Eva Gizowska heads to Moddershall Oaks Country Spa Retreat in the West Midlands for an autumnal spa break…
Moddershall Oaks Country Spa Retreat is set amongst seventy-four acres of vibrant, parkland greenery and woodland in the heart of the Staffordshire countryside. This sprawling red brick spa also has its own private lake and landscaped gardens. Located between Stoke-on-Trent and Stafford, it’s only a five-minute drive from the old market town Stone.
By the time we get to Moddershall Oaks, on a cold, autumnal, windy, drizzly afternoon, it’s a relief to step into the warmth of the light, bright, airy reception (that also houses the spa shop). I’m here with a friend and we’re offered a fruity, non-alcoholic welcome drink before being shown to our room. Outside, the grey sky is looking more ominous by the minute. Torrential rain is on the way. So, that scuppers any plans of a pre-prandial woodland walk. We head for the indoor heated pool instead.
Moddershall Oaks was originally a converted farmhouse that was developed into a Day Spa in 2000 by entrepreneurs, Phillip and Delia Holland. Five years later, after extensive renovations and the addition of a restaurant and suites, it was transformed into 24-hour Country Spa Retreat. Following a further refurbishment in 2013, Moddershall Oaks now boasts treatment rooms, an outdoor and indoor swimming pool, heated loungers, sauna, steam room, experience showers, hydrotherapy pool, tennis court, deli bar, outdoor hot tub (for residents only), a log fire relaxation lounge, a separate MADE Wellness Centre, that offers a gym, fitness and yoga classes, as well as the Lakeside Restaurant. With its lakeside setting and tranquil gardens, Moddershall Oaks is also a much sought after venue for weddings.
Feeling revitalised by a swim, sauna and steam, we get ready and make our way through the maze of corridors to the award winning Lakeside Restaurant. With views onto the lake and surrounding countryside, the restaurant is cosy and intimate, illuminated by the soft glow of flickering candles on every table. Glancing around at the other diners, we notice there are a few small groups and quite a few couples. You don’t actually have to be staying at Moddershall Oaks to enjoy a meal at the Lakeside Restaurant. It’s a popular spot for locals too.
The chefs at Moddershall pride themselves on using fresh, organic, sustainably sourced ingredients. The menu also includes locally sourced vegetables, meats, including Staffordshire beef and pork, and cheeses. My main course is a delectable feast of Goan monkfish, Goan curry sauce, saag aloo, crispy curried cauliflower and spiced mango jelly, with a side of grilled tenderstem broccoli. My friend goes for the wild mushroom tagliatelle with gorgonzola cream sauce, shallots and fresh spinach. For pudding we share a sublime combo of sticky toffee pudding and salted caramel, pear and frangipane tart with pistachio ice-cream. Not sure how we’re going fit it in, but we’ve got a full English cooked breakfast (with Staffordshire pork sausages) to look forward in the morning.
Satiated after our delicious meal we wander back to the room, a Deluxe Suite. Moddershall Oaks has ten guest rooms in all, including five suites. Our suite is decorated in muted shades of grey, honey and taupe. There’s an ensuite bathroom, with power shower, bath, fluffy towels, robes and a selection of Elemis toiletries. The bedroom has two extremely comfortable beds, a cosy seating area, flat screen TV, desk and mini-bar.
The bifolding doors open onto an outdoor, decked patio area with a bench that overlooks acres of rolling grass. Just looking at all that greenery the next morning makes me realise how calming it feels to be surrounded by such a vast expanse of nature. A few hundred yards away there is a hot tub (only available to residents booked into the suites). Nice idea. When it’s not raining. But, in reality, who’s going to hop into a hot tub with a couple, when they’re whispering sweet nothings and sharing a bottle of champagne…
Who goes there?
Young professionals who want to get away and chill out for a day or two. Professional women who live locally and come here to fit in a quick spa treatment in the afternoon. Groups of friends, sisters, mothers and daughters. I’ve reviewed a fair number of spas in my time, and generally, female guests tend to dominate.
Moddershall Oaks isn’t like that. There are just as many men as women here. Not men on their own, but with their partners. In fact, I’ve never seen so many couples in a spa resort before. It’s obviously a place where men feel very comfortable. Possibly, because there isn’t that hushed, fluffy white robe (the robes here are grey), teetotal, oat cruncher, wheatgrass smoothie vibe here.
Yes, obviously people come here for the wellbeing aspect, but this is also the sort of place where you can have a spa treatment, go to the gym, take a yoga class and still enjoy a glass of wine and good food. You’re even encouraged to order prosecco (or any other drink) by the pool.
Out and about:
Moddershall Oaks is well situated for a spot of exploring. The pretty, cobbled market town, Stone, is only a couple of miles away. Trentham Gardens, also within easy driving distance, is the perfect place to go on a nature trail through the exquisite gardens. Trentham also has an adventure park, Monkey Forest and shopping village. Other local attractions include the Middleport Potteries, where you can pick up classic blue and white Staffordshire ceramics. Or, go walking, hiking or cycling in the Staffordshire Peak District and immerse yourself in nature amongst the spectacular nature reserves, woodland walks, parks and towering limestone crags.
The worst thing:
Unless you like crowds, this is definitely a spa to go to off-peak. Otherwise, it feels a bit too cramped and noisy around the swimming and hydrotherapy pool areas. The main reception is nice and bright but the small spa reception is bit too poky. All the extensions and corridors make the layout feel a bit disjointed and tricky to navigate.
The best thing:
Opening the bedroom doors and being met with a sea of greenery first thing in the morning. Going for woodland walk along the lake in the afternoon. Enjoying a truly excellent massage at the spa. Timing it right (Monday mid-morning) and having the indoor and hydrotherapy pools to ourselves!