Bath, home of the UK’s only hot springs, has been famed as a spa town since 60AD, when the Romans built baths and a temple in the valley of the River Avon. Now the beautiful Somerset city is well known as a centre of relaxation and pampering, so I’ve come to the area in search of the most relaxing experiences possible.
Last week, I spent two nights at the stunning Homewood Park Hotel (read my review), a grand Georgian country house just six miles from Bath. The hotel is all about relaxation and indulgence, so what better way to while away a day than at The Spa, a sleek, modern space set within the hotel’s picturesque gardens.
a mind, body and soul philosophy…
The Spa’s treatment menu has been created with “a mind, body and soul philosophy”, so between these luxurious Elemis treatments, the Champagne Nail Bar, and the cocktail delivery service from the bar – this really is the perfect place to totally unwind.
I started in the outdoor heated pool, for a gorgeous dip in spite of the crisp Autumn air, but after a quick swim the call of the spa’s interior was much too inviting. The glossy, modern space, with grey stone tiled walls and huge windows looking out onto the beautiful grounds, is the perfect place to chill out, and after a few minutes in the enormous hydrotherapy pool I was officially unwound. Waiting for our treatments, Sam and I alternated between the pool and the thermal suite, starting with the beautiful steam room, a dimly lit space with a ceiling studded with tiny coloured lights which took me right back to the hammams in Morocco. Ten minutes in that exotic room, surrounded by swirling steam and the invigorating scent of eucalyptus, was enough to leave me feeling totally cleaned out and really uplifted, while the sweet-smelling dry heat of the Swedish sauna really opened up the pores for a fabulous deep cleanse.
After a warm shower, and enough time reclining on the pool side loungers to dry off, it was time for our treatments. In a beautifully designed treatment room, my therapist checked my skin type ready for the absolutely amazing Absolute Spa Ritual – a two hour treatment combining a deep tissue massage with a facial.
All the treatments at The Spa use the luxurious Elemis products, which were amazing quality and rich with exquisite ingredients, like the Frangipani Monoi Oil, which fuses Tahitian monoi and coconut oil with frangipani flowers for serious moisturisation, and which Elemis promise will help you “drift away to Polynesia”. I’m not sure I made it that far, but drift I did; the oil smelled incredible, and the massage – a blend of classic massage techniques with medium to strong pressure designed to realign deeper layers of muscles and connective tissue – was exactly what I need. Working from a small laptop on the road gives me some chronic neck and shoulder pains, and the incredible masseuse melted away those deep upper back tensions until I felt amazing.
Deep tissue massage can involve some slight discomfort, and I did feel strong twinges as the therapist worked my shoulders, which were pretty locked up, but after the initial pain I felt instantly better: with muscle tensions, a little pain is usually required to fix the problem. But if that doesn’t sound like your bag, don’t forget to tell your therapist so that they can use a lighter pressure.
Next door, enjoying the two hour men’s treatment Total Time Out, Sam did exactly that; he prefers a more soothing, soft massage so requested a lighter pressure. The de-stress massage oil, a fusion of rosewood, melissa, marjoram, geranium, rosemary, lavender and chamomile, left him feeling totally chilled out, and smelled wonderful. His therapist made a beeline for the knots in Sam’s upper back, which have been causing him a lot of problems, and cleared them all up, leaving him more relaxed than I’ve ever seen him.
The second stage of the treatment was a seventy minute facial, with products specifically chosen to suit our skin types. With such an impressive facial menu on the treatment list, it was hard to know what to choose, but since my skin’s been a little congested recently I decided the SOS Purifying Ritual was exactly what I needed.
A range of super fresh, deep cleansing products like lime blossom cleanser and lavender toner, were combined with gentle facial and head massage techniques which not only flushed out my suffering skin, but also sent me down to an almost coma-like state of deep relaxation. I loved the exfoliation of the Elemis Skin Buff, which, with deep-cleansing Phytoplankton and extracts of laurel, hops and soothing chamomile, was as rich as it sounds and really helped clean out my skin. But the best stage was the SOS Purifying Mask, a Japanese Sulphur Mask with Absolute Vita-C Serum, which Elemis promise will “absorb sebum, calm irritation and rebalance oil-rich pores, leaving a beautiful, matte facial complexion”. It sounds too good to be true, but after the facial I felt the difference straight away; my skin felt so clean and silky soft, with no more shiny t-zone. The mask lasted about twenty minutes or more, with a wonderfully cooling , herbal-rich eye serum at the same time, while my therapist used an Indian head massage to send me almost to sleep. The benefits of the facial were visible almost straight away, but the the best element was the level of relaxation – it was all I could do not to start snoring.
Sam’s Urban Cleanse, the macho version of a deep cleansing facial, was a little more tough, with a great range of products involving manly ingredients like oak bark, spearmint and peppermint. The Urban Cleanse is designed not only to eliminate blocked pores and detox the skin, but also to help with the problems of shaving like skin nicks and sensitivity, like the recovery mask designed to calm shaving irritation and belmishes as well as restore some of the vital nutrients lost during shaving. While Sam wasn’t a lover of the exfoliation phase – which was incredibly effective in ridding him of some minor dry skin problems – he did enjoy the overall relaxation of the facial.
After two hours of serious pampering, we both emerged feeling like new people. Not only was my skin fresh and super-soft, but my mind had reset to a state of pure relaxation. The whole experience at this gorgeously luxurious spa was deeply indulgent and absolutely wonderful, a few hours of sheer bliss which were the absolute highlight of an incredibly relaxing stay at Homewood Park.
Visit HomewoodPark.com to view the treatment menu and book a session.
Homewood Park Hotel & Spa, Abbey Lane, Freshford, Bath, BA2 7TB
01225 809648 firstname.lastname@example.org