* Prices may differ from that shown
We recently stayed at the Ribby Hall Spa Hotel to celebrate four us turning 30, thought we should treat ourselves seeing as we're getting on a bit now! The Spa hotel is set within Ribby Hall Village, a holiday camp with chalets, cottages, log cabins and caravans, we didn't leave the hotel at all during our stay so I can't comment much on the grounds except we did see a lake and what looked like stables. We paid for an overnight spa package which was £109 each and included overnight accommodation, breakfast, two course evening meal, two hour Aqua Thermal Journey plus slippers, a robe and towels for in the spa.
This review is a bit long, I've literally only just come back and it's very fresh in my mind.
The Hotel is an 4* adults only Spa Hotel set in 100 acres of Lancashire Countryside, not too far from Blackpool, the hotel has 42 rooms including two penthouses and 12 suites. They also have a Spa, Champagne Bar, Brasserie and state of the art Gym (although we didn't even see the gym, because we were there to relax, not exercise haha!)
On entering the foyer, my first reaction was wow this is lovely, plush comfy seating with lots of plants and natural lighting. The bar is just across from the seating area and then The Brasserie is through the bar, this where we had all our meals. My friend and I had a couple of hours to kill whilst our other two friends had treatments and we waited to check in. We were a bit peckish so ordered a Tandoori Chicken sandwich to share, it was around £7 and was pretty small but it was on ciabbata and came with a handful of chips, coleslaw and some salad. It was very tasty but I don't think I'd have paid £7 to have it just for me. We also had a hot chocolate each with had the most delicious cream on top but the actual hot chocolate was very bitter for me and again wasn't cheap at around £3.
Whilst sat around waiting, a man came in with two children to collect his wife and they sat down at the seating area, straight away somebody from reception came over and explained it was adults only. She was really nice about it, asked the children if they'd missed their mum etc. My friends thought this was a bit OTT but I was glad, I specifically liked that this was a child free zone so I'm glad they are strict about it.
The public toilets were very clean, only two cubicles and I did find I had to queue up a couple of times to use them. They had really nice Elmis hand soap and Molten Brown hand lotion which was lovely. The paper towels they had for you to dry your hands on were very thick and were much nicer than thin paper towels I'm used to! They did also have two air dryers but I didn't use them.
I found the staff to be very professional and helpful, they called us madam, and nothing seemed like too much trouble for them. On arrival, the porter helped us take our bags upstairs, usually I don't take advantage of this service as I'm more than capable of taking my own bag especially when it's only a little one but as two of our friends were having treatments, we couldn't really lug it all up. The checking in process was very fast, they took a credit card to put against each room so after that we could just charge everything to our room which saved us carrying cash around with us.
On checkout, we had to faff about because we'd ended up in the wrong rooms so had charged things on to each other's credit cards, even though we were causing hold up, the reception staff didn't make us feel like we were a nuisance, they helped us sort it out and off we went.
The Hotel had one (that we could see) small lift in the reception area, I don't go in lifts so didn't use it but my friends did and it seemed to be quite quick, although I think of the size of the hotel it was too small. I used the stairs, either the ones that went through the Spa or some towards the back of the hotel, sometimes the stairs in hotels can feel a bit isolated but these were okay and as we were only on the first floor, it didn't take me long to get up and down them.
The hotel offers free WiFi which I found to be very reliable and had a strong connection whenever I used it.
We arrived at the Hotel at about 12 noon and couldn't check in until 2pm, we were really hoping they'd be ready earlier so we didn't have to sit around in the lounge area for too long but they must've been busy as we didn't get our keys until 1.50pm. You can't use the Spa until you've checked into your room. Check out was 11am, which I think is quite good as some places it can be around 10am and I'm not one for getting up too early.
The rooms were very comfortable with two single beds, there also a large double wardrobe, a smaller wardrobe with shelves, a desk area and a chair and small table, plus two bedside cabinets.
I found the bed and pillows to be quite comfortable although the bed was a bit too soft for my liking.
We had a safe, fridge which was stocked with complimentary still and sparkling water and milk. There was tea and coffee making facilities, an iron and ironing board, an iPod dock (although we couldn't get this to work, I don't know if this was us just being stupid but we didn't bother ringing reception about it as we weren't that bothered but we did mention it on the feedback card). The television was affixed to the wall and the TV contained information and room service menus. We didn't watch TV so I'm not exactly sure what channels they have but on the website it does mention Sky Sports (I will be using this fact to get my husband to take me back here one day!).
My friend didn't programme the safe correctly and locked our possession inside it (she's a bit ditzy like that!) so we had to call reception for them to come and fix it, it took them a bit too long to actually answer the phone but they did come up very quickly to sort it out and were really nice about it.
Each room had heater/air conditioning and the rooms, to me, were very warm. I turned the heating down to 16 C which was as far as I could get it to go and I was really very hot so ended up opening a window during the night.
I think the lighting in the room could be better, there were about 5 or 6 different lights/lamps but even with them all switched on, I wouldn't have been able to read a book in there, my friends said it wasn't too dark for them but I have really bad eyes so I think maybe they should offer brighter lighting with the option to have it dimmer.
The bathroom however was very brightly lit, very clean and a decent size. There was a separate bath and shower, sink and a toilet. There was also a shower head over the bath which was handy as I just wanted to wash my hair after getting it all yucky in the spa. The shower was very powerful and easy to control.
The complimentary toiletries, although very nice Elmis ones, were far too small for two people to use, they were enough for one person for one use only. There a box of tissues plus two toilet rolls in the bathroom also.
There were little cards dotted around the room offering different types of pillows such as lavender, V shaped or Feather pillows. You could also order breakfast to be delivered to your room, as long as you handed in the card before 2am. The tray charge for this was only £3 so not too unreasonable. I really wanted to do this but I was outvoted so we ate our breakfast in the Brasserie.
The room service was, as you'd expect, quite pricey but we did order an 11" pizza at about 2am which was around £11 plus the £3 tray charge, yes that to me is quite expensive but you could pay that at somewhere like Dominos anyway. Again, it took them too long to answer the phone and we actually nearly hung up but it only took them maybe 10 minutes to bring the food up which we were happy with.
The room had four mirrors in if I remember correctly, including a full length one and a shaving mirror.
The Spa is just lovely, plants dotted around and huge windows to let in lots of natural light, there were so many nice smells floating around, it felt very luxurious. We were given a set of guidelines to read and sign before we could go into the Spa, then they gave us a towel and explained how the Aqua Thermal Journey works. We already had our robe and slippers as these were waiting for us in our rooms. There are basically 11 different experiences which were: aroma room, aroma steam room, saunarium, Balinese salt inhalation room, herbal sauna, outdoor rustic sauna, Roman pedidarium, tepidarium, outdoor spa pool, hydrotherapy pool and monsoon showers. You move around them in order and they gradually raise your temperature. They say you should leave feeling refreshed and invigorated, I left feeling very sleepy! My favourite room was probably the aroma steam room (I think that's what it was called) it was one of the hottest and had a lovely small of menthol which helped clear my nose up, as I had a cold. The outdoor sauna was really nice too. The outdoor hot tub could've been hotter for me, it was freezing outside and having used outdoor hot tubs before, I was expecting it to be much hotter than what it was.
They had some heated beds that you lie on looking out over to the countryside, sadly we didn't get chance to use these although they looked really nice and comfortable. We did use the regular beds that were along the same window and although the beds were very comfortable, it was far too noisy to be able to relax here. Upstairs they have two more relaxation rooms, one is looking out to the countryside and is very bright and smelt lovely, it had seven beds, four in front of the window and three behind it. The other was a dark relaxation room, I honestly think I would've just gone to sleep for hours in there; we only had a look at it before going back to our room. It had four comfy looking beds with pillows. Heaven!
They had an outdoor seating area with loungers but as we went the end of March and there was still snow in some places, we didn't fancy sitting outside much!
There were several water coolers dotted around the Spa which I liked as I do drink a lot of water generally and obviously sweating so much dehydrates you anyway. The only problem was there weren't any cups at most of the water coolers, which was a bit pointless.
We booked on to the Rasul Mud Chamber at £60 for the four of us, the website says: "A unique experience to share with a partner or friends. Enter a private heated temple with several different types of mineral rich mud which you apply to different parts of your body. The chamber then fills with steam whilst you relax on heated thrones to activate the mud. Finally, rain drops fall from the ceiling to wash away the mud leaving your skin detoxified and exfoliated" - in reality, you go into a room which has four stone seats, definitely not thrones! Two on the left, two on the right with a tap on each side. The room was very small and very uncomfortable; I couldn't have got comfy on these stone seats if my life had depended on it. You are given four blobs of different clay like muds which the therapist explains which to use where. We are then left to cover ourselves in the mud, then "relax" in the "thrones" whilst we wait for the steam and then the rain. It did get very steamy (not like that!) in the room and we hadn't been warned that the mud is likely to drip down into your eyes once the steam comes, I guess it's quite obvious now you think about it but none of us did and two of us ended up with very sore eyes after that. So after sitting in the steam for a while, the "rain" came - which was actually more like a hose pipe squirting you for about 30 seconds. We all had to shower properly afterwards as most of the mud was still there. We were all very disappointed with this treatment; it didn't live up to our expectations at all. The seats need to be more comfy and ones you can lie back and relax in and the rain needs to be like actual rain and needs to last a lot longer. I also think they should warn people not to put too much mud on your forehead or around your eyes as it will drip down.
Two of my friends had treatments done whilst we were there, one friend loved hers, which was a type of wrap treatment which also included a face and scalp massage. The other friend didn't really enjoy hers which she'd paid over £100 for because the treatment room was directly above The Brasserie and there was no relaxing music playing so she could hear people laughing and plates clattering etc. Not very relaxing I'm sure you'll agree. She did complain and was given a complimentary candle by way of an apology, which she wasn't really satisfied with.
** The Brasserie**
We had booked in Afternoon Tea which we ate whilst in our robes which I wasn't keen on and if I was every booking again, I would have the Afternoon Tea before we went into the Spa. We each received four finger sandwiches; Cheese and Cucumber (nice), Ham and Mustard (ham was far too fatty, I couldn't eat it), Egg and Cress (very nice) and Salmon (delicious) , a tiny scone (amazing, crunchy on the outside but soft and fluffy inside, it just a bit too small) and three cakes; Chocolate Orange fudge cake (delicious), Lemon Drizzle (very dry) and Carrot Cake (very nice). We also had a bottle of Champagne between us which cost £48 if I remember correctly. I'm not a fan of champagne but this was very nice. We then ordered a bottle of Presseco....hic! This was £25 I think and again was very nice, quite sweet which is what I like. We didn't actually get around to having our tea with the Afternoon Tea because we'd had too much champers and wine and didn't fancy a brew after that. I kind of wish they'd served the tea first, with the sandwiches and cakes and then served the champagne. They said we could have our Tea later in the day but we never got around to it.
For our evening meal, we could have two courses each or pay a bit extra and have three, we chose just to have two courses. Three of us chose to have a main and a dessert and one a starter and a main. The food is very much "gourmet" style and you will not get huge portions. They gave us complimentary water and bread on the table plus a waitress brought out a tiny little plate of Artichoke crisps with a white truffle mayonnaise, you literally only had a tiny bit each but they were quite tasty and a nice touch I thought.
I don't eat in these types of places very often and the menus are somewhat difficult to decipher but I decided on a Butternut Squash risotto which was really very tasty, it came with a sheep curd which I wasn't keen on and chestnuts which I loved. I can't eat a huge amount in one go so this was the perfect portion size for me, but my friend who had the same thing, said she would've liked more. My other friends said the same about the portion sizes but overall they enjoyed the food. For dessert I had a chocolate fondant, which I thought was supposed to be soft and gooey inside but it wasn't at all and neither was my friends (we all had the same dessert) it came with banana ice cream which was delicious, hazelnuts and other random bits and bobs that I didn't really see the point of but do understand that's what this kind of food is like. The banana ice cream was amazing and I could've just eaten a full bowl of that, the rest of the dessert wasn't anything special and I left a bit of the chocolate fondant.
I would eat here again definitely, the chef is obviously quite skilled and if you accept before you go that you're not going to get huge portions and that the food is a little pretentious, you'll probably enjoy it a lot more.
For breakfast, there is a buffet style continental breakfast which included pastries, cold meats, fruit, yoghurts, juices and cereals. You could then order a cooked breakfast; there was a choice of a cooked breakfast, pancakes or salmon and cream cheese bagel. There were other options but I can't think what they were, sorry! I went for the salmon bagel, which was nice but I would've preferred a thicker layer of cream cheese and a little less smoked salmon. We had tea and coffee and toast as well. Breakfast was served between 8am to 10am I believe.
I would definitely stay at this hotel again; my husband and I are hoping to visit sometime in the future. It was very relaxing, I liked how professional and smart the staff were and they didn't make you feel like that they were looking down their nose at your or anything like that which I've experienced at nice hotels/restaurants before. The rooms were plush, the Spa was amazing and the food was (mostly) delicious.