Melton Mowbray isn’t known for being a wellness destination or a hotspot for a spa weekend – in fact, its reputation for pork pies might lead you to believe quite the opposite. But hidden away in the beautiful rolling Leicestershire countryside you’ll find Ragdale Hall, an award-winning spa hotel that is making a reputation for the town’s more wholesome side, having just been declared Best Spa in the East Midlands and the East at the 2021 Good Spa Guide Awards.

What sets Ragdale Hall apart from most other spa hotels is its unapologetic focus on wellbeing and spa. From the moment you check in and enter its light-filled atrium, you can’t help but notice the completely blissed-out look of every guest, sipping on soothing teas and cocooned in fluffy bathrobes.

A weekend retreat in this rural village in the heart of England feels like a proper getaway without the need to get on a plane or deal with the stress of a long journey. The enormous, ornate red-brick Victorian country house strikes the perfect balance between grandeur and home comforts: roaring fires and cosy sofas put you at ease, allowing you to truly appreciate luxuries like the rooftop infinity pool and breakfast served to your room. If only every weekend could look like this…

The hotel
As a dedicated spa facility, Ragdale Hall has been thoughtfully designed to enable guests to transition seamlessly from massage beds to bedrooms or from steam room to poolside. This integrated approach means that the entire property oozes a sense of tranquillity that puts it in a different league to most other hotels with spas. Wherever you go, you’re never more than a few steps away from a treatment room (there are 65), sauna (there are 12 heat experiences), relaxation room (there are 8), pool (there are 6), or yoga studio (there are 2).

Most bedrooms are moments away from the main spa treatment area, so you can float from your massage and into your bed – and there’s no need to change out of your robe either, with guests encouraged to wear spa clothing in all areas of the hotel (including restaurants). Rooms come equipped with dressing gowns, fluffy towels and flip-flops, so all you need to bring is yourself and you’re set for the weekend – there are even 3 on-site boutiques if you forget swimwear or other essentials.

The spa
Ragdale claims to have the most extensive spa facilities in the UK, with six pools and a whole host of heat and water facilities including a thermal spa and an oh-so-Instagrammable rooftop infinity pool offering breathtaking views over the valleys. With water heated to 35°C, you can relax on a recliner while being gently massaged by the jets or overlook the countryside views and immaculate grounds from the infinity edge.

The adjoining rooftop lounge, one of 8 relaxation areas, offers a space for quiet contemplation whilst soaking up an elevated view of the pool and valley below. For those who need a bit more help switching off, there are multiple daily yoga classes offering everything from gentle, candle-lit yin to more dynamic vinyasa.

It’s not just about relaxation though: the recently launched JUMP START, DISCOVER and NEXT LEVEL fitness programmes offer a tailored personal training experience for all levels of ability. Our coach blitzed our bodies with a 30-minute circuit that left us needing to lie horizontally in the thermal spa for the rest of the afternoon, and made the following day’s full-body massage all the more welcome!

And when it comes to massages – guests really are spoiled for choice with treatments at Ragdale. We opted for a Blissful Face and Back Therapy treatment that commenced with a Swedish-style massage using medium pressure to the back, neck and shoulders (perfect for soothing our stiffness from the previous day’s kettlebell swings…) followed by a hydrating facial. Combined with the 10 hours of sleep we got in our cosy bed, my partner and I emerged from our weekend stay with a noticeable glow that lasted well into the following week.

The food
Another reason for that glow was the food: every meal is beautifully balanced, starting with a wholesome breakfast delivered to your room – highlights from the extensive a la carte menu include Atholl Brose (similar to bircher muesli), butterbean, chickpea, tomato and vegan mozzarella bake, and wholemeal banana and vanilla loaf.

Lunch is a spectacular buffet spread with an abundance of colour: fresh salads, antipasti, and light fish and meat dishes. Dinner is served a la carte, with a thoughtful menu providing a spectrum of options, from lighter choices such as seabass with sauteed samphire and artichokes to more indulgent dishes such as duck and chestnut terrine with celeriac remoulade and sourdough.

The Twilight Bar is the perfect retreat for pre-or post-dinner drinks, with beautiful art deco décor and modern twists on classic cocktails such as a rhubarb negroni and a strawberry collins.

Getting there
Ragdale Hall Spa is located in the rolling Leicestershire countryside, equidistant to Loughborough and the historic market town of Melton Mowbray, and roughly a 2.5-hour drive from London or a short taxi ride from Melton Mowbray or Loughborough train stations.

How to book
The Overnight Reviver Break (£314 per person) includes all meals (breakfast served to your room, a three-course lunch and dinner in the Dining Room), plus use of all facilities including the Rooftop Infinity Pool, Heart + Soul Fitness studios and gym, and Twilight Bar. A 50-minute Blissful Face and Back Therapy is also included. For those wishing to stay longer, the Two Night Taster Break (£410 per person) offers the same all-inclusive services plus a range of treatment options.

words by Rosie Sargeant