I often talk about the importance of rest on my blog and on Instagram, but I don’t just mean rest from exercise. Relaxation, trying new things, and a chance to escape from the stressors in life are just as important as taking time off from exercise. And what better place to tick off all three than at Ragdale Hall Thermal Spa and Hotel?
When I was invited to try out Ragdale Hall’s facilities, and especially their range of fitness classes on offer, I didn’t hesitate in saying yes! The award winning facilities, set in a Victorian manor in Leicestershire, are impressive to say the least, and the chance to experience my first spa break was just what I needed after some heavy CrossFit and weightlifting training over the past 6 months. Elle, of Keep It SimpElle, came with me for what was a fun and relaxing overnight stay.
Turning into the drive we could see the Hall ahead of us. It was sunny when we arrived and guests were dotted around in the gardens at the front of the hotel, most wearing robes, their faces the picture of relaxation. As we got out of the car a porter unloaded our bags and took us to check in. From the moment you arrive, you barely have to lift a finger as you’re sat down to enjoy a drink while you check in, and the porter parks your car.
Check in is usually from 2pm, but we were lucky to enjoy lunch on arrival, making the most of the buffet while we perused the fitness class timetable. The reason for our early arrival was so we could meet the fitness manager at the Hall, so he could give us a tour of the facilities. The fitness suite at Ragdale Hall includes two studios, a well-equipped gym complete with TRX, kettlebells, cardio equipment, resistance machines, free weights, a squat rack, and various functional equipment. A purpose-built exercise pool and outdoor classes add to the schedule, giving a range of classes, each chosen and designed to offer guests something they might not have tried before.
Elle and I signed up for two first-time classes of Beaming and Nordic Walking. Beaming involved a foam balance beam set on the floor rather than being off the ground, allowing you to challenge your balance without the fear of falling. We worked on a sequence of simple balances, moving on to more challenging movements including lunges, kicks and three-point balances. We finished with a kneeling balance including push ups for a full body workout that challenged the core. We hadn’t expected to break into a sweat in this class, but we did and I was grateful for the cold water from my Star Crossed S’well bottle* from Style Sportif when we finished – the bottle keeps cold drinks cold for 24 hours and hot drinks hot for 12!
Nordic Walking, where you use poles to increase muscle recruitment and calorie burn, was something I’ll admit to sneering at in the past, but it had the whole group working hard as we used our triceps and obliques to help us walk faster. The two mile route around the fields in front of the hotel was beautiful and allowed us to take in the views of Loughborough in the distance.
Also on the class timetable are aqua classes, bootcamps, yoga and relaxation/stretching classes (Elle and I also did the Wake Up and Stretch class before breakfast on the Sunday morning), and plenty of dance classes, which prove very popular.
The Thermal Spa
If you’re more of a water baby than a fitness buff, then Ragdale has you sorted there too. The resort has an outdoor pool, big enough to do a little swimming, but mostly for a dip in the hot weather. There’s also a big indoor pool, which combines a relaxation area (including a waterfall, massage jets and a Jacuzzi) with a 25 metre straight for those who want to swim lengths.
The Thermal Spa includes 6 themed rooms, cool showers, a “thunder shower” (check out my Instagram for my happy/rain dance!), and a relaxation pool that winds from indoors to outdoors with Jacuzzi sections to chill out in. The rooms cater for all needs with varying heat, humidity and styles.
What to Wear
The general feel of Ragdale Hall is one of relaxation and most guests will wonder around during the day in their robes and swimwear – even at lunch and dinner times! Elle and I chose to spend most of our time in fitness clothing, so we could make the most of the opportunities to exercise and explore the grounds. Comfortable and flattering clothing that moves well with your body, such as my Lorna Jane shorts, which I get from Active in Style, Bellum Active Geo Performance capri leggings* and Chelsea tank*, Good hYOUman Love Yourself tank* from Style Sportif.
In terms of swimwear, I took my trusted Triangl bikinis – I know they’re always super flattering and stand out as beautiful pieces… just watch for billowing briefs when you sit near the back massage jets!
Finally, for footwear, a good pair of trainers are needed for fitness classes. I took my Nike Metcon 2 trainers, as I wanted something that could cope with most forms of training. I would recommend walking shoes or running trainers, like the adidas Ultra Boosts, if you plan to do a walking class or just want to explore. And for the spa you’ll need a pair of flip flops or mules. I love my Freedom Havaianas which are super comfortable and stay on your feet securely.
Included in our package (the Overnight Reviver) was a Blissful Face and Back treatment, which included a relaxing back massage followed by a facial. My therapist, (one of 135 at the spa!) asked questions about my skin condition before proceeding with the treatment which was honestly 50 of the most relaxing minutes of my life.
After the treatment, my therapist, Laura, wrote out a prescription card with recommended products to look at in the Ragdale Hall beauty store. She recommended the Decleor Aroma Pureté range for my oily skin, including a cleanser, night balm and day cream. I needed a new day cream anyway, so picked that up from the store.
I know, I’ve left this section a lot later than you might think for such a foodie! Let’s just say, Ragdale Hall is all about quality, and the food is no exception. As many ingredients as possible are locally sourced, and a focus is placed on using in-season produce for the best flavour and reduced air miles.
Breakfast is a relaxed treat, with your order placed on the evening ready to be delivered to your room the following morning. You can choose to go light with one of the set breakfasts, or have your pick of the menu with selections from the individual menus. I particularly liked the feta, superseed and sundried tomato muffin, and the wholemeal banana loaf.
Lunch is a buffet spread, with bread and a choice of two starters brought to your table before you unleash yourself on the variety of seasonal food available. Sunday included traditional Sunday lunch options, including roast beef, Yorkshire puddings and roast potatoes. The buffet desserts were a sight for sore eyes, with beautiful glasses of parfait, chocolate puddings, jellies and more. It would be rude not to mix and match!
Dinner is a more traditional restaurant affair, with a set menu containing plenty of choice for three courses, as well as sharing bread. The wine menu offers a good selection, and we both indulged in a little something white and liquid to accompany our dinners. Portion sizes are perfect, leaving you full but not stuffed.
Spa Breaks at Ragdale Hall
Our weekend at Ragdale Hall was probably the most relaxing break I’ve been on. As soon as you arrive you feel settled and looked after, and I definitely intend to plan a return visit. Although 90% of their guests are female, I’m sure Darren would get a lot of relaxation out of it too, so I hope to take him along next time. It would also be a great place for mother/daughter breaks, mum-to-be pampering and any other excuse you can think of!
Their programme of fitness events for 2017 will also be released soon, including walking, yoga, pilates, dance and running… keep an eye out for all the latest news and offers by signing up to their newsletter!
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary stay at Ragdale Hall. Items marked with a * were received as media samples. 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.