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Wellbeing

Spa bookings are at their highest in 30 years – here's our top pick for a relaxing break right now

January 13th 2022 / Melanie Macleod / 0 comment

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Roaring fires, a huge jacuzzi for stargazing and an outdoor sauna? Moddershall Oaks in Staffordshire has it all. It's the best spa our writer has ever been to, and she's visited a lot. Here's why to book into this small but perfectly formed retreat, pronto.

Spa bookings are through the roof right now, with spa booking company SpaSeekers reporting the largest spike in reservations in the past 30 years. They say Christmas 2021 saw a 50 per cent increase in spa gift voucher sales compared to 2019 (in excess of £1m) proving our current appetite for a little bit of R&R.

If you weren't one of the lucky recipients of a Christmas spa voucher, but you're still looking for a spa break, I'd like to point you in the direction of Moddershall Oaks in Staffordshire.

As part of my job, I've checked out a lot of spas (it's a hard life, I know) and I'm confident in saying this is my favourite. It might not be as flashy as the likes of Cheshire's Carden Park, or as wellness-skewed as the Sisley Spa in Portugal, but I've never felt more cocooned, relaxed and welcome as I did at Moddershall Oaks.

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Set in ultra-secluded countryside (it's miles from the nearest main road, yet well signposted so don't worry if you're directionally challenged), you can't hear a car or any other annoying noise for miles. In fact, as we sat in the private hot tub (which you book a time slot for, so there's none of that awkwardly waiting around for other people to get out), all we could hear were birds merrily tweeting away as the sun sunk down.

Moddershall Oaks is family-owned and has just ten suites, so it never feels overcrowded, even when the day guests arrive in the morning. At no point did I feel I had to hurry out of the jacuzzi or sauna, worrying that I was hogging them and stopping other guests from enjoying them, which is something I've experienced at many larger spas.

What are the facilities like?

The spa facilities at Moddershall are among the loveliest I've relaxed in. First things first, the outdoor heated vitality spa pool.

Set in a wooden framed terrace, complete with a flickering fire and surrounded by comfy seats, I felt like I'd been transported to Lapland when I took a dip in this outdoor pool. I have no doubt it'd be equally lovely when it's not Christmas, with lovely views over the rolling hills and staff that really can't do enough for you, even serving drinks to you while you're in the pool. If that's not luxury, I don't know what is.

Next to the outdoor pool is the sauna, again, one of the nicest I've ever been in. For starters it's huge, so you don't feel crammed in with other users, plus two of the walls are floor-to-ceiling windows, so you don't get the claustrophobic feeling that sometimes happens with saunas.

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The indoor spa facilities were a joy too. On the afternoon we arrived we had them all to ourselves (unheard of at a luxury spa!) so I made sure to try each area thoroughly.

There was a warm pool for a brief swim, a steam room infused with eucalyptus milk and a hydrotherapy pool with two airbed loungers with massage bubbles and water canons (not like you get at kids' pools, more like powerful massage jets). Above the pool was a twinkling, fibrotic curtain that made lying on the beds feel oh-so magical. Because nobody else was waiting to use them, I took my sweet time lying on those ultra-comfy (heated!) underwater beds.

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Speaking of heated beds, there were three poolside beds made from heated stone that felt amazing to lie on while your troubles melted away.

The final spot that wowed me was the sleep lounge, a cosy space for unwinding in post-treatment (or if you just want a break from all the sauna - hot tub - steam room hopping). It's low lit and quiet, with no devices allowed, plus there's a mesmerising fire pit in the middle to watch as you doze off.

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For people who don't want to relax the whole time, there are bikes you can hire to cycle around the 72 acres of surrounding parkland or to the nearby villages, plus a state of the art gym and a woodland walk around the grounds which I went on post-massage to try and wake up a bit as I was feeling super snoozy after a supremely relaxing treatment.

There's also a lake on the grounds with loungers all around it to chill on in the summer. The day I was there it was the depths of December, with steam rising off the lake which was particularly atmospheric, but I can imagine sipping a cocktail around it in the summer.

With spa breaks soaring in popularity, I recommend booking into this spot ASAP before everyone hears about it!

Spa days at Moddershall Oaks start from £75 including two-course lunch, spa breaks start from £175 for two.

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