Review//Red Letter Days//Olde Barn Hotel
Since having Alfie nearly 8 years ago, I've dreamt about a spa weekend. I've imagined laying by a pool, going for a swim, having an epic massage and enjoying good food with no cares in the world. Just having a day or two of completely indulgent self care, knowing the kids are at home safe, in good hands being looked after. An uninterrupted nights sleep in a clean fresh bed, waking up to a breakfast I didn't have to make. Heaven right?
Earlier this year I was contacted by Red Letter Days, a gift experience company that you've no doubt heard of, giving me the opportunity of reviewing one of their gift packages available here in Lincolnshire. This was a really exciting opportunity for me as I got to choose from things I've never done that I'd love to try and of course there was the spa option which just had to be done. Before I talk more about that though, here's some of the options I had when it came to a gift experience locally;
- Spa break
- Lynx encounter
- Microlight flying
- Tandem skydive
- Hotel escape
- 60 Min flight simulator
- Light aircraft flights
- Meerkat encounter
Naturally, despite always wanting to do something like a sky dive or fly a plane, I opted for the ultimate escape weekend for any parent - a spa break for two last weekend, hosted by The Olde Barn hotel in Marston, Lincolnshire. After lots of failed attempts at trying to find all weekend babysitters so me and Adam could go and relax together, I left him at home with the kids and instead drove into the countryside with my best friend in the world, who drove up from Sussex to join me for the weekend of relaxation.
Our experience voucher would have cost £249, and included a room for the night, two three course meals, a fully cooked breakfast, a one hour treatment in the spa and full use of the facilities including pool, sauna, gym and jacuzzi for our stay. The treatments we could have had were facials, manicures, pedicures or full body massages, we both opted for the massages and were excitedly counting down the days until our stay.
Redeeming the voucher
This is the part where I experienced the only hiccup with our gift experience which could have potentially been a bit of a disaster, simply due to a misunderstanding on the phone. I called up to redeem my voucher, I explained I had a voucher from Red Letter Days and that I wanted to book in for the weekend and for our treatments. I was transferred through to another department where I booked in the treatments and it seemed a little vague, only because they had other vouchers at the time so they got the wrong end of the stick and only booked us in for treatments and not the hotel, meals etc. It was only me being a worrier and calling a couple of days before we went where they told me they had nothing in my name, but did luckily have space so booked me straight in and also gave me an early check in to help out with our stay as I had our treatments booked in for the morning, but check in wasn't until 2pm. They were very accommodating from there and explained that I must have just been put through to the spa and for whatever reason they hadn't understood that I wanted the room booked too. Partly perhaps me not explaining well and partly whoever answering the phone not really getting what I was saying, but we got there in the end. Once booked, we received a full conformation email which I then printed off just in case along with my voucher (which we did need to check in, but probably showing them the email would suffice). So if you're booking with a voucher, just be sure to double check everything on the phone and make sure you receive a confirmation.
Checking into the hotel was no problem at all, with a friendly receptionist giving us our card keys and pointing us in the direction of our room. First impressions of the hotel were great, the decor was modern, fresh and really nicely done, with ample seating and lots of quirky features which I loved. We quickly found our room and were honestly pretty blown away by the size and quality of it. We had a HUGE bed which could have been made into singles, with gorgeous linen, ample lighting, a whopping TV and a bathroom to die for with twin sinks a large walk in shower and a big bath tub, perfect for a weekend, child free escape for two tired mums.
After checking in, we went to the spa where I had my massage while Lauren went to the gym. Lauren then had her massage while I frankly did nothing laying on the bed watching music TV and loving every second of peace! The treatment rooms are in the part of the hotel that is currently being redecorated, though the treatment room itself was new, beautiful and the most relaxing place I've been. The hallways let it down slightly, but will be gorgeous when the whole place is finished to the standard of the first half of the hotel.
Our massages were pure heaven. 55 minutes of essential oils in a darkened beautiful room on a comfy massage bed. I thought it was a shame we didn't get to have our treatments together, but as there are two beds in the room I guess this is something that can be done some weekends or will be possible in the future. I've always worried that spa days/weekends would feel a little pretentious and that I'd feel out of place, but I felt very comfortable here and the lady giving the treatments was really friendly and very good at her job. We both loved our massages and if I could have that every morning I would be the happiest woman alive!
Lunch at the hotel
After our treatments we went for lunch in the bar area of the hotel, where no booking is required and you can choose from a very reasonable food menu that all sounded pretty nice. We were both pretty hungry having skipped breakfast that morning, so both opted for burgers, mine beef and Lauren's the chicken. These were big delicious high quality burgers, with ample chips and salad - just the ticket for us at that point and went down a treat. By this point we had discovered that there was a murder mystery even on at the hotel, with lots of people arriving with all kinds of costumes, which made for an interesting and rather funny lunch, with both meals and drinks coming to around £23 in total which was pretty good value for a hotel.
The pool area
After lunch we had a break in our room for a while to enjoy our temporary freedom from the kids, before venturing down to the pool area. The pool area is very much more a 'hotel pool' as opposed to a 'spa pool', but this didn't come as a surprise with it being primarily a hotel, but it had reclining chairs all around, a great looking jacuzzi and a large pool. The steam room was closed during our visit, but the sauna was open and pretty perfect. Everything was very clean and well kept and I got to live the dream floating in the pool with no kids to worry about, amazing! The jacuzzi was my favourite part although it did get busy at one point so we had to wait to get in, but it was well worth the wait. This was just what I wanted and needed though and we just had the best day relaxing and having a gentle swim between hot tub dips.
I'll start by saying that the food was incredible in the evening. Our voucher included a £20 voucher each which was basically their three course meal deal, though you didn't have to have all three if you didn't want to. We had calamari to start which is my all time favourite (eaten too quick for a pic - sorry!), followed by the most amazing beef dinner I've ever had which was an unexpected treat! I really enjoyed the food and we finished up with desserts of a chocolate cheesecake with cream and lemon tart which were both pretty heavenly. The only thing with our meal which wasn't an issue at all but did feel a bit odd was that there wasn't a single person in the restaurant at the time we booked for (8pm) so we had the place to ourselves and two super friendly and lovely waiting staff on hand to look after us. After we left the table, we realised that everyone else at the hotel was in another room for the murder mystery event which sounded very exciting and busy. It was quite nice though having most the place to ourselves and feeling like VIPs for the night. Every now and then someone would walk past in a costume which made for quite an entertaining night and a very funny game of trivial pursuit after a few visits to the bar as we say a man covered in blood, some flapper girls, a bride that possibly wasn't a real bride and several Sherlock Holmes hats. All these little things just made the weekend for us, it was a mix of ultimate relaxation, girly giggles and great food - pretty perfect to be fair.
This hotel is actually a bit of a local treasure and I will be recommending it and returning again for another spa weekend. The murder mystery events happen several times throughout the year and are obviously very well organised and well received, with many people returning regularly to take part. The hotel is mid way through renovation but nothing that will affect your stay and when it's all finished to the same standard it will be an incredible hotel, well worth a look if you need a venue for your wedding or hosting work events. The rooms were lovely and just needed a few extra touches like maybe a welcome card with wifi password and an idea of how to work the TV, but otherwise it had everything we needed, with refreshments, shower gel etc and plenty of towels and pillows which is always appreciated. The staff were always on hand and were pretty helpful, including letting us back into our room when we locked ourselves out and checking on us when we set the fire alarm off with Laurens super hot hair straighteners!
The weekend was everything I needed and although I would have loved a getaway with my friend anywhere, this was a great place and only a short drive from Lincoln where I live. The countryside around the hotel is very quiet and it really is the perfect break away from our busy home lives.
I can recommend this hotel as well as the Red Letter Days experiences and it's well worth seeing what you have locally to gift or receive on special occasions or just having a relaxing day or two away. Simply enter your town or city in the search bar on the Red Letter Days website and you will find everything on offer close by.
Have you ever been on a spa break?