Tim Firmager checks into Moddershall Oaks country spa retreat near Stoke-on-Trent for a relaxing break pampered with Elemis products
Priding itself as Staffordshire’s most reputable beauty spa and boasting one of the must luxurious restaurants in the county, we at Vada headed to Moddershall Oaks country spa retreat for a couple of days to find out just how relaxing the Vitality pool, sauna, steam room and treatments really are.
Moddershall Oaks is set is 70 acres of beautiful grounds, about 15 minutes’ drive from Stoke-on-Trent, we’d recommend calling ahead and asking the spa to book you a taxi if you’re arriving by train. Our mid-week visit included an overnight stay in one of guest suites, full access to the spa facilities, a massage and dinner.
As overnight guests, we stayed in one of Moddershall Oaks’ ten suites, which features a king-sized bed, en-suite bathroom with Elemis products and the usual technology you would expect (coffee machine, TV with all the channels, wifi). Our room had a distinctly Moroccan theme with cared wooden bed headboard and ornate metal light shades.
The room passed our plug-socket location test – yes it is a necessity to have well located plugs (for hairdryers, phone chargers etc.) and when you travel or go somewhere to relax, it is one of the those small things that makes a big difference. The room had ample plug sockets in all the right places including one next to the bed.
The bathroom was clean and minimalist in design. A separate bath and walk-in shower unit would be preferable, particularly for couples, but the multi-function shower gave good head. A double sink and more marble in the bathroom would enhance the luxurious feel.
Each suite has a small terrace with enough room for a chair and table. There is a separate outdoor jacuzzi accessible only to overnight guests; however given its popularity, we weren’t able to use it.
Moddershall Oaks spa is split into two main areas, which all guests have unlimited use of. Close to the main reception is the deli cafe, next to the 25sq metre Vitality outdoor heated pool (large enough for approximately 20 guests), off which there is a sauna and soothing relaxation room. Following the maze of signed corridors, you will reach the second and larger spa area, with air-conditioned gym, treatment rooms and indoor spa area including swimming pool, steam room, hydrotherapy pool, heated tiled loungers, experience shower & reflexology foot baths. During our visit there weren’t many guests making use of these facilities meaning we could easily make use the hydrotherapy, pool with jacuzzi and experience shower, a particular favourite of ours after a gym workout and long swim.
In addition to the usual spa amenities, a range of Elemis branded treatments are available including facials, full body, massages and beauty treatments. We opted for an Elemis freestyle deep tissue massage each, a 55 minute session costs £65, which we found deeply soothing and relaxing, focussing on specific areas of tension.
Moddershall Oaks offers outdoor activities, besides the Vitality pool of course. We asked reception for directions for a walk, taking a stroll through the wood and parkland, and we were informed a slightly longer stroll will take you into the village of Moddershall for a trip to the local pub. The spa also has an on-site tennis court, and offers complimentary use of bicycles and cycling equipment to guests on request.
Moddershall Oaks has two eateries. The Deli offers drinks and light bites throughout the day, and will happily bring you a cocktail or glass of something bubbly to the Vitality pool – if you’re not on a detox spa break of course. This is where we were given our welcome drink of fresh orange juice. A slightly more luxurious and personal touch would be to offer a range of welcome drinks e.g. champagne, herbal tea etc.
The main restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and is a food destination in itself. For breakfast, the usual buffet is laid out with cereals, pastries, fruit and smoothies, and a menu of hot options is provided, opting for poached eggs and smoked salmon.
For our evening meal, we started with a beetroot, fig and Stilton filo tart (£6.25) and roasted cod served with sweetcorn, crab fritters and samphire (£5.75). Both very well presented and excellent flavour combinations. There was a significant wait of nearly 40 minutes for the main courses (both £18.95) for the entire restaurant. We didn’t know what caused this, but hope that it was a one-off issue. To eat, we chose the roasted venison with salisfy, onion, broccoli and a sloe gin glaze, and a pork wellington served with green beans and Diane sauce. For wine connoisseurs (and enthusiasts like us), we were pleased to find wine pairing suggestions provided with each dish.
We skipped dessert, in a bid to try to make a healthy choice, and we had already indulged in a bottle of Champagne earlier that afternoon; however sweet treats are priced at £7.50 and include a blackberry bavarois, pavlova, dark chocolate delice and a sticky toffee pudding.
Overall during our stay, we found the service professional friendly and familiar. During check-in, we were left with our welcome drink a little too long and the service slightly clumsy (including a ‘Miss’ instead of ‘Mr’ on a check-in form), which did give us initial concern about two gay guys checking in together. This was however corrected and we were shown to our room, and were glad to find we were not viewed any differently as the only gay couple checked-in at the time. The other minor issue was that no footwear was provided by default in the rooms, as soon as we got there we had to call reception. To make the process slicker, staff could confirm foot size at check-in as flip-flops are available to all guests who ask for them.
Check-out is at 11am on the day of departure. We had massages booked in the morning, so were a little later than this but the Moddershall Oaks reception staff were perfectly accommodating and checking-out a little later was not an issue. After check-out guests have access to all spa facilities until 5pm, which we made full use of. Payment was surprisingly swift and the staff were able to book us a return taxi to the train station.
If you enjoy spa breaks where you can completely cut yourself off from the world for a couple of hours (or days), then Moddershall Oaks definitely meets the brief. There are ample soothing spa facilities and treatment options all set in well manicured, scenic grounds that it is difficult to do anything other than relax.
Initially we were anxious about the clumsy gender mistake on the check-in form; however we found the friendly professional service from the staff reinforced the relaxing atmosphere. We were pleasantly surprised by the quality of restaurant’s food and wine choices, but a choice of welcome drink would be a preferred improvement.
Moddershall Oaks is located near Moddershall, Staffordshire, ST15 8TG.
For more information about Moddershall Oaks country spa retreat visit moddershalloaks.com.