January is one of the worst months, isn’t it? Everyone is skint, sluggish and tired. The weather is usually less than ideal for heading outdoors and morale is low.
A few months ago, I had booked a spa day via a money-saving website for the kids and I, to indulge in a rare spot of pampering time together. The deal was just £29 for two people and included full use of the hotel spa facilities and a Prosecco afternoon tea.
The Old Mill Hotel in Ramsbottom is part of the Lavender Hotel Best Western chain, with various hotels dotted around the North West of England. Ramsbottom is a beautiful rural town, located in the Lancashire countryside and just half an hour from Manchester (yes, it has a rather silly name…). I actually lived in Ramsbottom for several years when the girls were babies but rarely get the chance to visit much these days.
Our spa day was perfectly timed. I’d booked for four people so asked my little sister if she’d like to come along too. She gave birth to my gorgeous niece just three weeks beforehand so I thought it would be a welcome break for her. Being a new mama is tough going at times and the prospect of a baby free afternoon was well received!
On the 7th January 2017, we typed the hotel postcode into my satellite navigation system and hit the road – quite literally at one point! This wonderful piece of technology led me down the narrowest, bumpiest path and apparently, the wrong way. As I attempted to reverse back down this tiny lane, I heard a delightful thud from the uneven rocks beneath my poor car.
We eventually arrived at the hotel and my car seemed to have escaped any damage but I’d advise that any future visitors carefully check the directions before setting off! The hotel has two good sized parking areas so finding a space wasn’t a problem.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by a pleasant receptionist, who gave us towels, lockers keys and directions around the hotel. After an early start, we decided to stop for a coffee break first. The bar area upstairs was cosy and filled with beautiful Chesterfield sofas and chairs. The receptionist came to serve us fresh filter coffee and left us to settle in.
Once we’d had our caffeine hit, it was time to enjoy the pool. We got changed in the allocated changing room, which was well equipped with showers, toilets, lockers, a dressing area, hair dryer and more, and made our way to the leisure area. This boasted an adequately sized heated pool, jacuzzi, steam room and sauna.
Lucie is a natural in the water. She wasted no time and jumped straight in at the deep end, spending a good half an hour swimming around. The rest of us opted for the jacuzzi and nattered away, relaxing in a sea of bubbles. We flitted between the steam room and sauna, taking advantage of the fact that there were only one or two other guests present. After a few hours, we headed back to the changing rooms and upstairs for our food, which was booked in for 2pm.
We were informed the chef wasn’t in just yet so waited with coffee and biscuits in the bar area for around an hour. Tired and hungry, we started to get rather impatient. At 3pm, the receptionist showed us to our table and headed into the kitchen. By this point, we did begin to wonder if she was the only member of staff at the hotel that day, more so when she eventually served us our food too!
Our afternoon tea was basic but sufficient. This arrived on a bench-style wooden platter and consisted of simple finger sandwiches, macarons, bite-sized carrot cakes, brownies and fruit scones with clotted cream and jam. Although advertised as a Prosecco afternoon tea, we were only offered hot drinks. Luckily, we were just keen to eat without further delay and not too bothered about the booze so didn’t chase this up but it was a little disappointing. The dining area itself was lovely, with plenty of room, big windows, beams and pretty local artwork on display.
I’m not sure I’d have paid full price for our experience if I’m honest, due to the small leisure area and rather uninspiring food but it did provide us with a nice afternoon of relaxation and quality time together.