As a fitness blogger I obviously care a lot about health and wellbeing. I eat healthily the majority of the time, exercise 4-5 times per week, and like to keep myself up-to-date on the latest health and fitness research. And this doesn’t change when I go away. A must-have in any hotel I go to, for business or for pleasure, is a gym. If there’s a CrossFit box nearby, even better. Thankfully, the leisure and tourism industry has caught on to this, and wellness retreats are all the more popular.
Read: How to Keep Fit on Holiday.
But if you think a “wellness retreat” just means super serious yoga classes on a remote island with nothing but chicken and rice to eat, you’re mistaken. You can get the best in wellness breaks right here in the UK, and with a delicious menu to boot! I tested out one of our country’s finest spas, Lifehouse Spa, to check out their wellness offering along with 5 other foodie and fitness bloggers… here’s a run-down of what Lifehouse Spa has to offer its health-conscious guests.
Set in the Essex countryside, just an hour from London, Lifehouse Spa combines a Scandinavian feel with lush English Heritage gardens and five lakes. The grounds are enormous with plenty of hiding places to explore – perfect if you want a quiet spot to sit and read.
The hotel itself has 89 rooms, all of which are modern in style. The bed in my room was huge, enough to fit four people (or three CrossFitters!) and there was a little seating area and dressing table. The bathrooms are pure luxury with an electric shower where you can select your preferred temperature and water pressure, plus the mirrors have an anti-steam square in the middle so you can actually see yourself even after you’ve showered.
During the day, guests walk around the facilities in robes, provided in the rooms along with slippers. The whole feel of the spa is one of relaxation and comfort.
Central to the spa are the bar/café and restaurant. Breakfast and lunch are buffets, while dinner is a la carte.
Expect pastries, cereals, breads, cooked breakfasts and yoghurts with fruit for breakfast – the choice is incredible! Of course I had first and second courses…
Lunch consists of hot and cold options, with fresh fish, casseroles, curries, quiches, salads and more. If your sweet tooth is calling then the chocolate torte is amazing!
For dinner we had a tasting menu with a selection of dishes soon to be on the menu. With a trio of starters and desserts, and sharing plates for the mains, there was plenty to try. My favourite were the hot smoked salmon and edamame salad, beetroot ravioli, vegan korma, and duck salad. And you really must try the lemon and polenta cake with goats’ milk ice cream!
There’s a huge variety of classes to choose from at Lifehouse – everything from pilates and yoga classes to pad boxing, TRX and barbells. We tried an abs and glutes class before dinner on the Tuesday, which focused on the all important core. The class was suitable for all abilities, and it was great to see all ages and a mix of men and women in attendance.
On the Wednesday we had a bespoke outdoor fitness class led by three of the personal trainers. Combining pad boxing, a trim trail, and a 300 rep challenge, each of the trainers put us through our paces… potentially even more so because they knew we were fitness bloggers!
The purpose-built trim trail includes a slalom run section, balance beams, pull-up bars, monkey bars and a slanted beam, each station separated by a 1-200 metre run. This could easily be used by guests who fancy a solo workout.
Fitness classes are all included in the cost of your day trip or overnight stay, but while at the spa you can also book and pay for additional sessions, including personal training, physiotherapy and even life coaching. We had workshops with some of Lifehouse Spa’s dedicated wellness team to find out more.
Life coach and author of the upcoming book Start With You, Rebecca Miller, ran through some tips with us in a goals workshop. She talked through the seven needs we need as humans, highlighted how to identify which areas need the most attention and development in our lives, and gave us actionable points on planning and pursuing our dreams. Rebecca is super inspiring and able to help steer you in the right direction for the goals you want to achieve. She also offers packages to continue your life coaching sessions with her long after your wellness retreats at Lifehouse, with sessions available via Skype. I’m definitely hoping to continue speaking with her to help keep me focused on my end goal.
Following our coaching session, resident physiotherapist, Natasha Allsop, highlighted some key posture issues and offered suggestions for how to improve our posture while working – something so useful to those of us who sit behind a desk all day long!
Lifehouse Spa offers 95 different treatments, ranging from massages and facials to holistic therapies and reiki. I had a treatment called “healing and balance”, an energy healing treatment and something I would have been unlikely to have chosen myself.
The treatment was with Michael Barthaud, a Reiki therapist, and involved energised crystals that were placed on specific parts of my body. He then ran through a meditation sequence before using light touch to encourage healing and bring balance my body’s energy system. I found it really hard to let my mind wander – I tend to be quite busy and always have a lot of thoughts so struggle to let go and just think of nothing. I focused on what I could feel when Michael applied the light pressure to my head, shoulders, rib cage, hips, knees and then ankles, and just let myself drift off into a semi-sleep state.
After the treatment he ran through what he felt I was suffering from and struggling with, physically and mentally, and gave me a remedy to take home, made up of a personalised blend of Australian flower remedies. The mix he made includes flowers to help with confidence, energy levels, happiness and also to soothe pain. Seven drops under the tongue morning and night will apparently do the trick, and I’m certainly willing to give it a go!
Complete with a pool big enough to swim lengths, a jacuzzi bath, plunge pool, sauna, steam room and salt inhalation room, the spa is a place to wash away all your stresses. We spent some time in there after dinner (not the best time to get in a swimsuit!) and it was such a nice way to end the day. I tend to prefer dry heat to humid heat, so I opted for the sauna over the steam room, and the plunge pool, a small one-person-sized pool of cold water, was very welcome after sitting in the hot jacuzzi for a little too long! They even have a shower where you can choose between tropical rain, a cold rain shower, or cool mist. How’s that for a spa experience?!
As well as the main spa, there’s an extra little hidden gem at Lifehouse Spa… the Hidden Sanctuary. Reserved for couples, this private section of the spa is a relaxation seeker’s dream. Starting with a full body scrub, side by side with your beau, you then take a 20 minute dip in a private pool before heading through for a full body massage.
Sleepy and relaxed, you can take advantage of a private lounging area (a double bed curtained off from the world) where you can daydream/relax/snooze for up to an hour. You can even order prosecco and chocolates or afternoon tea to your bed. This package is perfect for those romantic getaways with your better half. I’ll definitely be looking to book this up with my husband for a treat.
I had such a lovely time at the Lifehouse Spa bloggers meet. The spa and hotel covers everything I’d want in a wellness retreat, and is the perfect place for a relaxing break with friends, family, or that special someone. I can’t wait to go back with Darren very soon hopefully!
This was my take on the Lifehouse Spa, but if you want to see another side it then check out the lovely ladies I was lucky to enjoy my stay with. Watch video footage of us taking full advantage of the buffet, and even pick up an exclusive Lifehouse Spa recipe or two…
- Lucy (the Fashion Fitness Foodie)
- Carly (Carly Rowena)
- Hedi (Hedi Hearts)
- Teffy (Sprinkle of Green)
- Amanda (Amanda Bootes)
These girls are amazing at what they do and inspired me so much in the short space of time I spent with them. Follow them to be inspired yourself!
FREE Upgrade & Late Use of Spa – Exclusive Blog Offer!
If all of this sounds like your idea of heaven then you’re in luck – Lifehouse Spa have very kindly given me a code to share with you guys, which you will only find on one of the #LHBloggersMeet blogs!
Book any Wellness Retreat for stays from 1st November 2016 to 9th January 2017 excluding 23rd December – 1st January inclusive, and receive a complimentary room upgrade and late spa facilities, uintil 6pm, on day of check out.
To take advantage of this exclusive offer, just use the code LFBLOG16.
Have you ever been to a spa? What do you look for in a wellness retreat?
Photos taken with my Olympus PEN E-PL7*.
Disclaimer: I received a free stay at Lifehouse Spa. As always, my opinion is my own and not affected by items or services gifted to me. To find out more about my policy on this and other matters, see my Disclosure page. * Affiliate link. Affiliate links do not affect the price that you pay, but any commission earned helps me to pay the costs of running this site. To find out more about my policy on this and other matters, see my Disclosure page.