Cobbled streets and cloisters, a castle and a listed Church, leafy Georgian avenues and Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms. This according to my online research are highlights of Harrogate, a Victorian Spa town and in its heyday a sought-after fashionable resort with curative spring waters. It’s a Yorkshire must-see. Sadly, however, I didn’t quite manage the short journey from my country house hideaway. I was, instead, cocooned in the embrace of Rudding Park & Spa which sits proudly on the outskirts, perched amid 300 acres of undulating countryside.
Harrogate’s Royal Pump Room was built in1842 to provide shelter for the town’s affluent visitors as they took the famous waters. My surroundings, in contrast, are somewhat different. Contemporary styling, flashes of zany designs in bold colours hold court while individual art structures are dotted around bringing interest to corners and entrances of this 90-room hotel with a signature spa area that flows over three floors that can only be described as modern, airy, high-tech, cool and glitzy.
And moody….each level of the spa exudes a defined ambience amid a creative mix of hydrotherapy and thermotherapy experiences. On the uppermost level, an air of excitement emanates from the roof-top heated pool which overlooks mature garden areas. Guests giggle with sheer delight sipping a glass of bubbly with water splashing from jets into fine layers of mist lacing the surface creating an atmosphere more like Iceland than England. Come rain or shine, the cabanas extend the refreshing outdoor experiences or the garden sauna cabin for a little heat. Back inside, the focus moves first to the feet with a row of individual foot spas and then to the whole body warmth of the herbal bath and luxury steam rooms.
Next level down boasts a tempting indoor swimming pool in a light, elegant space with a juniper log sauna on standby as well as a room set up for mud rasul rituals. It’s all peace and tranquillity below with a number of treatment rooms and relaxation areas. Here you can snuggle up on squishy sofa chairs against the backdrop of scenic video footage on an oversized screen. Serenity flows into a twinkling-lit room with reclined beds, an audio room to meditate or a lounge for a little colouring therapy to reset the mind. Quiet, still, calm.
The menu of treatments is wide ranging and varied from Carita Cinetic Lift Facials, a Pearl & Jasmine Body Renewalwhich uses mineral-rich Himalayan salt crystals, a chakra wellbeing massage, or for those living with and beyond cancer, a range of Jennifer Young treatments.
I chose the thermal detox wrap and suffice to say, it was both relaxing and effective. The Spa has won a number of awards and has cleverly combined treatments with dining options in an array of packages to suit individuals and groups alike.
All this relaxation and revitalisation whets the appetite especially for a dish or two of fine dining. The Horte Restaurant serves up artistic displays in delicate portions oozing with flavours in its chef’s 7-course tasting menu with optional wine pairings.
Once relaxed, the gym is available to tone the muscles while a private cinema room offers a little distraction. With two restaurants, tastefully furnished guest rooms with all the facilities you need, a stay here will keep you occupied in unhurried relaxation.
Back in 1571, the first mineral spring was discovered christening Harrogate as the place of healing waters. Today, the privately-owned Rudding Park & Spa has stolen the title for restoring the mind and revitalising the body but that’s no excuse for not visiting this Victorian Spa town – I will next time.