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  • Writer's pictureTanya Louise

Review: All is Calm, All is Bright at Ye Olde Bell Spa

Normally this time of year I’d say it was nice to escape the hustle and bustle of Christmas Shopping and activities, but things are different this year. That doesn’t mean we should forget about our mental health. We still need to switch off, relax and escape from every day life, and after the year we've had, when Ye Olde Bell Spa invited me along for a visit and to try their Halo treatment, I was more than ready to go.

I have visited previously, being one of the first to see the stunning Spa, even before it was finished, and I've supported them ever since. It can't have been an easy year for them either having to open and close in accordance with Government Guidelines. So, in these unprecedented COVID times, should you be worried about going? Not at all. Ye Olde Bell Spa are completely COVID compliant, only allowing limited numbers of visitors, with staggered times and temperature checks, so you can completely relax in confidence. Whilst Notts remains in Tier 3, what they can offer is still slightly different but you can and should still visit over the Christmas period to relax, and of course celebrate! Located in the rural village of Barnby Moor on the corners of the three counties of Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, sitting adjacent to the AA Four-Star Rosette hotel, the spa complements the style of the original property.

Attention to detail is key and guests are taken on a journey from the moment they enter the spa through double oak doors into an open plan reception. The gleaming champagne bar is sadly unable to open at the moment, but you are able to order a hot or cold drink within the Spa itself to keep hydrated. You can even use an app from the comfort of your lounger. You are well looked after by the staff, who are constantly on hand throughout your experience but without being intrusive. On previous visits I've seen them looking after guests, fetching you for your booked treatments, which means you can fully relax without clock watching. This time I also saw them constantly sanitising seating, door handles and surface areas to ensure we were always COVID safe.

The spa offers ten hot and cold experiences. Directly outside the changing rooms is a foot bath, where you can begin your spa experience by soaking your tired feet in the lovely hot bubbling water. You work your way around the room experiences. The Herbal Laconium, the first, is the most ambient of the thermal rooms. The spa has been designed so they have ‘hot hot’ and ‘ambient hot’. Everything designed is almost at a juxtaposition to another experience within the spa. They want people to enjoy the experiences, rather than be running out as they’re not enjoying it, but this room, and the Stonebath next door are a slightly cooler hot experience, so visitors can enjoy ‘hot’ without it being ‘too hot’, if that makes sense. We were happy to find that because they had limited the number of visitors, we were able to be in each room on our own.

A Bag of herbs sits in the centre of the Herbal Laconium and the aroma spreads throughout the room. You can easily spend 15-20 minutes in here. It is a great room to begin your experience. There are windows so it’s not claustrophobic, as many of these types of experiences can be quite dark. The windows are designed so that you can see out but people outside can’t see in, offering total privacy. In the evening, that flips, so the room lights up the outside. Nearly all the rooms have windows apart from the steam room, as by design, they are better dark. The wood used in the Herbal Laconium is from the southern uplands of Germany from a barn, just one of the astounding attention to detail. The cooler of the steam experiences is the steam bath. My personal favourite. Heated coals are dipped into water every 4-6 minutes to create more steam. Your journey to the next room can incorporate a trip through the custom-made ‘snowstorm’ experience, which has to be seen to be believed and I think is still the only one of its kind in the UK. Other experiences include Sabbia Med Sunlight therapy, mud Rasul, Swiss pine sauna, mineralising stonebath, shower walk and the lovely salt cascade room, where it is so relaxing it's easy to fall asleep.

The Vitality pool is part indoors, part out. It is not a swimming pool. At 10 meters long and 1.2 meters deep, it is designed so you can sit and have a drink in the warm relaxing water. Look again and it’s not just a Vitality pool. Bubble loungers help relax muscles and stimulate blood flow. Reflexology massage stations work on the work on the shoulders and neck. Step out of the pool and you can lay indoors on a huge double bed for total relaxation, or sit on one of the specially designed rocking chairs.

Outdoors you can relax on a heated lounger. The terrace area really catches the sun during the summer. An alpine area looks simply gorgeous this time of year with its fairy light decked cabins. The area draws different elements from the spa; sun, snow and the South of France. There are also fire pits, so nothing becomes redundant in the winter. The cosy wooden cabins also boast blankets and cushions.

The treatment rooms are located upstairs which you reach via a sweeping hand-carved oak staircase. This visit was the first time I'd tried the Halo Treatment, which they are the first Spa in the UK to offer. You sit within a sauna type booth within a treatment room and inhale the salty air as it opens your airways. Infrared heat envelops your body, helping to ease muscle and joint pain. Medical grade chromatherapy uses different light waves to combat numerous conditions including stress and fatigue, muscle pain relief, joint stiffness. They can also boost your immune system boost, detoxifiy and improves mild skin conditions. You can change the colour yourself to suit which you wish to target your treatment to. The spa was designed in conjunction with Spa Vision by Spa Directors, Sadie Ardron-Levack and Lizzie Bath. The interior design has been led by Hilary Levack and designer Tonia Wynne of Homestead Interiors, both of whom did the full design refurbishment of the hotel.

I could go on for ever about the special little touches included in the design of the spa, but you really need to go and find out for yourself. The layout has been designed so there are lots of little places for groups for privacy, and everything has been designed to be a little bit special so everybody doesn’t want to use the same thing and they move around the experiences. All the finishes in the rooms have their own individual character, so there’s always something to look at. You just want to go round feeling it….don’t even get me started on the Robert Cavelli wallpaper embedded with 6,000 crystals in the stunning hair boutique

Unfortunately due to Tier restrictions, The fabulous Theatre Kitchen is unable to open to serve any of the usual delicious food or alcohol. You can however book meals to take away. We both opted for tasty Christmas Dinner of Local roast turkey, pigs in blankets, cranberry sauce, seasonal vegetables and roast potato. For dessert I went for the beautiful Christmas pudding with brandy sauce, and my Mum had the sweet and refreshing fresh fruit pavlova. All the meal components are in secure plastic sealed tubs making them easy to transport home with you. Thankfully the Spa is able to remain open in Tier 3 over Christmas and continues to offer alternative spa packages with spa time from as little as 2 hours. You can choose to just Spa or try one of their shared experiences

Still not quite got your Christmas gifts sorted? Click here to shop right from your sofa. Perfect as a pick-me-up treat for yourself or a loved one, or to mark an occasion. Gift Vouchers are also available.

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Disclaimer – Views are my own. My visit was gifted, but boy, would I go again!!



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