Spas We Love: Gaia Spa at Boringdon Hall
You know when you're really stressed, too much to do, sitting on a long train journey and wondering: 'Why did I agree to go halfway across the country to a spa...?' That.
But trust us: no matter how stressed or unstressed you are, a trip to the new Gaia Spa at Boringdon Hall just outside Plymouth is worth it.
Ascending the steep holloway to the hotel, it's easy to imagine medieval knights doing much the same thing – and the hotel itself looks like something out of a BBC2 period drama. (Not, we hasten to add, Fawlty Towers: we're talking flawless service, great four-posters, ESPA amenities - always love those – a great restaurant and a sommelier who almost, almost made us abandon our 'no-drinking-Monday-to-Friday' golden rule.)
By contrast, the adjoining spa – just opened – is as modern as it gets. But at the same time, it's a real nod to nature: set into the landscape, on the edge of Dartmoor, and feeling like the outdoors has been cleverly brought inside, through use of natural woods. Not least the stunning reception desk you can see pictured below. We'd call the whole vibe 'eco-glam' – not a wind chime in sight. (Or rather sound.) Instead, gorgeous fabrics, stunning artworks and sculpture, properly spa-like soothing and earthing sounds – and who isn't going to fall in love with a spa that serves eclairs in its Spatisserie...?
Everything, but everything is beautiful – not least the treatments themselves. We are actually quite surprised to find therapists of this calibre so far from London, but it turns out that due to unforeseen delays in opening (builders, eh?), they had months of extra training in the therapies. The spa menu itself features ESPA treatments but also an entire programme of massages, facials etc. using Gaia Spa's own range of products – which are very impressive indeed. (More of which we'll be sharing with you in a couple of weeks.)
Jo enjoyed - truly enjoyed - the Gaia Spa Holistic Spa Ritual, which blends Balinese and Lomi Lomi techniques (long, smooth movements to release tension, and as deep or as light as suits you). The body's exfoliated, followed by a not-too-messy application of remineralising Gaia mud, showered off before a choice of Gaia Spa oil blends – Jo went for Uplifting, as she needed to be awake afterwards! – is massaged into skin for what feels, blissfully, like ages. (This is a two-hour ritual.)
There's a facial as a finale but to be honest, Jo can't remember a thing about that because by now she was away with the fairies who no doubt occupy nearby Dartmoor (visible from the terraces outside the Spatisserie).
There are lots of facilities and restful areas to take advantage of after a treatment – the salt crystal room, chillout area around the pool (you can swim outside or in), etc. Jo took the cake option, relaxing upstairs with a ginger tea and the eclairs you can see here.
Any doubts that heading Gaia-wards was more than an overpacked diary could deal with were dispelled, in the two hours. Jo's often felt like leaping off the table mid-way through an ineffectual massage or facial – but the therapist could've continued for hours longer and she'd have been happy. There is truly no higher compliment, as far as she's concerned – and the relaxed, I-can-conquer-anything feeling lingered way, way longer than the train journey home next day.
In fact now, she's simply trying to work out how soon she can fit in a return visit.
Gaia Spa at Boringdon Hall/01752-344455