Health & Beauty: Ye Olde Bell Spa Barnby Moor Retford Notts


Stylish hotel, Ye Olde Bell, announced the opening of a new multi-million pound luxury contemporary spa this spring.

Located in the rural village of Barnby Moor on the corners of the three counties of Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview of it before it opened, sitting adjacent to the AA Four-Star Rosette hotel, the spa complements the style of the original property. When I was invited back to try the completed spa for the day, I jumped at the chance.  I mean, who doesn’t love a pamper?


Having seen it as a work in progress, I already knew it was going to be amazing. On the preview, I met the team behind it, so know that they work together like a family to deliver a service that is very personalised.

Attention to detail is key and guests are taken on a journey from the moment they enter the spa through imposing double oak doors into an open plan reception, with plump sofas designed for relaxation.  There is also a gleaming champagne bar (which also serves warm drinks).  The nice thing about the spa is that it is for spa guests only.  Once you’ve checked in to the spa, you are their guest, so you can fully relax in the reception area in your robes if you choose to.


You are collected from reception by a spa butler and led to the changing rooms.  Spa butlers are a great luxurious touch.   They are constantly on hand throughout the spa but without being intrusive.  They fold your towel if you go for a dip, bring round fresh fruit, take drink orders, and what is nice is that they know when your lunch is booked for or when you have a treatment booked, and they will fetch you, which means you can fully relax without clock watching.


The spa offers ten hot and cold experiences.  Directly outside the changing rooms is a foot bath, where you can meet up with your partner or group having got changed into your swim wear. I enjoyed soaking my feet in the lovely hot bubbling water.


A Vitality pool is next, part indoors, part out.  It is not a swimming pool.  At 10 meters long and 1.2 meters deep, it is designed so you can sit and have a drink in the warm relaxing water. Look again and it’s not just a Vitality pool.  Bubble loungers help relax muscles and stimulate blood flow. Reflexology massage stations work on the work on the shoulders and neck.


Step out of the pool and you can lay indoors on a huge double bed for total relaxation, or sit on one of the specially designed rocking chairs.


Outdoors you can relax on a heated lounger.  The terrace area really catches the sun, tables around the pool are positioned in order for you to maximise this though there are plenty of shaded areas too if you want to escape.


A gorgeous alpine area draws different elements from the spa; sun, snow and the South of France.  There are also heaters, so nothing becomes redundant in the winter.  Cosy wooden huts boast blankets and cushions.


 I imagine this area will look simply stunning over Christmas. One of the many reasons I want to go back, that and I just want my garden to look like this. A girl can dream.  The whole area has a proper design feel to it and looks fabulous.


The spa itself has been designed in conjunction with Spa Vision by Spa Directors, Sadie Ardron-Levack and Lizzie Bath.

The interior design has been led by Hilary Levack and designer Tonia Wynne of Homestead Interiors, both of whom did the full design refurbishment of the hotel.

The Herbal Laconium is the most ambient of the thermal rooms.  The spa has been designed so they have ‘hot hot’ and ‘ambient hot’. Everything designed is almost at a juxtaposition to another experience within the spa.  They want people to enjoy the experiences, rather than be running out as they’re not enjoying it, but this room, and the Stonebath next door are a slightly cooler hot experience, so visitors can enjoy ‘hot’ without it being ‘too hot’.

Ye Olde Bell Spa - Herbal Sauna Room

 Bags of herbs sit in the centre and the aroma spreads throughout the room.  You can easily spend 15-20 minutes in here and they would encourage you to go in there first to just relax.  It is a great room for sitting in.  There are windows so it’s not claustrophobic, as many of these types of experiences can be quite dark.  The windows are designed so that you can see out but people can’t see in, offering total privacy.  In the evening, that flips, so the room lights up the outside. Nearly all the room have windows apart from the steam room, as by design, they are better dark.  The wood used in the Herbal Laconium is from the southern uplands of Germany from a barn, just one of the astounding attention to detail.


The cooler of the steam experiences is the steam bath.  Heated coals are dipped into water every 4-6 minutes to create more steam.  I personally like steam rooms over the drier experiences. 

The custom-made ‘snowstorm’ experience, has to be seen to be believed and is the only one of its kind in the UK.


Other experiences include Sabbia Med Sunlight therapy, mud Rasul, Swiss pine sauna, mineralising stonebath, shower walk and the lovely salt cascade room, where I was so relaxed I fell asleep. It was a good job my spa butler was on hand to remind me it was lunch time.

The Theatre Kitchen is headed up by Chef  Richard Allen. He joined Ye Olde Bell Hotel in 2014, where he worked as Head Chef for Restaurant Bar 1650, achieving an AA Rosette, which it still holds today.

Away from the kitchen Allen has a huge passion for health and fitness, which saw him take time away from his culinary career to qualify as a personal trainer, with expert knowledge in nutrition. When he heard of the spa opening he immediately saw an opportunity to combine his two loves and oversee this new venture and put his stamp on the menu.


The Theatre Kitchen features sumptuous fresh local produce from local suppliers. In addition to healthy food options such as super-food salads and Asian inspired broths alongside richer, more indulgent dishes.



The open nature of the kitchen will offer a personalised experience for guests, allowing them to see the chefs at work and interact with Allen directly, who will always be keen to chat with the guests, discuss any ideas or queries they may have and impart his culinary and health knowledge.

Ye Olde Bell Spa - Cabinet

After an amazing tasty lunch, we head back into the spa for a little more relaxation being spoilt rotten with a relaxing mini facial.  The treatment rooms are upstairs via a sweeping hand-carved oak staircase and enjoy a lovely view over the terrace. Therapists get 15 minutes between each appointment to ensure that they too are relaxed and offer the best service. The spa offers a complement of therapeutic and rejuvenating face and body care treatments, using products by top European skin care house, Germaine de Capuccini with luxurious make-up products by boutique British cosmetic brand, Delilah.

I could go on for ever about the special little touches included in the design of the spa, but you really need to treat yourself and go and find out for yourself.  Book ahead as they deliberately keep numbers low for a better experience.  I’ve been to spas before where you can’t get in a room and people are continually opening and closing doors, so the experience is ruined, hence you get none of this at Ye Olde Bell Spa. The layout has been designed so there are lots of little places for groups for privacy, and everything has been designed to be a little bit special so everybody doesn’t want to use the same thing and they move around the experiences. It caters for groups, couples or those alone, just wanting some ‘me time’

All the finishes in the rooms have their own individual character, so there’s always something to look at. You just want to go round feeling it….don’t even get me started on the Robert Cavelli wallpaper embedded with 6,000 crystals in the stunning hair boutique

For more information visit:

Disclaimer – Views are my own. My visit was complimentary, but boy, would I go again!!

By Tanya Louise



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