Emma Ormerod reviews Elan Spa at Mallory Court, Leamington
The leaves are starting to turn, the evening aren’t as light as they were, the schools are going back and there’s not another bank holiday until Christmas.
It’s a time of year that can be tinged with a hint of melancholy. So perhaps now is the ideal moment to take some time out and treat yourself to an experience that will keep that summer glow alive.
The good news is that this part of Warwickshire offers many places that are perfect for a spot of pampering. And one of those is Mallory Court, which is on the outskirts of Leamington but feels a world away.
Elan Spa opened at the three-red-star country house hotel earlier this year. It sits in Mallory Court’s tranquil ten-acre grounds, surrounded by sheltered woodland. Facilities include an outdoor vitality pool with countryside views, a glazed outdoor sauna, a Rhassoul mud room, seven treatment rooms, 10m indoor Hydro pool, sauna, steam room and gym.
Like the hotel itself, it exudes a quiet confidence without being ostentatious or overly showy. The decor is relaxed and understated: think sophisticated blues and greys. Chintz, kitsch and bling are mercifully absent; instead, the atmosphere is one of unassuming competence and calm. The architecture deftly reflects the old hotel building, too, looking perfectly in place; it all looks new, but in the best possible sense.
And places like this aren’t just what you see. Scents are a big part of the package, too, and the aromas are subtle and immediately relaxing. Also immediately apparent is the friendliness of the staff: again, nothing too overbearing or overfamiliar, but rather an attitude of warm, courteous and informal professionalism.
We were visiting for a half-day spa session. Having been shown through to the changing rooms - which offer an impressive degree of privacy - we made our way upstairs for our treatments, a massage for the back, neck and shoulders, as well as a facial, all conducted with evident expertise and sensitivity. We were given a choice of scents for the ESPA treatments, which was a welcome touch. And the sense of elegant luxury continued beyond the treatment room: the showers, again discreet and personal, were equipped with bergamot and jasmine-perfumed shampoo, conditioner and shower gel. It gives the impression of everything having been thought through. Those tense muscles had been relieved of their aches.
If the treatment was relaxing, what followed was invigorating. The pool gets the blood circulating and the senses tingling, with an array of enlivening features: the jets of water sprayed by two overhanging cannons make you feel like you’re sitting under a glorious waterfall. Drying off on the sun terrace was a treat, too.
And the day didn’t end there. An afternoon tea, complete with champagne, tasted particularly good after such a delightful few hours. Again, it was not a generic affair: the sandwiches, sweet treats and scones were presented in stacked bamboo boxes, with banana leaves. There was not a cake stand or a doily in sight, but the flavours and textures of the food would still please even the most ardent traditionalist. It was a fresh take on a British institution – and the gluten-free options were made with skill and care.
There was still time to enjoy a stroll in the evening sun afterwards, as well, taking in the hotel’s gorgeous grounds and gardens and giving the feel of a real escape from daily life.
A fresh, refreshing and cleansing experience, then. Who says the fun stops when summer ends?
* Half-day spa packages cost from £99. Call 330214 or visit www.mallory.co.uk to book.