Sunlight reflected off the outdoor pool, guests sipped prosecco on the glorious lawns and all thoughts of wedding planning slipped from our minds...
Welcome to Ragdale Hall Health Hydro and Thermal Spa near Melton Mowbray, one of the country’s leading spas, but located just over 90 minutes from Sheffield.
‘Sit down on the couch and then you can start relaxing immediately’, said the manager on arrival at the former grand home.
And with four months to go until the big day, we didn’t need to be told twice.
Endless scheduling, shopping for everything from decor balloons to bridal earrings, and the constant budget pressure had taken its toll. Taking it easy at home isn’t easy with a day-by-day countdown to the big day hanging on the wall and an ever-changing to do list.
One of the most wonderful things about Ragdale is that you are expected to relax fully, and constantly, completely guilt free. It’s permission to be carefree.
After getting changed into the waffle robes provided, most guests don’t take them off, even for dinner. Several areas of the hall are silent - including one room called The Retreat, which contains only an array of beanbags, luxury chairs and even a bed to curl up in for some serious chill time. It’s close too to the recently revamped Verandah Bar, a stylish spot to stop for Hummingbird Cake or a glass of fizz.
We headed there after our first foray in the thermal spa, a calm oasis with ten different experiences to try. Highlights include the volcanic salt bath, where infusions in the air aid deeper breathing, and better stretching of tight muscles, and the popular jet massage stations in the open air pool.
Dinner was a delight: the perfect balance between healthy, catering for all diets, and tasty. Succulent swordfish came with salty samphire, while the chocolate pudding with cookie would have passed muster in any high-end restaurant.
Our waitress, like all the rest of the staff, was a star; giving us just enough attention without trying to take over the conversation.The evening ended woozy and happy over excellent red wine and Scrabble in yet another cosy room.
Treatments - of which there are simply dozens available, from the high-tech to purely decadent, - were the following day, after a healthy breakfast brought to our room.
My foot treatment, a heady mix of hot stone massage, conditioning mask, pedicure and scalp massage, even came with headphones playing instrumental tunes to truly block out the world.
The inclusive massages ad facials left us walking in air.
Both therapists used their own massage techniques to soothe the knots in shoulders and remove worry lines from our daces.
There was just time for lunch and a final stint in the thermal spa - discovering another hidden room where we lied in the pleasant humidity as sounds of the rainforest were piped in -before we had to leave the Amazon and reluctantly head home. Ragdale’s dedication to the small touches didn’t end until we got in the car, where there was a luggage reminder thanking us for our stay.
We’d advise any stressed out couple to forget the wedding favours - and do yourself a Ragdale one instead.
Two night midweek breaks cost from £325 pp including all meals, inclusive treatments and spa use. Spa days cost from £49.
Ragdale Hall Health Hydro and Thermal Spa, Ragdale, Leicestershire, LE14 3PB Tel: 01664 433000. www.ragdalehall.co.uk.