When I got to Grayshott Spa I was paunchy, pale and puffy (all the worst ps) and desperately in need of a kick up my rounded backside on the health side of things. Said kick was most amply provided – over a long weekend at Grayshott I played tennis, underwent the horror of having my fat content measured by a machine, ate balanced meals at regular intervals, swam, attended a lecture by a nutritionist, had reflexology to eliminate toxins, and even squeezed in a couple of massages.
I wasn’t expecting Grayshott to be such a well-oiled machine – while I’d had many favourable experiences of weekend retreats in the UK, I’d always felt that the impressive spa treatments and beautiful rooms were slightly let down by poorly thought-out schedules and meals that weren’t quite as wholesome as they ought to have been for those chasing health.
Let me assure you that Grayshott fails on neither: each guest’s stay is carefully mapped out to maximise the benefits of activity and nutrition. Massages directly after meals? Non; the spa receptionists always ask about dining plans before making a booking so as to steer you away from a shiatsu with a side of indigestion*. Guided early morning walks prior to breakfast in order to stimulate digestion take place daily, as do post-lunch explorations of the acres of rolling English countryside surrounding Grayshott and late afternoon yoga classes to prepare the body for dinner. No exercise takes place after 6pm.
The proof in my case was in the (lack of) pudding: on leaving, I felt healthier and was most certainly leaner. I’ve since heard only glowing reports about the spa from those who’ve visited, convincing me that the words carved in stone above the arch through which guests enter and depart were universally felt by those who’d stayed at Grayshott: ‘peace on arrival, health on departure.’
* I’d recommend booking treatments before your visit – the spa tends to be very busy throughout the day.
Here’s my diary from the weekend //
Day One /
2pm: Arrive at Grayshott and am immediately struck by a sense of peace – the country house is homely, our room furnished in dove greys, buttery creams and mint greens. After unpacking, it’s straight to the ominous-sounding ‘Body Composition Analysis,’ which involves being wired up to a machine that quite literally analyses the composition of my body. Won’t bore you with the results: suffice to say I leave with some determination to hit the gym.
3pm: … And said effort begins straight away! I head directly into a 30 minute personal training session, which involves 15 minutes of intense cardio followed by pushing light weights. Post, I marvel at how very much further I push myself when a trainer is watching me. Make a note to consider BMF when in London (spoiler: this never happened).
4pm: A massage. Such bliss.
6pm: Bound out my room after a hot bath and head to the Bubbles bar for ‘Fruit Cocktails & Nibbles.’ All non-alcoholic, all sugar free, all (remarkably, given the restraint in ingredients) delicious.
8:30pm: After dinner (healthy, lightweight, yummy), I head to the cinema room to watch What We Did On Our Holiday with a fair few other guests. Again: no alcohol, no sugary snacks. Head to bed after feeling exceedingly sleepy and just a shade hungry.
Day Two /
8:30am: Wake after a solid night’s sleep and go for an early morning walk around the grounds. Rabbits are hopping near the bushes and the odd deer shoots in and out of sight. I start to understand why Tennyson, the erstwhile tenant of Grayshott, was so very fond of it. Back inside, I tuck into poached eggs.
11am: Time for tennis! It’s too chilly to play outside so I head to the indoor courts and learn how to switch my grip slightly to strengthen my backhand. During the session, I find myself getting lost in the rhythm of hitting the ball and am overjoyed when I realise I’m getting better. Decide to play more tennis forthwith (spoiler: this does happen – my backhand now beats my husband’s which is very pleasing – he’s an extremely competent player).
2pm: After lunch, I head back into the grounds and get thoroughly lost. Each turn leads to another fork that looks precisely like the last one, and before I know it I’ve been walking for two hours. By the time I make it back in, I’ve drunk in enough beauty and fresh air to render me exhausted, so promptly fall asleep for half an hour on my bed.
4:30pm: I wake just in time to slip into the afternoon’s yoga session. The class is restorative – more hatha than ashtanga. Feel bendy and virtuous by the end of it and consolidate all the goodness by heading for a gloriously firm massage.
6pm: Dash to Fruit & Nibbles ravenous. Drink two alcohol-free Bloody Marys in quick succession, then make my way through a plate of olives and two grilled tomato snacks. Struggle to contain my gleeful grin when dinner is announced at 7.
8:30pm: After eating each and every morsel placed before me, I am completely full and utterly exhausted. This must be the disproportionate evening tiredness of pure health in the early stages that I’ve heard so much about. Legs leaden, I climb the stairs to bed and sleep more deeply than I have in months.
Day Three /
9am: Wake after a long, deep sleep feeling energised and centred. Decide to walk post-breakfast so as to have time to eat a little more (yesterday’s hunger taught me well to eat up when the opportunity presents itself at Grayshott!).
12pm: Learn about carbs during today’s daily midday talk which is hosted by nutritionist Will Blake. He is well-informed, sensible and offers useful advice – no ‘cut the whole lot out’ malarky spills forth from his lips. I spend a good twenty minutes after the chat jotting down his wisdom on managing energy fluctuations.
2pm: Cannot resist a final turn around the grounds before my departure. Vow to be kinder to my body, more diligent in it’s care and to try to extend the health I depart with for as long as possible.
4pm: Look in the mirror when I get home. No dreaded Ps. Delightful.