Reviewed by Karen Bleakley
When I was given an Experience Day to review, it was a no brainer that instead of choosing windsurfing in the depths of winter or a rugged, muddy driving experience, that I’d choose a spa day. With three children aged three and under, I was more than desperate for some pampering. I chose a spa day at the Portsmouth Marriott Hotel, and as the ‘experience’ was for two people I invited along my friend – who is also a mum of three and just as much in need of some chill out time as me.
Unfortunately, on the morning of our day we received an apologetic call from the hotel explaining our therapist had called in sick and they hadn’t been able to get anyone to cover. We were offered the chance to rebook for another day, or go in anyway to use the facilities and have a complimentary lunch as an apology AND come back another day for the treatments. We chose to go anyway as we’d both sorted out childcare and were looking forward to it too much to miss out.
There was plenty of parking at the Marriott, including lots of disabled bays by the door (all pay and display) which was important as my friend who was driving is a blue badge holder. The hotel interior was striking, with vaulted ceiling and some stunning statement lightshades hanging down over the open plan restaurant that ran alongside reception. We were shown to the spa/leisure area and were presented with a huge, fluffy white robe and a pair of slippers each and shown the changing rooms. We were also given £1 coins for the lockers, which was great as we’d used the last of our change for parking.
When we emerged all ready for our spa day we were offered a complimentary hot drink before getting started. It was so relaxing sitting in our robes and having a chat over coffee in such a peaceful setting, knowing a few hours of relaxation stretched in front of us.
A few minutes later we were swimming in the lovely warm swimming pool, which was almost empty. It wasn’t long before we decided to try out the Jacuzzi. It was big enough to hold about ten people but we didn’t see more than four people at a time in there as it was so quiet. It was lovely and warm and the jets could be directed or covered over which was really nice as often you find them either too strong or not strong enough. After another dip in the pool we tried the steam room, which gave us more chance to catch up on our gossip. When we got too hot it was back to the pool to cool down and then back to the Jacuzzi before we realised it was already lunchtime and we needed to get dressed ready for the complimentary lunch we’d ordered. There was no time to try out the sauna or the gym!
The shower room had four or five cubicles so we didn’t have to wait to have a shower as it was so quiet. The showers came equipped with wall mounted shampoo and body wash, which was handy as I’d forgotten to bring any. Then I got dried using the two fluffy white towels I’d been given (what a lovely change to be given a hair towel as well as a bath towel). Although the actual changing rooms didn’t have cubicles, it was divided into a couple of smaller rooms which meant both times we mostly had a room to ourselves. We used their swimming costume spinner to dry off our costumes and dried our hair using the hairdryer in front of the lovely big mirrors – something I rarely seem to have time to do as a busy mum!
To top it off we enjoyed our lunch in a quiet booth in the lounge and received really friendly service from the waiting staff. It was a great way to finish off our day.
We’ve booked to go back again next month when we’ll get to do it all again but this time with a half hour beauty treatment as well. I’ve chosen a back and shoulder massage and I’m really looking forward to sampling it.
I’ve been to lots of spas before, but this was my first spa day at a hotel chain. I wasn’t sure whether it would feel as plush or as professional as a ‘real’ spa, but I was really pleasantly surprised. The staff were all very friendly and helpful, and the facilities were clean, luxurious and stylish. It was much quieter than the other dedicated day spas I’ve been to, which was really refreshing. Overall, I think it’s a lovely chance to have a day of pampering without breaking the bank.
Experience Days have lots of Spa Days for one or two people available on their easy to use website starting from £49 – one of these would make an excellent gift. If a Spa Day is not your thing there is plenty of choice from driving, flying and days to find the perfect gift.