ALL IS CALM AT SWINTON SPA

Spa-going with a touch of sheepskin makes for the ultimate in cosy and indulgent me-time, especially now the nights are closing in. Kathryn Armstrong snuggled up at the luxurious new Swinton Spa in North Yorkshire.
SWINTON SPA

Some 90 minutes after a signature Bamford body treatment I was struggling to walk in a straight line, let alone make a decision about whether I wanted to continue the zen-like experience on either a waterbed, beneath a twinkling canopy of stars or in a cloud-filled chill-out den.

I’m just warning you; be prepared for an altered state when you enter this pampering pleasure dome.

A sort of woozy-without-the-wine state. Most pleasurable, not least because you have to give yourself plenty of time to come round – and the best way to do this is lying prone on an outdoor lounger hugged by a sheepskin rug in surroundings of a wildflower meadow with a birdsong soundtrack.

This blissed-out state is on prescription at the new Swinton Spa, a stunningly lovely and very stylish addition to the Swinton Park estate in Masham, North Yorkshire.

The striking spa building has been cleverly designed to blend into the surroundings of the historic house – a listed cottage within the building even plays its part, with its walls incorporating a champagne manicure area and blow-dry bar.

There’s a charming blend of old and new – modern light-flooded spaces look out on to ancient walls and gnarly, generations-old trees in their stately woodland.

The spa has been a labour of love for the Cunliffe-Lister family who have revived the estate’s kitchen gardens over recent years to supply almost all the produce for the hotel – even to the detail of using flowers to make the delicious Secret Garden tea blend that relaxes you post-treatment.

There’s a deliberate marriage of estate produce and the spa’s ethos of well-being running throughout this feel-good space; herbs from the garden are used to fragrance the alfresco sauna, which has its own little loungey area complete with firepit.

We visited on a hot sunshiney August afternoon which was blissful beneath the Yorkshire-Med skies – but there’s the promise of an even more magical time when nights draw in and the chills come out – that’s when these cosy, ‘hygge’ spaces will really come into their own.

The outdoor loungers not only come with sheepskins but have heated lanterns above them, softy duvets and huggable hot water bottles. Talk about cocooning!

Quality is everywhere. No expense has been spared in making this a really indulgent destination – whether you’re a gym-bunny who wants to pound the treadmill facing a filed of poppies or a fearless swimmer prepared to plunge into the natural filtered pool.

Alongside the reliable Elemis spa therapies, the Bamford treatment range is a real coup for the Swinton Spa.

Bamford comes from the home of rustic, aspirational lifestyle  – Daylesford in the Cotwolds. Daylesford is home to the sanctuary-like Bamford Spa which spawned a raft of organic treatments and products. They approached the Swinton team to collaborate and this is the only place in the north where the Bamford treatments are available.

The Bamford range is organic and based on ayurvedic principles. A body signature treatment began with a choice of treatment oils, in my case chamomile, lavender and tea tree.

It is 90-minutes of bliss. Not always pain-free if you ask for meaningful massage for areas such as tight shoulders and a knotty neck. But that’s what a therapeutic massage should be about. The full-body treatment also incorporates reflexology on the legs and a Japanese shiatsu technique as well as hot stones as part of an abdominal massage.

It is incredibly thorough and, as I said, woozy-wonderful. Very necessary afterwards to head to your choice of relaxation chamber, be that the sunny lounge or waterbed retreat.

Within the spa’s spacious walls you’ll also find an 18m indoor pool and a hydrotherapy pool as well as an aroma steam room and a breath-easy salt steam room.

We also loved the Estate Shop – which sells everything you could want to allow the wellbeing to continue at home – from Bamford products to Yorkshire gin – a reviving combo if ever there was one.

In the shop you can also buy produce grown on the farm – we were there just as the Estate’s first grouse of the season was being prepared for sale – the day after the Glorious Twelfth – that’s what you call local produce.

Fittingly we were also able to taste some of the new-season grouse too in the Terrace restaurant.

This is a light and airy patio restaurant made all-weather appropriate thanks to outside heaters and an abundance of cosy blankets and throws.

The menu is quite simply sensational. Head chef Chris McFee and team work their magic with a daily delivery of whatever’s picked from the neighbouring kitchen garden.

SWINTON SPAThey make up three daily salad specials which when we visited resulted in delicious and clever combinations using (among other things) spinach, pinenut, chill, fennel, aubergine.

These we tried alongside small plate dishes which included the swoon-worthy new-season heather-roasted grouse breast with charred sweetcorn (from the garden), zatar yoghurt and chrorizo ragout) well as some beautifully tender octopus cooked on the Josper grill served with chilli and dill couscous – and mention needs to be made of and the Swinton trout from the estate, oh and the grilled aubergine with tamarind yoghurt and toasted pistachios…

The dishes were all real stand-outs in terms of the flavours – they were cooked simply but the ingredients made them sing.

The food was such a part of the whole feel-good, well-being warmth that wrapped you up as soon as you set foot within the spa’s honey-hued stone walls.

This place is off the scale in terms of rustic luxe!


Spa days and packages are available at Swinton Spa from £49 for a Sundown Spa to a personalised Time Well Spent day at £155 with a signature Bamford treatment.

Full details: spa.swintonestate.com

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