On my constant quest for escapism and relaxation, I was more than happy to try out the spa at the Midland Hotel in Manchester last weekend. Would I like to go for afternoon tea with friends, followed by time in the newly-refurbished spa, they asked? Well I didn’t need asking twice.
I lived in Manchester for the whole of my 20s, staying there after university and getting my first ‘proper’ journalism job there, buying my first house there and falling in love (just a few times) there too. I love Manchester and every time I go back I feel like I belong; I’m Yorkshire born and bred but because I did so much of my growing up in this city, it will always feel like home.
We started the afternoon drinking champagne, eating some gorgeous sandwiches (the goats cheese and beetroot was a favourite) and homemade scones. Then there were the cakes – so many to choose from and all presented by silver service to our table in the hotel tea room.
The Midland has a kind of old fashioned glamour on the inside that matches its exterior. The landmark Edwardian red brick building is one of the city’s most grandiose, being the venue of choice for many party conferences and power meetings – including famously one between motor car supremos Charles Rolls and Henry Royce more than 100 years ago.
It’s central, sitting on St Peter’s Square next to Central Library and walking distance from any of the city centre stations.
The hotel tea room had a great atmosphere and was busy but not full. Nice enough to feel relaxed but still plenty of opportunity for some good people watching! Just outside was a large bar area complete with grand piano, where no doubt we would have reconvened for a sundowner had I not had to drive back to Yorkshire.
After we’d finished eating, we were taken downstairs to the spa area and shown around. I loved the decor, all rich jewel tones with teal and gold furnishings and a particularly blingy gold-coloured chain wall separating the seating areas from the from desk.
My friend Karen (who blogs at Mini Travellers) and I spent the first hour in the pool area, having a swim, jacuzzi and sauna. There was also a steam room which unfortunately was out of use during our visit, and a rasul room had we wanted to book that as an extra treatment.
I only learnt what a rash was the other week, when my friend told me she had been in one and I wondered what on earth it was. It’s a treatment where you apply mineral-rich mud to your face and body, before sitting in a hot tiled steam room while it does its stuff. Sounds amazing, doesn’t it?
The pool was a lovely temperature and I liked the low lighting in there. It felt really relaxing and although there were a few other people in, it never felt crowded in any of the areas. My favourite part of any spa is usually the sauna if I’m honest, I just love them and this was no different. We went from pool, to sauna, to shower, to jacuzzi to pool, then headed back to our fluffy dressing gowns to wait in the relaxation area for our treatments.
I had an aromatherapy facial with Espa products, which was so relaxing and felt really luxurious. It’s been a while since I’ve had a facial and felt my tired skin really needed a boost. The treatment rooms are nice and big, with heated beds and soothing dimmed lights. I really liked the therapist who looked after me and if I lived nearer would definitely go back for a facial or massage.
After my treatment, I went back to the relaxation room to catch up with Karen and our friends Sarah who blogs at Extraordinary Chaos, and Kerri-Ann from Life as Our Little Family. Do check them out if you’re not already following.
We spend a good half an hour chilling out here in the amazing hanging cocoons. You can see on the photo they look like mini teepees suspended from the ceiling. Really cute and fun but a bit of a challenge to get in and out of! There were also some large egg-shaped chairs around the edge and two rooms with velvet-covered sofa-style seating, as well as a row of three fully made-up beds if you fancied a snooze.
I really liked how there were different areas in this room, breaking it up and making it more private in a way and a nice place to kick back.
We all enjoyed our afternoon so much and it was such a great way of whiling away a Sunday with good friends.