Charlotte Balbier
Brides Up North Wedding Fairs

blissed out bride: hoar cross hall

May 4th, 2017 | Rachel Parry

Hoar Cross Hall (3)

The month of May is one of our very favourites here at Brides Up North HQ, not only as it tends to signal the start of warmer weather, but it’s also when our incredible festival wedding fairs take place across the north of the country. These super cool events are like no other as we create outdoor wedding wonderlands with huge sailcloth tents, tipis and yurts filled with wildly creative wedding suppliers, plus street food vendors, pop-up bars, live bands and so much more. The tour starts this Sunday 7th May with our glorious WEDSTOCK’17 at Stockeld Park, Yorkshire, and from there we will be heading to Ormesby Hall in Middlesbrough on Sunday 14th May, and Capesthorne Hall in Cheshire on Sunday 21st May, to give all you brides-to-be a piece of the fabulous festival action.

Another reason we favour May is for its bank holidays (who doesn’t love a bonus day off?!) and so with such a busy time on the horizon, we were sure to make the first long weekend of the month a relaxing one by heading off for an overnight spa break at the stunning Hoar Cross Hall.

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Such getaways not only enable us to signpost you in the direction of the very best retreats for pre/post wedding pampering and luxurious hen do locations, but it also gives us chance to discuss exciting ideas for the blog, and boy do we have amazing plans in the pipeline! But more about that to follow soon, for now let us fill you in on our heavenly stay at this Grade II stately home where total relaxation comes as standard!

Situated in breath-takingly beautiful Staffordshire countryside, the chilled-out vibes start on your approach to the Hall and only deepen once over its threshold. Its impressive entrance and bar lounge area combine period style and modern luxury perfectly and make for a very warm welcome. Arriving early evening and keen to start the pampering from the off, we began with a glass of bubbles in the bar before heading to our room to freshen up before dinner.

Each of Hoar Cross Hall’s 96 bedrooms are individually designed in keeping with the stately surrounds and offer comfort and class, which resulted in a very restful night’s sleep for the two of us in our adjoining rooms.

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Dinner was served in the Hall’s grand restaurant with calming views over the perfectly manicured gardens. Having selected a bottle of rose (well, it is getting on for summer!) we scanned over the varied choice of dishes and made our selection. We enjoyed starters of salmon two ways and chicken liver parfait before going onto mains of roast chicken and spinach and ricotta cannelloni. Something light to finish we thought, and so opted for the fruit platter and ice cream. The food at Hoar Cross is presented beautifully and tastes as good as it looks, while staff are attentive in making sure everything is to your liking.

With relaxation top of the agenda, we decided on an early night and early start to make the most of the Hall’s fabulous spa facilities.

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Following an ample breakfast of granola followed by poached eggs, we took the elevator down to the lower ground where the hugely spacious spa is concealed, much like a well kept secret. And what a gem it is, with numerous tranquil pools and soothing water therapies to explore and experience.

Fellow spa visitors included groups of ladies as well as couples, making a Hoar Cross Hall getaway a perfect option for an indulgent hen do with the girls, some pre-wedding pampering with family or friends, plus a relaxing minimoon retreat to recharge the batteries ahead of jetting off on the main honeymoon.

There are various day and overnight packages to choose from, with meals included, and the option of treatments for head-to-toe relaxation.

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The spa boasts two beautiful pools; a saltwater vitality pool, complete with jet massage pools, two luxury whirlpools and a starlit cave, plus a hydrotherapy pool with gentle currents and body massage jets.

There are also a number of heat, ice and massage experiences to detox and revitalise the body by stimulating different senses. These include sensory showers and aqua massage therapies as well as an aspen wood sauna, aroma room and ice temple.

And as if that’s not enough, there are lots of beautifully snug spaces to relax both poolside and within designated relaxation lounges, whether you choose to curl up with a good book or get a little extra shut-eye.

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blissed out bride: moddershall oaks

January 12th, 2017 | Rachel Parry

Moddershall Oaks (2)

Those of you that follow me on Instagram may well have noticed that it was my 30th birthday in December as I stretched out the celebrations across three weeks, no less! As well as nights out with family and friends and a fabulous trip to Copenhagen organised by my wonderful boyfriend Andy, I was also invited to top it all off with an overnight spa break at Moddershall Oaks in rural Staffordshire. Just want the doctor ordered after copious amounts of birthday booze and dancing!

Located in 72 acres of picturesque woodland and grounds, Moddershall Oaks houses an award-winning, fine dining restaurant and is also a stunning wedding venue with options for both indoor and outdoor ceremonies and celebrations. As part of the wedding venue hire package, couples marrying at Moddershall are treated to a complimentary one-night mini-moon break with overnight accommodation in its Master Bedroom, complete with four-poster bed and spa bath, plus full use of the spa’s facilities.

The spa’s “Girly Night In” package also offers the perfect chilled-out hen do, whilst its Snug can be hired for the morning of the wedding for the bridal party to enjoy being pampered and preened from top to toe whilst sipping on champagne. Sounds perfect, right? Which is why were so keen to experience Moddershall Oaks’ spa facilities for ourselves.

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As I was on annual leave, my mum accompanied me on this Blissed Out Bride visit, and given what a wonderful time we had, I would certainly also highly recommend Moddershall Oaks as the perfect place for some quality mother/daughter time.

Upon arrival, we were greeted by the spa’s super friendly staff and given a quick tour of the facilities before being shown to our room. We were staying in one of the venue’s ten luxury suites with gorgeous Moroccan-style décor and use of the outdoor hot tub.

With fabulous-looking facilities both indoor and out to explore, we were quick to change into our robes and indulge in some serious relaxation!

moddershall oaks, stone

moddershall oaks, stone

First up, perhaps the main attraction and also Moddershall’s latest addition, the outdoor spa courtyard, including relaxation lounge, spa deli, heated vitality spa pool and kelo sauna. We braved the cold December temperatures shedding our robes and hopping straight into the warm spa pool with welcoming bubbling jets. You could easily idle away hours in this gorgeous open-air spot with views of the surrounding countryside. There isn’t even the need to get out for a drink, as attentive waiting staff are on hand to gab that glass of fizz for you – utter heaven? We thought so!

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blissed out bride: an overnight break at titanic spa

October 24th, 2016 | Rachel Parry

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While you brides-to-be are in full wedding planning mode, us Brides Up North girls are right there with you in a whirlwind of organising and staging our Luxury Wedding Fairs throughout the north of the country.

And though we love what we do, such a high level of planning leads to late nights, early starts and bodies that ache from head to toe. So when an invitation for an overnight break at Titanic Spa in Huddersfield arrived in our inbox, we thought we had more than earned a little down time.

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We have been fortunate to visit the amazing West Yorkshire spa before, though we’ve never stayed for more than a day, so we were extra excited to see what else would be in store for us.

Popular with both men and women of all ages this is an ideal retreat for brides and grooms to recharge the batteries, either pre- or post-wedding, but also makes a heavenly location for a hen do or mother and daughter day. Whatever your excuse – we mean reason, you can be sure of first class facilities and service with Titanic being named ‘Best Luxury Eco Spa’ and ‘Best Luxury Destination Spa’ at the prestigious 2016 World Luxury Spa Awards.

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Upon arrival our overnight luggage was taken from us and delivered to our room which we would be able to access later in the afternoon. We knew our way round and so skipped the tour and headed straight into the spa’s well-known Heat & Ice Experience. Here guests can go between a number of hot and cold rooms, each with differing benefits to the body. The overall effect is cleansing and invigorating as you peak and dip in temperature.

We favoured the warmer rooms, such as the saunas, herbal infusion room and aromatherapy room, which cleared pores whilst draining away any feelings of stress too. In between the hot experiences we dipped in and out of the ice room but weren’t quite brave enough for the plunge pool or bucket shower experience. We did manage to idle away about 30 minutes in the foot spas though while we gossiped about all things Made in Chelsea and Real House Wives of Cheshire.

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Next, lunch. We recalled how good the food was on our last visit, but as it turns out the team at Titanic have stepped things up a gear again, with the dishes surpassing our previous dining experience. We both enjoyed a Prawn, Red Pepper and Chilli Linguine washed was with a Sauvignon Blanc. That’s right, though healthy, the spa still allows for treats!

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The impressive facilities at Titanic – which also include a 15 metre swimming pool, gym, relaxation room and outdoor hot tub – are so plentiful that a treatment isn’t essential for those on a short break. That said, if you’re on the run up to your wedding we highly recommend indulging in a facial or body treatment as part of your big day beauty prep.

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blissed out bride: rudding park

March 22nd, 2016 | Rachel Parry

Rudding Park (11)

In our hectic day-to-day lives we tend to think that taking a quick bath, painting our nails or flicking through a magazine qualifies as indulging in a little ‘me time’ – but when was the last time you had more than a full hour to concentrate on your own wellbeing?

Same here, it’s not something we get to do often – so when we are offered the chance, we jump at it! It will therefore come as little surprise that a recent invitation to visit luxury Yorkshire hotel and spa Rudding Park, to sample its new spa and beauty brand, ila, was quickly responded to with a great big “yes please”.

Set amongst beautiful landscaped gardens and woodland in a leafy area of Harrogate, rudding park was already on our radar for its high-end weddings, some of which have graced our pretty blog pages – and so were keen to experience its impressive facilities for ourselves.

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The privately owned, AA 4 Red Star hotel boasts a choice of stunning bedrooms and suites as well as a spa with a gym, private cinema, 2 AA Rosette Clocktower restaurant and 18 hole parkland golf course, making it an ideal getaway for brides and grooms in the run up to their big day for a little wedding-planning-time-out, or after the celebrations as a perfect minimoon retreat. We’d also recommend it as a haven for brides-to-be to escape to with their mum, sibling or close friends for a little pampering and de-stressing ahead of ‘I dos’.

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Upon arrival at the hotel we received a warm welcome from staff (as well as a roaring open fire) before being shown to our accommodation, which was one of Rudding Park’s four spa rooms, complete with private steam room, Molton Brown goodies and contemporary décor – we already knew that we’d never want to leave.

Next up a tour by hotel manager Nuno, who knows everything there is to know about the splendid building. Given our line of work we were keen to see the rooms and areas available to brides and grooms who choose to host their wedding at Rudding Park – and it wasn’t long before we could see the great appeal.

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blissed out bride: ragdale hall

February 24th, 2016 | Rachel Parry

Ragdale Hall (1)

When you arrive at a destination and someone comes out to take your bags and park your car for you, you just know you’re in for treat!

This is the reception Julia and I received upon pulling up to our most recent blissed out bride retreat, Ragdale Hall, a health hydro and thermal spa near Melton Mowbray, Loughborough.

Situated in a tranquil, rural location the hall is vast, housing one of the biggest spas that we’ve ever experienced, along with a restaurant, gym and accommodation, plus numerous treatments rooms, quiet areas and shops! Impressive right?

Having heard from many friends and relatives that Ragdale Hall was the place to visit when it came to relaxation and pampering, we thought it only right to try out its facilities for brides-to-be looking for a chilled-out pre-wedding break, a refined hen do or a romantic minimoon.

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One of the best things about Ragdale Hall, and perhaps one of the first things to hit you, is its dress code, which we can only sum up as ‘ultra-casual’ with guests encouraged to remain in their soft robes and slippers for the duration of their stay. Already we think we’ve died and gone to heaven!

Once changed into our robes (which would remain on our bodies until departure, excluding only sleep time) we had a tour of the building which revealed a Tardis of tranquillity for us to explore and enjoy, but first – lunch.

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Joined in the dining room by fellow robe-donning guests we indulged in three courses, which made a refreshing change from our usual lunch of grabbing at anything edible between typing. It’s important to point out at this stage that the word ‘health’ in Ragdale’s description doesn’t mean solely green eating, and alcohol is (thankfully) on the menu!

We enjoyed starters of warm soup and soft bread (see, carbs too!) and then helped ourselves to mains from a buffet of adventurous salads and meats, plus hot options such as curries and paella were also available. To finish, vanilla sponge with a blueberry cream. Del-i-cious!

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Right, spa time. Not to overwhelm ourselves we decided to start at one side of thermal spa and work our way over to the other, sampling all 12 of its luxurious and unique heat and water experiences along the way! We began by braving the outdoor waterfall pool in the chilly January weather. Though cold out, the steam rising from the pool kept us warm while message jets washed away any niggling aches.

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blissed out bride: mill wheel spa

August 5th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

Mill Wheel Spa (11)

When in need of a little R&R sometimes a day away doesn’t quite cut it, and so an indulgent overnight stay is required to truly unwind.

Thankfully as I built up to a week’s annual leave to recharge the batteries away from Brides Up North HQ (hey I love my job, but we all need a little rest now and again), I was offered the opportunity to visit the fabulous mill wheel spa on the edge of the Staffordshire Peaks for an overnight break with my partner in tow. How’s that for timing?

All in the name of work (I’m so dedicated to the cause) I took up the kind invitation knowing the venue would provide a perfect subject for a Blissed Out Bride post, in which we explore ideal places for our readers to enjoy some pre and post wedding pampering, as well as girly hen dos. My assumptions were right, as once again we’ve discovered a tranquil retreat in the north of the country for brides and grooms to put on their ‘to do’ list.

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The journey from South Yorkshire took just over an hour, passing through picturesque areas such as Ladybower, Castleton and Buxton before arriving at The Three Horse Shoes Country Inn in rural Blackshaw Moor, which houses Mill Wheel Spa.

A family run business since 1981, the hospitality is among the warmest I have ever experienced as we were greeted by Katie Kirk who tends to the inn, alongside her husband and brother- and sister-in-law. Though the level of care, pride and customer service has clearly remained throughout, it soon became apparent that the inn itself has undergone quite a few changes over the years in order to deliver something special to its guests.

Among its most recent additions is Mill Wheel Spa, which offers a wide choice of day and overnight spa packages, including those specifically designed for hen dos, husbands and wives-to-be and newlyweds.

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The Mini Moon Break package that we were invited to experience included use of the spa facilities with a rasul and ‘beach hut’ experience, a three-course evening meal in The Stables Restaurant, overnight accommodation, breakfast and a treatment each before departure the following day – boy were we in for a treat!

First to drop the bags off – we were staying in one of the inn’s top garden rooms, complete with four-poster bed and private outdoor hot tub. After a look around we headed to the spa making a mental note to return to the room in enough time before our evening meal to try out that hot tub.

The spa’s facilities focus on a number of hot and cold experiences to clear out the pores and awaken the senses and so we followed the suggested route to get the most out of our visit. First on the agenda is the visual centre piece of the spa, and a UK first, The Mill Wheel Shower, which pays homage to the history of the James Brindley Water Mill in neighbouring Leek and Cheddleton Flint Mill, which were once an important part of the area’s local industry and economy. The large revolving mill pours out water from its shovels in intervals, alternatively warm and cold, a bit like a tame game of Russian roulette.

Mill Wheel Spa (1)

We are then advised to use The Peak District Stonebath for a ‘steam bath experience’ followed by The Farmers Sauna, with a quick dip in The Cedar Plunge Pool in between (refreshing but freezing!). Next our rasul treatment in a special chamber made for two. We were instructed to smooth mineral rich mud onto our skin while the room heated up, which provided a lot of entertainment as we came to look like we’d emerged from a swamp. The results however were fabulous – at the end of the 30 minutes water rained down washing the mud away and revealing hydrated, soft skin.

By this point the sun had made an appearance so we ventured outside to the spa’s garden for some refreshments, including a little fizz. Here there’s also a three metre square hydrotherapy pool set at an inviting 36 degrees, so we had to have a quick dip. Like much of the inn, this area enjoys stunning views over the Roaches and surrounding countryside, which enhanced our already chilled out mood.

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