Eastthorpe Hall left me pleasantly surprised. Instead of a towering, ornate facility, there was a well-groomed brick house seamlessly blending into the English countryside. It didn’t strike me as a location for unmatched luxury; rather, it evoked the feelings of peace and serenity you can only find at home. Opening the heavy wooden door and entering the spa, I was happy to see the inside of the house was no less charming than the outside.
Even in the small waiting room, I didn’t feel like I was in a spa — never mind a facility named the Best Day Spa in the U.K. as well as the Best Luxury Day Spa in the U.K. In fact, the space reminded me more of a favorite grandmother’s house. From my perch on the plush couch, I noticed a tall grandfather clock sitting in the corner of the room, a brick fireplace and needlework hanging on the walls. With wooden beams lining the ceiling, it was quiet, cozy and welcoming.
Stephanie Barraclough, or Steph, the owner of Eastthorpe Hall, said it is not unusual for her guests to feel this attraction and comfort upon entering the house. Calling it a “very special place,” she attributed the facility’s positive energy to the home’s ley lines, or alignment with other spiritual and cultural sites.
Still, it’s not just the home or ley lines evoking a sense of comfort. Steph also plays a large part in the warm, homey nature of Eastthorpe Hall. Waving a stick of incense around the room, she does everything she can to make guests feel at ease. Before she opened the spa in 1999, she was a nurse, and the kind patience she used in this profession shines through in her work as a spa owner. Steph said she left the nursing field because she longed to spend even more one-on-one time with her patients to ensure their comfort and well-being. The truth in this statement is obvious, as Steph treats every visitor like a friend she has known for years. It was with this natural charm that Steph prepared me for a day of rest and relaxation.
After changing into my bathing suit, I headed to the pool area to enjoy the infrared sauna, steam cabinets, swimming pool and Jacuzzi. In these areas, staff members ask that guests do not speak to each other, and cellphones and other electronics are banned from the facility altogether. Initially, I found this surprisingly difficult to manage. Like most modern Americans, my cellphone is usually in my hand at all times. I couldn’t remember the last time I sat in complete silence with nothing to do, no one to talk to and nowhere to go.
Still, after a few minutes of watching the sun stream in through the windows of the pool area and listening to birds chirping outside, I began to feel relaxed and ready for my half-day treatment. I decided to experience the signature relaxation package, which consisted of a full-body, one-hour aromatherapy massage and a facial.
After changing into a robe and following a therapist to one of the eight treatment rooms, I was more than ready to indulge in a massage. My therapist immediately noticed some tightness in my shoulders. To get rid of this tension, she massaged my back with an oily mixture of marjoram and grapefruit, which have incredible healing properties.
For an hour, I drifted in and out of consciousness as my body became more and more relaxed. Although I could have left the spa at that moment and felt completely at ease, my treatment was not over. Directly following the massage, the therapist began my facial.
As the goal of my treatment was relaxation, my therapist skipped the often painful extractions portion. Instead, using ESPA products, she gave me a balancing foam wash, skin polish, hydrating cleanse and a face mask. As the cleansing mask dried, she covered my hair in ESPA’s pink hair and scalp mud, a thick conditioning treatment, and gave me a 15-minute scalp massage. Although I’m typically not a fan of facials, it was the perfect follow-up to my massage.
After my treatment, I trotted downstairs in my robe, my hair still covered in the conditioning treatment and my face glowing from the facial. I joined other spa guests in a warm sunroom for Eastthorpe Hall’s award-winning lunch. The buffet was prepared by Granville Graham, the spa’s on-site chef, and consisted of Moroccan couscous, stuffed peppers, leek and onion broccoli tart, poached chicken, oven-roasted potatoes and a wide variety of salads. The food alone would have been reason enough to visit Eastthorpe Hall, as the locally sourced dishes were some of the best I tried in Yorkshire. Sipping Champagne as the sun poured over us, we were in utter bliss.
Before long, it was time to shower and leave Eastthorpe Hall, but not without a good-bye hand massage from Steph. With a warm hug, she led me to the door. As she wished me well on the rest of my trip, I decided I agree with Steph’s earlier statement: Eastthorpe Hall is most certainly a “very special place.”
Mirfield, West Yorkshire
WF14 8AE United Kingdom
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I had just taken off my sandals, stepping onto the white-sand beach for a late-morning walk to a secluded spot I heard about from a front desk clerk, when I glanced down and saw the time on my phone. It had just turned 11 a.m., which meant it was only 7 am back home, the perfect time to call and say good morning to by husband before he left for work. Not quite ready to head back to my room, I decided I’d test the WiFi signal and made the call as I continued walking toward the shoreline.
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