Find the perfect spa retreat for taking your best mate, other half or even the kids!
Kate Langrish takes her man along to a romantic spa in Gloucestershire and cures his health-farm phobia
My first visit to a spa hotel a couple of years ago was not a resounding success. When I booked my husband, Matt, and I in for a weekend I envisaged a relaxing minibreak, splashing about in the pool and chit-chatting while reclined on loungers. What I hadn't anticipated was the old school 'health farm' we found ourselves in - with rations at meal times and populated entirely by women of a certain age dressed in towelling robes and little else. Even at dinner.
It was too much for my husband to bear, and it was soon off with the bathrobe and on with Sky Sports. I didn't see him for the rest of the weekend. So it was with great trepidation that he agreed to come to Calcot Manor with me. He needn't have worried. Calcot is a world away from a harsh retreat. It is, first and foremost, a fantastically indulgent country hotel. But unlike many places that tack a swimming pool and sauna on and call themselves a 'spa hotel', Calcot's spa is integral - both in its setting and ethos.
The spa facilities are bright, modern and airy. Centred around a courtyard with a flash-looking outdoor hot-tub, it's all stainless steel and slate. A 16m pool means you can get some decent lengths in, while a 'trim trail' takes runners through beautiful Cotswold countryside. Upstairs, the steam and sauna areas are sleek and spacious. There's nothing twee or old-fashioned here.
But the biggest relief for my other half is the presence of other men. True, they're all congregated in and around the hot-tub. But they're there, lying back on loungers, reading the papers, and all looking surprisingly at home in their white robes and matching slippers.
A light, healthy lunch is available at the spa, or you can do what most of the blokes seem to do - don your shorts and head over to the Gumstool, Calcot's onsite country pub. Dinner is a much classier affair and adds some romance to the R&R (and definitely not a white robe dress code). With fresh, local produce on the menu, we choose from Upton smoked salmon, local organic beef, and seafood. It tastes delicious but also feels quite healthy and virtuous - well, apart from the wine.
The next morning, we take a jog around the trim trail followed by a huge breakfast, and I head back to the spa. Fresh from enjoying an Aromatherapy Associates facial, I make a beeline to the courtyard to track down Matt. Sure enough, he's there, in the hot-tub, sipping a beer in the sunshine. 'I could get used to this spa business,' he says.
Calcot Manor costs from £240 per person per night B&B, based on two sharing a standard room. Special packages, including dinner at The Conservatory Restaurant and spa vouchers are available. www.calcotmanor.co.uk
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