Travel review: Chocolate is good for you at five-star spa retreat Moddershall Oaks
08:00 29 June 2016
Imogen Blake travelled to a blissful five-star Staffordshire spa retreat, where she discovered that chocolate can actually be good for you...
It was cold outside and the heavens had opened, but it really didn’t matter as my mum and I luxuriated in the enormous outdoor Jacuzzi-style spa pool at the five-star Moddershall Oaks resort in Staffordshire with a glass of Peach Bellini in hand.
I had sneaked out of the office early on a Friday afternoon to get on a train and travel the mere two hours north to the little known village of Stone, where an affordable taxi took us the 10 minutes onwards to Moddershall.
It’s a far cry from the stuffy and grandiose country house retreats you so often see.
The building is modern, almost Scandinavian in style, and looks brand new despite being open for just over a decade.
Greeted at the door by the exceptionally friendly staff, we’re welcomed with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice in what they call their deli area, a less formal alternative to their main dining room.
It’s immediately clear that this is no “health farm” retreat, and thank goodness for that.
Though there are plenty of healthy options for those who want to have a detox weekend, there is at least a choice on offer.
Lucky for me then that freshly baked cakes, scones, cocktails and deli platters are all served up on Emma Bridgewater crockery from the nearby factory in Stoke-on-Trent – my Emma Bridgewater-obsessed mum squealed in delight.
It all adds up to a laid-back vibe that radiates through the spa.
Here, it’s all about doing what makes you feel good.
We’re shown to our room, one of only a handful at the resort.
Its exclusivity makes you feel like you’re in on a glorious secret, and consequently never feels overcrowded, even when the day guests pile in next morning.
The room itself feels like a small wing of an Arabian palace, with gorgeous draped fabric and Moroccan lights on the walls.
It opens onto a small private terrace, which gives you access to a hot tub only for hotel guests.
There are so many thoughtful touches – complimentary Elemis products in the bathroom, and the DVD player is welcome later that night; you can borrow a DVD from reception.
There was just time to freshen up before dinner, where we had a table with a spectacular view of the resort’s small lake.
The food is exquisite, ranking alongside some of the best Michelin-starred meals I’ve had.
My belly pork melts in the mouth, while my mum’s steak is succulent, tender and flavoursome.
The next morning’s breakfast is just as tasty, and I indulge in smoked salmon and eggs hollandaise, surprisingly light for a rich dish, while all the elements of my mum’s English breakfast are cooked to perfection.
It would be worth visiting for the food alone.
But we were really there to try out the facilities, so we changed into our plush robes, and headed to the treatment rooms for our appointments.
While we were there, the spa offered limited edition chocolate treatments, so I opted for the chocolate, sweet orange and vanilla bean scrub. It’s 25 minutes of sheer relaxation as my friendly therapist rubbed the sweet-smelling product onto my skin.
It feels like a light massage without any of the pain, and I come out with skin soft as butter.
Using chocolate in spa treatments seems like a fun novelty, but the beauty therapist explains that the smell releases endorphins, which in turn triggers happiness.
Chocolate is also packed full of antioxidants which have an anti-ageing effect on the skin.
Clear scientific proof, then, that chocolate really is good for you.
The facilities are excellent, with a hydrotherapy pool, bubbling foot bath, experience showers, a not-too-hot steam room (perfect for my tastes), heated loungers and a long, cool swimming pool.
After splashing around and trying out everything once, we discover the spa’s outdoor area with a kelo sauna and that amazing “vitality spa pool” outside.
It’s a real selling point of this resort as I’ve never seen a hot tub (if you can even call it that) that’s quite like it.
We spend hours in there, ordering drinks from the water. Bliss.
The weather was too bad to use the tennis courts, or the free bike hire to ride through the woodland surrounding the resort, but in summer months, it would be worth staying the whole weekend to take in all the delights this hidden treasure resort can offer.
Luxury is only a two-hour train ride away, and with spa breaks starting at only £249 for two people, Moddershall is the ideal place to get away from it all without breaking your bank account.
Imogen went on the Spa Escape overnight spa break at Moddershall Oaks, including a two course meal, cooked breakfast, overnight stay, use of spa and one treatment each, priced £359 Sunday to Thursday or £399 on a Friday or Saturday for two people.