Where: Middle Piccadilly, Dorset

Who: Lydia Lerner, writer, mum of one and in need of a break!

I was unsure what to expect from my visit to the Middle Piccadilly Rural Spa Retreat, being a meat eater, I was nervous about dining on vegetarian cuisine all weekend and worried about being in my own company for two days. However, my fears were soon set aside when I entered the relaxed, tranquil environment of the Middle Piccadilly, where the people who work there truly put their guest’s wellbeing at the forefront of the experience they provide.

Dominic and Lisa Harvey who run the idyllic rural retreat, are incredibly warm and welcoming. On my arrival Dominic asked me to fill out an optional form on my general health and emotional status that later Lisa would go through with me, to recommend treatments most relevant to my personal needs. I really liked the prescriptive way my weekend was suggested and even though you can book dietary packages in advance such as vegetarian, juicing or raw food and any of the wide range of treatments, I was happy to take Lisa’s lead. I have never been particularly experimental with my treatment choices in the past and allowing Lisa to guide me, proved to be a revelation. Lisa recommended the LaStone Therapy and Hand on Heart treatments, which were provided by the Middle Piccadilly’s excellent and insightful therapists. Both my therapists were very keen to make me feel at ease. One minute I found myself chuckling away, and the next feeling totally relaxed and soothed by the holistic experience. After both treatments I felt exhausted and needed a nap but the next day I awoke feeling energised and ready for action. There is a huge repertoire of experiences the Middle Piccadilly has to offer, in particular I thought the Shamanic Healing sounded really interesting and there is an Infrared Sauna and Japanese Soak tub which unfortunately due to all my “resting”, I did not have time to try.

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During the course of the weekend I was mainly left to my own devices, which was an opportunity I was surprised to find that I relished. Four other guests were also staying at the retreat, two sets of friends who proved to be great company over the communal meals we shared in the cosy kitchen. However, nobody seemed bothered if you wanted to be on your own and I found I was equally at ease walking, reading and reflecting. On the first evening Dominic had kindly handed me directions for a lovely walk along the aptly named Peaceful Lane which gave me a great excuse to explore the beautiful Dorset countryside. Within the retreat there are plenty of areas to relax in, a lovely sitting room where you are asked wait before your treatments and the Starhouse where you can chill out, practice yoga or meditate. Newspapers, mobile phones and technology in general are discouraged at the retreat and a respectful quietness is requested after 10:30pm. I was one of the only people to have a television in my room, which I did not feel the need to switch on. These requests are not made to chastise you but to ensure everyone enjoys a peaceful stay and you find yourself quickly slipping into the docile environment. The handbook provided in your room states clearly that you should treat the retreat as a “home from home” and hours of undisturbed rest is “encouraged!”

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Coming to any kind of wellbeing “retreat” always installs a fear in me that the food will be restrictive and I may be left hungry! Friends ribbed me prior to my trip and suggested I slip a few snacks into my rucksack, however, Dominic’s food was a real highlight, it was simply delicious. After a scrumptious nut burger on the first evening I really looked forward to the proceeding meals which also added a gentle structure to the day. Breakfast was simple self-serve cereals and bread and jam, lunch warming soup with salad and cheeses, but it was the evening meals that were really impressive! Dominic’s Cordon Vert meals were beautifully presented, imaginative and satisfying. Not being a vegetarian myself, the food really inspired me to take a closer look at my diet at home as Dominic proved, with a little creativity vegetarian food can be superb.

The Middle Piccadilly is not your stereotypical spa break, it’s not a sterile tiled environment, the therapists do not wear crisp white tunics and the rooms are clean and cosy rather than luxurious. However, if you are looking for a place that is set in a stunning landscape, will feed you delicious wholesome food, will provide outstanding holistic treatments and will leave you feeling recharged, having achieved a real sense of wellbeing, then look no further… book your break quick! You can relax when you get there.

WOW factor: The treatments were really exceptional at the Middle Piccadilly , provided by insightful therapists who went of their way to put you at ease and ensure a rejuvenating experience.

Website: http://www.middlepiccadilly.com

Special H&H Offer: Prices start at £319 per person, which includes all treatments and meals based on two people sharing a room. Single occupancy rates available. Hip & Healthy readers can benefit from a complimentary 30 minute facial, using the code “HIPHEALTHYFEB”. Book at www.wellbeingescapes.com.

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