It’s never a good start to what’s meant to be a day of relaxation when you turn up at reception and it transpires that you’ve been booked in for the wrong thing. I’d booked a spa day at Cotswold House Hotel and Spa for the week my sister came to stay at the end of July, and we were both in dire need of some downtime. You know I’m not one of these bloggers who paints a rosy picture of everything even when it’s not (who would believe me if I did?), and the truth of the matter is that unfortunately the day was a bit of a disappointment.
The stress began with the car park, the entrance to which is around the back; don’t make the same mistake as we did and try the gate on the Chipping Campden High Street, because you’ll end up in the car park of a different hotel.
When we finally located the car park, the reception we had by the lad on the desk at the spa was less than welcoming. We’d booked ourselves on what they call the ‘Be Complete’ package, a £95 package (Mon-Thurs – it costs more at weekends), which included a one-hour spa treatment and a £10 lunch voucher. That’s not what the computer said, apparently! We’d been booked on the wrong package, a shorter one with a 30-minute treatment and no lunch, and much stress ensued as my carefully planned timings for lunch and treatments went straight out of the window. The guy was singularly unhelpful and didn’t seem to have a clue what was going on, didn’t explain anything to us about where to go or how lunch works and was actually pretty rude. I had to ask lots of questions to get basic information out of him and he took some persuading just to figure out a way to change us onto the right package. (It later transpired that it was his first day managing the place on his own so I guess one should cut him a little slack, but still – there’s such a thing as basic courtesy to your customers and he didn’t seem willing to make any effort.) Just not at all the sort of service you expect from an upmarket hotel.
The spa is at the opposite end of the garden to the hotel itself, and it’s a bit of a walk to get across the garden to lunch – a nice walk, admittedly, but I was glad it wasn’t raining.
Lunch arrangements were a bit confusing because we weren’t given a voucher or anything, despite what it says in the brochure – you just had to say you were on the spa day – and since you’re not allowed to have lunch wearing the robes you get given in the spa, we could have been anyone walking in off the street. When we got to the main part of the hotel the much friendlier people in the reception there showed us to a table and I also explained that we were a bit stressed and confused with the way we’d been dealt with at the spa.
Most spa days you just keep your swimwear and robe on all day, but because of the no-robes-in-the-restaurant rule, that also means you basically have to have lunch before or after your treatments/swimming/lying by the pool etc, as otherwise you have to keep changing in and out of your swimwear, and nobody wants to put wet swimwear back on, do they? So a “spa day” turns into a “spa morning” or “spa afternoon” and the value for money goes down.
Lunch was nice; we ordered a selection of small things to share. We didn’t want to have a big lunch and then go straight into a massage (my original timings had left a couple of hours between lunch and treatments), and we’d had to rush lunch in when we first arrived, because owing to the mix-up with our booking, our treatment times had to be brought forward to fit a whole hour in.
The ‘red pepper and tomato sauce’ or somesuch that was included with these arancini tasted suspiciously like Heinz Tomato Soup!
After lunch it was time for our treatments. Having fought hard to get the erroneous half-hour treatments changed to an hour, I was less than impressed that I was out of mine after just 45 minutes. To make matters worse, there was building work going on right outside the window, and there wasn’t even any relaxing music playing in the room, so it was really difficult to switch off. Also, I had a nasty bruise on my leg and you’d have thought the therapist might have avoided that area, but no. Pain + building work + no music = not exactly a relaxing experience.
One thing I did like is that they give you a little tray with some ice cream and a glass of water afterwards, which was brought to me while I was sitting by the pool. My sister got given a much bigger scoop than the little shavings I was given!
While we were sitting by the pool the lady in charge of the spa came and introduced herself to us and apologised for the mix-up with our bookings and made excuses for the useless guy on the desk. Unfortunately by that point it was really too late – I’d been really looking forward to the day and had desperately needed some relaxation with all the crap I’ve had going on in my life, but it had been rather a let-down.
I’ve been to a lot of spas and have had many good experiences and a few bad ones. Sadly on the basis of my experience that day, I wouldn’t recommend this one.