As you sweep up the driveway to the magnificent Swinton Park Hotel, set in 200 acres of landscaped parkland on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales, there’s no inkling as to what awaits you beyond the imposing, ivy-clad facade of this Victorian castle.
But follow the signs taking you round the side of building and you are confronted with a large angular annexe of glass and stone. This strikingly modern structure is the Swinton Country Club & Spa, opened in July this year.
the ambience is one of calm, with a Scandinavia-meets-Yorkshire vibe
Once inside the ambience is one of calm, with a Scandinavia-meets-Yorkshire vibe. Decorated with neutral colours, the spa’s interior makes creative use of natural materials such as stone, wood, wool and sheepskin (this being sheep farming country). You can even buy sheepskin-covered hot water bottles in the spa shop.
The treatment centre is separated from the facilities for hotel guests, with entry via electronic wristband, adding to the mood of calm and privacy. Continuing the natural theme, the treatment rooms look over an old walled garden filled with wildflowers, giving the impression of the natural world flowing into the spa itself.
Swinton Park works with two British brands: Bamford and Elemis. Elemis is the more established product, combining natural and scientific approaches and here offering hot stone and poultice massages, a variety of facials and detox wraps. Bamford, based at the famous Daylesford Farm in the Cotswolds, uses natural, organic products combined with Ayurvedic and holistic techniques. There’s a range of treatments including the Signature Facial which uses palo santo wood to calm the senses, essential oils and hot and cold jade stones to nourish and restore the skin. Forming part of the older building is the Beauty Cottage, where guests can enjoy a range of cosmetic treatments including manicures, pedicures, waxing and hair styling.
After your treatment you relax in one of the two rest areas, one a darkened space where you can doze on a heated waterbed as you sip mint tea. The atmosphere throughout is one of understated luxury, and although the spa is brand new, with a £9 million price tag and an unashamedly modern design, it blends perfectly with the older-style architecture of the castle itself.
All hotel guests can use the indoor infinity-style indoor pool and thermal spa, with aroma and salt-inhalation steam rooms, thermal footbaths, alfresco hot tub and sauna. Outdoors, a natural pool is overlooked by sheepskin-covered loungers heated by overhead lamps in case the Yorkshire sunshine proves typically elusive.
When the Yorkshire sun does shine, there’s plenty for hotel guests to do within the 20,000 acres belonging to the Swinton Park Estate. There are, of course, the traditional country sports of shooting and fishing, whilst less bloodthirsty pursuits include walking, horse riding, golf, mountain biking and falconry. And if the great outdoors really gets under your skin you can glamp in one of the seven Meadow Yurts (open between Easter and the end of October) or in one of the six wooden tree lodges of the Swinton Bivouac, set amongst woodland with far-reaching views to the North York Moors.
Inside the castle the hotel returns to its more traditional roots, with grand Georgian and Victorian reception rooms, a lofty (and in the Yorkshire winter, somewhat draughty) dining room and 31 bedrooms and suites. Hotel guests, spa users, country club members and non-residents alike can eat at the informal Terrace restaurant which, like the more formal hotel dining room, is supplied with produce from the kitchen garden.
Overall, the spa is a delightful addition to the Swinton Park experience, a successful blend of ancient and modern in the spectacular surroundings of the Yorkshire Dales.
From £170 BB per room per night based on two people sharing. Or try a Divine Overnight Spa Break from £405 based on two people sharing a double room, including meals and a 35 minute spa treatment per person, available Monday to Thursday.
For more wellness travel ideas check out Queen of Retreats. Queen of Retreats was founded by Caroline Sylger Jones, an author and freelance journalist who travels the world checking out spas, retreats and healthy holidays for international newspapers, glossy magazines and websites.