The spa day: man’s answer to commonplace stress. Frequented by all, the spa day knows no gender, no age and no bounds. So, in a fortuitous series of events I coaxed my grandmother, ‘Lady West’, into joining me for a day of relaxation at the Christchurch Harbour Spa.
Located in the depths of the Christchurch Harbour Hotel, this award-winning spa boasts state of the art facilities, lavish treatment rooms, breathtaking views and some of the friendliest staff I have ever met.
We arrived late morning one Tuesday. Having already broken into the working week and still suffering from the week before, this was surely needed – it’s not all food and giggles this job you know. We were greeted by a friendly face at the reception desk and shown to our dressing rooms. With our towelling robes and hotels slippers in tow, off we went to explore.
Hidden behind a smoky glass sliding door is their main spa area. As the door glided open it revealed an atmospherically lit swimming pool, complete with colour changing spotlights. We began to feel the stress wash away as we floated to the first room. We stood in front of the unusually named ‘Salt Room’, looking at each other in the hopes to glean some idea of what was ahead. We sat ourselves inside, and the pushes the button as instructed – whoosh; salt enriched mist dispersed into the air. Having later researched at home, I now know that the salt air is fantastic for several common (and less so common) human inflictions; including acne, poor breathing and general detoxification of the skin and respiratory system.
We exited the salt chamber feeling calm. I caught a glimpse of a white light coming from the back corner. Behind the door was a light-flooded corridor with a winding wooden staircase, a vast contrast to the shadowy spa. Our curiosities lead us to an all white cladded room that overlooked the picturesque harbour. With the doors slightly ajar a pleasant coastal breeze blew around the room. As we sat and sipped on our lemon infused water, I wondered, “Does it get much better than this?”.
The clock chimed 12 and off we went for our mid-spa luncheon in their renowned ‘Upper Deck’ restaurant. Included in our spa package was a two-course feast, chosen from their seasonal set-menu. We decided to skip starters and head straight for the mains, I the classic ‘Fish & Chips’ and my grandmother a traditional ‘Fish Pie’. The batter on my fish was incredible, light, crispy – flawless. A particular favourite of mine was the homemade tartar sauce. It was un-stereotypically complex and made the entire dish. Lady West also commented on how lovely her dish was, commenting particularly on the quantity and quality of the fish.
We paused between courses and looked out at yet another incredible view. We watched as the local gulls swooped by dancing over the landscape, but our attention was quickly diverted when the desserts arrived. I had opted for the ‘Chocolate Brownie’ and it was everything you want a brownie to be: moist, gooey and rich – most certainly in my top five deserts. I must also comment on the excellence of our server. I didn’t catch her name, but she was utterly fantastic – attentive, friendly and professional.
We rolled ourselves back to the spa, a-glow with post feast fullness. A quick change back into our swimsuits and it was time for our treatments. The smell of sweet incense filled the air, as we were lead down the corridor to their double treatment room. Our individual therapists consulted us as we sat back and got comfortable.
The process began with an aroma test, where I was presented with two scented cotton pads, whichever smell I preferred determined some of the products used, making for quite a sensory experience. The lights were dimmed and tranquil music tinkled in the background as the girls begun the treatment. I must say I have never had such a thorough facial. In my dazed state I couldn’t keep count, but as sure as one product was wiped away another would replace it, all of which felt incredible on the skin. Whilst the ‘ESPA Intensive Face Mask’ was setting, my therapist went about a shoulder, neck and head massage. Some massages are good, but then there are those that succeed your expectations and this was the latter. It was obvious I was in skilled hands as my therapist paid great care and attention to each individual knot. I was in a state of euphoria, so relaxed that I actually drifted off into the land of nod for a little while. What an amazing treatment; all the benefits of a professional facial with the bonus of a tension eradicating massage too.
It was the perfect day. It’s rare to find a spa that combines top quality therapists, and great facilities all in a picturesque setting. I thoroughly recommend the Christchurch Harbour for girls day, couples retreats, me days and well, just about anyone in need of a little rest and recuperation.
By Charlotte Williams
t. 01202 400955
a. Christchurch Harbour Hotel & Spa, 95 Mudeford, Christchurch, Dorset, BH23 3NT