When putting together our real wedding posts for the blog we ask brides to share a tip with readers who are currently caught up in planning pandemonium organising their own big day. One of the most common that crops up is ‘take time to enjoy the time leading up to your wedding too’, because as they rightly say, it’s all part of the experience.
That not only means trying to enjoy the process of selecting a venue and suppliers instead of rattling through it like one big to do list, but also reserving a little wedding-free time to enjoy with family and friends, or just as a couple.
So to help you find the perfect place to take a break we’ve scoped out another restful retreat where you and either your hubby-to-be, leading ladies or female relatives, can escape to for some pre-wedding pampering.
Nestled within 27 acres of Cheshire woodland, Macdonald Craxton Wood Hotel, enjoys the luxury of being in a tranquil location but with the gorgeous city of Chester just ten minutes down the road. This makes it the ideal place to enjoy a romantic break, hen do or girly getaway – and wait, it gets better.
As well as providing stunning food, drink and accommodation, the hotel boasts a heavenly spa which has recently benefited from £1.4 million of investment, offering weary souls and pamper seekers a range of blissful spa days and indulgent breaks.
So after having all that money spent on it, we thought it rude not to try out revamped spa on behalf of our readers. And upon doing so we can confidently say – ladies you will love it!
From the moment we stepped through its doors we were completely taken with the spa, which is light, airy, welcoming and incredibly well styled. Seriously this place looks like something straight off the pages of a glossy interiors magazine and it’s that high end finish in décor and furnishings that makes for an incredibly luxurious experience, even before you’ve enjoyed the facilities.
As holidays are coming and we’re desperate to achieve our beach body ambitions, we headed straight for the gym, which is kitted out with all the latest Technogym equipment. This means ladies on a pre-wedding fitness plan can get in their exercise before indulging in pure relaxation totally guilt free!
Next we were handed our fluffy robes and super-soft slippers (why are spa slippers so good?) before being shown around the spa area, which houses way more than you’d think, including an 18 metre pool, thermal suite, relaxation room, garden room and Woodland Spa Café.
Before lunch we took a dip in the pool which enjoys stunning countryside views through its floor to ceiling glass and then retired to the bright and breezy garden room for a herbal tea and a quick magazine fix.
At this point we’d already decided Craxton Wood would be one of our top picks for a hen do, plotting how we would have a day being pampered at the spa before heading out for a night in Chester. And clearly we’re not the only ones who can see it’s girly getaway potential as staff say the hotel is becoming increasingly popular with groups of ladies who take advantage of their spa break packages which include ‘celebration’, ‘indulgent’ and ‘revitalise’ options.
Lunch was next on our agenda. I’ve previously expressed my dislike for spas that only serve up super healthy food as I see pampering as a treat and therefore want a meal to match that experience. Thankfully the menu at the Woodland Spa Café (which again is beautifully decorated) has options that are fairly low in calories but high in flavour, and they serve alcohol – hurrah!
After our delicious two course lunch (and accompanying prosecco, of course) it was back to the pampering, this time treatments. For me a skin specific facial and for Julia Macdonald Hotels’ Elemis Signature.
In the comfort of the snug treatment room my therapist Jess discussed my skin type to decide on the right blend of products for my complexion and then the relaxation began. A balancing cleanser, toner and bliss capsules were gently massaged onto my face to renew skin elasticity and to give it a radiant glow, then while a masque worked its magic on my skin, Jess worked her magic on my arms, shoulders and chest to rub away any aches or pains. It was heavenly and my skin felt super fresh.
Julia’s 90 minute treatment meanwhile started with an exotic body exfoliation. After a light body brushing, warm oils were drizzled over her skin before a lime and ginger salt glow was applied resulting in clean, polished and softened skin. This was followed up by a massage and facial for an overall body experience that Julia described as ‘absolute bliss’ and said it would be an ideal pre-honeymoon treatment.
After coming around in the soothing, candle-lit relaxation room we tried out the thermal suite which has varying steam rooms, saunas and showers to awaken the senses, relax the mind and cleanse the skin.
Finally, to complete our visit, we had mini manicures by therapist Jess who was painted our nails to perfection (mine weren’t gels but lasted an incredible seven days before chipping).
So all in all you can see why we would highly recommend Craxton Wood for a pre or post wedding getaway with your guy or your girls. If you’re in the early stages of planning you might also want to check out the hotel as a potential wedding venue. It has a stunning range of function suites, with both indoor and outdoor options, that can cater for small, intimate weddings up to large parties of 250 guests whilst providing first class accommodation, service and food. And don’t forget about that spa!
For full details of Craxton Wood’s facilities, accommodation and packages, visit the website.