Myself and two friends booked a half day at Brackendale Spa recently. We'd chosen it based on the location and both the website and brochure we were sent gave a fantastic impression of the spa as a lovely place to relax for an afternoon and enjoy some pampering. It was quite expensive for a half day but included two treatments, the facilities and light refreshments. Unfortunately, the reality did not match our expectations.
The 'spa' is within a complex of holiday cottages (we were warned that the pool is shared with the residents) and there are no signs for the spa itself. The entrance is shared with what appears to be a conference hall (it was set up with chairs and tables the day we were there) and there is no reception etc or anyone to meet you. After wandering around for a bit, we found some stairs that led up to the treatment area. It's a nice space, if a little small, but needs an up date as it is all quite old fashioned. Two of the therapists welcomed us and gave us coffee etc, but were then left to wait for a while, with us not really knowing what to do next. Our locker keys were on the table so we decided to go and get into our robes. We found our way to the changing rooms - they were tiny, with rusty old lockers, rickety wooden benches and a dirty floor. There were two loos and one shower. When we opened our lockers we found our robes and a towel, plus a pair of curled up black slippers that had obviously been worn to death and really needed replacing. We went into the pool area and again were disappointed. The pool was cold and the only other facility was a sauna, that again was cold. We then realised that you had to turn the sauna on yourself and wait for it to warm up! When it came to our treatments, we were taken back up to the treatment area and had pedicures and facials. The one saving grace of the place were the therapists, who were all really lovely. The treatments themselves were really relaxing. The treatment room was beautiful, with a big glass window with a stunning view of the Dales. The only thing that spoilt the treatments were the sounds of kids dive bombing in the pool downstairs, which didn't really create the relaxing ambience we hoped for.
Overall, I think the fact that Brackendale is being marketed as a spa is incredibly misleading. It is really a pool for the holiday cottages, with an option for treatments attached. It really shouldn't be sold as a spa option, as the facilities are just not up to scratch, and especially at the prices they are charging. We are lucky we only went for the half day option, I can't imagine spending a whole day here! However, if you're just looking for a one off pedicure or facial, the treatments themselves were very nice. It's just a shame that the shabby surroundings and facilities don't reflect this.
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