Taking sanctuary at The Spa at Ye Old Bell Inn

One of the best spa’s I have visited….

The Ye Old Bell have built a brand new spa on the grounds adjacent to their famous hotel and restaurant in the quaint village of Barnby Moor, Retford.  Opening its door to the public in June this year, the spa has a fantastic look from the outside- modern, stylish and pretty big.

I received a warm welcome by Angela and David on reception who checked me and my guest in efficiently and asked us to take a seat in the stylishly plush reception area, where we were  asked to complete brief forms, offered pink prosecco with a raspberry and given our itinerary of the day- excitement all around.

Judging by the floor plan/map of the facilities we were offered, the spa has everything covered. Angela showed us through to the changing rooms, brand new of course with digital lockers – that actually work (which is one of my bug bears when they don’t!)   A dressing area with mirrors, hairdryers and hair straighteners free to use.  Fresh fluffy hardly used towels (another plus of visiting a brand newly built spa).  Inside our lockers were grey branded robes, towels, flip flops (to keep) a plastic bag for your wet swim wear and a small dainty bag for jewellery-they really have thought of everything.  I must not forget to mention the journey from reception to the changing rooms is one not to forget, as the hallway is just stunning and must be seen to be appreciated- textured stone and mirrored walls and a large mirrored clock give it an almost Alice in Wonderland feel.

Once changed, we finished our Prosecco and it was time for our treatments.  We were greeted by our therapists and shown upstairs to the array of treatments rooms all named individually.

I was booked in for the Mini Turkish Ritual Massage A saffron body massage incorporating gentle stretches and light strokes from a large ostrich feather.  Originating from Turkey, this treatment focuses on releasing tension in the neck, back and shoulders.  After the unique feather ritual, a light silk fabric is used to gently stretch the body combined with specialised massage movements.  The aromas from the ESPA saffron massage balm certainly melt away any stresses of the day and I felt as though I’d had a really good stretch post treatment- great for those who spend a lot of time at work sat at a desk like myself or in a car hunched over- great for posture!

After my treatment it was time to try out the spa facilities.  Lunch was at 1pm, so we timed it so that we could have a dip in the Vitality Pool for a while first and have a swim to build our appetite. The indoor /outdoor pool is 10 metres long, 1,2 metres deep and packed full of features to keep you occupied whilst you relax in the warm water  – you’ll find air recliners, a mini air tub, a reflexology station water massage jets and a water curtain all to entertain whilst taking a dip in this innovative pool.

Next we got dry and visited the amazing Salt Inhalation Room  – our thought was to dry off and relax just before lunch, so we spent a good 10-15 minutes in here relaxing on the loungers in front of the wall of salt, which cleverly change colour with mood lighting.  The salt wall simulates a marine climate which with repeated use can aid respiratory problems, sinuses and allergies.  The room temperature is 25 degrees and there is really no limit as to how much time you spend in here, I could have literally spent half the day in there and would love one in my own home!

Lunchtime arrived and as we waited on the warm mosaic loungers outside the restaurant, we were called in and shown to our table by Michelle. The smells coming from the kitchen were lovely and we were offered lemon water to our table and the menus showing deliciously healthy food, with a separate vegetarian menu for me- very impressive.

We both opted for the green cleansing soup- I just liked the name of it- it said what is was clearly and I hoped it would taste great as well as be good for me nutritionally- I wasn’t disappointed, this had to be one of the most well seasoned and tasty soups I’ve ever tasted, and along with the tomato bread – I could easily have had another bowl.

Main course was butternut squash risotto- again tasty and just the right sized portion.  We could have opted for a dessert for an additional £8 to turn two courses to three, however we decided we’d have a hot chocolate later instead as a compromise.

Next it was time to try out the array of themed rooms within the spa that we had been looking forward to since we arrived – Mo advised we start at one end and make our way around in a crescent to work our way up to the hottest room – building our body tolerance up- good advice!

The Herbal Laconium was our first stop, at 40-60 degrees this was bearableas their mildest of the experience rooms, as we relaxed on the wooden sauna style seating, herbs were placed in the centre, infused with periodic bursts of steam to fill the room with a warming herbal smell offering all kinds of benefits for the mind, body and soul.

Next we visited the Stonebath with a temperature of 50- 70 degrees, this steam room offered the same wooden style seating but with the added theatrical twist of the mechanical coal bucket, which periodically dips into the hot water to create a billow of steam that fills the room clearing airways and soothing the body.  It also flushes out toxins and increases blood flow to the muscles.  There is a ceiling fan you can operate yourself to increase and circulate the heat further- great idea.

The next heated room is the ultimate Alpine Sauna at a whopping  80-95 degrees!  This is the one to prepare for and you cannot go in barefooted… First things first though, we has the Snow Storm Walk to do – Cold, Cold, Cold!   Press to create the snowfall behind a glass wall, then select your snow storm …walk through- easy hey?  Cold experiences are there to boost your immune system and eliminate toxins, approving the appearance of cellulite and also helping to speed up muscle recovery. 

From the snow storm walk we entered straight into the Alpine sauna- the best way to do it and deal with the drastic change in temperature and I lasted around 6 minutes in here before admitting defeat.  The heat aids circulation, improves joint movement, flushes out toxins, and opens up pores to improve skin condition. – You see a pattern to all of the experience rooms each having their own amazing features and benefits – I wondered why I hadn’t discovered it sooner.

The next room (no it’s not over yet!) was the Shower Walk & Bucket Shower – A walk through shower experience with each shower offering a different sound effect from rainforest sounds to waves with different temperatures in each, ending with a cold self-activated bucket shower- only for the brave!

Our final room was the Steam Bath, a classic spa experience with warm temperatures and  high humidity to cleanse the pores – also great for strengthening the immune system and increasing metabolism.  Very relaxing with the twinkle lights and beautiful mosaic seating too.

As a bonus we decided to try out the Sabbia Med which is basically an indoor beach!  This is one of the rooms charged additionally to the main spa and is a must try.  With real sand and sun-beds, styled like an authentic beach with reeds and seaside nik-naks, the vitamin D room really is a place to relax and sunbathe, drift off and imagine you are in your favourite holiday destination, as you spend 30 minutes of sun drenched time in this innovative room.  The 30 minute cycle takes you through sunrise to sunset using low levels of UV which are emitted using a vitamin D lamp which shines onto the ceiling and fills the room, enveloping you in the rays of what appears to be authentic sunshine. These specialised lamps are used to alleviate SAD and to relax and uplift moods.  This truly unique experience was one of my favourite parts of the visit.

During the afternoon we enjoyed a relaxing moment on the four poster bamboo bed, taking us to Barbados, then outside for hot chocolate in one of the Alpine Chalet’s to enjoy a hot chocolate served in a copper mug.  There are several relaxation spaces about the spa inside and out, including a Jacuzzi foot spa area, providing maximum relaxation for ones feet.

A full day here is a must, as there is so much to experience and take your time with- to appreciate it in its entirety the full spa day packages are advised with lunch and a treatment.

Half day experiences are also available in the morning or afternoon and many people also arrived later in the day for the Twilight package.  Visits can be taken with or without lunch and treatments can be added on as necessary.  Prices are very reasonable and the service is absolutely 10 out of 10, with the staff consistently being attentive and super friendly throughout the day- we were even offered fruit from a platter during the afternoon.

Overall I have to say this was one of the best spa experiences I have had the pleasure of and will most certainly be recommending and returning very soon.

Fiona Duncan, RSViP

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