Despite being a global wellness hub, sometimes the noise, stress and constant commotion of London means that city life leaves us feeling not so well at all. In many ways, London can be an echo chamber for anxiety and so it’s no wonder that wellness is so highly sought here. But the remedy isn’t always so easy to come by when still amidst the chaos.
In the same way that you can’t mend a broken leg by trying to walk on it, you can’t learn to manage stress when totally engulfed in it. The best way to find calm is usually to step away completely, get some distance and actually allow your brain to rest so that it can focus on building coping mechanisms without pressures and distraction. That being said, we can’t all just jet off to Bali every time tensions are running high, although believe me, I would if I could! But, even a step beyond the big smoke, a venture into the country, however fleeting, can transform your mindset.
After a hectic few weeks (more like months) with seemingly no moment away from the madness, this week finally allowed a bit of respite and so I leaped at the opportunity to escape for a day at Lifehouse Spa in Thorpe-Le-Soken, for their annual bloggers meet along with seven other content creators in the health-sphere. Just an hour from Liverpool Street Station, stepping off the train could not have felt more different from London. For one, the station wasn’t busy, cluttered and crowded with people pushing and shoving to get to work during the all-day rush hour. It was empty, almost like a ghost town but much more inviting than eery. A short journey from the station, with plenty of greenery to admire along the way, and there we were at Lifehouse, ready for 24 hours of living well.
It’s difficult to know what to expect from a ‘wellness’ spa, as often the term gets tied up with aesthetics, detoxes and weight loss, all things that scream anything but ‘well’ in my books. But the tone for this stay was set perfectly at Lifehouse as, first on the agenda, was a glorious lunch buffet with your standard nutritious offerings like quinoa, avocado, fresh salads, fruit and a tasty trow of hummus, but also a selection of cakes to tuck into too, because let’s be honest, if health is happiness and happiness is cake, there’s always room for a slice or two.
The only word to define Lifehouse Spa is ‘serene.’ Natural light brightened every corner and, as a lucky circumstance that my visit fell on the hottest day of the year so far, there was a very tangible positivity in the air. The spa is nestled within Thorpe Hall Gardens which, according to our tour guide, was frequented on occasion by Rudyard Kipling, a personal hero for being the beautiful mind behind one of my favourite books and Disney films, The Jungle Book. Given the stunning wildlife and shrubs around, I can see how his visit may have inspired his work.
Throughout our stay, we took part in a series of wellness workshops from Lifehouse’s resident health experts, from a posture presentation to help identify where we hold tension in our bodies, to meditation out in the sun with the sound of birds and a surprisingly soothing lawnmower making up our background music. Each of us also received a spa treatment as part of our bespoke plans and clearly the team were well informed of our needs as it was a Swedish massage that landed on my itinerary. The treatment promised to reduce muscular pain, ease stiffness and reduce stress – the part it didn’t mention is how wonderfully blissed out you would feel afterwards. If I could afford to develop a massage addiction, that session would have been enough to tip me right over the edge.
As any health and wellness resort should be, Lifehouse is also well-equipped on the fitness front too, with a gym featuring all the necessary strength and cardio equipment, and wide windows over-looking Thorpe Hall Gardens to immerse your workout in nature. Though our schedule involved a HIIT class which perhaps was not so calm-inducing, I can imagine it as the perfect place to practice yoga and give your mind and body some TLC, if you couldn’t just melt away your stress in the oasis-like spa pool that is…
Fine dining was also on the agenda. Being able to walk 2 minutes from our hotel rooms to the restaurant meant that, for the first time in a very long while, I could dress up, put on a pair of heels and feast without trainers, laptop and a gym bag in tow. A special three-course menu was curated by the chefs at Lifehouse for our stay, which we enjoyed in conjunction with the sunset over the gardens. There was nothing I could fault about the starter, which was a colourful trio of beetroot ravioli, leek wrapped asparagus and quinoa and brown rice basmatti sushi. The main course was equally as delicious: a salad loaded up with fresh vegetables and flaxseed crispbread, plus chicken and hake fillets for the table. As it did taste super, I couldn’t argue with the promise of ‘superfoods’ on the menu.
The dessert was admittedly less enticing for me however – a trio of raw puddings including avocado chocolate mousse, banoffee pie and balsalmic strawberries- simply because, firstly I’m not a big fan or raw without reason, but additionally, whilst this type of refined sugar free, substitute-style dessert is a renowned wellness trend that many do buy into, having spent enough time analysing the discourse around such options, it felt a little too much like an attempt to ease the guilt of indulgence by trying to give it a ‘healthy’ spin. I’m not adverse to alternative desserts if they’re done as a unique celebration of ingredients and compliment other flavours well (yes, even I am I fan of the sweet potato brownie for the fudgy texture they create), but unfortunately these desserts did neither. That said, London has only just moved beyond ‘clean-eating.’ Places on the periphery may just need more time to catch up.
Cynically sour thoughts of sweets aside, the stay could not have been more perfect. Lifehouse Spa is so ideally situated amongst its tranquil settings and it truly was a beacon of relief for those of us feeling a little overworked and overstressed. There’s an appreciation for guests’ need for refuge and so you won’t find any anxiety-promoting talk of purging and purifying. The atmosphere is so welcoming and unpretentious about health, with key wellness features as simple as a walk through the garden, an introduction to mindfulness and meditation, and an optimal opportunity to slow down. It’s common sense really and, though they’re not quite as ‘glamourous’ as two weeks in the Bahamas with a yoga guru cleansing your toxic soul, it is an utterly blissful way to escape. I’d go back in a heartbeat, although next time I’ll be ordering one of those glorious looking burgers that kept floating past our table instead!
If you’re keen to escape to Lifehouse Spa this Summer, they’ve very kindly agreed to offer you 10% off all spa stay packages and wellness breaks with the code LFBLOG17. This offer is valid until 30 September 2017, so it’s the perfect way to treat yourself!
Disclaimer: Although this post features sponsored content, all views are honest and entirely my own.