Short break - Ye Olde Bell Hotel and Spa, Retford | Spa Review
- Credit: Archant
Those seeking a luxury escape should check out Ye Olde Bell Hotel & Spa in Retford, says Kate Houghton
Olde worlde style, new world luxury…Ye Olde Bell Hotel & Spa in Retford has it all
Not too far away, in a place few of ever heard of, lies an experience that will take you quite by surprise. At first glance, Ye Olde Bell offers comfortable, traditionally English accommodation and gastro-pub dining, but first impressions can be very misleading and what it actually gives its guests is luxury from the moment they carry their bag across the threshold to the moment they leave, reluctantly, to return to daily life.
Thick carpets, wooden panelling and hunting prints on the walls…traditional country house décor at its best. Our room achieved all hopes and expectations; velvet and mahogany, super comfortable, with a big bed and a big bathroom, it didn’t miss a beat and I happily reclined with a cup of tea while hubby disappeared for a long bath. Within the hour we were downstairs, sipping rhubarb gin and perusing the dinner menu.
Do NOT be misled by the menu; it has to be the greatest exercise in understatement I have every experienced. When they say ‘Seven hour braised faux fillet, pomme puree, napkin dumpling, bourguignon sauce’, what they actually mean is ‘a dish you will want to climb into and never leave.’ Oh lordy, it was glorious. I can tell you I have never had a boeuf bourguignon that good anywhere. A rich wine sauce positively packed with tiny sweet onions and chunks of bacon, meat so soft it collapsed when no more than gazed at, smooth, buttery potato and a sweet, mysterious slice of dumpling unlike any I have had before. Everything about our dinner experience was superb in fact, from the décor to the wine to the service to the presentation to the food on the plates. We were both quite blown away.
Breakfast next day was everything you want from a proper English hotel. We spent a long time over bacon and eggs, pastries, fruit and coffee, then took ourselves over the entry road to the Spa, when we kicked ourselves for our dilatory dining, as this place is amazing.
I’ve been to a lot of spas. It’s possibly my favourite ‘all about me’ thing in the world, so I set high standards. To date, no ‘destination spa’ has exceeded this place in terms of offering, service and sheer, unadulterated luxury.
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Upon arrival you are greeted by a member of staff who takes you through your day’s options, from dining to treatments, and then introduces you to your Spa butler, who shows you to the changing room, then meets you in the pool area for a guided tour. Indoor and outdoor pools offer multiple hydrotherapy options and space simply to sit and chat – while you sip chilled drinks brought to you by your Spa butler, who patrols the area, tidying up, bringing drinks and fresh fruit to you wherever you are, reclining on one of the many seating options or in the sauna…it’s great!
There are three saunas; a gently heated herbal scented room where you can start the relaxation process; a warmer room with a Stonebath, where hot rocks are lowered into cool water to create steam; and a traditional Alpine sauna. Each one has a huge picture window to the outside area, making it a light-filled experience very different to the normal, sometimes rather claustrophobic, one. Between saunas you can try the snowfall experience and stand under softly falling ice. There’s a steam room and a salt inhalation room and the rather wonderful Sabbia Med light therapy room where, reclining in a deckchair or stretched out on the warm sand, you can pass through sunrise to sunset in 30 minutes; it’s a beach escape with none of the hassle. We tried everything and by lunchtime were in a state of utter relaxation.
The on-site bistro’s menu has been devised by the hotel’s head chef, offering guests a choice of light, medium or full-on starters, main courses and puddings, which you can mix and match to your heart’s content. Each course I selected was freshly made and utterly delicious, from my Beetroot salmon gravlax to Mike’s venison loin to my pineapple, Thai basil and ginger sorbet. A few laps of the pool might be a good thing after a single meal at Ye Olde Bell, never mind three. Sadly I had a treatment booked, so no exercise for me…!
My 30 minute Germaine de Capuccini facial was quite the experience. As well as the usual cleanse, tone and moisturise routine, I enjoyed a fabulous facial massage that would easily bear repeating on a weekly basis. Attention is paid to the entire décolleté and upper back too, with massage and stretches using hot towels that are surprisingly effective. Mike booked himself a mini Turkish ritual massage – using saffron massage balm and focussing on back, neck and shoulders, this also includes the stretching element and went down very well indeed with my always stressed husband.
The Olde Bell Hotel & Spa is definitely somewhere you should add to your list of must-visit places. But be prepared, it will give you a taste of hedonism you’ll want to repeat!