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Review: Cliveden Spa

Energy levels hit rock bottom? Get ye to Cliveden Spa, the new multimillion revamp that delivers on substance as well as style.

Nothing I love better at this time of year (well, any time of year really) than an excuse to stop and make it all about me me me. So it’s hello, how are you and pass me that fluffy towel for a trip to the new Cliveden spa.

THE LOCATION

National Trust. Photo: Paul Watson

Bang on the Berks/Bucks border, the hotel and spa are about 40 minutes from London, 20 minutes from Windsor and 30 minutes from Reading so emminently ‘get-to-able’. Conde Naste Traveller recently voted Cliveden the UK’s best hotel and there’s no denying its super grand creds – built in 1666 in Palladian style by the 2nd Duke of Buckingham for his mistress it covers 376 acres of National Trust grounds. Over the centuries Cliveden has played host to some of the nation’s most extravagant parties, most famously that outdoor pool romp between Christine Keeler (who died just last week) and John Profumo, Minister for War, leading to the eventual fall of the government.

THE VIBE

Tranquil guest room at the Cliveden Spa white walls, soft linens and neutral furniture

The spa used to be the poor relation here – it was felt to be a bit rough-around-the-edges given the classiness of the hotel. These days though, customer expectations are sky high, particularly in a five star hotel, so it’s no wonder that Cliveden has poured multimillion investment into what has now become a highly impressive space, all light filled rooms of whites and neutrals and stylish deco-inspired touches.

THE FACILITIES

The clock tower tower over the iconic 'Profumo' grade II listed outdoor pool at Cliveden Hotel and Spa

Replete, as you’d expect. There’s something glorious about stepping out into the ‘Profumo’ pool outside, in the enclosed garden, with the iconic clock tower to your left and hot tubs to your right. There was no one at all in the pool the whole time I was in the spa – I think perhaps because it’s a ‘quad’ with the pool as the central focus people may be nervous about being watched as they get in the pool. No such qualms for your correspondent – I stripped down like a Sixties showgirl and floated about in the 29 degree pool for an age.

Inside, there’s another, very beautiful art deco-pool with a jacuzzi and an infrared sauna and infused steam room, plus a small gym room (empty – come on, who’s going to bother on a spa day?!), guest space looking out onto the spa garden and then a lovely cafe. With just 7 treatment rooms it’s a mid-size spa and it feels pleasantly intimate for it.

The café

THE TREATMENTS

As you’d expect really – mainly massage, facials, body wraps, mani/pedi plus blow dries if you need to perk yourself up on release. The rooms are attractive, dimly lit with these incredible water mattresses that feel soooo relaxing. I’ve never come across one before in a treatment but I loved it. There are loads of treatment packages here, and there’s certainly a premium at Cliveden, but my OSKIA facial I felt was good value – a 75 minute treatment with a foot bathing ritual thrown in, plus full use of all facilities and lunch.

If you really want to make the most of the spa, there’s a fantastic deal with the Dusk Delight – from 5pm-10pm, including 2 treatments (60 mins total) for £140. Plus you get to see the pool lit up at night and can seriously justify a cocktail in the main house afterwards.

The entrance

THE MUDDY VERDICT:

Good for: Luxe seekers. There’s no question that the beauty and grandeur of Cliveden gives an extra frisson to spa visitors. Those who like their facilities spinky spanky new will adore the beautifully-appointed facilities

Not for:  The gym is on the small side, so it won’t please serious gym bunnies (though really, is that why you’re there?!), and the spa, though beautiful, is entirely enclosed so it can feel cut off from the rest of the hotel.

£££: On the expensive side, but I think it’s good value if you factor in Cliveden’s beauty and history.

Cliveden Hotel and Spa, Taplow, Berkshire SL6 0JF. Tel: 01628 607107.

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