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Happiness at the Herb House by Niamh Barker

Posted in HEALTH + WELLBEING By Maggie O'Sullivan

As we drove up the lane toward the familiar buttermilk Regency building of Lime Wood Hotel, our expectations were high. I hosted my birthday celebrations here back in September and loved it so much, I persuaded my sister to come and try out the spa with me. While the doorman parked our car, we walked the few steps to the Herb House. The deceptively modest entrance opened tardis-like to reveal three floors of treatment rooms, indoor, outdoor and hydrotherapy pools, sauna, steam rooms, gym, meditation area, rooftop ‘herbery’ and a café. It felt wholesome and holistic, clearly inspired by the wholesome and holistic New Forest in which it is set.Slipping in to our brown waffle dressing gowns, we began with a lovely cup of coffee. I know, I know. The spa café, Raw & Cured (above), offers an array of much healthier beverages and cold drinks, but in our defence, we were both feeling a bit nervous about our first treatment in The Mud Hut. The Mud Hut offers a traditional Arabian body treatment that involves lots of steam and a full body mud mask, designed to draw out the impurities and soften the skin. Being slathered in mud isn’t exactly pampering, but it certainly delivered on its promise. A week later my skin still feels remarkably soft and smooth.Our trial by mud over, there followed six hours of utter indulgence. We meandered from dry to wet spaces; from the hydrotherapy pool with views into the surrounding woods and indoor swimming pool opening onto the garden sun terrace to the steam rooms and sauna. At one point we headed back to Raw & Cured for a ‘grazing lunch’ of Hampshire ham and tomato and date salad. The ethos of the café is ‘to offer fabulous tastes and to boost your body with an abundance of feel good nutrients’. Not that we needed the feel good nutrients to give us a boost: a morning in the spa had done that already.After our superfood salads we both had an express facial, using natural products by Bamford (read our review of Bamford here). The massage bed was enormous and heated, the therapist’s hands were gentle and soothing: I ended up fast asleep.

There is, however, one tiny fly in the organic ointment at the Herb House. Lime Wood has an admirable family-friendly policy but there is only one pool, and that means allocated times when children are allowed to use it. Fair enough, but our visit happened to coincide with one of those times and we weren't really in the mood for noisy shark games. It wasn’t a problem: we simply retreated to the steam room.All too soon our lovely sisterly spa day was over (we could have stayed until 8pm but we had collections to make from drama club and gym club). We sipped a last cup of Turkish apple tea and promised ourselves a return visit in the very near future. And for the next few hours, life seemed just that little bit easier. Further information, Lime Wood Hotel

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