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Review: Champneys Tring

Specialist Holiday - Spa

Chesham Road, Tring, Hertfordshire, HP23 6HX, United Kingdom

My Christmas present to myself ...

  • By SilverTraveller Lin

    17 reviews

    Ribbon

  • Dec 2014
  • Solo

89 people found this review helpful

That dread feeling starts in the pit of my stomach and expands, like cavity wall insulation, up my neck to the top of my head. I’ve been driving for hours, it’s dark and I’m in the middle of Nowhere, Hertfordshire, driving up and down a road which, the Sat Nav assures me, contains the spa where I will be staying for the next two nights, on my own, away from home. I should be looking forward to this; a break at Champneys, Tring. It’s my reward to myself for doing the long Christmas present run from Manchester to London. All my friends, up to their elbows in packing, cooking and the annual trolley dash, are very jealous of me. At this point in time, however, I would far rather be sitting in front of the telly listening to the gentle snoring of my husband and wondering if there are any ice cream Snickers left in the freezer. I try to calculate how long it would take just to turn round and head off back to Manchester. I manage to shake the feeling. Once I find my way to reception just nine words are enough to win me round; ‘Madam you have been upgraded to a superior room’. I love that word ‘upgrade’. And ‘superior’ doesn’t sound too bad, either. The room has a king size bed, flat screen TV, complimentary water, robes and slippers and its own terrace. It’s plain but comfortable, with everything I need. Dinner is at a time to suit. I choose 6.30. Early, I know, but all that driving has given me an appetite. The menu is healthy, as befits a spa dedicated to healthy eating and exercise. There is choice enough with both vegan and vegetarian options in the main meals. I have Tomato and Basil soup, followed by Mediterranean roast vegetables and Banana Semi Freddo for dessert. I sit at the Champneys table, specially reserved for guests travelling alone who would like company at dinner. I think it is an excellent idea and the conversation with my three companions was friendly and interesting– much nicer than sitting alone to eat. And it’s not true that I sat there just to get the complimentary glass of wine…. And so to bed. The room is a little chilly but I turn the radiator to max and find the spare duvet in the wardrobe. I scan the comprehensive list of classes for tomorrow. I could take some of the more energetic classes; there are plenty of those. One of my fellow diners had recommended the Hula class. It sounds like fun but the certainty of failure and the equal likelihood that I would make a complete fool of myself rule that one out. I opt for some of the less energetic classes; Body Sculpt at 11am followed by Stretch and Hatha Yoga in the late afternoon. After a good night’s sleep I am more than ready for breakfast. The buffet is much healthier and lighter than the usual hotel fare. I pick two types of fresh fruit salad, some red berries and figs topped off with granola. Then a bagel spread with half a banana and some honey. I could have had more but I’m here for the good of my health. I then go for a walk around the large grounds: 170 acres according to the leaflet in my room. Said leaflet also informs me that ‘English garden designer, journalist and television personality Joe Swift’ is working with the gardeners ‘to ensure Tring’s grounds remain stunning for the guests of the future’. You can either follow the guided woodland walk or wander around as you please. Champneys is an enigma. It is a big corporate brand and concern which is not owned by a corporation. It is owned by one man and the way it is run clearly demonstrates that individual approach. It is comfortable (I wouldn’t say luxurious- I’ve been in spas with better facilities and equipment) but you are treated like a human being who is at this spa to enjoy yourself, and do yourself some good. Everyone seems to want to help you. Every member of staff I’ve passed on the corridor has said ‘good morning’. Everybody is friendly and helpful. In the middle of the woods, a sound stops me in my tracks. At first I think it is traffic, heavy transport of some kind. It grows and approaches me, like a train. I stand and watch. As the noise approaches, the top branches sway and knock into each other. The green leaves rustle. Not a train then, not traffic. Who has heard the wind? Me, in the Champneys woodland walk. And now, to Body sculpt: aerobic exercise with weights. I am warned by a Champneys member, as we waited outside, that this was a very difficult class. But the instructor is very good indeed, very popular with the members and offering a range of variations on most of the exercises. At lunch, I sit at the Champneys table again but this time, on my own. I notice one of my companions from last night sits at on a table on her own, hidden away in a corner. No matter; people come to places like this for lots of reasons. Some want to be with people, some don’t. I will be at the Champneys table again at dinner, just to see who turns up. Lunch is a buffet. There are hot options but almost all are either meat or fish, which I don’t eat. I opt for roasted vegetables again, this time with couscous, supplemented with a spicy, herbed chapatti and salad. Everything is fresh and tasty with oodles of healthy sauces and dressings to choose from. The dessert, Champneys sponge dessert, is scrumptious: a healthy version of trifle which very much tempts me to go for second helpings. No wine with lunch. Champneys has a no alcohol rule during the day. This seems to me eminently sensible and again, one which the big corporations would struggle to enforce, for commercial reasons. Here, it is one of the things that make Champneys what it is and I would suspect one of the many things that keep visitors coming back time and time again. Next class is an easy Stretch routine followed, after a short break, by Hatha Yoga. I have noticed that each class seems to have one solitary man among the mainly female participants. Perhaps they share them out. Finally, I try the swimming pool which by this time is almost empty. I manage two lengths in the time the man in the next lane completes eight. There are some serious swimmers here. I, on the other hand, simply coast towards another tasty and pleasant dinner at the Champneys table on my last evening. On my last morning I could stay all day (after checking out at 11am) if I wish. In yet another personal and thoughtful touch Champneys allow guest to stay until 4pm and to use all of the facilities. I leave early, however, homesick for the sound of snoring. I wonder how long it will take before I undo all my good work and attack those ice cream Snickers?

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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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