Friend, not enema – spa life the easy way

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Nicola Sturzaker takes a spa break at Grayshott and finds more gain than pain

For all the grandeur of a place like Grayshott, it’s not the impressive 19th century buildings, nor the impressive swimming pool and facilities, nor the luxurious rooms. All are great, far posher than I’m used to, don’t get me wrong about that, a real touch of class. But in a spa, where you have to share, and where you spend much of the time in your bathrobe and slippers, it’s the people that matter.

For Grayshott, for all its pretensions as a hotel, is a health spa, a place you come to improve yourself. Part of any (normal) person dreads the idea of portion control, of saunas, thumping massages, and a vague sense of disapproval, or being treated as being a little simple. A January break, indeed, has the potential for repentance. And all the luxury in the world doesn’t quite rid you of that feeling.



So the staff are the place’s biggest asset, and the risk of an ascetic, monkish weekend disappears as you put yourself in their tender hands. A warm welcome that feels genuine, rather than unctuous assuages the worries a little, but not nearly so much as a spa restaurant that, however discreetly, allows wine. It’s not on the list, but its quietly offered. It’s not that I crave alcohol, you understand, but a hotel without it just doesn’t feel right. I can can ease my guilt with the fact that it’s organic. Organic wine. So that’s all right then.



The food itself on that first night was excellent. My husband would have prodded it around looking for signs of pastry or bread-crumbed offerings, but for me, it was perfect. Hot and cold meat and fish, beautifully delivered vie with an array of salads for your attention Healthy, admittedly, but excellent, and colour coded on the buffet bar rather than portion controlled. You stay within the limits, but by choice. A very clever way of keeping us in check.



And so the tone was set the treatments were nicely balanced between the really very pleasant and the improving. The choice is slightly overwhelming on the first trip - two swimming pools (the outdoor one closed for winter, thankfully), jacuzzi, hydrotherapy shower, steam rooms (separated by gender, this isn’t Sweden, you know), a gym, weights room, exercise and relaxation classes (yoga, pilates, you get the idea). And thirty nine treatment rooms.



The trick, perhaps, is to get the balance between relaxation and exercise and, as I say, the key to that relaxation is the people. I had a massage - in many ‘spa’s, they come in two varieties: the real thing or a desultory, greasy back rub. This, I’m happy to say, was the real thing, a massage done with almost medical skill by a woman who knew what she was doing and made all the right conversation about which bit of my back need manipulation, and (unusually) why my stomach needed manipulation, but it was the personal warmth which lingered.



The next morning, after the sleep of the gods in the splendidly large and rather indulgent room, I felt energised enough for exercise, but rather than test out the gym facilities, it was on with the trainers and out to the spacious, well-kept grounds. The fresh air of the Surrey countryside has just the effect and creates the appetite for a hearty breakfast - more fruit and oats than eggs and bacon, but ideal for me (if not the husband).



And on to the acupuncture, slowly deflating the stress, bit by bit, before heading for the steam box, head poking comically out of the top as the toxins leached out of me. Three different treatments, all unwinding me, notches at a time. But you don’t have to take my random pick and mix approach. You can take specific packages which offer to de-stress, detox or relax you. Or you can take the a la carte menu and select a variety of treatment with the help of the friendly practitioners around you, perhaps to be discussed later over the fruit cocktails or mused over during the talks (more than a hint of the Improving-with-a-capital-I here).



The experience is, whoever you come with, rather solitary, you are concentrating on yourself. The staff are concentrating on you, its all, rather pleasingly, you, you, you. And your fellow guests are in the same comfortable fug, padding around in their robe and slippers, moving from elegant bedroom, to luxurious dining room, from fruity drink to champagne, from gym to massage. It’s a relaxation factory - and I’ll take the final product time and again.

For reservations, call 01428 602020 or visit www.grayshottspa.com

Nicola Sturzaker is an osteopath in Streatham, South London

www.streathamvillageosteopaths.com

Suggested Topics
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Events Coordinator / Junior Events Planner

    £24K + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Events Coordinator ...

    Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: Chief Executive Officer

    Salary 42,000: Royal Yachting Association Cymru Wales: The CEO is responsible ...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Ashdown Group: Technical IT Manager - North London - Growing business

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A growing business that has been ope...

    Day In a Page

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine