Stephanie Cavagnaro heads to Essex to test out a Pamper & Prosecco Spa Day
Surrounded by 130 acres of dewy gardens and built around a substantial spa, this adults-only property is all about relaxation and restoration. Only an hour’s drive from London, it’s situated 10 minutes from the Essex coast in Thorpe-le-Soken. The boxy, low-slung property is strikingly modern, belying its historic grounds, which contain the ruins of an old manor house and an English Heritage-listed garden that sprouts rare orchids and trees and is peppered with peaceful ponds.
This is the real draw — the fact that dress code for guests seems to be fluffy white robes is a dead giveaway. Generous opening hours (6am-9pm) mean hedonists of the lark or owl tendency can find a time that suits. The spa is centred around a jet-sprouting hydrotherapy hot tub, which is busy with bobbing guests when I arrive. I opt instead to sweat in the sauna, salt inhalation room and steam room, and once I reach boiling point, I slip into the Arctic-cold plunge pool, infusing my skin with a tingling sensation. The rest of the afternoon is spent swimming laps in the lounge-chair lined pool and massaging my tight muscles in the warm whirlpool bath.
As part of my Pamper & Prosecco Spa Day (which includes a three-course dinner, glass of Prosecco, breakfast and treatment), I’ve decided to try the Hidden Sanctuary with my fiancé. Our therapists, Bethany and Ann, begin with a full-body exfoliating fruit seed scrub, which leaves my skin super smooth and supple. We’re then shown to a dimly lit private pool, fed by a small waterfall and floating with faux flowers. Supplied with oranges and green tea, we’re left to paddle around in peace. After half an hour, it’s time for our Decleor aromatherapy full-body massage — gentle, sweeping strokes send me snoozing. Our final hour is spent curled up in a sleep pod, a nice touch that made the whole experience feel well thought-out.
Spacious and simple, the signature double rooms are daubed in grey, red and green and feature a Juliet balcony whose doors open onto a view of a pond fringed by greenery. The room comes with all the expected mod cons (flatscreen TV, coffee- and tea-making facilities, wi-fi, seating area) but the highlight is definitely the massive bed, where I sleep soundly after a stress-meltingly good day.
The Restaurant at Lifehouse’s menu lists ‘healthy’ and ‘indulgent’ options, and on closer inspection, I notice that it also caters impressively well for dietary restrictions with a decent spread of gluten-free and vegetarian choices. The restaurant’s ingredients are mostly local and seasonal. My starter of baked butternut squash stuffed with root vegetables and melted Taleggio cheese was followed by a moreish mushroom ravioli with black truffle and butter sauce. Breakfast the next morning included a vast array of options — everything from a full English to lighter choices like yoghurts, fruits and cereals.
An ideal all-rounder for couples or friends looking for fantastic food, stunning scenery and top-notch pampering.
Spa breaks start from £74.50 per person, including one dinner, B&B, a 25-minute spa treatment and full spa and garden access. The Pamper & Prosecco spa break starts from £214.50 per person and includes the upgrade to the Hidden Sanctuary treatment.
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