We review a luxurious spa break in the Peak District
Product: www.3shoesinn.co.uk, 01538 300296 Price: £130.00 Rating: ★★★★☆ (4/5)
What they say...
Set in the peaceful location on the edge of the Staffordshire Peak Park and only 20 minutes from Alton Towers, The Three Horseshoes Country Inn an Spa makes an ideal location with its beautiful gardens, patio, stunning views over the Roaches and surrounding countryside.
What our tester thought...
The Three Horseshoes Inn is tucked to one side of Leek, surrounded by rolling hills - the majestic Roaches hills are visible as you park. The Inn itself is perfectly pleasant - staff are welcoming, and our room was compact but comfortable, and little touches (plush toiletries; a bowl of mints) made all the difference. We were lucky enough to have a Garden Room (pricey - from £240 per night; normal doubles from £130) but worth it. Outside our glass doors was a private garden, prettily planted and with attractive decking, housing our very own hot tub. There's no luxury quite like soaking outside in the fresh air, glass of wine in hand! Two little nitpicks - firstly, the temperature panel was covered so we couldn't change it, and we found it got a little bit chilly. Secondly, surrounded by such glorious landscape, it was almost a shame to have such high fences that meant we couldn't see the hills. I suppose this was for privacy though.
After a good soak we headed to the Inn's award-winning restaurant for dinner. The Stables is again very attractive, with wooden beams adding an 'old world' feel. The food was rather too avant garde for my taste - there were a lot of foams and jellies, and not the best options for vegetarians (lots of the desserts contain gelatine, which isn't mentioned on the menu) - but if you're excited by very cutting edge cookery you'll fit right in.
In my opinion, when it comes to the Three Horseshoes, the spa is the star. The Mill Wheel Spa - so called because it pays tribute to the old mill industry of the area, and even has a beautiful wooden wheel as its kinetic centrepiece - has been newly refurbished, and it shows. The attention to detail - from metal pulleys to activate the steam room, to deer head hooks for your robe, and cosy blankets in the relaxation room - is incredible.
There are so many different experiences to try. We started with a lie down in the pine-scented sauna, before dipping our toes (literally - there's no way I was getting in!) in the freezing cold plunge pool, designed to improve circulation. We were similarly wimpy about standing under the mill wheel shower, which alternates between hot and cold with no warning, but darted instead into the cosy steam room for some pore-cleansing r&r. There's also a stunning hot tub outside, which is big enough for a whole group and has views of the hills, but again it wasn't quite as warm as we'd have liked.
Our package included a herbal steam massage (£65 on its own) which was heavenly. One of the spa's signature treatments, it involves lying in a soothingly dimly-lit room, while you're massaged head to toe first with oils, and followed by warm puffs of air from a specially scented steam pad. It's slightly hard to describe, but essentially you choose a 'pod' of scent depending on your needs (I highly recommend the India Spice pod which was warming and invigorating) which is then attached to a steam machine to be passed over your body, pressing warmth deep into tired muscles. If it sounds good, then it was. I drifted into a half-sleeping, half-waking coma - I'm honestly not sure I've felt so relaxed before.
In a daze - water in hand - we were then led to the relaxation lounge, a haven of magazines (clearly a weakness of mine), lounge chairs and soft blankets. Once we'd woken up (a bit) we headed to the Beach Hut - a unique feature that's designed to ease the winter blues. It's a faithfully rendered hut on the outside, and inside there's a staggering three feet of heated sand underfoot to pad across to your grass mat. Lying down, facing a beach scene, you listen to the sound of lapping waves as the lights change gradually from daybreak to sunset. It's a very relaxing, snoozy experience - and bliss on a rainy day - although there were a few problems with the bulbs when we visited, they plunged us from light to dark rather suddenly and it was slightly unclear when the treatment was finished. However, these are all easily rectified issues, and it was definitely worth a visit - unlike the typical beach break, warm weather is guaranteed!
Another treatment included in our package was a mud rasul. This takes place in a private room, where you and your friend/partner sit opposite one another in plastic thrones. It's rather intimate - one for good friends only! - as the room steams up and little dishes of different clays are left in front of you to smother over your face and body. It's too much fun, a bit like making mudpies as a child, and very funny watching your friend turn different shades of grey and brown before your eyes. You then sit and relax, letting the steam work its magic and your body absorb the goodness, before showers burst forth from the ceiling to wash it all away. My skin certainly felt firmer and softer afterwards.
The Mill Wheel Spa is worth a visit, it's not cheap but you can really see where the money has been spent, and it's a truly luxurious day out for anyone in need of some winter pampering.
For more information visit www.3shoesinn.co.uk/millwheelspa