by Charlotte Johnstone, The Telegraph, August 3, 2017
“Stop being so bossy,” my partner, Mr. E, scoffed at me. It was the third time I had told him about our planned itinerary for the spa. “But I don’t know which bit to do nothing in first!” I replied. I had humanised the oxymoron. He ignored me as we walked up to the swanky, brand new Swinton Country Club & Spa for our treatments.
I had opted for the Elemis Garden of England Rose Restore Wrap but I almost walked out when I realised it was a full body massage. In one of the nine treatment rooms, head therapist Laura asked me to remove my swimming costume. I paused. Dark memories came flooding back as I remembered the last time this happened in India. “Madam!” the masseuse had barked at me. “You ordered a full body massage so please remove all of your clothes and lie on the bed!” It was the most stressful experience I have ever had; no stone was left unturned. Laura sensed my anxiety and told me I could just roll my one-piece down, immediately putting me at ease.
As I lay face down on the bed she gently but firmly worked her way up each half of my body with warm aromatic oil, starting with my feet and moving up to my shoulders. Over the course of an hour my legs, arms and back gradually became more soft and supple and, as she wrapped me in a series of towels to let the oils soak, she started the head massage. “Please don’t be over,” I begged in my head as Laura gently brought me back to reality. I stumbled into the relaxation room and found Mr. E who had just returned from a Bamford Deep Tissue Massage.
“How was it?” I asked him as we rested in the first of three relaxation rooms, expecting him to say full of pain and torture. “My meridians are open,” he declared, referencing the Japanese energy flow technique. He looked the picture of serenity. After 15 minutes on a waterbed in the final room, we embarked on our final journey through the spa; an exploration of all sorts of elements designed to fix different parts of the body. After a foot bath, an aroma steam bath (for deep muscular relaxation and detoxification), a Finnish sauna and a salt steam room (for breathing and combating allergies), we jumped into the vitality pool for some jet-massage action.
But the journey was still not over. The alfresco herbal sauna awaited – although we only managed six-and-a-half minutes before we escaped to the outdoor whirlpool tub next to the natural swimming pool. Unfortunately the pool was closed but it looked enticing in its own pond-like way. I half expected to see some frogs and a few Koi carp floating about in the plant filtration area. In any case, I was already feeling the most detoxed I’ve ever felt in my life; my skin felt incredible.
This purification process trickles into every aspect of the country club and spa’s clean-living ethos. From the vegetables in the four-acre walled garden that define the day’s menu at The Terrace restaurant (which has an excellent small-plates menu for lunch, created by head chef Chris McPhee), to the design of the buildings that ‘bring the outside in’. Day guests and hotel residents can also enjoy activities such as cycling, fishing and running classes.
Mr. E and I headed to the outdoor beds with their sheep skins, duvets and woolly blankets and ordered some drinks. “We need to start thinking about dinner,” he announced. I sank back and closed my eyes. “Stop being so bossy,” I smiled.
The natural pool by night at Swinton Country Club & Spa
Overnight spa breaks for £405 for two people sharing a double room at Swinton Park hotel. Day spa rates from £155 for one person and £250 for two people. Country club & spa membership rates start from £105 per calendar month.
Charlotte travelled as a guest on Grand Central which runs non-stop services between London Kings Cross and York. Advance tickets from York to London start from £12.80. Book up to 12 weeks in advance at grandcentralrail.com and save up to 89 per cent.