Cliveden Spa reviewed
Ain't nothing like a luxury spa day to seduce you into a blissful state of laziness. Resistance is futile.
We love a good pamper on Muddy, and we want to direct you to the very best. Mud masks at the ready? Then I’ll begin.
Grand, glam and peppered in scandal, a visit to Cliveden House Hotel always leaves me feeling a bit giddy (even before my first cocktail). It’s magnificent – a view shared by Conde Naste Traveller who has just voted it the UK’s best hotel. Perched on a hill looking down into the Thames Valley, Cliveden is set in 376 acres of National Trust grounds, in Taplow, on the Berkhire/Buckinghamshire border. It’s about 40 minutes from London, 20 minutes from Windsor and 30 minutes from Reading.
This Italianate party palace has quite the CV: built in 1666 by the 2nd Duke of Buckingham for his mistress, it has been home to an earl, three countesses (one the cause of a fatal duel), two dukes, a Prince of Wales (killed by a cricket ball on the terrace) and the Viscounts Astor. But it’s greatest claim to fame is the part it played in the Profumo Affair. Christine Keeler and Minster for War John Profumo started their liaison here, following a serious amount of heavy petting in Lord Astor’s outdoor pool. Throw a Russian spy into the mix and you’ve got a political scandal with bells on.
Given its 5-star luxeness, Cliveden welcomes you with open arms whether you are royalty, a rock star, an overexcited blogger (*ahem) or a lucky littlie. It’s ethos is about being family-friendly and relaxed and that vibe permeates throughout. That doesn’t mean you won’t have the jaw-drop factor, you’ll enjoy the frisson of that impressive driveway, the period features, antiques and refined modern additions.
Excellent. It’s undergone a massive renovation project, so everything is brand spanking new. Hidden behind the brick walls of the garden and surrounded by scented roses and lavender, you discover the spa. The iconic ‘Profumo’ outdoor pool is an absolute must – come run or shine – as the last listed pool to survive in the UK. And at a toasty 29ºC, there’s no excuse, particularly when there are two hot tubs to sink into.
Inside, the lighting is soft, the decor is neutral with an elegant mix of white, greige and blush. The indoor pool is a stunner, surrounded by stone pillars and antiqued mirrors. At one end there’s a jacuzzi and the other an infrared sauna and infused steam room.
On the other side of the pool wall is the guest room looking out onto the spa garden. It’s a dreamy mix of white walls, drapey linens and comfy loungers – the perfect spot to slouch back, enjoy a cuppa (or a juice) and stick your nose in a newspaper, magazine or book.
If you can be remotely bothered in getting physical, there’s a small but perfectly formed state-of-the-art gym (er, I put in a 45-min run to get rid of my ‘me time’ guilt). If you’re not a gym bunny, there are fitness classes, yoga sessions and tennis courts. Too much? Then head to the Spa Kitchen and grab a it or lie back on a lounger and make use of one of the 7 treatment rooms and relaxxxxxx.
The main treatment offerings here are as you’d expect for a day spa – massage, facials, body wraps, mani/pedi and hair up or a blow dry. For those looking for more needly aesthetic treatments (fillers, botox etc) this isn’t the place for you. The closest you’ll get is the Sarah Chapman Skinesis Therapy – a treatment that combines micro-needling, stem cell, peptides, power peels, regenerative LED light therapy and a poke, pull and plump massage technique. At £275 is pretty punchy, but I hear the results are amaaaazing.
I had plumped for a day spa package that included an OSKIA Glow On The Go Facial and Bespoke Warm Oil Massage – because after six weeks of the school summer hols I was tired just needed to be pummelled back into shape. So my therapist Marie padded me into an attractive, warm, dimly lit room, and went to work.
Each treatment is carried out on a water mattress and begins with a foot bathing ritual and you can choose your signature Cliveden scent – No.1 Nancy (a mix of fruit blossom, jasmine, wild mint and lily) or No.2 Anna-Marie (a calming blend of black rose and cedar wood).
Hopping onto the wobbly water mattress felt a little like I was lying on a bouncy castle at first but once it settles down you just sink into the bed. Perfect pressure was applied during the massage, a bolster under my knees (which she had ready) and 75 minutes of total relaxation.
For such a flash spa, there are some great packages – the Dusk Delight is from 5pm-10pm, includes 2 treatments (60 mins total) for £140. The Oskia Spa Day that I was on, costs £185, and includes a facial and massage, use of all spa facilities, lunch and refreshments plus fitness classes. Stay from 10am to dusk and really hammer the facilities would be my advice and then saunter over to the main house for a cocktail.
THE MUDDY VERDICT:
Good for: Day spa lovers looking for time out to recharge and refresh; weekend spa breakers – stay in the hotel for convenient access to the spa and all the facilities; anyone wanting super luxe facilities in a friendly environment. If you’re local you can become a Club member, use all the facilities and get discounts on food, drinks and rooms.
Not for: Those wanting total escape from children. Cliveden’s very family-friendly and there are several hours a day when the pool can be used by ankle biters. Lunch in the Spa Kitchen was delicious, but if you’re not a fan of salads, you might need to take a pew at the Astor Grill or André Garrett.
£££: Good value for what you get.
Cliveden Hotel and Spa, Taplow, Berkshire SL6 0JF. Tel: 01628 607107.