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“Lovely setting”

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Lifehouse Hotel & Spa
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Thorpe le Soken
Reviewed July 16, 2013 via mobile

I booked the summer delight deal for four for a friends birthday getaway. The deal was good value for money but cant help feeling a little 'done over' on arrival the reception was manned by one person and check in is 3pm so very quickly there were alot of guests milling around wanting to check in. We checked in in 2 "couples" as the 2 rooms, myself and one and the other two ladies who were given an itinerary with the wrong supper booking on one and treatment that the other hadnt booked! We werent given one at all or our room key! the porter took pride in telling us that the hotel had opened as an exclusive spa three years ago. If i had visited as an exclusive guest I would definitely have felt cheated. The room although clean, lacked storage, the shower looked like it needed a good scrub as the tray was grubby on the non slip areas. Complimentary water wasnt replenished during the course of our stay. Supper was very good although the dining area was extremely noisy and we could barely hear ourselves speak. The facilities were very good but I cant help wondering what it would have been like with another 5 or 6 people in there, rather crowded feeling and not particularly relaxing I would say. The grounds were stunning and it was lovely to wander around the lakes and feel quite alone and peaceful, nice to see the ducks with their tiny chicks bouncing around on the lilly pads too! We decided to go out for supper the second evening and although we left it rather late to make a booking, the driver came to our aid and assisted with suggesting places to eat in the local area. It would be good to have some information about the local area in the room or reception area as it is really nice with a fabulous beach (Frinton on Sea) and some great places to eat, namely Henry's in the village and cafe 19 in Frinton. The terrace is a lovely place to sit and soak up the sun all day too. The fruit smoothies were extremely expensive for what they were, a half pint for around £4, especially considering one of them was almost half froth!
Overall we had a lovely weekend but there is a definite lack of attention to detail throughout the hotel that could be easily addressed and make it a much more enjoyable stay.

  • Stayed: July 2013
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Thank Emma W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed July 14, 2013

There were lots of good things about our two night stay and a couple of niggles. The grounds are lovely and relaxing, we were even able to wheel my mother in her wheelchair around the lake and gardens. Staff were accommodating, rooms were clean, bright and spacious albeit with a slight lack of storage space. One of our groups’ rooms faced south and became extremely hot. Our room window latch was broken so we only had the choice of open or shut, not great when we wanted to leave it ventilated when not in occupancy. Air con or fans in the rooms would be a nice touch.
First evening meal good although portion sizes varied and it was somewhat off-putting that the most expensive dishes were the smallest!! We did not arrive for breakfast until 9.00am the following day and unfortunately had to wait some while for breakfast items to be replenished, plus the brown sauce had ‘run out’. The ‘run out’ theme continued later that evening when there was no more Aspall cider. We thought these sorts of things reflected a slight lack of attention to detail. Although we didn’t have the evening meal package the view of the group was that it was definitely better to have a starter and main rather than a main and dessert, not only for taste but also value. There was also a bit of a mix up with our bill but this was dealt with efficiently by the manager who also took a percentage off the total amount. The latter was appreciated and good for customer service. Whilst a couple in our group used room service the second evening the order, whilst ok, was not exactly what had been requested but really not worth the hassle of changing; however, this again gives rise to attention to detail. The second morning we decided we would like a light breakfast in the room. Again the staff were accommodating and made up a tray with juice, fruit, coffee and croissants. We were prepared to carry this back although staff would have done so if we had wanted them to, not sure if this is something the hotel normally does as there was certainly nothing in our room about room service or what would be available if they did it.
We didn’t mind the ‘boxy’ building and whilst we had superb weather enabling us to use the deckchairs, grounds and outside relaxed dining option space to full advantage it was good to see the covered walkways as a means of getting around the spa for those times when the good old UK throws its inclement tendencies at us!! The upstairs seating areas with large windows overlooking the lake also means outside space can be enjoyed on less good days. Can’t comment on whether the walkways are warm when the weather is bad but there are certainly heaters along the glass corridors.
We all enjoyed the spa facilities although if the hotel was full it may have gotten a wee bit crowded. There were 10 people in the pool when we were there and it was doubtful it could take many more if people wanted to actually swim. There are loungers around pool although nothing in the Jacuzzi area, which actually is large enough to take a few. Slippers, gown and towels provided are a nice touch and it was nice to see that people were considerate when seated in the bar/lounge/dining areas that the soft chairs were not used when in wet costumes.
We didn’t have any treatments so cannot comment on those. However, we do like walking and not being local to the area it would have been nice to have had information about the surrounding area in the rooms. Local info would also be helpful especially as the hotel offers the use of bikes to the guests [although as we didn’t use these it may be that you have to stay in the hotel grounds]. Overall we all enjoyed the lifehouse spa and would go back.

  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled with family
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Thank Toffesocks
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 14, 2013

For a spa hotel, I would expect air-con in the rooms as standard. We were too hot during the night. Overall, a lovely overnight stay, and would return. I think guests should be able to check in by 12 and stay and use the facilities until 2pm free of charge, as they are not in their room, but have lockers. Swimming pool was lovely and we had it to ourselves mostly. I would not go on a weekend, as heard it is very busy, perfect on a Wednesday night. food was ok, but would have liked more choice.

Room Tip: Book a garden room. You have your own patio with table and chairs.
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  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank londonelly
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 9, 2013

  • Stayed: July 2013, traveled as a couple
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Review collected in partnership with Easytobook.com
2  Thank Priscilla S
This review is the subjective opinion of an individual traveler and not of TripAdvisor LLC nor of its partners.
Reviewed July 6, 2013 via mobile

I took my partner here as a birthday treat without the kids. From the moment we arrived, we were treated like royalty! Our car was parked for us and bags carried to our room. We were shown around the room and given clear instructions of how to operate things in our room. The room was clean and spacious with a lovely shower room. The grounds are stunning and there is a really calm 'zen' feeling about the place. Massages were excellent and staff very friendly and courteous. The evening meal was of a high quality and tasted very nice. Beds were very comfy and I slept like a log! The only thing I think might be improved was at breakfast the plates would've been nice warmed up, in order to keep the breakfast warm. Breakfast was a nice selection but I would have liked a choice of fried egg as well as scrambled. Overall, a lovely experience and I will definitely visit again! : )

  • Stayed: June 2013
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1  Thank Rogahog
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 3, 2013

Arrival: We arrived early, 2:15 and thankfully we did, as a couple of my friends were told their treatments were booked in for 2:45, we had plans to have lunch on check-in which is 3pm! Both my friends had to rush lunch, and as our rooms were not ready, they had only one option to change into their robes in the changing room, which was in a bit of disrepair, no light in the toilet, rubbish on the floor and a stray door left up against the wall in the changing room, they stayed in their own attire for the treatments.When I booked this weekend the reservation staff stated that all the treatments would be booked for us after the check in time, we did ask to change the times but the only time available was 7/8 pm, and we had dinner booked for 8pm which could not be changed. The lift also broke down on our arrival day and both my friends were stuck in it with the porter, which was not a very pleasant experience, they did compensate with a bottle of house wine but this was prompted by one of my friends, without the prompt i really don't think this would have happened. The porter never lifted our cases into the room,we had to do this ourselves and no-one orientated us to our rooms, ie; how to use the telly, open the balcony door/window. Rooms were pleasant and clean, could be compared to a good standard airport hotel room that I regulary stay in.

Stay: We requested wine glasses to our room so we could enjoy some prosecco which my friend brought as a surprise, there was a £15 surcharge!!!!!!!!!! Then we asked could we have some ice to our room and this was a £15 surcharge also, so we abandoned both requests, between the 6 of us ladies who have travelled to many places around the world and stayed in numerous hotels, we have never come across this sort of practice. After our treatments, which were very good, and all therapists were very professional we went to the spa, the salt room was out of order both days, the jacuzzzi was lovely, not very big for the size of the hotels capacity.
The evening meal was beautiful, but the bottles of wine we ordered all came to the table opened! Usual practice is for them to open the bottle in front of you, this did make us suspicious,and we did comment to the waitress but got no response. We also complained to the superviser re: the price of their portion of chips(measly) £2.50 and spoke to her, she agreed with us and did not add them to the bill. We retired to the louge area and ordered cocktails, the waiter quiet young and pleasant but very slow, he appeared to be the only waiter in this area along with the bar man and for a Saturday night, probably their busiest, they need more manpower!

Breakfast: Scrambled egg was the worst I have ever tasted, other people were complaining also, the fresh egg was added on top of what was remaining of the leftover egg in the banbury. The tea was not hot, the waitressses did not seem to want to know, for an adult spa hotel I was expecting a much higher standard of service, it did not feel very special. There was a struggle to seat people for breakfast, some had to seat out in the lounge area with plates on their laps!!!!!!!!!! It appeared they are taking as many bookings as possible but unable to accomadate them. On check-out it was chaotic! Everyone trying to check out at the same time with only 1 person checking people out.
The grounds were beautiful and the best part of our stay!
I will not be returning to this hotel, as their are so many around of much better standard and ambience, it is a shame as it has alot of potential, I do hope they read this review and improve on some of their practices and hopefully future visitors will feel a bit more special than we were made to feel !!! I did not write this review in haste as wanted it structured and fair.

Room Tip: Rooms over looking the garden are good, if you are on the ground level some have a little patio area...
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  • Stayed: May 2013, traveled with friends
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1  Thank veronica j
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 1, 2013

Me and my fiancee booked ourselves in for one night on the Dinner, Bed and Breakfast package for £139. Including the extras we purchased whilst there (drinks at the bar, wine with meal, extra starter) we spent about £190 in total. Really this review deserves 3.5 stars as we did come away feeling pretty relaxed, however saying that there are still some major things that need to be improved on before I could score higher.

Arrival: Only one person on reception and lots of people sitting around waiting to be checked in. Confusing about who was next in the line! Given a time for dinner without asking what time we would prefer. We asked for a seating half an hour later and this was easily changed - if you don't like the time they give you for dinner do just ask for a different seating and you can probably get it. I wonder if this only happens if you're on a DBB break? Also £50 is "secured" on a card at check in - I do object when hotels do this, I can't believe this is necessary and it makes you think the hotel don't trust their guests.

Room: Room 36 - standard king, 2nd floor. Nice room, a bit like a plush 'Holiday Inn' style but nice and clean all the same. Room was *boiling* hot though. The rooms have no air conditioning (sigh....) so we called down to request a fan to be met with the response "I've worked here 3 months and never seen a fan". Seriously?! How can a so called luxury spa hotel not provide something basic like a fan?! We were told to open the windows. A word of warning, if you suffer form hayfever like me, you might want to keep away from rooms facing any kind of woodland - as soon as we opened the large windows my eyes turned bloodshot and I sneezed non stop! I noticed in their brochure that the business rooms they hire out are fully air conditioned so why can't they have this in the bedrooms? It was a pleasant 23-24 degrees outside, but if it was any higher the heat in the room would have been unbearable. Even with the windows open it hardly made any difference. I've got to admit this put me in a really bad mood. I mentioned this when we checked out but I'm not sure they really took any notice. I also notice other reviewers have complained about hot bedrooms.

Spa: Quite a small spa for the number of bedrooms, but as it was a Sunday they weren't running at full capacity so there were loungers to go around. Pool good for a cool dip, steam room/sauna pretty standard, salt inhalation room a bit too intense for me but my fiancee liked it so if you enjoy a *lot* of heat and steam this is the one for you! Unfortunately got the typical 'Jacuzzi hoggers' (noticed a couple in there for about 40 minutes!!!) - Jacuzzi a bit useless, I wondered if it was working properly as the bubbles never really seemed to get going. However, we spent a couple of hours in the spa and felt very relaxed afterwards. Robes/slippers/towels also provided which is nice. We didn't get any spa treatments so can't comment on this.

Dinner: We were on the 2 course DBB package. Took about 20 minutes for our initial order to be taken which was a bit annoying. However, the wine was lovely as were the main courses (we both had the Haddock - it was delicious). The starters were a bit 'meh' and dessert ok. The staff were really nice though, very friendly and definitely deserved a tip (was pleased to see service charge isn't automatically added as it is with a lot of places). Two drinks in the bar afterwards were nice too, the prices were standard hotel drinks prices (£8.50 cocktail/£5.95 liqueur coffee)

Breakfast: Admittedly we were quite late down to breakfast so they may have been running low. However, the coffee we were brought was cold and they stop serving juice on the dot of 9.30am which was annoying! Cooked breakfast ok, continental breakfast useless - cold and stale croissants, bread, jam and that was about it! I expected there to be yogurt/pastries/granola etc but nothing was there! Unless breakfast is included in your rate I wouldn't pay extra for it.

Ambiance: This is an adults only hotel (16+) so everyone seemed very relaxed and chilled out. It's mainly couples in the 25-40 age bracket but I did see some people on their own (maybe on business?) and small groups of ladies on spa breaks. Lots of people walking around in robes and slippers. It was very quiet in the evening, we were the only ones in the bar at 10pm! We had a little walk around the immediate grounds in the evening after dinner which was really pleasant. I wonder if the place has a more 'lively' feel on Fri/Sat nights? If so, we definitely preferred the peace and quiet we had on the Sunday.

Check out: Ridiculous. Again, no queue so we sat down to wait with another couple whilst someone was at the desk. Then 3 couples walk in and push in front of us and the girl on reception does nothing and served them before us!! Only 1 staff member checking out, despite another staff member hovering around. Just seemed very badly organised. As mentioned I told them about the room being hot and no fan but she just nodded and then moved on. Finally they added a £1 charity donation on our bill....err pretty cheeky doing this if you ask me! It's all well and good saying this is a charity Lifehouse are supporting, but how exactly is the hotel supporting this when they are just taking donations off their guests? I don't like being guilt tripped like this as they're clearly relying on people being too embarrassed to ask for a measly £1 to be taken off their bill - it's not the price, it's the principle. I donate to charity in my own time to my chosen charities and it's not the place of the hotel make that decision for me. By all means have a collection at reception and I'm sure guests (including myself) would be generous but absolutely don't add extras like this to my bill.

Verdict: This is a place with potential. We enjoyed our break but as you can see, there are definitely area's that could be improved. I'm not a miserable nit picking person, there were many things I enjoyed about this break, but I think it's only fair to comment if something can be improved upon. I really really hope someone at the hotel reads these Tripadvisor reviews as I see I'm not the only one to bring up certain points. Would we stay there again? Hmm perhaps. But only if we got a good deal and they improved on some of the points above.

  • Stayed: June 2013, traveled as a couple
    • Value
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Thank Student123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Lifehouse Hotel & Spa

Address: Frinton Road, Thorpe le Soken CO16 0JD, England
Phone Number:
Location: United Kingdom > England > Essex > Thorpe le Soken
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Center with Internet Access Fitness Center with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
Ranked #1 of 1 Hotels in Thorpe le Soken
Price Range: $179 - $290 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:4 star — Lifehouse Hotel & Spa 4*
Number of rooms: 89
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Lifehouse Spa & Hotel, located in Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex, is a contemporary lifestyle spa. Only 80 minutes from London by train and set in 130 acres of grounds, Lifehouse Spa & Hotel will help you revitalise and relax in beautiful surroundings. With a selection of day and residential packages to choose from, guests can indulge in a day of pampering, or truly get away from it all with an overnight stay. With 89 bedrooms, 35 treatment rooms, a gym, exercise studio, swimming pool, sauna & steam room, thermal spa area with salt-inhalation room, relaxation area, manicure and pedicure stations,and 12 acres of listed gardens, you can do as much or as little as you like! ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Lifehouse Country Hotel Thorpe Le Soken
Lifehouse Hotel & Spa Thorpe Le Soken, Essex

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