There are so many spas within easy reach of Sheffield that can be really hard to know which one to pick. There is everything from your small add-ons to hotels to enormous stand-alone spas.
Eden Hall certainly fits into the latter category. It is a day spa housed in a converted mansion house near Newark and easy to find.
It looks very impressive as you arrive, although the large number of cars parked outside did worry me slightly. I needn't have been concerned though because it is deceptively spacious and didn't feel anywhere near full to capacity once we were inside.
We were greeted at reception with a choice of hot drinks before we were given a tour of the facilities. Fluffy robes and comfortable slippers galore ... there is something uniquely relaxing about the atmosphere at a spa. The aromatherapy oils which linger in the air and the laughter which always accompanies a group of women in dressing gowns has an instant impact. I couldn't help but inhale deeply and know I was in for a real treat.
Personally, I am still to be persuaded that enormous spas are better than the smaller offerings but there is no doubt that they can tempt you with a much better range of things to try. The list was impressive and all were good: a thermal spa suite with three glass-fronted walk through shower features, saunarium which combines a sauna and steam room, rose infused steam room, massage jets and herbal caldarium using lavender grown in the gardens. That was all before you get anywhere near the treatment rooms which are home to an equally good list of massage and treatments.
We were blessed with wonderful sunshine and so also spent quite a while outside. Just relaxing in a deckchair surrounded by beautiful gardens, while your children are at school, is a lovely treat.
The two garden hot tubs were definitely the most popular attraction on the day we visited. They were full most of the time so we didn't get to give them a try although there was so much else, we didn't really feel we missed out.
There wasn't the same problem with the indoor swimming pool which is enormous. There are various jacuzzi points, water jets and bubble massages as well as ample room to swim so we made the most of them all.
The most delightfully surprising part of the day was the restaurant. The quality of the food was outstanding. There was a really good salad bar overflowing with meats, seafood, breads and cheeses. On its own, that would have been a really good meal - but it was on an add-on to the main menu which was truly fine dining.
So many spas over a quick salad and leave it at that. This was the other end of the scale and, if it were just a restaurant, it would have a great reputation. If you are anything like me, food is one of the top priorities when you're relaxing with friends so this is a huge attraction for a day out as a group.
After perhaps eating rather more than we usually would at lunchtime (a three-course feast), we headed into my favourite part of the building, the conservatory. It is a spacious area with yet more wonderfully comfortable places to relax. It was perfect in the sunshine but I imagine it is just as nice, snuggled up warm in winter.
The only part of the spa which we didn't try was the slumber room. They would never have gotten rid of us if we'd relaxed anymore. Eden Hall is award winning and I know why.
Find out more about packages and special offers at www.edenspa.co.uk