In need of a restorative break? Champneys Tring – the grand dame of spas and the bolt-hole of choice for royals and politicians – has just had a facelift and is back on top form
WORDS Trish Lesslie
Royalty, sports pros, politicians… For those in the know, Champneys Tring has been the health resort of choice for over 90 years. It’s also mine. In over a decade as a health and beauty writer I’ve visited more than my fair share of spas, but to me the UK’s original health farm is the one to beat.
With its blend of manor house elegance, woodland setting and state-of-the-art facilities, this Hertfordshire landmark manages to combine grandeur with robe-and-slippers cosiness. But it was starting to look a little tired. Well, no longer – the grand dame of spas has just had a facelift and is back on top form.
Set in 140 acres of private parkland less than an hour from London, the mansion house was built in 1875 by the Rothschilds – a provenance reflected in the high ceilings, grand sweeping staircase, stately drawing room and open fires.
But there’s far more to Champneys than old-school charm. The rooms in the ‘new’ wing (dating from the 70s) have a more modern feel than the chintzier suites of the mansion. And there’s nothing vintage about the facilities. Spend a couple of hours in the brand-new Detox Centre enjoying the infra-red and oxygen cabins, mineral-rich thalassotherapy pool and pristine treatment rooms and you’ll leave feeling more streamlined – if a little wiped out as your body works hard to banish toxins.
With over 100 treatments on offer, you won’t be short of choice when it comes to pampering. A renowned centre for sports medicine, the spa has recently branched out into health screening. Alternative therapies such as reiki, acupuncture and hypnotherapy are also on the treatment menu.
Speaking of menus, the fare is healthy but hearty – proper portion sizes, beautifully presented and using fresh locally sourced ingredients, many of which are grown in the grounds. The breakfast and lunch buffets are expansive (you can order a full cooked breakfast or eggs cooked in every way imaginable), while dinner is a more formal, a la carte affair. Desserts (yes, there are desserts!) are tiny, but tasty.
The fare is healthy but hearty – proper portion sizes, beautifully presented and using fresh locally sourced ingredients, many of which are grown in the grounds
From an outdoor heated hot tub overlooking the magnificent garden to tennis courts and the usual sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi, the spa has it all. There’s a 25m pool, well-equipped gym and up to 20 classes a day on offer in the two large studios – everything from hula hooping, Zumba and body pump to yoga and Pilates. The more intrepid can even take advantage of the guest bikes to explore the surrounding rolling countryside.
From a romantic break to a spot of me-time, this jewel of a spa is the perfect feel-good destination. Whether I go it alone or accompanied, there’s always one thing I can guarantee – that I won’t want to leave…