September 27th, 2018 | Rachel Parry
We almost feel like someone has hit the fast-forward button on 2018 as our feet have barely touched the ground these past nine months, and now in the midst of our autumn Luxury Wedding Show season, things are showing no signs of slowing down!
And not that we’re complaining. So far it’s been a year of hard work but fabulous rewards in producing another two stunning issues of UNVEILED magazine and giving this gorgeous brand a slick new website too. We’ve also added some amazing new venues to our portfolio of shows and have more exciting announcements to come in 2019. We had an epic run of events in the spring and are loving being back out on the road for the current collection of events and all the time we’ve kept the pretty pages of Brides Up North filled with inspiration, up to the minute news and trends as well as priceless expert info and tips.
So, you could say we’ve got a lot going on! This might explain why we snapped up an invite from the wonderful team at Ragdale Hall for an overnight spa break quicker than Megan could make her way through the guys on Love Island this summer.
Having visited this beautiful venue of tranquillity before, we knew we were in for 24 hours of pure relaxation and excited by the glorious sounding additions and enhancements at Ragdale Hall that had taken place since our previous stay – most notably the Rooftop Infinity Pool.
The welcome to Ragdale sets the tone for your time at the spa as you arrive at its idyllic Leicestershire countryside location to be greeted by friendly staff who take care of your luggage and even park your car for you – fingers firmly un-lifted from the off.
Once checked in we enjoyed a hot drink while we were run through our schedule and given a map of the site – that’s right a map! Larger than your average spa, Ragdale boasts an impressive list of facilities beyond the usual pool, sauna and steam room, with impressive outdoor areas, relaxation rooms, exercise pool, gymnasium, fitness studios, hair and beauty studio, treatment rooms and three shops, plus its famous Thermal Spa. With all this on one site it comes as no surprise that some guests at Ragdale check in for an entire week, I mean, can-you-imagine?
But alas, we needed to soak up the heavenly goodness in the in the short but sweet time we had and so after a light Caesar salad (and prosecco!) lunch it was straight into the robes and out into the new Rooftop Infinity Pool, which forms part of a recent multi-millionaire-pound development at Ragdale – and worth every penny, if not for the view alone! The open-air, stainless steel pool is heated to a cosy 35 degrees and features reclining underwater massage jets – by day we liked to idle at the infinity edge breathing in the open countryside beyond, while by nightfall it was another level of peace to lay back on the bubbling beds and gaze at the stars.
In the same area there is also a modern elevated lounge area with floor-to-ceiling glass enjoying the same delightful views and therapeutic atmosphere, plus on the ground floor a shiny new exercise pool, complete with aqua gym and cool LED light show.
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the Thermal Spa – a playground of relaxation consisting of a range of experience rooms, some of which have been exclusively designed for Ragdale and so can’t be found elsewhere.
Enhancing for the mind, body and soul the rooms vary in temperature, lighting and aromas to deliver different benefits. We particularly loved the Thought Zone, designed to inspire positive thinking, and the Colourflow Cave, which combines a heady mix of jasmine, lavender and camomile for a hedonistic detox. The crème de la crème for us though has to be the Candle Pool – an underground candle-lit cavern with star-lit ceiling and inviting 34-degree waters. Pure heaven, and if it wasn’t for our pruning fingers, you might still find us in there now!
After a bob in the outdoor Waterfall Pool we headed to our room to shower and dress for the evening meal. Served in the wood panelled dining room, Ragdale’s expert chefs always offer a beautiful choice of healthy yet thoroughly appetising dishes, with a tempting choice of starters, main and desserts.
Both Julia and I chose the tomato and mozzarella salad to start, followed by a vegetarian pasta main and I then opted for the indulgent ‘comfort pudding’ of a roulade while Julia selected the cheese board to finish, all washed down with a delightful Sauvignon.
Feeling highly satisfied we retied to our rooms for a blissful night’s sleep before another bout of relaxation, and treatments – always the highlight of any spa trip.
We began our day with breakfast in the bright and airy Verandah Bar, which offered a feast of cereals, toast, pastries and fruit, which we devoured – me alongside a helping of smoked salmon and avocado and Julia along with a small stack of fluffy pancakes.
May 3rd, 2018 | Rachel Parry
What are the necessary requirements for chilled out girly trip? For us it has to be comforting and stylish surroundings, delicious food, one or two glasses (ok, bottles) of wine and, of course, access to some pampering facilities. We were therefore delighted to be invited for an overnight stay at our fabulous Sponsor venue, the stunning Titanic Hotel Liverpool, last month, which offers all this – and a whole lot more!
Given it’s uber cool location at Stanley Docks, the gorgeous boutique style hotel offers a tranquil haven away from the immediate buzz of Liverpool’s city centre but is just a few minutes’ cab ride away should you want to mix some city, culture and bar hopping into your escape.
Perfect for a pre-wedding getaway, perhaps to shop for the last minute big day bits with your other half, or an indulgent girls-only get away with your mum, sister or bezzie – or get all in tow for a sophisticated hen do – the Titanic houses a contemporary bar, restaurant and accommodation all under one roof, plus its Maya Blue Wellbeing, complete with fitness, pool and treatment areas. Oh, and did we mention they do weddings? But more on that later.
For now, let’s fill you in on our experience of this dreamy hotel. Arriving mid-morning we checked in and took a seat in the impressive Rum Bar lounge, with original exposed brick and large steel pillars mixed in with modern décor and soft furnishings giving a New York loft apartment vibe, which is echoed through all areas of the hotel. As a nod to its rum warehouse heritage and location on the docks, the spirit is the tipple of choice at the Titanic, though at 11am we felt it a little too early to start on the alcohol, and so settled in with a large latte as we took in the surroundings before being given a full tour and rundown of the hotel’s facilities.
In the midst of a hectic but truly epic wedding fair season (don’t forget it’s our annual WEDSTOCK’18 Wedding Show in Harrogate this Sunday, 6th May) we decided to make our trip one of relaxation, enjoying some much-needed magazine time and a visit to the Maya Blue Wellbeing. As mentioned, those visiting could easily venture into the city centre during their stay, where there are shops, museums, tourist attractions, bars, cafes and restaurants galore.
We broke up our day with lunch in the bar area before checking out our spectacular accommodation. Boasting 153 rooms in total, the options range from classic double rooms to superior and presidential suites. All are light, airy and spacious, with rich furnishings and luxurious bathrooms.
April 5th, 2018 | Rachel Parry
Waking up to more snow on Easter Monday only drove home how epically long winter has felt with the relentless cold weather affecting not only our heating bills (we dread to think!) but also our skin and energy levels – both of which could do with an almighty boost.
As a newly-engaged bride-to-be I’m also feeling the effects of trying to keep on top of the early wedding planning, while keeping all in the loop – oh and plan my brother’s stag do and assist on my best friend’s hen do as well. So, all in all a lot on, which super exciting but a little depleting on the batteries.
The perfect remedy for a change of season and busy schedule though has to be a spa break, and so when Staffordshire based Moddershall Oaks got in touch with the offer of an overnight stay to switch off from the outside world and restore balance, I took it up quicker than Made in Chelsea’s Jamie Laing can tell a girl he’s falling in love with her.
Situated in a rural location near the market town of Stone, Moddershall Oaks is a country spa retreat and idyllic wedding venue – so it could tick two boxes for those of you still on the venue hunt. Whilst there I did get to view its stunning and flexible spaces for weddings – including a gorgeous oak gazebo surrounded by tranquil woodland for beautiful outdoor ceremonies – and would certainly encourage couples planning to wed in the Staffordshire area to pay this place a visit.
Though not particularly worn out from the wedding planning (though he must be exhausted from all the stag do preparation – a number one priority from grooms it would seem *rolls eyes*), my fiancée Andy was lucky enough to join me on this getaway. We arrived at Moddershall around noon on a Wednesday and was welcomed by a warm atmosphere, friendly staff and a strawberry Bellini (start as you mean to go on, right?)
Having filled in a few quick forms we were given a run through the facilities and our (very relaxed) itinerary for our stay, before being shown to one of the gorgeous ten 5* boutique bedroom suites to drop off our bags. The room was comforting, spacious and beautifully decorated, plus there is access to a shared hot tub, should we want to continue the pampering after visiting the main facilities.
Amazingly, we fell on a gorgeous spring-like day with clear blue skies (I will add that it had snowed either side of our visit) and so we wasted no time in heading to the crème de la crème of Moddershall, its outdoor heated vitality pool. Here we enjoyed bathing in the bubbling hot water in the open air made complete by a countryside views, oh and a couple of glasses of prosecco delivered direct via waiter service – this was our kind of spa!
We were joined in the courtyard area by other couples, as well as a few small groups of women and a couple of (I assume) mothers and daughters, which demonstrated how perfect the spa is for a romantic getaway as well as much-needed girly time.
After drying off in the Kelo sauna, also located in the courtyard, we retired to the relaxing lounge area indoors to recline on big sofas next to a warming fire and filled up on afternoon treats of cake and coffee.
Next it was treatment time – having only just managed to convince Andy of the benefits of moisturising daily, it didn’t surprise me that he passed on this, but the metrosexuals out there will be pleased to hear that Moddershall has blissful treatment options for both males and females.
The options ranged from massage, detox and body therapies, carried out by experienced therapists in the cosy treatment rooms, to a full range of beauty treatments undertaken in The Snug. This gorgeous area is available to hire privately for hen dos, birthdays and the like and, for Moddershall brides, it can also be taken over pre-wedding for big day pampering and preening, complete with nibbles, bubbly and music.
March 20th, 2018 | Rachel Parry
If ever there’s a much-needed time for a spa visit it’s during these spells of cold, bitter weather when our complexions are exposed to harsh conditions and our energy levels take a hit. We were therefore delighted to receive an invitation for an indulgent overnight stay at the wonderful Macdonald Portal Hotel, Golf & Spa resort in rural Cheshire, back in February.
As we were heading over to the North West to host one of our Luxury Wedding Fairs at the prestigious Chester Grosvenor, we thought tagging this stay onto the weekend of the event would be an ideal way to recharge the batteries. And so, after our successful wedding show came to an end we packed up the car and travelled 20 minutes from city of Chester out into the countryside to unwind in Portal Hotel’s idyllic surroundings.
Upon arrival we received an incredibly warm welcome and were informed that our room had been upgraded – a super nice touch, which saw us staying in a spacious twin room with large veranda looking out onto rolling lawns and woodland. It was perfectly serene and ensured a we had a peaceful night’s rest.
Having checked out the accommodation, we headed to the bar for an early evening drink before taking our seats for a three-course meal in the hotel restaurant. The service from the waiting staff was faultless and we were well looked after throughout. My mum joined me on this visit and we both have identical taste and so we ordered the same starter and main course; a winning combination of salmon, cream cheese and capers to start, followed by beautifully cooked lamb, accompanied by perfectly cooked vegetables and a tasty jus. For dessert I whole-heartedly gave into my sweet tooth opting for the chocolate tart served with a berry sorbet while my mum went for the slightly lighter cheesecake option. Having polished off a bottle of Rioja we headed to our room and, as expected, had a blissful night’s sleep in our comfortable suite.
Keen to make full use of the hotel’s facilities, I was up early the following day for a workout in the gym ahead of breakfast. As with many hotel gyms, it was on the smaller side but had all the necessary equipment for a full work out. I also enjoyed that its large windows gave gorgeous views of the surrounding countryside, making the exercise feel all the more refreshing.
Ready to refuel I joined my mum for breakfast in the restaurant where we had eaten the night before. There was a full continental offering laid out buffet style, including cereals, fresh fruit, juices, and pastries, plus the option to order something hot. As we had time in the spa area to come, we didn’t want to overfill and so enjoyed fresh fruit followed by a comforting bowl of porridge accompanied by nuts and honey. Delicious.
Treatment time was next. As mentioned I felt my skin was particularly suffering from the cold winter weather and so I selected the Elemis Superfood Pro-Radiance Facial, while my mum opted for the Elemis Deeper Than Deep Hot Stones Massage.
My therapist Karen showed me to the cosy treatment room and explained details of the treatment before asking me about any skin concerns (of which I have many!) and then informed me how she would tailor the facial to address my combination skin. All I had to do was lay back, relax and be transported to the height of relaxation. The varying lotions and potions were massaged, tapped and smoothed into my skin before a face mask was applied and the pampering continued with a scalp massage – literally one of the best things in life as far as I’m concerned. When my treatment came to an end, my skin was left radiant and glowing as promised. Certainly, an ideal pre-wedding pick-me-up for brides-to-be whose big days are just a matter of weeks away.
Meeting my mum in the warm and dimly-lit relaxation room, she reported equally good things from her treatment saying that all knots had been removed from her back and that she felt much less tension in her shoulders, so perhaps a good one of any of you ladies out there suffering a little planning stress.
November 30th, 2017 | Rachel Parry
After a hugely busy but absolutely EPIC season of our autumn wedding fairs, we we’re in need of some serious downtime come mid-November. Not only to recover from organising and running more than 20 luxury shows across the north of the country in the latter part of the year, but also to come down from high of them being so well-received and attended by fabulous suppliers and lots of lovely brides-and-grooms-to-be. Big love to all!
And so, an invitation to Cheshire-based spa hotel Mottram Hall, couldn’t have come at a better time; this was one Blissed Out Bride visit we were well and truly going to benefit from.
Nestled amongst peaceful parkland, the stunning hotel is the perfect retreat for those craving a large dose of R&R. And it has something to tempt all – couples, guys and girls – with an 18-hole championship standard golf course, luxurious spa, champagne bar and AA Rosette restaurant all on site. So, you can eat, drink, be merry and sleep (which is exactly what we planned to do).
Arriving at lunchtime, our spa package began with a light lunch accompanied with a glass of fizz, setting the tone for the rest of our stay. Once fed and watered (or prosseco-ed!) we headed straight for the spa – like I say, this was one trip we were more than ready for!
A step, leap and stride in front of many ‘spa hotels’ Mottram Hall’s facilities are award-winning, having been bestowed a 5* Bubble Rating by the Good Spa Guide and named ‘Best Country Retreat Spa’ at the Good Spa Guide’s 2017 Regional Awards.
This comes as no surprise really, when in addition to the usual facilities one would expect to find at such a resort, Mottram also boasts the UK’s first Alfresco ThermoSpace. We were super keen to try out all the facilities for ourselves, even if it did mean venturing outside in our swimwear on a chilly November day!
After a quick dip and laze around the indoor swimming pool and hydropool, we wrapped up in our robes and headed outdoors to the ThermoSpace, which is said to incorporate traditional spa therapies with the great outdoors. And we must say, it’s a winning combination!
Experiencing both the Brechelbath and Stonebath, both designed to relax and raise the body’s temperature, we felt wonderfully calm, cocooned in the warmth while enjoying views of the idyllic gardens through floor-to-ceiling glazing.
Next, the outdoor hydrotherapy pool. Just as it was getting dark this was the perfect place for a good catch-up in the open air surrounded by bubbling water as we reflected on the amazing season of wedding fairs and discussed how to raise the bar even higher for our spring 2018 shows (the line-up for which, you can view here).
To complete our spa time, we indulged in a treatment. With the cooler weather playing havoc with my skin I opted for a personalised facial, while Julia was intrigued by the sound of the ESPA Signature Floatation Treatment.
I was led to a softly-lit treatment room where my lovely therapist explained the procedure, which including running a SkinVision lamp across my face to identify needs not visible to the naked eye so that she could tailor the facial to perfectly suit my requirements. Responding to areas of both oiliness and dehydration, she used balancing products that would address both, leaving me with soft, glowing skin.
Julia’s treatment meanwhile was carried out on a ‘floatation bed’ in one of the Alfresco ThermoSpace rooms. The personalised treatment began with a full body polish, followed by a body wrap and relaxing scalp massage. The water-type bed upped the relaxation and Julia admitted slipping into a light sleep during certain parts of the treatment, and emerged with radiant skin, from top to toe!
November 24th, 2017 | Julia Braime
Behind the scenes here at Brides Up North HQ, things are pretty busy! We’re already working a year ahead to bring you almost 40 sensational (and each unique and different!) bespoke bridal shows for 2018 and work has started in earnest on Issue 09 of our gorgeous bi-annual glossy magazine, UNVEILED, out in March. Add an impending site relaunch (yes (!), watch this space), a brand spanking new digital platform for UNVEILED (launching next week people!) and all the juggle that comes with being a mummy of two littles away from the office, and this editor was seriously in need of some R&R.
So, when the lovely people at Seaham Hall in Country Durham waved an overnight spa stay for two my way, I grabbed the husband, set the out of office and used up some babysitting credits. It was time to test out Seaham’s offering to make sure that you lovely Brides Up North stay blissed out in the run up to your big day and beyond.
Now, this place is incredible and some. Recently awarded the Conde Nast Johansens UK Readers’ Award 2017 (and from the facilities and service you can see why) this coastal gem is full of charm.
Pre-stay, the hotel’s website had boasted that, ‘set within 37 acres of delightful gardens in a stunning cliff top location overlooking the sea and the coast of the Durham Heritage Coastline, Seaham Hall is a beautiful Georgian Mansion ideally located in Durham for a luxurious overnight retreat’. They weren’t wrong.
On the menu for us was a stay in one of Seaham Hall’s beautiful suites, decorated artfully in shades of grey, teal and a zingy yellow – with enough wallpapers, cushions and objets d’art to keep this interiors magpie very happy indeed; a spa day for two (is it a bit cringy to read your own magazine by the pool? Maybe, but I don’t care!) with some delightful treatments thrown in; pre-dinner mojitos delivered to our suite (nice touch!) and a fine dining dinner in Byron’s Restaurant, followed by the best night’s sleep that I’d had in a long, long time.
Byron’s Restaurant has recently been awarded a 1st in the Taste Durham Awards, recognising the hotel’s hard work towards supporting and championing local producers and suppliers. My husband and I shared the Chateaubriand, and can vouch for its flavour, freshness and presentation. And although we didn’t try it ourselves, the dishes served in the venue’s Pan-Asian Restaurant ‘The Ozone’ located within the Serenity Spa looked absolutely delightful.
Now onto that spa. As well as a fully equipped gym (which I didn’t try out – my bad!) the sensational Serenity Spa boasts a 20 metre pool with massage stations; hamman with snail showers and jacuzzi, Asian herbal samarium, salt sauna, Indian steam chamber, hydrotherapy pool, ice fountain, plunge pools and my favourite bit – outdoor hot tubs.
The hubby and I spent a glorious few hours trying out the various heat experiences, bubbling in the hot tubs and relaxing poolside, before it was time for our treatments.
The Serenity Spa offers unique and bespoke holistic treatment rituals from Asia that deliver luxurious, indulgent experiences. Their therapists are chosen not only for their ability but their intuition to your individual needs and the treatments tailored specifically to you. Just lovely!
To aid my too-much-screen-time and sugar skin, I chose a Sunari Prescriptive Facial, which promised to reawaken and rejuvenate my skin with a holistic techinque customised for my skin’s specific needs. Naturally active ingredients were custom blended for intensive exfoliation and renewal; and Seaham Hall’s signature MarMassage (pressure point stimulation) completed the experience, for newly radiant skin. I was glowing!
The hubby meanwhile was treated to a Serenity Signature Massage, a full body massage which unlocks tension and induces a sense of relaxation, wellness and inner calm.
I’d wholeheartedly recommend Seaham Hall for a pre-wedding break to bliss out with the girls or reconnect with your hubby to be amid the planning madness. This would also be the ideal spot for a “just because” romantic break (we are all about those here at Brides Up North HQ!) or a really delightful minimoon.
And if you’ve fallen as much in love as we have here at Brides Up North, why not really commit? Seaham Hall also plays host to a number of luxury weddings a year. Offering exclusive use weddings and ceremonies, a wedding at Seaham Hall would truly be an occasion to remember.
For more information visit www.seaham-hall.co.uk
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