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By Annie Gillman
While some people are total spa junkies, I’m a bit of a newbie. I’ve never had much time or cash to indulge in a full day of massage, steaming, pampering and relaxing, so when I was given the chance to review a British spa, I simply couldn’t say no.
My destination was The Spa, Bedford Lodge Hotel in Suffolk, nestled within the iconic racing town of Newmarket. On arrival, we were greeted by the beautiful scent of discreetly placed scented candles and a very welcoming receptionist. After a quick check in, we were led to the Spa Lounge, a smart area that has an exclusive, elegant and very British feeling, with its window seats, overstuffed couches and immaculately dressed tables. We filled in forms to ensure our treatments were tailor made to our requirements and allowed the therapist to understand our skin types.
Inside the Spa Lounge we viewed the menu, which has an extensive list of champagne, wine and prosecco. There were also healthier options like all natural teas, organic pressed juices, smoothies, and detox potions. I opted for the apple detox juice whilst my spa partner woke herself up with an Americano with almond milk.
The Bedford Lodge Spa features 10 spacious treatment rooms, a manicure and pedicure room and a couples treatment room, mezzanine and roof terrace with hot tub, all of which we explored in our dressing gowns and slippers. After relaxing a bit at the spa’s tranquil mezzanine, we were welcomed for our first treatment of the day- an ESPA Personalised Facial with a Lift and Firm Eye Treatment. The facial was tailored completely for my skin type and needs after I discussed in detail my struggles with having dry skin and hormonal breakouts.
The therapist reassured me that the ESPA products were all free from parabens, silicone, phthalates and all the other nasty stuff. The aim of the facial was to work on trying to bring some moisture back into my skin. Before we began, a Skinvision light was used to see exactly what condition my skin was in. It was determined by my therapist that my face is dehydrated and lacks moisture and that around my nose area it is quite congested but not necessarily oily. I also found out that I have dry skin around my eye area, but this could be down to the fact that I currently have eyelash extensions in, meaning I can’t work my eye creams magic as much.
I found the Skinvision technology very interesting. I had heard of using blue-toned lights to see things like premature wrinkles and sun damage- which luckily I don’t have yet – but I had never really had the chance to experience it myself.
After choosing between two scents, a rose floral aroma and a more green tea based scent, I went with the latter and my treatment began with a cleanse. This was a hydrating milk that was very creamy and would help to leave my skin softened and supple. For a deep cleanse a skin polish was used that had natural exfoliating beads that deeply cleansed and renewed my skin. The moisturiser from the ESPA Pro Collection contained a more advanced formula with nutrient-rich actives that restored balance to my dehydrated skin.
After the facial, I was given a blissful neck and shoulder massage to help with relaxation and circulation, then the Lift and Firm eye treatment began. First, a mask was used around my eye area- with the therapist taking extra care not to damage my lash extensions. This helped to tauten my skin, soften lines and had a richly nourishing effect. Following this was a moisturiser targeting the delicate area around the eye and helps to provide an instant lift. An intensive eye serum was then used to enhance the results of the moisturiser.
After an incredibly relaxing experience, I laid on the massage bed while my therapist noted down everything she did and used on my face and eyes. I retreated to the relaxation room and chilled with a magazine on the plush velvet sofas before trying out the hydro pool and the other facilities.
Soon, hunger kicked in and I was happy to see that the Bedford Lodge Spa offered healthy, light meals. Options included salads, veggie wraps, toasted Panini and juices. I chose a roasted sweet potato salad and a veggie Super Food platter, and was pleasantly surprised with how light yet filling the platter was. It came presented on a wooden slab and the super foods included organic tofu, grilled red peppers, Spanish olives, sun-blushed tomatoes, balsamic onions and some walnut bread.
After waiting the requisite 30 minutes, it was pool time! The pool area was quiet and peaceful, perfect for me to be able to try out each of the 5 water experiences the hydrotherapy pool includes. In each corner of the pool there are water jets perfectly positioned to massage your neck and back. There are also little pods you can either sit in or stand in while allowing the jets to work their magic and ease away the achy joints. It sounds weird, but there’s also a water bed made of metal rollers with water flowing out from jets. Sounds uncomfortable I know – but it’s not! Your body gently rolls over the poles which massage every muscle. The temperature is a comfortable 33 degrees at all times, leading to a relaxing and unwinding dip.
Adjacent to the pool, the thermal area and experimental showers can be found. For the brave is a wooden ice bucket shower to cool you down: simply the pull the cord and take a deep breath. A rainforest shower is also on offer with different tropical flows. As for the typical spa facilities, a sauna and a steam room with a hammam table.
Soon, it was time for another indulgence: a personalised massage. The treatment began once again with a detailed consultation with the therapist to discuss the most suitable massage. Depending on any worries or aches you have, the massage is tailored to your individual needs. Although given the option of a full body massage, I decided to go for a half body massage that would concentrate on my neck where I often experience aches and pains.
The aromatherapy body oil I chose contained sandalwood, which is a personal favourite of mine, as well as top notes of rose geranium and frankincense. It also had sweet almond that really helped to nourish my skin. The therapist’s perfect pressure released all the tension in my neck and back, and after a very fast hour, my skin felt supple and soft.
I have to say, there was little to criticise about this place. Maybe the changing rooms were a bit small, and the vegan options on the lunch menu were quite limited, but the quality of the therapists, the natural spa products they use, and the cosy atmosphere of the place made me sure I would be back at the Bedford Lodge Spa before long. A new spa junkie has been born!
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