loved it. At all Doubletrees you get a warm cookie on arrival, which is really a really nice touch. At Chester they have just added 79 new bedrooms as well, which are really modern. There’s also a newly opened restaurant – The Garden Terrace – which has a really nice atmosphere. The whole hotel is light, but The Garden Terrace is decorated in dark blues and greens with seductive lighting and leather chairs – it’s got a very different vibe with candles everywhere.
The restaurant feels like more of a couples environment although there’s another side that’s great for groups where you can have more of your own space. There’s also an outdoor area for the summer where sit out in the courtyard. The hotel also has a Marco Pierre White restaurant which is a la carte and perfect for special occasions in the North West.
The spa area is really charming too. As soon as you get into the pool area you feel calm, it’s dark but the pool is lit up so it’s really atmospheric. There’s a sauna, steam room and experience showers, and you swim into an almost cave-like space to a hydro pool which is huge with really high ceilings making it almost feel like a secret hideaway. There’s also lots of space around the pool for loungers. None of it is massive but there’s a lot of relaxation space for the size of the pool.
As I was staying overnight I was able to use the spa later in the evening, which I highly recommend. It’s less busy then, but really warming and beautiful especially in the winter. In addition to the facilities there are 14 treatment rooms as well as a manicure and pedicure room and a relaxation room with beanbags to sink into.
The spa is also having a refurb later in the year, which will extend the pre treatment relaxation area with more facilities and really take the experience to a new level.
Ribby Hall is a very different kind of experience in the North West. It’s a holiday park essentially, and feels like a village, with all the usual activities you might expect. Then, right at the top of the hill, there is the spa hotel which is adult-only in stark contrast to the rest of the village. There are lots of facilities including a big outdoor thermal area, a sleep room, a really light relaxation area with floor-to-ceiling windows so it’s a really complete spa experience. However, you can also offset it with other parts of the experience such as having coffee in one of the pretty little tea shops in the village.
I think a real perk of Ribby Hall is that if you stay for two nights you can really feel like it’s a proper holiday. You can spend one day in the spa and really indulge, but then spend another day exploring some of the other things to do. It’s another really good group experience and as it’s adults only in the spa, it’s great for a romantic break too. It’s really beautiful, a true spa experience that you can tailor and enjoy in the way that you most want to.
The spa and hotel at The Spa @ Suites Hotel are separate from one another which means it is also the most beautiful day spa. All dark purples and silver throughout, it has a really classy, elegant vibe. There’s a thermal area with all the heat and ice experiences you could ask for, and in the middle there’s a relaxation area as well.
Away from that there’s another relaxation room and it’s very strict – it’s very much about being quiet and not talking, it’s all about being a true spa experience. It’s another spa that’s good for groups but it’s better to keep it small as they try to limit the number of people in the spa at any given time. It’s also great for couples who want to spend quality time together, but it’s 10 minutes outside Liverpool city centre, so if you are staying overnight you can go out in the evening as well.
Last but by no means least on my road trip, I went to DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel and Spa Liverpool. I have stayed here before and I the concierge, Billy, was a real character and major highlight. This time, he didn’t disappoint either. Billy is possibly the cheeriest man I have ever come across – my bags were in my room before I got there, and he was always so lovely and chatty. He’s almost makes the experience at the hotel and gets great reviews on TripAdvisor.
The hotel itself however, is grand and you can get everywhere on foot. It used to be an old courthouse so there are lots of details such as big ballrooms, high ceilings and lots of space. I did stay in a suite which was a real treat. They also have some rooms with a mezzanine level, and I think they are great for visiting groups who want somewhere to congregate – especially if it’s a hen party or a special occasion.
The bar is somewhere you can definitely see yourself having cocktails as well, and while I think it’s another great group venue, in truth it’s so versatile, so again it’s great for couples. It’s very elegant but with a really old school feel to it.
The spa opened a few years ago and has a brand new, modern vibe to it. They have a room for your consultations before treatment, with teas and coffees available, and painted in soft blues and whites. Then there is a small spa with a hydro pool and loungers, a balcony that sits over half the pool but is a nice space for groups to congregate and have a glass of Prosecco. There’s also a sauna, steam, experience showers, and a dark and cosy relaxation room.
There is a lot of emphasis on the treatment process as well. A lot of the treatments are journeys, and at the start of your visit you get a card that tells you which facilities to use first and how to make the best of your break.
Finally, after all that they’ve got a big focus on afternoon tea in the library, which is really one of the most beautiful experiences. As a connoisseur of afternoon tea, it’s one of the loveliest I have seen!
What I have really noticed over the last few years, is how much spas are stepping up their game and competing on a whole new level of excellence. It’s a sweeping statement to make, but in the North West, the venues are really setting themselves apart. There’s so much to offer – it’s a really great escape whether you’re looking for a day experience or a weekend away!
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