Hi guys and gals,
Last weekend I checked in to the beautiful Glass House Retreat in Essex for a wellness overhaul. Here’s how I got on:
Please note this is a gifted experience but all views are completely my own.
On a chilly January day when the clouds were hanging low and the misty rain was slowing demolishing my perfect curls, I found myself feeling anything but irritated. Why? Because I had the prospect of a Himalayan salt sauna and a lava shell massage at the other end of my journey. I was on my way to Glass House Retreat in Essex.
I’ve frequented many spas in my time (lucky, right?) but never actually attended a wellness retreat before, so I really didn’t know what to expect. Of course, the fragrant scent wafting from the treatment rooms and the tranquil poolside music was all very familiar, but at the spas I’ve attended, my pool dips have been punctuated with afternoon tea or champagne stops. But there would be none of that here…
Guests can choose to embark on one of three different programmes. One is purely ‘juicing’ (aside from a portion of soup at dinner) which is obviously geared at cleansing and detoxing (which personally, I’m not sure if I’m sold on, but I understand that some people would be). Then there’s the ‘weight loss’ programme, which includes three plant-based meals per day, but they are small portions and low in calories. Finally, there is the ‘equilibrium’ option which includes three plant-based meals per day, aimed at people looking to eat a healthy, balanced diet.
In order to try a bit of everything, we had the ‘juicing’ meal on the evening we arrived, which was only a soup but then we got the equilibrium breakfast (much more up my street). We still found ourselves to be quite hungry throughout (I’m queen of snacks usually you see, so it will probably take me a lot longer to wean myself off of those ). So for me, I feel like the lack of food was a bit of a downside (I’ll admit, I’m a hangry kind of person who doesn’t cope well on an empty stomach) and personally, I don’t want to create a bad relationship with food where I feel like I should be depriving myself of things. However, if you are looking for a kick start into healthy eating, and work better when you’re told you can’t have something, this is perfect for you!
Even though it isn’t that far from London, it feels like it is in the middle of nowhere – surrounded by greenery and farms which is lovely as you approach. Inside, the decor is impeccable – we had a beautiful room which was so cosy – and overlooked rolling fields. Each room has a detox box in the wardrobe, where you can choose to lock your phone away if you fancy trying a digital detox. I, however, chose to keep my phone by my side for the many Instagram opportunities that presented themselves around the beautiful retreat. Along with the light-drenched dining room, the lounge area was one of the nicest places – complete with gorgeous lush velvet sofas, but instead of feeling like a fancy show-home, the room had a relaxed feel and guests gathered to play board games and chat in the evening.
As much as I love lazing by the pool and reading a good book, the best part of any spa stay has to be the treatments. And boy let me tell you about the amazing lava shell massage that I had. With a desk job and a tendency to opt for high-impact exercise classes, my body is always full of tension and so a lovely relaxing massage was much-needed. The shells themselves are heated inside with a magnesium concoction, which is what makes it a little different to a hot stone massage (where the stones are put in a pod to heat). It’s a really nice feeling having the smooth shells glide over your body and it banished so much of my tension. Lava shells for the win!
It wasn’t all horizontal relaxation though, we also braved the cryotherapy chamber. What is cryotherapy I hear you ask? Well, it is pretty chilly let me tell you that much. You may have heard about it when it comes to footballers and athletes using this therapy to treat their muscles and joints. Basically, it’s a very cold (-105 degrees to be precise) chamber that you stand in for a number of minutes. We had one minute in a preparation chamber first (a positively balmy -30 degrees) followed by standing in the main cyro chamber for three whole minutes!!! The sauna stint that followed was definitely the best bit, but apparently it works wonders if done on a regular basis, so I would certainly try again. The best advice? Mind over matter – just imagine you are on a beach in St Lucia while you are in the Baltic cold.
As well as any chosen treatments, the retreat runs extra complimentary activities each day. While we were there we embarked on one of the stretching classes, we got up early for the morning walk, we observed a food demonstration and we sat in on an aromatherapy talk.
The stretch class was perfect for someone like me (not flexible and in need of some lengthening), but if you’re after an intense workout, perhaps head to the on-site gym. I’d definitely recommend opting for the morning walk – the fresh air blew the cobwebs away and for me, living in London, it was so nice to be embracing the great (green) outdoors. My insider tip would be to head to the daily food demonstration, as there will be food samples! We watched a chocolate mousse being created from avocado, coconut sugar, cacao powder, a drop of water and a pinch of salt – and the best bit was the tasting – it was delicious! As for the aromatherapy talk, I learnt so much about how different oils have such amazing healing properties – and they can even replace the over-the-counter drugs in your medicine cabinet. I will definitely be picking up some peppermint oil to sweep across my forehead next time I suffer a pesky headache.
The retreat has only been open since Oct 2019, so everything is shiny and new, meaning now is the perfect time to steal a weekend of utter sanctuary in the countryside, in a place that feels a million miles away from home. You will come back feeling refreshed, relaxed and a little bit healthier.
More info: https://www.glasshouseretreat.co.uk
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