Stay-cation Vs Overseas? Champneys Spa Review.
I've just returned from swanning around in a dressing gown at my first ever experience at a Champneys Spa Resort.
As it was my first spa experience for my fiance Jamie's birthday I wasn't sure what to expect, but as the break was with an established luxury spa brand - I went with high expectations. (Birthday treats for him that us girlfriends benefit from are definitely the way forward!)
The area in Hampshire where the resort is situated is picturesque and idyllic. As a Londoner who rarely ventures further than the M25 unless it's to travel abroad, it was nice to be reminded how beautiful the countryside on our doorstep is - although I must admit I found the complete silence almost eery rather than peaceful!
Our room was well equipped and provided all the mod-cons although atestically it was not too dissimilar to a Premier Inn. Don't get me wrong, I love a Premier Inn but as the package we had was upwards of £1000, I felt the two shouldn't even be comparable.
We got the expected freebie toiletries, which I collected up at the end of our stay and took home, so my samples basket is currently full to the brim with Champneys goodies! I appreciate spending time in the room is not something we planned to do for long whilst there but for the price I was expecting something more ...although I'm not quite sure what?
As well as the friendly and efficient staff, the treatments area within the hotel is probably what gives the resort its four star rating. It felt luxurious, clean and oozed relaxation and glamour. With polished wooden furnishings, the wafting aroma of incense and the relaxing rainforest/ocean soundtrack accompanying you in the opulent waiting rooms whilst awaiting treatments was heaven!
I had a facial and a spine tingling back massage by one of the girls. Having never experienced such indulgence before (I know, some beauty blogger huh!?) I was a little anxious about having a stranger touching me/evading my personal space. I need not have worried as I was immediately put at ease and within 3 seconds of the therapist touching my back I happily slumped across the heated bed drifting in and out of a light sleep.
My facial was perfect too and afterwards I received a free skin analysis & a checklist of (Champney's branded) product recommendations. It was at this point I assumed I was about to get the hard sell but was pleasantly surprised that I was left to my own devices and leave. I did still browse the Champneys shop however and made a few purchases as the products were 3 for 2. (A separate blog post on that soon!)
Another treatment we experienced was Thalassotherapy, which involves various sophisticated pressure jets blasting you with salted water inside a pool. It was an experience but I must be a sensitive soul as I found it more uncomfortable than anything - although I can see this being pleasurable if you particularly suffer with achy muscles or have just run a marathon!
A treatment we paid an additional £100 for was the mud chamber, which is photograhed on the Champneys website as a mud bath. On arriving to the chamber we quickly realised its merely a sauna which you step into after covering yourselves in the 'mud' product provided in a branded Champneys pot. The session is advertised as 55 minutes, but fails to mention this includes the prior health & safety chat, underdressing/covering yourself in the mud and the time taken to shower at the end of the treatment - so all in all, you have a very specific 17 minutes in the chamber. (Champneys timing, not ours!) I felt this was a bit of a waste of money, after 17 minutes my skin felt no different and aside the giggles brought about from us in paper undies & being covered head-to-toe in mud, I could think of much better ways of spending £100.
My main concern was the fact Champneys boasted on its booking propaganda that their restaurants served super healthy food - I immediately conjured images of carrot sticks, lettuce leaves and my rumbling tum....but how wrong was I!? It was simply delicious, plentiful and presented in a way that I would forgive anyone for thinking on seeing my instagram snaps that I was dining in a Michelin starred restaurant. The breakfast & lunch was more relaxed and buffet style and the evening meal was three courses from an al a carte menu. All scrummy and ironically probably the highlight of the break for me given that I was really dubious about the healthy fare. (We even unnecessarily smuggled naughty contraband of chocolates!)
There were lots of wellbeing and fitness classes throughout the day, as well as diet and beauty talks which you are welcomed to attend - we didn't as we'd had treatments booked in our already busy itinerary but I noted the classes were varied and for all abilities which is great. We had unlimited access to the pool, sauna, relaxation rooms, and poshly decorated lounge areas where you could read, write your memoirs(!) or talk to each other quietly....no mobile phones allowed!
There was also an on-site physic & tarot reader whom I was keen to book a session with but my sceptical boyfriend Jamie talked me out of parting with £55 for (in his words) "a load of old nonsense!" We hired mountain bikes instead to explore the forest around the grounds. This was great fun and quite a novelty for a City girl like myself! (I thought 'clay pigeons' were a species of pigeon ...much to Jamie's amusement - i really need to get out more!)
I also checked out the gym area in Champneys in hope of using some state-of-the-art fitness equipment, but in honesty it was no different to my local council run gym where I am a member, aside offering free towels and a flashy water fountain.
All in all a great break away, if a little pricey for what it was. I'm not sure I'd return despite having a pleasant enough time unless the rates were considerably cheaper. Although a lovely few days of rest and relaxation was achieved, the frugal voice in my head did wonder what 4* beach resort we could have gone to for a week in the sun at the price paid instead.
Have you ever stayed at a spa resort? Would you be happy to spent the same on a 'staycation' in the UK, or would rather travel overseas where the weather is guaranteed?