Spa review: an affordable treat

The selfish side of me is telling me to keep my new favourite place to stay a secret

devon-hotel-spa-1-300x199I don’t want to find that there is suddenly no availability the next time I try to book. But as a gesture of solidarity to my fellow women in need of an affordable treat, here goes…

Despite lousy weather, I’ve just had a wonderful girls’ weekend away at Home Place Farmhouse Spa, in the Exmoor National Park, and only six miles from the coast. I say ‘girls’, but we kid ourselves…the average age was 47.

Yes, the company was great, but so was the venue. (Quote of the weekend: “Women should live together, it’s SO easy.”)

Home Place Spa is on the edge of Challacombe, a small village nestling in a valley, with streams, hills, sheep, blossom and footpaths from the door…you get the picture. There’s even a village shop and a pub selling real ales and decent food – The Black Venus Inn.

Accommodation

The accommodation at Home Place Farmhouse Spa is warm and welcoming. The farm buildings have been turned into cosy cottages; traditional, with modern touches and everything five ‘girls’ could need (except a recycling bin for the embarrassing number of empties).

We had two twin bedrooms, one ensuite, a double bedroom, a second bathroom, an open plan living/dining room and a good-sized kitchen. There was even a small flat screen TV and a CD player. Everyone thought the beds were comfy.

The spa

The spa, which is housed right next door in the old threshing barn, has been lovingly designed, and is a warm, relaxing and inviting space. There are purpose-built wet and dry treatment rooms, a small but very effective steam room and something that, to the untrained eye, looks like a giant hot tub. In fact it is fitted with powerful jets at one end, so you can swim, or you can sit in the jacuzzi jets at the other end and chat. The spa is only open to residents, and for all but 10 minutes of my time in the spa we were the only occupants.

There is a wide range of treatments available. All five of us went for the back massage and all five of us were happy. Had we been more adventurous we could have had a Frangipani Wrap, an aromatic facial or even a Rasul Mud Ritual, whatever that might be. Maybe next time…because there will be a next time!

Activities

Our plan had been to surf on nearby Woolacombe beach, but, as the temperature was a mere seven degrees (it was May!), we went instead to Lynmouth and did a fantastic coastal walk along the Valley of the Rocks, admiring the beautiful views and meeting the feral goats.

Back at Lynmouth, there was time for tea and scones, and a spot of crabbing (yes, I did say average age of 47, but the oldest member of the group is still very young at heart, or regressing).

On Sunday, en route home and after a final visit to the spa, we stopped in Porlock and walked across the marshes to the picturesque hamlet of Bossington. The locals recommended the tearoom there. We were tempted but time pressed so we resolved to return, to explore everything the area has to offer – coast, hills, moor, woodlands, marshes, and more tearooms.

Food

We brought food with us to cook on Friday, and ate in the pub on Saturday – good dressed crab and great chips! The kitchen in our cottage was well-equipped. A breakfast pack is provided, but it’s a bit thin, so pack your favourite cereal, ground coffee and juice, and your bacon and eggs.

At £115 per person, which included comfortable accommodation, unlimited use of the spa Friday evening to Sunday morning and a 30-minute treatment, this felt like a very relaxing bargain. All of us left looking better, and feeling better.

The only things Home Place Farmhouse Spa doesn’t offer you are phone reception and WiFi. So if you really do want a retreat, you’ve just found your perfect location. (Prices correct as at May 2013)