The weekend began much like any other, with my 6am wake-up call from ‘Jimmy the Nutter’, as I affectionately like to call him. Two episodes of What’s New Scooby Doo?, one long game of hide and seek, four games of Twister, 20 minutes of smashing Matchbox cars into each other, two minor tantrums, two demands for Nutella on toast and 17 whinges later – and I was about to get into the car to head off to Champneys for a weekend of pampering and giggles with the girls. The only thing was, my daughter Lois was hugging me tighter than a boa constrictor and Jimmy had me in some kind of a headlock. My husband managed to coax them away to wave me goodbye. As drove off I couldn’t help it, a little ‘yay!’ escaped from my lips!
If Champneys is the mafia of British health spas, then the hotel at Tring is the Don. A gorgeous stately home set in 170 acres of beautiful rolling Hertfordshire parkland, it has been a health spa for over 85 years and is the first choice of many celebrities – we saw Eastenders’ Sid Owen. It seems miles from anywhere but is, in fact, not a million miles from the M1 and easily reached by car. There are three other Champneys sites across the country to take your pick from.
I stayed in the Princess Suite, it was gorgeously chandelier-y and I spotted a picture of Princess Diana on the wall and quickly put two and two together. A quick chat with the (lovely) reception staff confirmed that, yes, Princess Diana did apparently stay in that room. I have to say, I felt every bit the princess and was very reluctant to leave even just to find my friends. But off I went with my magazines and complimentary robe.
The girls were doing laps of the pool but I, amidst the chaos of the morning had forgotten to pack my swimming costume – doh! Thankfully the shop had the perfect thing, and at a decent price too. Disaster averted. That said, I wasn’t planning to do any exercise on this trip – for me it was all about lounging around in fluffy robes and being pampered. I did go for a dip but not before I’d read Grazia from cover to cover, uninterrupted, a luxury ill-afforded these days what with my demanding small people. My facial was totally zen. A 55 minute slice of heaven, and I looked at least a year younger afterwards.
Lunch I’m a big fan of buffet food and arrived at the buffet cart with good intentions of sticking to the map printed on the Champneys’ plate: a quarter for protein; a quarter for carbs and half for non-starchy vegetables. It all went swimmingly until I ran out of room and just piled all the delicious healthy food on top. I carried my Mount Kilimanjaro back to my table and noticed, happily, that everyone else had a Kilimanjaro of their own. Not a mung bean was left either – the plates truly spoke for themselves, and the lemon mousse desert was to die for.
Dinner All meals are included in the price and dinner was healthy, nutritious and delicious. After dinner we retired to the drawing room where a lovely, older gentleman was tickling the ivories and we had a sing-song to some show tunes. The perfect way to round off the day.
Tennis courts and bikes are available on site. Those visiting en famille will find lots of child-friendly diversions close by, including Whipsnade Zoo, Woburn Abbey and the Roald Dahl Museum.
A one-night Pamper Break starts at £249 per person, going up to £449 for a suite. That package includes two 25 minute treatments, plus use of all facilities and meals. For more information, see www.champneys.com
Edited by Catherine Hudson