Carey’s Manor & SenSpa Review

Mimi ON Aug 20, 2009 AT 12:34 pm

Carey’s Manor & SenSpa

Carey’s Manor & SenSpa

By Jane Cunningham

I’m a no-spa girl. I don’t like spas and never have done, and it’s only because I felt guilty for not doing any spa reviews for so long that I ended up at Carey’s Manor in the pretty village of Brockenhurst, New Forest. My objections to spas are many: I don’t like slopping  around in faux slippers three sizes too big, I cannot bear donning a robe that would fit at least three extra people in it as well as me, and neither can I stand the doomed restriction that leads to nobody  raising their voice above a whisper along with a herd of strangers hell bent on relaxing, even if it kills them. I’m an instant rebel, longing suddenly to dive bomb the pool, smoke into the scented air conditioning unit and turn my phone onto extra loud Crazy Frog ring tone.

Room at Carey Manor

Room at Carey Manor

But Carey’s lacks the anodyne uniformity of other spas in a way, it’s a right old muddle; the decor veers from being unbelievably tasteful, with beautiful, cream and white spacious rooms that are flooded with light from the pretty garden, to downright Blackpool B&B. Narrow corridors emblazoned with hefty green patterned wallpaper and a reception area that looks like a set from Carry on Henry sits awkwardly alongside the serene and tasteful rooms. And the juxtaposing continues: organic tea bags nestle by the room kettle with very un-organic standard fare two biscuit packs, warnings posted throughout the spa to drink plenty of water and yet no bottled water in the rooms, ash trays on the wooden tables in the front garden yet none at all for the dinky tables outside the ground floor rooms (heaving with smokers) all quite odd. But, the experience is comfortingly unpretentious and really rather quirky. While the charming manager, James, showed me round, I did come over all Hotel Inspector suggesting decor variations that would be more appealing, and he kindly looked as though he was listening.

Relax in the pool at Carey's Manor & SenSpa

Relax in the pool at Carey's Manor & SenSpa

The SenSpa is impressive: a fabulous menu of Thai inspired treatments are delivered with skilled technique: I opted for a full body cleanse, involving body brushing, a detoxifying clay mask and application of moisturising body oil, carried out with immaculate precision by Da, whose meticulous attention to detail and ability to send my ever racing mind to a quiet place with a head massage while my layer of clay dried (wrapped in the spa essential foil blanket) was testament to her talent.

Aside from the large pool, set in a light filled room and opening out onto a Thai inspired cafe/restaurant (serving a mean Lychee milkshake), there is a sauna, steam room and hydrotherapy pool, which  is heated so high that it actually feels like swimming in a bath, lovely.  I giggled a bit in the Experience Showers choosing Tropical Storm led to an overhead light display, faux lightening and some mechanical noise of thunder, and gave up the shower entirely after switching to the Icelandic option, where a bucket of ice had thoughtfully been placed within arms reach so I could pelt myself with cubes for a bracing effect. As if.

Volcano & Hydro Pool

Volcano & Hydro Pool

Dinner is cooked using local ingredients – there’s a strong eco awareness theme throughout, from energy saving light bulbs to wind farmed electricity in a large, airy and elegant dining room. We’re back to juxtaposing again, because seated at the piano in this grand setting, belting out some ancient Joseph renditions sat a tiny, pink haired, pierced pianist.

Even if I wanted to, there’s no way I could knock the staff; kinder, smilier and more helpful people I have yet to meet. Carey’s feels like it is a happy place to work, and that in turn transforms it into a happy place to be. The fact that it’s only an hour and a half from Waterloo station in London just makes it all the more tempting to become a spa convert.

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