TIME OUT – LIFEHOUSE STYLE!
Love Life Live Well
Very recently a colleague and myself were lucky enough to enjoy an overnight break at Lifehouse, the contemporary Spa & Hotel located in Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex. Lifehouse is easily reached from London by road or rail and is only a 10-minute drive from the sandy beaches of the quaint little English town of Frinton-on-Sea.
We were looking forward to having some time to ‘be still’ and not feel guilty about enjoying being pampered,rested and rejuvenated!
We knew that Lifehouse was set in 12 acres of historic listed gardens (it was formerly Thorpe Hall and home to Lord and Lady Byng, friends of King George V and Queen Mary) – what we weren’t prepared for was the sense of calm and peace that we experienced as soon as we drove up the winding driveway. You know we are ‘townies’ when we say that we got totally excited at seeing not one – but four green woodpeckers hopping on the grass on our approach to the car park!
We arrived at around 3.45pm (check in is after 3pm) so we made our way to reception where we were warmly greeted by the reception manager who provided us with comprehensive information about our bedroom locations, the gardens, spa and all the other facilities – and we were also given a printed ’layout’ map (which was very handy as we could browse this later when we needed to get our bearings) along with our bedroom card keys.
Our bedrooms were situated in The Mulberry building and as it was a glorious summer’s day we decided to walk through the courtyard gardens to get to the rooms. On the way there we noticed that some guests (who were dressed in robes) were enjoying a gentle stroll or sitting on benches amongst the stunning garden planting, whilst others were fully clothed, reading or sitting chatting with friends. Everyone looked entirely comfortable and peaceful and we returned the nods and pleasant smiles we received – which was nice and felt a little bit conspiratorial, as if we were part of something special!
Our bedrooms were spacious, calm and spotlessly clean, containing a very comfortable double bed, TV, telephone, hairdryer, complimentary Wi-Fi, tea/coffee, kettle and Lifehouse bottled water.
Facilities included a feature desk/dressing table with a large illuminated makeup area plus storage drawers as well as separate clothes hanging space next to a stylish, good sized bathroom with large walk in shower and luxury toiletries.
The Juliet Balconies with full height windows afforded great views- either across the gardens or over the courtyard
We had booked in for dinner in the restaurant at 7.30pm so after we had unpacked and freshened up, we took a long walk around the tranquil gardens and then sat by the lake for about 15 minutes in silence (unbelievably for us!) gazing at the lush scenery whilst just relaxing and watching the ducks effortlessly gliding along!
Eventually we arose from our reverie and headed for the bar terrace as it was ‘happy hour’ and the sun was still shining, both perfect reasons for a little indulgence!
The terrace area was the perfect spot to enjoy a long cool pre-dinner drink and still benefit from the lovely garden views and scents.
As mentioned earlier on – our dinner was booked for 7.30pm – and believe it or not, we finished eating at 9.30pm! This wasn’t due to having to wait for our food, but was entirely because the 3-course menu was so delicious that we took our time doing so.
The restaurant is airy and light and the waiting staff (at both dinner and breakfast) were a delight - polite, charming and helpful -guiding us to our table and explaining our menu choices, portion sizes and answering any specific questions that we had.
We learned that the cuisine had an Italian-Mediterranean influence and style and the menu was created by their Executive Chef, Ugo Simonelli.
Meal choices include starters and either Heathy or Indulgent main courses and a selection of desserts
Suffice to say we did have 3- courses (Indulgent mains!) – and enjoyed every mouth-watering bite – hence our taking two hours to eat our meal!
The restaurant menu also caters for vegetarians, vegans or those with special dietary requirements or food allergies / intolerances. If you are staying on a Wellness Retreat, you can choose from professionally structured full board Detox and Weight Loss Menus
It wasn’t a hard decision to meander across to the beautifully lit gardens for an after-dinner stroll and sit awhile by the lake. That lovely feeling of ‘wellbeing’ seemed to be all around us and we were soon happy to head for bed for an early night!
We awoke (at 6.45 am) to another glorious sunny day and by 7am we were in our robes and slippers, and quietly closing our bedroom doors we headed out across the courtyard toward the spa area.
Firstly, we tried out all the elements at the Thermal spa, which includes a Hydrotherapy Pool, Salt Inhalation Room, Steam Room, Sauna and Plunge Pool, Experience showers as well as an 18.5m Swimming Pool. There is also a modern gym where you can enjoy fitness classes if you wish (Shamefully, we must admit that we didn’t use the gym- even though we were intrigued by the look of some of the state of the art equipment) as well as a Relaxation Lounge and spa café where light snacks and smoothies are served.
The spa at Lifehouse includes numerous treatment rooms, where the knowledgeable and highly trained therapists provide a large choice of treatments, manicures and pedicures. Product partners include Clarins, Decleor, Natural Spa Factory, Carita, Thalgo, Little Butterfly and OPI.
The products are beautifully displayed in the spa area and we were in ‘product heaven’ as we sniffed, and sampled lotions, oils, creams and diffusers – all which are available for purchase – so of course we had to buy a few favourites!
We both opted for an indulgent OPI manicure - Lifehouse is a flagship spa for OPI and the choice of colours here is amazing, it took us a while to make our choices! (You can enjoy a glass of Prosecco, freshly chilled from the built-in Prosecco fridge with your Manicure or Pedicure for just £3.50)
Lifehouse also have dedicated experts who specialise in fitness, life coaching, nutrition and holistic therapies.
For anyone in post-cancer recovery or still undergoing treatment and for anyone recovering from illness, stress burnout or bereavement who wish to spend a couple of nights - Lifehouse also have therapists who are trained by the NHS Christie Trust, as well as their own Resident Naturopath who will make your stay relaxing and enjoyable.
If you want to treat someone special to a spa day or spa break (or maybe even yourself?) Lifehouse offer monetary or specific vouchers via this link which are valid for 12 months from date of purchase.
Following our visit to the spa we walked around the gardens for a while and then made our way to the restaurant for breakfast, which was a luscious hot and cold buffet with juices and beverages of choice.
All too soon, it seemed, it was time for us to depart, regretting that we hadn’t opted for a 2 night (or even 3 nights) stay – never mind, we loved our time here and …We’ll be back!
So, in summary we have told you what you do get at Lifehouse - What you don’t get at Lifehouse is…. Stress, Anxiety, Tension, Trauma, Worry, Hassle, Strain, Pressure!
“What’s that you say”? – You’ve booked in already!