The minute thermal suites are allowed to open, this is the spa to book into
2020 was set to be a stellar year for Cheshire-based The Spa at Carden. It opened its big glass doors in January following a £10m overhaul, ready to welcome guests with open arms into its huge spa garden and multiple saunas, steam rooms and jacuzzis. But we all know what happened next - COVID set in and spas up and down the country closed their doors.
After finally reopening last month, and with facial treatments back on the menu from Saturday August 15, the spa is back in business. But what to expect?
Can you socially distance at the spa?
With one of the largest spa gardens in the UK you're definitely not pushed for room to stay away from other guests – ideal if you're apprehensive about being around others. On top of the already rigorous cleaning regimes, a fogging machine has been introduced to proceedings. Not like the smoke machines in nightclubs of our youth, but an anti-bacterial cleansing device which administers a fine mist to surfaces has been scientifically proven to provide long last sanitisation of spa areas.
At the moment thermal areas (saunas, steam rooms and experience showers) must remain closed due to government restrictions, but this is subject to change at a moments notice, as we've seen with the on-off plans for facial treatments. The pools are big enough to socially distance in, but spa attendants are on hand to manage busy areas. The spa is also staggering arrival times so that they'll never be over capacity.
What to book at The Spa at Carden right now
Though the thermal suite is off-limits, there's still plenty of reasons to visit – the spa has just launched a Twilight Package, £55, designed to help guests reset their circadian rhythm which has been disrupted during a turbulent year. The package includes access to the spa facilities from six to nine PM and a 50-minute treatment. With the huge glass windows, guests are invited to watch the sky darken as daylight turns to dusk, which has been proven to send messages to the brain to stimulate the release of our sleep hormone and prepare our body to wind down. Dreamy.
Love Island 2020 couple Siânnise Fudge and Luke Trotman hit the spa recently and shared vids of them enjoy the facilities, quite clearly far away from other guests!
The Spa at Carden review
The weekend before lockdown myself and a friend sat in an outdoor hot tub at The Spa at Carden , sipping champagne without a care in the world, wondering when all this coronavirus chatter would die down (how naive!) If I could do my last weekend of freedom again, knowing I wouldn't be allowed out for months afterwards, I can safely say I'd do it exactly the same.
The Spa at Carden has outdoor jacuzzis dotted as far as the eye can see, glass pods on the lawn to drink champagne (and socially distance) in and fire pits crackling away under awnings (very Love Island). Chilled Ibiza music plays discreetly through outdoor speakers, giving the whole place a relaxed, Balearic beach-club vibe, without needing to self-isolate for 14 days after visiting.
The outdoor element of the spa is key to the experience and is one of the UK's largest spa gardens (like I mentioned, perfect for social distancing); as well as the various outdoor jacuzzis to hop between there's also a large (heated) outdoor infinity pool with massage jets and an outdoor sauna too with floor to ceiling glass that allows you to gaze out at the Cheshire countryside whatever the weather. Not to mention the Champagne bar which we frequented. The sauna is currently shut thanks to the restrictions in place.
The firepit that made me feel very Love Island
“The spa garden is based around the five element theory, that for true fulfilment and happiness you need a balance between the core elements – earth, fire, metal, water and wood,” explains spa manager Emma Pridding. This is evident in the firepits, bubbling metal jacuzzi and wood-panelled saunas. This ideology is matched with the spa’s nature-themed interior design (think living walls and bubbling fountains) and core product range Elemental Herbology – a line which is based on the same theory.
Indoors there's a stylish infinity pool, heated marble beds for reclining, and yet more luxury saunas (they all do different things, I highly recommend going in each and every one. Several times, just to be sure which one you like best). There's a selection of steam rooms too and an ice shower for the brave ones of you out there. These are also shut for the time being, but the second they reopen we highly recommend getting booked in!
The Finnish Sauna has curved wooden benches making it the most comfortable I've been in. It's heated by wood which gives a soft heat rather than a dry scratchy heat, meaning you can stay in for longer. If being excessively warm isn't your thing there's also a bio sauna which has a lot of moisture in it to make it move humid. Speaking of humidity, I loved the salt steam room which has a way lower temperature than a sauna and is known to help with skin conditions such as psoriasis as well as respiratory conditions and even help you sleep. (That'll be why I snoozed so well during my massage) Sticking with the cooler theme is the tepidarium, which is a comfortable heat to dip into between the warmed rooms.
Post-treatment, there are sensory rooms to relax in - think ASMR on a huge level. After my massage, I sat watching a fish swim around coral and can't believe how entranced I was. The mood-lit relaxation room is a must too, complete with flickering faux fires to make you feel cosy as you luxuriate post-treatment. There's also a traditional relaxation room, with star-like lights twinkling on the ceilings and beds to aid relaxation plus a panoramic relaxation area with floor-to-ceiling glass walls so you can enjoy the views a little more.
The flickering fire in the relaxation room