Review: The Spa at Ye Olde Bell, Retford, UK

Ye Olde Bell Spa - The Spa Man

The Spa at Ye Olde Bell combines warm and friendly service in a brand-new spa that really knows how to treat its guests. With a great range of innovative thermal facilities and welcoming, knowledgeable staff, it exceeded my expectations (and some).

Located on the borders of Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire and the market town of Retford, the spa is situated adjacent to the historic Ye Olde Bell which is an independently owned 59 room country hotel, dating back to the 17th Century.

Ye Olde Bell Spa - The Spa Man

The Hotel at Ye Olde Bell

The hotel is basically an old-style coaching inn that really plays to its historical past. Expect dark oak paneling, plush fabrics, red walls, period features and art from the 17th and 18th centuries. You may even find a four-poster bed in your room. The hotel is of a particular style and the AA Four-Star Rosette hotel has 59 rooms which have all been recently refurbished. Book a room with a roll top bath for the full spa experience. Expect hearty fare in the restaurants and look out for the slow cooked Lamb Wellington. Delicious.

Ye Olde Bell Spa - The Spa Man

The Spa at Ye Olde Bell

From the moment that you arrive at reception you know you are in good hands. The team guide you to the changing rooms where you can don a robe and head straight to the new spa facilities. A spa butler is always on hand to provide a little guided tour introducing the different heat and thermal experiences. Beginning with the Herbal Laconium (it’s a very gentle temperature) you will then move onto the Stone Bath. Said to be one of only three in the UK, the heated mineral stones are lifted via a mechanical system and lowered into a bath of cold water to release steam. It’s mesmerising to watch and a real hit with guests. I loved it. Finally you have the Alpine Sauna which is boiling hot and not for the faint hearted.

Ye Olde Bell Spa - The Spa Man

Stone Bath

The different heat experiences use stone and reclaimed wood and all offer panoramic views to the spa garden. It creates a sense of space and brings the outside in. To cool off you can use the snow storm experience. Despite a few teething problems, it did work and shot out lots of snow which works a treat to cool down the body temperature.

Ye Olde Bell Spa - The Spa Man

Stone Bath

The hot and cold shower walk mixes ambient lighting, sound and a variety of hot, warm and cool showers. You can’t go wrong with an experience shower and there’s an ice cold water bucket (again to cool off from the saunas). Next to this a gorgeous tiled steam room with sparkly lights in the ceiling. To complete the spa journey, you might want to relax in the salt inhalation room. There’s a massive salt wall at one end of the room that’s a spectacle in itself. Laze on the bean bag style chairs, put your feet up and drift off to sleep with the respiratory benefits of inhaling salt.

Ye Olde Bell Spa - The Spa Man

The central focus of the spa is the heated indoor/outdoor pool with hydro jets. Outside there are four heated relax loungers and you can cosy up by the fire pit with rugs and sheepskin throws giving the space a chic Scandinavian look.

On the ground floor, there is a large retail area, seating and tea lounge and for day spa guests a great café, The Herb Garden Brasserie. This services a choice of healthy, healthy/indulgent and then totally indulgent food options. The food was tasty, fresh and delicious. The deconstructed cheesecake was a real winner. I liked how there were clearly defined food options as everyone comes to the spa for different reasons and this reflects it.

Upstairs are the treatment rooms, pedicure and manicure lounge. The treatment rooms are spacious and lead onto two relaxation areas. Also upstairs there is a rasul to steam and cover yourself in mud and clay.

Ye Olde Bell Spa - Sabbia Med

Sabbia Med

Sunlight therapy: Sabbia Med®

The most unique treatment option is the Sabbia Med® room where you can boost your body with vitamin D and feel like you are relaxing on the beach. Offering a dose of sunlight therapy, it is fully decked out like a seaside beach retreat. The frieze around the walls is realistic, there’s sand on the floor which you lay down on a beach towel. Sound odd? It was for about five minutes then the magic happens. It takes you from sunrise to sunset in a 30-minute cycle. Low levels of UV are emitted to release Vitamin D whilst specialised lamps are used to alleviate SAD.

The spa has been designed in conjunction with Spa Vision and by Spa Directors, Sadie Ardron- Levack and Lizzie Bath. I was really impressed with the space and think it’s the perfect place to spend a spa day or afternoon enjoying treatments by Germaine de Capuccini.

Ye Olde Bell Spa - The Spa Man

Herbal Laconium

The treatments:

Alpine Dew

Inspired by the Alpine Hills, the treatment commences with an exfoliating and soothing warm foot ritual, which is a nice way to ground you in the spa experience. This is followed by a full body massage combining lemon and lime oil to awaken the senses. It was soothing, yet refreshing. Then the whole body is covered in a nourishing masque and wrapped up in cling film (well loosely wrapped to help the masque work on hydrating the skin).  You get a great head massage and afterwards my skin was super-hydrated and soft.

Men’s Ritual

Energising and awakening, the men’s ritual is designed to soothe and calm skin irritated by the rigours of the daily shave. The treatment includes a 60-minute invigorating massage (which worked a treat easing the knots in my back and shoulders) followed by a facial packed with plant extracts and vitamins to soothe the skin. The facial was as relaxing (of not more) than the massage.

Ye Olde Bell Spa - The Spa Man

Salt Inhalation room


The warm and friendly welcome

Sabbia Med® was a real highlight

The Stone Bath was a wonderful piece of spa theatre


Add some juices options to the drinks menu. Green juice would be great. Orange or apple – a must.

I thought the beach stone pattern used on the carpet in the men’s changing room was a bit bold and overpowering. It could have been calmer or a touch more subtle, to soothe the senses.

Perhaps a few more loungers or seating spaces indoors for super chilly days.

Ye Olde Bell Spa - The Spa Man

Alpine Lodges – Spa Garden


Alpine Dew: £120 for 120 minutes

Men’s Ritual: £120 for 120 mins

Rooms start from £99 and room and spa packages with accommodation starts from £149 pp

Read about the best new spa opening in the UK 2017 HERE

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