Spa Escape to the Mavern Hills
You might recognise Malvern water from your dinner table, but I don’t imagine you have ever considered bathing in it? Many people have – in the 19th century people flocked to Great Malvern to be healed by the regenerative properties of the natural springs. A spa hotel on the edge of the historic town in Worcestershire is once again providing modern visitors with relaxation packages based on pure water. I headed down to review The Malvern to see if I could be transformed from flat to sparkling…
A historic escape
Visiting a spa in the 1800’s was a serious business. The aim wasn’t to relax and indulge yourself but to bag a miracle cure for all your ills. Treatments included being ‘packed’ like a mummy, douched with cold water in all manner of disturbing looking ways and meeting the ‘bathman who brings the wet sheet.’
In my stay at The Malvern Spa Hotel I’m hoping to avoid a bathman although I may well need the services of a barman. I’m in the town that once hosted Charles Dickens, Charles Darwin and Florence Nightingale (not at the same time I assume) in their quest to find wellness. But I’m here to relax, not detox or recover from disease of any kind; part of the point of my child free expedition is to eat and drink and network. But I wouldn’t mind coming out of the pool a bit less stressed than I go in.
What lies beneath
The Malvern Spa hotel was the first spa hotel since 1910 to be built in the town. It was purpose built in 2008, next to a borehole that produced the original spa waters. At 20 metres deep, the borehole provides water for both the indoor and outdoor pool as Becky Sims, the Front of House Manager explains,
“The borehole and the Malvern springs come directly into our hotel. The water used to cure people; thousands of people used to travel to Malvern for treatment. It’s unusual to have an outdoor pool and indoor pool attached and to be able to swim out,”
No frills just pure spills
If you are looking for a country house spa experience this probably isn’t for you. There’s no sweeping driveway. No pictures of the English football team staying here and no fancy products in the 35 bedrooms. It’s on an industrial park near chain stores and a budget hotel.
The full spa treatment
But once through the doors, you are given the full spa treatment. Don’t bother packing lots of clothes, you are unlikely to want to come out of your dressing gown and slippers. As well as the pools, which are a temperature of 35 degrees, you can lose yourself in four sense stimulating heat and water rooms including ‘herb’ and ‘kelo’ saunas, salt grotto, ice fountain and foot spas.
No shortage of water
The gorgeous smelling treatment rooms have therapists on hand to give you hot stone, full body massages, facials, pedicures and other beauty treatments. I enjoy relaxing in the fairy lit courtyard style area with fountain, fireplace and plenty of sofas. You can sit and sip water all day, confident of its purity and when you’ve had your fill of that, enjoy something sparkling of the alcoholic variety. Many of the products in the treatments are also made from the famous Malvern water. And of course the pools are brimming with it.
One word of warning; you’ll undoubtedly de-stress but you may not lose weight. Afternoon tea arrives on a picnic bench, (miniature, but not all that miniature) with sandwiches on the seats and cakes on the tabletop. The waiting staff are friendly and engaging and dinner is relaxed (although not taken in dressing gowns.) The highlight of dinner for me was a sharing camembert, baked golden as the sun.
The sun itself made an appearance in the morning, rising over the town in an autumn sliver. The hotel is only a few minutes drive from the Malvern Hills and I headed up in search of St Ann’s Well. I found it under restoration but that didn’t matter as I was distracted by golden leaves that needed to be kicked, sweet chestnuts in shells that needed to be picked and the idea that I could have one more swim in warm Malvern spa water before I checked out. Anyway, it was time for breakfast and I was curious to see if it would be served on a bench.
Look out for offers
There are offers on a lot of the time so keep an eye out for them – currently there’s a December offer ‘Making Spirits Bright’ -a full spa day for £89 with a 50 minute facial, brunch and a festive bellini thrown in. The B and B regular spa offers start at £129 per night for a double – not that far away from prices at the budget hotel nearby. But in a budget hotel you don’t get framed pictures of water torture cures from another century on the stairs. Or a picnic bench of delights.
You can book directly with the hotel on their website which also has details of special offers. Prices for treatments vary. If you are staying in holiday times you may want to book in advance. Our party booked treatments including hot stone massages when we arrived.
The Malvern Full Afternoon Tea costs £14.95 per person and there’s optional cava at £4.95 a glass.
The Malvern is convenient for the M6 and only seven minutes drive from the station at Malvern Link.
Disclosure: The Malvern Hotel provided a night’s stay for the purpose of this review. All cake eating, lounging around in a dressing gown and rehydrating with Malvern water as well as the words and images were, as ever, all our own.