Fire & Ice at the luxurious Belfry Spa in Warwickshire is a spa experience not to be missed. Find out why in my review!
Life can get so hectic, can’t it? And it’s good to take time out every so often to really relax and unwind.
So it didn’t take me long to say “Yes please!” to an invitation from The Belfry to go and enjoy a day of relaxation in their beautiful spa.
And the timing was perfect, because my visit to the Belfry came after a long day walking around RHS Cardiff. A day of peace and quiet on a mini spa break sounded ideal!
The Belfry is a world famous hotel and golf course, in the Warwickshire countryside fairly close to Sutton Coldfield. They have hosted the Ryder Cup several times, but I wasn’t going to be playing golf on my visit!
My day was divided into three sections: the Fire and Ice experience, then afternoon tea in the spa’s restaurant, and finally a relaxing back and shoulder massage.
The Belfry Spa
I arrived mid-morning and headed straight to the spa, which is located within the Belfry hotel. Spa visitors also get full access to the Belfry’s Leisure Club, but I wasn’t in the mood for the gym or a class. My mind was definitely set on relaxation.
From the moment you arrive at the Belfry spa, everything is peaceful and relaxed. The spa has 16 treatment rooms and a relaxation room, and the emphasis is firmly on luxury. You’re soon enveloped in a warm cocoon, and the outside world melts away.
I picked up my complimentary robe, slippers and towel, and headed down to the changing room to get ready for the first part of my day.
Fire and Ice
The 90 minute Fire and Ice experience is a very special spa ritual, based upon the principles of introducing your body to hot and cold temperatures. As you move through the different rooms, your mood is enhanced, your senses heightened, and you reach a state of deep relaxation.
You can move through the rooms in order, or pick and choose your favourites. And each of the rooms has a recommended time on the wall outside, so you know roughly how long to spend in there.
Obviously, I couldn’t take my phone or camera into the spa, so I don’t have any photos of this part of the day to share with you.
The spa has dimmed lighting, and gentle music is played throughout. Guests are reminded to use soft voices, although some of the guests I came across could have used a stronger reminder!
The first station is a Foot Spa, which immerses your feet in hot scented water. At first I felt a little self-conscious sitting there in my swimming costume, but soon felt the tension starting to ease.
After a refreshing peppermint-infused Ice Drench Shower, I headed into the Calderium which is a warm air bathing room invented by the Romans. I’m a big fan of saunas, so this felt a little too mild for me, but it’s a great way to ease your body into the hotter temperatures to come.
Next I headed into the Aroma Cave, which is a light steam room with envigorating aromas. This was quite a small room, and I didn’t feel as relaxed in here, especially as there were two sets of women having competing conversations that got louder and louder.
So I quickly moved onto the Sauna. Now this was more like it!
The 100°F dry heat of the sauna stimulates your body’s circulation, and I could immediately feel any residual stress melting away. The Sauna has a very quiet and relaxing atmosphere, and I happily sat in there for the recommended time.
After sitting in a sauna, you need to refresh your body so I moved over to the Shower Grotto. This has three different types of cold water shower that are designed to boost tone and clarity.
I tried one of the cold showers, but wasn’t brave enough to use the bucket shower. That is exactly what it sounds like – you pull a chain and a wooden bucket tips icy cold water over your head. I’d already heard the shrieks from other visitors!
From there, I slipped into the Tranquility Room, a quiet, darkened room with reclining loungers to rest on. The soothing bird song and rainfall soundtrack makes it very easy to relax and recharge in this room.
After that I headed into the Crystal Steam Room. This was a really good, proper Steam room, where the steam is so dense that you can hardly see across to the other side of the room. Combined with the aromatic essences in the steam, it left me feeling really invigorated and my skin felt cleansed.
Braving the Igloo
Needing to cool down after the steam room, I decided to brave the Igloo. I have to admit that I hadn’t been looking forward to this part, because a cold room doesn’t sound very enticing. The floor, walls and seating in the Igloo are all chilled, so that the crushed ice from the dispenser stays frozen.
But I actually really enjoyed being in the cold environment, and rubbing the crushed ice on my skin felt very refreshing. I found that I felt very mentally alert while I was in the Igloo.
Next, I tried out the Hydrotherapy Pool, which has various features to help pummel tired muscles with water. It’s a great way to relax which is nearly as good as a massage. Nearly…
From the pool, you can head out in to the Conservatory to relax. And the Hydrotherapy Pool also leads on to the Sanarium, which was my favourite room in the whole experience!
The Sanarium is like a sauna, but steam is introduced to the room every so often, so that the air isn’t quite as dry as in a traditional Sauna. It felt very easy to stay in that environment, and I found it very relaxing.
I spent my remaining time in the Fire and Ice Experience moving between the Sanarium, Crystal Steam Room and Igloo. All of the tension in my shoulders was melting away and I felt both relaxed and invigorated.
I even summoned up the courage to use that bucket shower in the Shower Grotto – and it wasn’t quite as terrifying as I expected!
When my alloted time was up, I showered and headed down to the Spa’s swimming pool to relax for a while before getting ready for the next part of my day.
Afternoon Tea at Rocca’s
Rocca’s is the Belfry Spa’s pizza and pasta restaurant, which also serves afternoon tea to spa guests.
I met up with fellow blogger Natasha from Natasha FS, and although our bookings were for different times, the restaurant allowed us to shift things around and eat together.
The restaurant is quite bright and airy, and serves a wide selection of snacks and drinks. I ordered a coffee and Natasha ordered a cranberry juice while we waited for our tea stand to turn up. We were not disappointed!
I was pleased to see that the Belfry have stuck to a fairly traditional style of afternoon tea.
I know some hotels and restaurants do try to put their own twist on an afternoon tea. And while it can work when it’s done well, I do like the classic format.
The bottom layer carried a selection of sandwiches including ham, egg mayonnaise, cream cheese with cucumber, cheese and onion, and smoked salmon with a horseradish dressing.
The ham and egg mayo were a bit plain for my taste, but I enjoyed the cream cheese and cucumber. The smoked salmon was my favourite, although I think I’d have preferred it as a finger sandwich rather than in a slice of baguette. Just call me a traditionalist…
Jam or Cream first?
Next up is my favourite layer of an afternoon tea stand. I love scones, and was happy to discover that these were deliciously warm. They were light and a good consistency, with a few raisins dotted around.
Of course, this part of the meal did spark a conversation about the correct way to serve a scone. And unfortunately, Natasha and I disagreed on this issue, although we did at least agree on the right way to say ‘scone’. How can one little cake cause such disagreements!?
Natasha prefers to spread her scone with cream first, and then add the jam on top.
However I prefer to eat my scones the correct way, with jam first and then cream liberally dolloped on top. The scones were served with little jars of strawberry jam and a pot of cream.
My only criticism of this part of the meal is that there just wasn’t enough cream. We could really have done with a second pot of cream.
Finally we moved onto the little cakes on the top tier of the stand. I was getting quite full by now, but did manage to squeese these in. The fruit tart at the front was delicious, with a smooth creme pat filling and sharp berries on top. I loved this!
The Bakewell Tart was dense and almondy, with a good crisp base. And the chocolate tiffin was rich and dense, although it was a little bit melty by the time we got around to eating it.
Altogether this was a very enjoyable Afternoon Tea. It’s surprising how spending time in the Fire and Ice helps you to work up an appetite, and this was a great way to refuel ready for the final part of my visit.
The Belfry Spa Treatment
I headed, slowly, up to the treatment rooms. The Belfry Spa uses luxurious ESPA products and offers a wide range of facials, massages and other treatments. You can also choose from a range of Spa Days, get a manicure or pedicure, and even have a specialist Bridal make up session.
After filling in my consultation form, I was taken through to a dimly lit treatment room. My therapist, Kellie, talked through what I hoped to get out of the treatment.
Because I spend so much time sitting at a desk in front of my PC, I hold a lot of tension in my neck, back and shoulders. Kellie checked that I had no other medical issues, and left me to get ready for my massage.
I never realise quite how tense my body is until I have a massage. I could feel all the knots in my shoulders, around my shoulder blades and into my neck. Kellie used a nourishing oil on my skin and did a fantastic job of getting rid of those knots.
The 25 minute treatment flew by, and I could happily have lay there dozing for another 30 minutes!
Once I’d got dressed, Kellie ran through my after care (leave the oil on my skin, drink lots of fluid, not alcohol!). She gave me details of the oil she had used, and then took me to the relaxation room to rest.
This is an amazing room that I would have loved to stay in for longer. The lighting is low, with gentle music playing and lots of comfortable seating.
There are all sorts of recliners, armchairs, sofas and nooks and crannies to relax and doze in.
Magazines and jugs of citrus-infused water are dotted around, making it a lovely place to rest and prepare yourself to rejoin the outside world.
The Belfry Spa: My Review
I had an fabulous time at the Belfry. From the moment I arrived until the end of my day, the spa’s friendly and attentive staff treated me wonderfully. The surroundings are luxurious and the whole experience makes you feel very special.
The Fire & Ice experience was an absolute revelation, and I enjoyed it even more than I thought I would. I still can’t quite believe that it can make you feel both relaxed and re-invigorated, and I definitely recommend it.
Afternoon tea in Rocca’s was delicious, and then my perfect day was topped off by what was probably the best back massage that I’ve ever had.
I don’t often make time to go away to a spa. But I’m starting to think that this could be the start of a new self-care routine!
The Belfry Hotel and Resort
I enjoyed a complimentary visit to the Belfry Spa, but the prices would have been along these lines:
The 90 minute Fire & Ice experience costs £59 per person, £49 for hotel residents or £25 as an add-on to a spa treatment.
The Belfry Spa Day costs £109 per person including 2 x 25 spa treatments and afternoon tea.
There are often special offers available, and you can see the current promotions on the Belfry website.