UK countryside spas don’t come much more classic than Champneys Tring in Hertfordshire, with its grand country house setting, sprawling lawns, and cosy sitting rooms.
Yet, as a new award – Best Spa for Wellness 2023 at the Good Spa Guide Awards – demonstrates, its enduring success also stems from a new future-facing outlook.
Powered by an ever-expanding portfolio of modern wellness treatments and a new aesthetics centre – laser therapy, crystal healing, and cryotherapy are now offered alongside its traditional afternoon tea and classic white robes. For that reason, this standard-setting spa is the perfect retreat for cosy yet results-driven relaxation, whatever your treatment personality happens to be.
WHAT TO PACK
Set in 170 acres of Hertfordshire countryside, 45 minutes by train from London Euston, Champneys Tring has been helping cocoon you in a bubble of spa-assisted calm since 1925. Perhaps it is no surprise then that, as you make your way down the long-winding driveway to the stately brick home, and settle into the cosy drawing room for breakfast on arrival, you feel like you could have stepped back to a quieter time. The decor of many areas of the house cements this feeling, as do the classic towelling dressing gowns you are encouraged to pad around in – and the sprawling grounds, in which you can enjoy ‘taking the air’ when the weather is good.
It’s as you go about your day at Champneys though that you realise how seamlessly the spa has integrated its future-facing approach to physical and mental wellbeing. Tucked opposite the entrance to the hydrotherapy pool area for example, you’ll notice a gleaming white waiting room for the 3D Aesthetics Medispa; as you pass a fellow spa goer on the way to the full-length pool, you may hear them mention the detox programme they are on; and advertised in the plush reception of the main spa, new wellness therapies have been added to the tried-and-trusted facials and massages. The secret to success has been how effortlessly these have all been combined together, so even two individuals in the same party could have quite different experiences, without spending hours apart.
The facilities at Champneys read like a perfect traditional spa check-list. There’s a large 25-metre swimming pool, set up for serious length swimmers, and an extremely popular hydrotherapy area towards the other end of the complex. That includes a warm hydropool, whirlpool, jacuzzi and loungers, plus an ice plunge, sauna and steam room to indulge in some ‘hot-cold’ therapy. The only drawback is that it does get a little busy – mainly because everyone else is enjoying the experiences as much as you. When the weather is good, the outdoor jacuzzi is another favourite place for guests to unwind and, when it is not, you can snooze in the relaxation room or on one of the heated flotation water beds, which feel like an indulgent treatment on their own.
For more active types, there’s a fully-stocked gym where you can book in for a personal training session, and now a new mindfulness studio for private lessons in meditation, pilates and yoga. The very latest offering is Padel Tennis – a massively emerging health trend for 2024. A mix between tennis and squash, it’s the perfect opportunity to let out some competitive energy with your friends or family.
To go a little deeper into your health and wellbeing, there’s new health appraisals into your body fat, nutrition and stress profiles too, with Thyme Memberships available from £650 per year allowing you to get access to world-class health experts. Even the expansive nail and hair salons are not a mere after-thought, meaning it’s incredibly common to find spa-goers who are in-the-know heading there in between other treatments.
The Treatment Menu
Just as expansive as Champneys facilities are the treatments on offer, which are likely to continue to expand in 2024. While still offering traditional spa treatments, including glow-boosting facials and tension-relieving classic massages, you can also find a wider-range of alternative therapies and technologies to try too.
For those interested in holistic wellbeing, you can book in for crystal healing, acupuncture, cupping or Reiki – all therapies designed to be as good for your mind as they are for you physically. If you struggle to truly unwind and destress even at a spa, these mind-calming treatments might be just what you need before your next massage to help you truly enjoy the experience. Or, try combining your favourite classic treatment with another new offering – IV Therapy; these drip-based treatments can supercharge the benefits of the spa’s atmosphere of rest and relaxation, targeting feelings of stress, burnout and brain fog by delivering a hearty dose of vitamins straight to your system.
Champneys is now also a really results-driven spa experience; a far-cry from some traditional spa offerings, which perhaps feel nice, but seem to do little for your skin. That’s where 3D Aesthetics’ MediSpa comes in. Offering device-based face and body technologies including laser-based non-surgical face lifts, fat reduction, and even hair removal, these treatments can truly tackle your key goals, helping boost skin glow, reduce wrinkles, and improve your body image. This offering joins the resort’s already expansive menu of results-driven facials, including medium-depth chemical peels, microneedling, light therapy and microcurrent-based therapies. Then, before you conclude your visit, you have the opportunity to try the health-boosting properties of cryotherapy, by taking a moment in the site’s controlled cold chamber.
Healthy, delicious and plentiful – that’s the best way to describe the food at Champneys, which takes the principles of balance and moderation to heart (it’s a health spa after all), without compromising on enjoyment. Dining is designed to maximise your opportunity to catch up with whoever accompanies you, with plenty of light and airy spaces to eat and chat – there’s no ‘quiet as mice’ policy here.
The recently refurbished Spa Restaurant serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, and even includes ‘The Champneys Table’ – a long table for single spa-goers who wish to socialise over the three-course tasting menu. Options include tender meat, generous portions of linguini and even vegan poke bowls, as well as a buffet-choice of puddings. The classic afternoon tea has also come highly recommended for years, but, for a less formal bite, head to the Spa Cafe. This large, inviting space has views across the back lawn, where smoothies, coffees and sweet treats will easily satisfy your sweet tooth.
The Little Extras
If the thought of driving home after a full day of relaxation doesn’t appeal, Champneys has a selection of rooms and suites to allow you to extend your stay overnight – with breakfast and dinner included in your package. The bedrooms retain the manor house’s traditional charm so expect understated cosiness, with beautiful views over the grounds and the benefit of feathery-soft beds that ease you quickly into a post-pamper slumber.
Just in time for the festive season, Champneys is also offering 20 per cent off its gift voucher packages from the 5th to the 24th December. So if you are organising a post-Christmas spa day, or are dreaming about a pampering treatment to banish potential January blues, there’s a lounger with your name on it in Hertfordshire.
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