There’s something about a spa weekend that, in itself, sounds like the poshest thing in the world. A pastime that’ll have you saying “jammy buggars” about anyone who actually gets the chance to enjoy one. And just last weekend, it was finally our turn to become those “jammy buggars”.
Crossing the county border just a couple of miles into Retford, we found ourselves in a heaven that surprisingly wasn’t in Yorkshire: Ye Olde Bell Spa.
Now, I’ll admit. We’re hardly seasoned pros when it comes to relaxation. We work constantly when a flurry of inspiration comes. We contort our bodies at our desks day in, day out, and we count our daily dog walk and our daily dog walk only as the big opportunity to clear our minds – so it’s safe to say, a day at the spa was well overdue.
Welcoming us into their modern oasis of all things tranquil, Ye Olde Bell Spa started our day with a leisurely introduction to their indoor spa (branded towels, robes and slippers in tow!), where we happily dunked ourselves in the warm pool by the rippling jets. Ahh, bliss.
Once we’d got acquainted with the pool, it was time to suss out the rest of the spa’s luxury features; starting with one of three saunas – the Herbal Laconium.
An alpine-style sauna that looks out onto the outdoor pool, the herbal-infused space welcomes guests with a warming hit of lavender, camomile and lemon (AKA every ingredient known for giving you a good night’s sleep), before inducing you into deep relaxation with its 40-60 degrees humidity. It was by far our favourite treatment of the day… That was, until we stepped inside the Stone Bath.
Theatrical as it is relaxing, the Stone Bath dials up the temperature to up to 70 degrees, powered by mineral coals that hit the water via a Medieval looking contraption, which creates the humid atmosphere within the steam room. The treatment is perfect for getting rid of toxins, which, to me, translated as a great excuse for a celebratory beer. That’s where the handy spa butlers come in.
Prepped and ready to wait on guest’s hand and foot, spa-goers needn’t even leave the pool if they fancy a drink – be it a fruity cocktail or a luxurious glass of fizz. But it was lunch, in particular, where the spa’s excellence shines through.
Provided in the Herb Garden Brasserie that’s located by the pool, guests can dine in their robes and flip flops while enjoying a little break – with a divine fine dining menu to enjoy. Emphasis on divine. In case you wondered, we had the chicken in a creamy mushroom sauce and lots and lots of tender duck.
To complete the day, we braved the icy snowstorm experience, before trading it for a milder climate in the Sabbia Med room – a special room filled with sand designed to provide a much-needed dose of Vitamin D without the intervention of harmful UV rays. There, we put our toes in the sand for a little while, while enjoying a simulation of a whole day’s worth of sunshine in the beachy sanctuary.
The restaurant and rooms
Once our day of relaxation was complete, it was time to check into our room and settle in before indulging all over again – this time, in AA Rosette-awarded grub. Home to an array of rooms, suites and cosy lodges, Ye Olde Bell brings bags of character to each and every room – with period antiques, rich and regal furnishings and tons of cosy, country-style touches adorning each and every corner of the venue. It’s exactly what makes the whole place so grand – like you’re a guest of a soirée in a show like Downton Abbey. Or Bridgerton, if you’re new to period dramas.
Sitting by the fireplace in the bar, glass of vino in hand, I couldn’t help but feel truly spoiled after our day of being handled with care by Ye Olde Bell’s expert team – with more treats yet to come at the hands of the restaurant team.
There, in the glamorous Restaurant Bar 1650 to a soundtrack of delicate piano covers, we refuelled on artisan bread, olives and sautéed pigeon (fancy, huh?), before tucking into classic sirloin steaks smothered in the good stuff; peppercorn sauce, of course… Familiar, yet up-market enough to feel like a proper treat.
Accompanied by an expertly curated menu of wines from around the world, once we’d finished trying a course from every menu, we were well and truly knackered – our queue to retreat back to The Grove lodge, bundle up in the huge bed and watch a bit of tele.
It was hard not to be tempted by the roll-top bath as it stood so proudly and beautifully in the large bathroom, like yet another Ye Olde beacon screaming “relax, relax!” – but after a day submerged in water like a part-human-part-fish, it was time to keep my feet firmly on land and finally de-wrinkle the fingers and toes.
I needn’t embellish the fantastic night’s sleep we got while staying in The Grove – mostly because it’ll make you pretty jealous, but secondly because we all know how cosy hotel beds are – but the combination of endless spa treatments, hours enjoying the pool jets and the food coma we’d inevitably eaten our way into left us feeling pretty refreshed the following day, when we were faced with the joy that was yet another delicious meal at the Bell: this time, a proper hotel breakfast – with not only the beloved continental trimmings, but reyt good full English brekkies with all the good stuff. Basically, a sure-fire way to send you off back to reality on a high. And a high it most certainly was. All of it.
To find out more and book a stay, head to the website here. Ye Olde Bell can be found at Retford, DN22 8QS.