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Rudding Park hotel review: welcome to the UK’s best new spa

The four-star hotel in Harrogate recently unveiled its new rooftop spa, which was 12 years in the making – but was it worth the wait?

Helen Coffey
Friday 13 October 2017 19:00 BST
Rudding Park has opened a spa roof garden
Rudding Park has opened a spa roof garden (Rudding Park)

I could happily live in the Rudding Park spa.

I’m really not exaggerating. I’d start the day watching the sun come up over the glorious Yorkshire countryside from the comfort of the outdoor glass-fronted sauna, which sits as part of the complex’s rooftop garden. From there I’d move to the outdoor hot tub, letting the bubbles wake me up as I sipped my morning coffee. I’d get myself washed in the atmospheric “experience” showers, where at the push of a button you can choose between "Caribbean rain" or a North Sea squall, with appropriate birdsong, lighting, and water temperature to match.

And then? Perhaps I’d opt for a relaxing foot spa, alternating between hot and cold water to improve my circulation; maybe I’d plump for a dip in the outdoor hydrotherapy infinity pool, or simply relax back on a heated lounger. I’d definitely indulge in the panoramic indoor sauna with views across the 300-acre grounds, particularly while the spa’s in-house saunameister – which literally translates as “sauna master” – is there to sprinkle aromatic oils onto the coals and use a towel to whip the heat around the space.

Two different steam rooms, herbal and luxury, also await, and although the latter does resemble an underground chamber where some kind of ritual sacrifice is about to take place, what with the circle of throne-like chairs set around a central chalice under steamy, pulsating lights, this all just adds to the enjoyment.

Then there’s the indoor pool for some light exercise, another sauna (this one with juniper log aromas) and the Rasul room. This turns out to be one of the most pleasurable experiences I’ve ever had in a spa – it involves rubbing thick mud all over your body before washing it off and applying a salt scrub, leaving you smug and baby-soft.

The upshot of this is that you can easily spend an entire stay at Rudding Park without seeing very much of the actual hotel, instead filling the day by strolling from warm room to warm room. When I did finally stumble out of the spa – slow-witted, silky-skinned and contented – it was to discover a hotel whose contemporary interiors and high-spec furnishings provide a pleasing contrast to the traditional country estate-style aesthetic of the exterior and grounds.

Rudding Park has an outdoor infinity pool
Rudding Park has an outdoor infinity pool (Rudding Park)

This is no fusty country house. There’s a reading area off the main lobby complete with hanging, spherical chair, modern sculptures dotting the halls, and frequent pops of colour, from the stand-out orange stripe running along the spa reception corridor, to the bold, chartreuse headboards on the beds.

Not everything makes sense, design-wise – there are a lot of large, obtrusive paintings of hounds and horses, suggesting a hunting link that seems at odds with the hotel’s otherwise modern outlook. Thankfully, they're confined to the common areas.

Horto offers seasonal tasting menus
Horto offers seasonal tasting menus (Rudding Park)

Rudding Park opened its new onsite restaurant, Horto, at around the same time as the spa in May 2017. The three AA Rosettes eatery uses seasonal ingredients from the hotel’s kitchen garden, offering à la carte dining, plus seven- and eight-course tasting menus with a twist – diners are encouraged to eat each dish without reading what it is first. My sister and I go for the eight-course option, and it’s one of the most unexpected and exciting meals I’ve eaten all year. While initially I thought the “don’t look” rule was gimmicky, there was actually something refreshing about approaching each dish without preconceptions. The tangy tomato appetiser with tomato-infused water kicked things off with a bang, and from there the surprising flavour combinations kept coming – yuzu and crab, stone bass and sake, strawberry and woodruff.

Man cannot live on sauna alone, but with meals thrown in at Horto, I stand by my opening statement – I could happily live in the Rudding Park spa.


Rudding Park is located near the former spa town of Harrogate. It’s a 13-minute drive from the station, or alternatively the number 70 bus goes from Harrogate bus station to Rudding House, a two-minute walk from the hotel, every hour. Harrogate itself is a charming town, recently named one of the best places to live in the UK, full of boutique shops, indy coffee places and cafes. We enjoyed a tasty brunch at Baltzersen’s, which dishes up unusual, Nordic-inspired plates at reasonable prices. There’s also the famous Bettys (sic) tea room, a British institution, but be warned: waiting times are long and prices are high.

Bookworms can relax in the library area
Bookworms can relax in the library area (Rudding Park)


Rooms are a decent size and snazzily furnished, with monogrammed pillows, grey carpets patterned with oversized checks, and large, brown leather armchairs. The kingsize beds are hugely comfortable, while the brass-tiled bathroom is furnished with Molton Brown products. My room opened directly onto the hotel gardens and had its own terrace area. The only slight let-down is the pillow menu – my sister rang down for a hypoallergenic model instead of the standard feather variety before dinner, but we returned later that night to find the swap was never made (not that it mattered – she was out cold within seconds).

Rooms are spacious with contemporary design
Rooms are spacious with contemporary design (Rudding Park)


Rudding Park Hotel, Follifoot, Harrogate, North Yorkshire HG3 1JH; 01423 871350

Doubles from £189, B&B. This gives access to the indoor pool and juniper log sauna. Full access to the spa from £46 for half a day.

WiFi: free

Accessibility: The spa is accessible, with a lift to access all floors. There are 38 bedrooms on the ground floor with level access throughout.

Rooms: ****

Service: ****

Value: ****

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