Spa Review: Champneys

The three ‘Rs’. Rest, relaxation and recuperation.

Spa Review: Champneys

Warm welcome – the pretty walkway to Champneys Springs reception

That’s what Champneys is all about. An escape to the countryside to recharge the batteries and indulge in plenty of ‘me time’.

This was my first visit to Champneys Springs in Leicestershire. I’ve been to day spas before but there’s only so much you can do in a few hours, and it never really feels all that relaxing with the pressure of time restrictions. So the chance of an overnight stay was particularly enticing. It was a good opportunity for some mother and daughter bonding time. The chance to catch up, relax and do some of the things we love together.

The approach to the spa is down a very long driveway. How grand! We found the spacious and luxurious reception area at the end of a pretty walkway over a pond complete with fountains and plenty of vibrant flowers. A beautiful entrance to start your stay along with cheerful, helpful and polite staff.

After a brief tour of the facilities, dinner booked in and essential information given, we were ready to go. 

There is loads on offer. Gym, workout classes, pool, steam room, sauna, spa treatments, bikes to ride around the grounds or just lounging around and enjoying some time with no distractions.

Water way to relax – the thalassotherapy pool is the perfect place to ease away life’s stresses and strains
Water way to relax – the thalassotherapy pool is the perfect place to ease away life’s stresses and strains

We wanted to start off with some energetic exercise so ventured to the gym which has plenty of machines and weights. After our brief session it was time to find our room and get ready to relax and enjoy a bit of a pampering.

It felt peculiar at first, wandering around in a regulation robe and flip flops in the company of strangers. But it’s what you do, so we did, and it’s amazing how quickly it feels perfectly normal.

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We ambled about taking in the different areas of the complex. There are plenty of rooms and areas full of chairs, sofas, chaise longues for you to sit or lie and chill out. There’s even a little snug with a chess board, blankets and internet access if you really can’t face being completely cut off from the world.

Special treatment – the waiting area upstairs
Special treatment – the waiting area upstairs

We had no time for that though as our pre-booked thalassotherapy pool session beckoned. It’s something neither of us had ever heard of but were intrigued to find out more. The giant Jacuzzi-type pool is filled with mineral-enriched waters meant to aid wellbeing. Wading in was lovely – it was really warm and inviting. There are different areas within the huge pool all with hydrotherapy jets that stimulate and tone tired, aching muscles. Great for us as we both do a lot of running. Apparently it’s also good for treating cellulite, arthritis and muscular or joint aches and pains. It was heavenly. Be prepared; it’s not gentle, there are no soft bubbles like a Jacuzzi but more intense jets which hit the skin hard. We both left the pool with little red blotches on our bodies but feeling great and de-stressed. Keeping with the watery theme it was time to try out the beautiful pool next door. 

Heated and 25 metres long, you can get some serious swimming done. It’s also enclosed in floor-to-ceiling glass with a pleasant and calming view of the grounds while doing your laps. Along with a regular Jacuzzi, there are sauna and steam rooms to really take away the stresses and strains of life.

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Whiling away the hours like this was truly indulgent; a bit of exercise to make us feel virtuous followed by some full-on heat from the sauna and steam room to get rid of nasty toxins.

All this doing very little is tiring so it was great having a room as a base. Our haven was simply decorated with two comfy and sumptuous armchairs at the end of the bed. We could shower, watch a bit of TV, read magazines (there were even a couple in the room) and chatter away while we decided how we would relax next.

For me it was the bamboo massage. I waited with trepidation and visions of large canes being inflicted on me. Treat or torture?

Turns out it was a bit of both. It’s not for the faint-hearted. There’s no gentle, tickly massage going on here. It’s pretty hardcore. The therapist oiled up some thick bamboo canes rolling them over my legs, arms and back to stretch and massage my body. It felt like a sports massage as the pressure was quite intense but the therapist did check several times that I wasn’t in pain at all. At times I was but I quite liked it and came out feeling relaxed with silky smooth skin.

There are so many treatments on offer you could spend a week there and not get through them all. But we only had the weekend so enjoyed the time we had, packing in as much as we could. 

Ravenous from all our activities dinner was a welcome prospect.

The menu is carefully put together and indicates, fibre, fat, wheat-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, options. Portions are enough to satisfy your hunger and there are even desserts. Don’t expect huge portions of sickly-sweet treats though, after all it is a health spa. Alcohol is allowed, accompanied with your meal although there is no bar area to round your evening off. But you don’t go for a raucous night of drinking, it’s for unwinding and finding your inner calm

The rooms all have DVD players so a film – they offer a selection for a small fee – and bed was the perfect end to our day. And the perfect start was the breakfast. There was so much to choose from, fruits, cereals, yogurts, omelettes, fish, cooked breakfast, porridge, toast, nuts and seeds, all calorie controlled, but totally delicious.

After bidding a fond farewell to this little slice of Leicestershire heaven, we drove away feeling totally blissed out.

  • Champneys Springs offers a variety of packages from spa days and breaks to specialist retreats.
  • Spa days start from £149. Includes use of facilities, access to workout classes (some include charges), hot and cold buffet lunch, thalassotherapy pool session (25 mins), a choice of a 25-minute treatment. 
  •  Spa breaks start from £249 for one-night. Includes a choice of two 25-minute treatments, use of facilities, access to workout classes (some include charges), three-course dinner and lunch, buffet breakfast.

By Lisa Williams

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