Having been born in Leicestershire, I had of course heard of multi award winning spa Ragdale Hall before I was invited to stay for an overnight break, as it’s only a short drive from my home town and is a very renowned spa destination, perfect for mini-moons, fitness breaks, pre or post-wedding chill out or relaxing hen parties. Mr J and I both have very busy work lives (and his is very stressful), and being able to take a plus 1 I was super excited for him to join me – we spend very little quality time together and his job has been particularly busy for the last few months so with a promise that at Ragdale you can “unload your responsibilities for a few hours and immerse yourself in the kind of luxury that we’ve spent nearly 40 years perfecting” I could think of nothing we needed to do more!
We left Norfolk bright and early and arrived just under 3 hours later amid the rolling hills and picturesque surroundings of Ragdale village, which is a stone’s throw from Melton Mowbray – and it has to be said, super easy to locate (although you are furnished with maps and instructions beforehand just in case). When we arrived, it was a beautiful hot sunny day (luckily during the short spell of summer we experienced last week!) and the scenery was stunning – with bright yellow rapeseed fields and plenty of greenery as far as you could see, at that moment it truly felt like being on holiday!
The grounds are so beautiful, and as soon as you arrive you see the distant white dots of guests in their dressing gowns enjoying the weather and views ( I could quite happily live in a dressing gown so this suits me down to the ground!) ~ there are lots of love swings, benches and recliners on which to enjoy the pretty gardens.
We were greeted once we entered the main reception and checked in by staff, who took us for a coffee, ran through the logistics of our stay and our treatments, and offered us a tour. The hall itself is a beautiful Victorian building, which combines traditional elements and décor with modern facilities – the guest rooms, dining room and reception area are classic and in keeping with the period of the exterior, whereas the Treatment areas, Spa, Lounge, Retreat and Thermo Spa area are stylish and modern but sympathetic to the original aesthetic, so you get a real mixture of old and new.
We were invited to lunch after we’d checked in, which is a buffet with cold and hot food selections, and starters which can be ordered. As with all the meals we had during our stay, there was a great range of healthy and low fat options, along with some more indulgent, so whether you feel like splurging or scrimping on the calorie front, there are plenty of tasty options to choose from. There’s also a key in the menu to tell you how indulgent your food is (no scary calories, which for me always ruin the times when you do fancy a treat!) You can have three courses for lunch if you want to, or just a light bite, and the dining room is super grand, roomy and has plenty of staff on hand to offer drinks, take hot orders and wait on your table.
After lunch we headed to our Superior room and unpacked. Our room was bright, clean and had everything we needed in it – including some White Company minis in the bathroom! It also had a balconette and a lovely view of the grounds. We were only really in the room to sleep, as there’s so many places to chill out and the weather was so gorgeous we were happy to be relaxing in the garden or making use of all the facilities.
Then we went to take a wander around, and headed down to the pool and thermal spa – and it definitely didn’t disappoint! The pool is huge, with a hot tub and plenty of room to recline or read on beds around it, and it leads on to the adjacent thermo spa, which is literally heaven. In here there are 12 “experiences” – saunas, pools and steam rooms, including an amazing Candle Pool, which is like an underground cavern with lovely warm water, headrests to lay your head on and classical music playing amid (faux) candle light ~ Mr J nodded off in there after minutes! There’s also a Scent Room, a Rose Sauna, a Volcanic Salt Bath, and a Cave Shower amongst others. There were several areas in the spa which were silent areas, which is great for anyone who can’t relax whilst others chatter – although having said that, it was super peaceful in there both times we went in – most of the chatter was happening outside in the outdoor waterfall pool, which overlooked the beautiful garden area. Every last detail has been thought of, from little stands to place your glasses on whilst you are in the steam rooms, to white flannels with icy lemon water to cool you down. Even the locker areas are super stylish! A perfect way to wile away an afternoon.
Before dinner I headed off to Fitness Yoga, which is one class amongst the extensive fitness timetable available ~ for most of the classes you just turn up and you don’t have to book, which really adds to the idea of creating your own break based on whatever you feel like. We both used the gym whilst we there, which has everything you need for cardio and weights, and there’s also an exercise pool with regular aqua aerobics classes. We both loved that there was so much to do if you wanted to, but at the same time you could do absolutely nothing if you chose to.
You are allocated a dinner time on your itinerary, which is given to you when you arrive, along with lunch times and treatment times so you know where to be and when. I asked to change the time of our dinner and the staff were super accommodating with making ours a little later, as they were throughout our stay. Dinner is super casual dress wise – some people dine in robes (most people do at lunch too!) so you definitely won’t need to bring any fancy clothes unless you want to! There’s plenty of choice menu wise, again whether you want to indulge or go for a lighter option. I had terrine to start, and then pork belly and vegetables for my main, which was delicious.
After three lovely courses (I finished with mango sorbet, which was so refreshing!) we went for a little wander around the grounds, caught the most beautiful sunset and ended the day by popping to the Pavillion area for post dinner coffees and teas.
On day two we were delivered breakfast in bed – you can choose breakfast when you arrive, when you are given a tick box menu with a choice of times and food – plenty of fruit, cereal, pastries and porridge. I had a melon trio, a fruit compote, a bran muffin and hot water with lemon, which was a perfect light start to a morning of treatments and before I had a quick early workout. I headed to the spa for my first treatment, which I’d booked from the vast menu I was sent in advance – the hardest decision was what to choose! Whatever you fancy it’ll be there – facials, massage, reiki, hypnotherapy, pedicures, manicures, HD Brows, wraps – the list is almost endless. The spa uses Elemis, Clarins and Decleor, and they have over 130 therapists. I chose the Elemis Exotic Fragipani Body Nourish Floatation and it was absolutely incredible. It begins with dry body brushing, then beautiful smelling coconut and frangipani oil is poured over your whole body. You are then wrapped up and lowered into the bed in a dry floatation, which is a little weird at first but I cannot tell you how lovely it feels on your back and body! I could have stayed in there forever. My therapist Jade was perfect – she explained every part of the treatment, and had such a lovely manner. My skin smelt and felt amazing afterwards, and the dry patches on my elbows and ankles completely disappeared.
I popped back to the room to pack – check out time is 11am, but you are given a locker key so you can keep a bag with a change of clothes etc you, whilst the concierge service means your bags are safely taken from your room and put into storage until you are ready to collect them when you leave, which doesn’t need to be until 6pm. Mr J and I had our inclusive treatments after that – so I ended up having a very indulgent morning of back to back appointments! This was a Blissful Face & Back Therapy which was a 50min back massage and mini facial – my back aches about 80% of the time because I have such long periods of standing for my makeup work so back massages are always amazing for me, and this was no exception. I actually ended up spending an entire day makeup free, which is super rare for me, as I wanted my skin to feel the full benefits of the facial and I loved the feeling of noone caring what you looked like – everyone is just minding their own business relaxing, and you certainly don’t give a second thought to your appearance whilst you are there, which is actually a random plus point but a refreshing one!
Post treatment we popped for a little tea and cake in the Garden Room, which is a gorgeously decorated part of the Hall which has a lovely outdoor seating area overlooking the gardens. Mr J had a smoothie, and I indulged (again!) in a lavender shortbread whilst sitting in the sunshine.
We headed back to the thermo spa until our lunch time, and then spent the rest of the afternoon snoozing in the sunny garden, swimming, reading magazines (which are all provided) and generally feeling removed from the rest of the world! In case you were wondering, mobile phones are permitted but discouraged (in the interests of relaxing!), but you are asked not to make or take calls in relaxing areas where you may disturb other guests – and to be honest, the last thing you want to do is talk to the outside world!
Ragdale is like a haven from the busyness of life, and it felt amazing to feel so far away from it all but really to be so close – usually I only experience feeling like that when I venture abroad. I’m already planning a return visit post wedding season, and I’d definitely be tempted to be there for two or three nights next time! It’s easy to see why Ragdale is held in such high regard – they do what they do so incredibly well, and every aspect of your stay is seamless, from check in through to check out – there is nothing to think or worry about, as it’s all taken care of for you. The staff are all so accommodating and I loved having everything you need under one roof, and I left feeling genuinely chilled out (which almost never happens!). I think pre or post wedding this would be the perfect antidote to the stress of planning, or a great pamper for your and your hens which all the girls will love.
You can visit just for the day – prices start from £79 for a spa day, and start from £139 per person per night for spa breaks. A break like we enjoyed would be priced from £325 per person, including all meals, facilities and 50-minute treatment.
You can find everything you need to know about booking and different break options either here or you can download the new Ragdale Hall app to plan your visit.