Sometimes I wish I could just book myself onto a weight loss retreat. Just get away from the day-to-day and have a Chef prepare all my meals and a Personal Trainer whip me into shape until I reach my goal weight. Then I remember that I’m not rich and swiftly park that dream for another day. Weight loss breaks are amazing, but notoriously expensive. Luckily Lifehouse Spa and Hotel have realised this and created an alternative – their Weight Loss Motivator Retreat.
Lifehouse Spa and Hotel
Lifehouse Spa and Hotel is based in Essex, about a 1 hour 20 minute train ride from London. I absolutely love the contemporary design and decor of Lifehouse. The whole place has a bright and airy feel to it thanks to large windows flooding the place with light. As soon as you step past the reception and into the glass corridor you feel at ease. It’s the perfect place to switch off and relax and that’s exactly what I did during my stay.
The building is set in the beautiful English Heritage Listed Thorpe Hall Gardens which you are able to walk around at your leisure. I was lucky with the weather during my stay, so on a sunny morning I went for a walk around the gardens admiring the plants and wildlife. My room even overlooked the gardens which was bliss.
Lifehouse is a spa and hotel, as opposed to a hotel with a spa tacked on, meaning some guests will be there just for the day to use the spa. Tip: If you’re after a peaceful break, choose to stay on a weekday as the weekends are busiest with day guests. I stayed Wednesday through to Friday which was ideal.
The Weight Loss Motivator Retreat
I spent two nights and three days at Lifehouse Spa as part of their Weight Loss Motivator Retreat. Originally a much longer break, they decided to change their offering to make it more affordable – something I am delighted about. There are a number of wellness retreats that Lifehouse offer and if you wanted a longer stay you can combine a few of them to create your own retreat. For example, some guests start with the Juice Cleanse Retreat and then move onto the Weight Loss Motivator Retreat. You can also add on spa treatments to create a truly bespoke wellness retreat. These come at an extra cost so it totally depends on your budget.
The Weight Loss Motivator Retreat includes a specially selected menu, which Sue Davis, the resident Naturopath can discuss with you before your stay to accommodate any adjustments. I was worried I would end up starving and packed some Nakd bars in my suitcase just in case (this isn’t a strict bootcamp, so no one will check your luggage for food!) but with three meals and two snacks each day, I was well fed and didn’t reach for my Nakd bars once!
The retreat also includes Personal Training sessions each day, complimentary fitness classes, full use of the spa and facilities and two nights stay at the hotel. You also receive a robe and slippers to wear during your stay and the majority of guest wear theirs up until dinner time, when no robes or sports clothes are allowed in the restaurant.
As the retreat is a short stay, you will not drop vast amounts of weight in your three days at Lifehouse Spa. Instead, the Weight Loss Motivator Retreat is designed to teach you healthy habits to help you on your weight loss journey when you return home. As I said, you can package the wellness retreats to make your stay longer if you wanted to.
I stayed in a room facing the gardens on the first floor. Tip: Request a room on the ground floor if you’d like your own mini terrace with a table and chairs overlooking the gardens. The room was much larger than I expected, with large double doors allowing in plenty of sunlight, a large double bed, a desk with a TV and kettle for making tea or coffee, a small table and chairs, a bottle of still and sparkling water, a stool for your suitcase and an ensuite bathroom with a large shower. There is no wardrobe, just a rail neatly tucked away in an alcove with a few hangers. This isn’t really an issue as you’ll spend the majority of your stay in a robe and slippers. Tip: If you can’t see a hairdryer, check the desk drawers.
The bed was super comfortable, the shower was glorious and big, the room was lovely and clean. I really have no complaints about the room. Actually, the best I can come up with is that the complimentary body lotion was next to impossible to get out of the tube. Tip: Pack your own body lotion haha.
The meals on the Weight Loss Motivator Retreat at Lifehouse Spa are delicious, packed full of flavour and filling. There is no starvation or feeling deprived. The meals pack in the protein, focus whole foods and avoid sugar and simple carbs. Breakfast was typically eggs, lunch was Sue’s chicken salad (I NEED the recipe for this – it was delicious!) and dinner was a soup followed by a protein with veg. Even after a day of exercise and being in the pool I struggled to finish the dinners, but they were so tasty I of course found room.
From the presentation to the freshness to the flavours that were packed in, I was seriously impressed with the meals at Lifehouse. I cook fish and steamed veg all the time, but I can never make mine as flavoursome as what I had at Lifehouse Spa. I also enjoyed having warm water and lemon left outside my door in the mornings ready for when I woke up, this was a lovely touch. My menu in detail was the following.
Day one: Dinner was a carrot and coriander soup followed by grilled sea bass and steamed veg.
Day two: Warm water and lemon upon waking. Breakfast was a poached egg, spinach and salmon. Snack was a green juice. Lunch was Sue’s Chicken Salad. Afternoon snack of veg crudités and humous. Dinner was carrot, courgette and parsnip spaghetti in a tomato sauce followed by sirloin steak with portobello mushrooms and a side salad.
Day three: Warm water and lemon upon waking. Breakfast was a spinach and tomato omelette. Mid morning snack was a green juice. Lunch was my own selection from the buffet.
The Spa and the Exercise
As part of the Weight Loss Motivator Retreat you are given a fitness consultation and personal training sessions with the in-house trainer Steve Oldhamstead in the spa’s gym. Steve is one of the loveliest trainers I’ve ever met. He pushes you to work hard but is so positive and encouraging he makes you want to push yourself instead of quitting. I was sweaty and I ached but Steve made me feel like I was strong and could do anything. He chatted away with me, cleverly distracting me from the number of reps he had set me and offered words of encouragement when it started to hurt.
As well as the PT sessions you also have access to the fitness classes which are offered complimentary to Weight Loss Motivator Retreat guests. It is completely up to you what classes you do, if any, so you can make your break as active or as relaxed as you’d like. I did a Legs, Bums and Tums class and a Circuits class, which were both led by Steve. There were people of all shapes, sizes, ages and abilities in those classes and Steve handled us all effortlessly. Some of the older ladies put me to shame haha!
On top of all that there is also the spa facilities which you are free to use. This includes a swimming pool, a hydro-pool, a cool plunge pool, a salt inhalation room, a steam room, a sauna and showers. Using the spa facilities can be thirsty work, but there are containers of iced lemon or cucumber water dotted all around Lifehouse which I loved. There was plenty of room around the spa to accommodate but I imagine it could get quite packed on a weekend so was glad I had stayed during the week. I also had a Soul Soother spa treatment, which I will review in tomorrow’s post so keep an eye out for that.
I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at Lifehouse Spa and wish I could have stayed longer. The staff were so friendly and accommodating, I was staying at the spa on my own but staff made me feel so at home and not at all lonely. They have nailed the balance between being attentive and friendly whilst also allowing you to feel relaxed and not disturbed.
I loved the design of Lifehouse, from the modern decor to the gardens to the huge windows flooding the place with light. I loved that besides your meal times and personal training sessions, your time was yours to do with as you pleased. You could be as active or as relaxed as you chose to. There really is nothing that I could complain about from my stay, besides the body lotion not coming out of the tube easily. That’s it, that’s my one complaint! Pathetic, isn’t it?!