When it came to adding a spa to the already sprawling 300-acre Georgian estate at Rudding Park Hotel, its owners decided to be smart and do their research first. With ambitious plans for what must be one of the largest spa sites in the UK, they journeyed across the length and breadth of the country checking out every worthy competitor. The end result? A well-thought out, serenely designed and technologically advanced spa, that somehow fuses the best bits of all the others while still seeming totally new.
Of course, all of the usual suspects are also present: from the rainforest shower to the foot baths, the steam room to the indoor-outdoor pool, but there are enough novelties to keep everything fresh and exciting. Take the sauna, which regularly hosts its Nordic-inspired Art of Aufguss ceremony, where a skilled sauna-meister leads a ceremony of infusions, dance and song, currently not seen anywhere else in the UK. Or the Moorish Rasul mud bath ritual, which sees giggling groups slathering mineral mud on each other before heat dries it and a rain shower removes it. Then there are the relaxation rooms, which feature audio, visual, sleep and creative zones, each one tailored to suit a specific need (we lost 45 minutes to the visual room, which screened breath-taking videos of wanderlust destinations around the world).
But the most singular feature and piece de la resistance is its rooftop spa. Now, we know what you’re thinking, but before you read ‘rooftop spa’ and imagine it as a few potted shrubs on a generous slither of balcony, hear us out. Taking up the entire area of the roof, with a hot tub, infinity pool, sauna cabin and requisite sun loungers, as well as manicured gardens offering snatches of privacy, there’s nothing more deserving of the title of ‘rooftop spa’.
But flashy touches aside, the devil, as always, is in the detail. Masterminded by Yorkshire interior designer Claire Horsley, the spa feels arty and modern, utilising local artisans and inspirations. There are discreet clouds floating above your head as you enter the spa, prints of a beach scene in Capri by Aussie photographer Elise Hassey hanging inside the changing rooms and a David Hockney-esque aesthetic to the indoor pool. Our favourite touch however has to be the use of natural waters from the grounds at Rudding Park in the pools, which is, quite frankly, genius.
A hard day’s spa-ing requires some top-notch grub, so with that in mind, the hotel created a fully-functioning kitchen garden to supply its Horto restaurant with lovingly-grown ingredients. Don't believe the farm-to-table hype? Trust us - you've never tasted a tomato like this. To maximise your enjoyment, we recommend the tasting menu, which journeys from chicken skin and quinoa salad to crab, scallops and lamb, each served with fresh accompaniments like sea buckthorn, woodruff, peas and broad beans.
The hotel added its spa in a bid to hold onto its already well-deserved four-star status, but we’re calling for a recount: if anywhere warrants that shiny fifth star, it’s Rudding Park.
A one-night stay at Rudding Park starts from £172 per room per night or a one-night spa break starts from £177 per person including half board, a 50-minute treatment and access to the spa. Visit ruddingpark.co.uk for more information.