There aren’t many good immersive spas in Birmingham, much to my disappointment but just North of the city is The Belfry. This hotel and golf course is pretty well known across the country, mostly for the golf. But did you know they also have a spa?
A few months ago Raj and I hopped in the car for the half hour drive to the Belfry spa for a day of thermal experiences and massage.
Our spa day was on a Saturday so we chose to go as early as possible, which I’m pleased we did as it did start to get busy, as most spas do at the weekend.
We had a warm welcome at the spa reception and went to change in the changing rooms. I found the changing rooms to be fine, there are plenty of large lockers to store your belongings, but I did find the decor slightly dated.
Just outside the changing rooms is the Fire and Ice Experience. We were booked into an early session (I believe you need to book a session so they can stagger the flow of people through the thermal rooms) so we had a quick walk around the swimming area, took 5 minutes to just relax on the loungers in the conservatory before signing in at the Fire and Ice Reception.
Fire and Ice Experience
The thermal experience at the Belfry Spa is arranged in a cyclical route to guide you. Firstly, you start the experience with a warm foot bath. This gives you the opportunity to ease into relaxation mode. Arranged on a raised bench you can start the day by unwinding as your feet soak in the bubbles.
Next, we tried the drench showers, well, I tried the warm one as I’m not a fan of ice showers. And then we were straight into our first thermal room, the Caldarium.
The Caldarium is a warm thermal room. It’s a good starting point if you’re not used to hot steam rooms. There is a light fragrance in the air, but for us it was a little too tame so we didn’t stay in there too long.
After that we tried the Aroma Cave, another aromatic steam room but with higher humidity and temperature.We spent about 10 minutes in the steam room before heading to the next room.
We braved the Igloo for a few minutes. The contrast of hot and cold is invigorating and I liked leaning against the chilled walls for moments at a time. Raj preferred to use the ice machine to rub ice all over himself. You need to be brave for that one.
The next stop was another steam room before we then braved the Shower Grotto, which was essentially pouring a big bucket of water over yourself. I heard several yelps come from that area during our time in the spa!
The sauna is a nice large room situated next to the hydrotherapy pool. We spent a good 15 minutes or so in there and were lucky enough to mostly have the room to ourselves. One of the benefits of going early.
Finally we settled into the hydrotherapy pool to relax and chat, we have some of our best chats as a couple in hot tubs and pools.
Overall I enjoyed the fire and ice experience. In sum it’s about 3 or 4 hot rooms, 2 experience showers and 1 cold room.
Unfortunately the tranquility room was a let down for us. It was a small room with 2 or 3 loungers squeezed in together, it was covered in wet towels when we looked in. And it looked uncomfortable.
In fact, there wasn’t really a decent chill-out space overall in the wet spa. The conservatory area by the pool was filled with groups so there was lots of chatting. So there wasn’t a quiet space to unwind after the fire and ice. I’d like to see something dedicated that use.
After the fire and ice experience we changed into dry swimmers and made our way to the treatment area. This is slightly separate to the wet spa, you have to walk back through changing rooms, down the corridor and up the stairs to find it.
We both opted for back massage, and this spa is set up for plenty of treatments. There were loads of rooms available, and I was lucky enough to have an excellent therapist.
My back massage was not too firm to my liking, but firm enough when necessary. That is, I discovered I had some serious knots in my shoulders, so my therapist helped ease those out, as well as giving me a relaxing massage.
It was a short massage session so I would definitely book in for either a longer session or go for a full massage.
The massage was using Espa products and I was really impressed by both the scent and quality of the products used.
Before and after our treatments we were shown to the relaxation room, a beautifully-designed and spacious room filled with day beds, sofas, and armchairs. It would be a lovely space to relax after treatments, I know for me I tend to feel a bit dazed after a massage. But unfortunately most of the guests there were quite noisy so it was a tad unpleasant. I do wish spas were able to enforce the silence in relaxation room rule, or maybe provide a breakout space for the chatty folks. It was a shame, because I could’ve easily spent a good half hour dozing and coming back to world after my massage.
To finish off our spa day we had afternoon tea in the cafe next to the spa. As it’s part of the spa it’s still acceptable to wear your robes, but you are welcome to change back into your gym and yoga gear (see my what to pack for a spa day here).
Overall the afternoon tea was fine. We had a little wait as I had to request sandwiches with no butter or cheese for me. Raj enjoyed the tarts from the cake session.
Overall I would say we had a fairly positive time at The Belfry spa. The massage was excellent and I would go back for that in an instant. The impression I get is that this is quite a social spa, with several groups coming for ‘girly days’ and chats. So I would not recommend if you’re coming for relaxation and peace. Rather, come here for the treatments and a few hours to concentrate on nourishing your body.
There is also a pool and a gym but we didn’t use those facilities whilst we visited.
There aren’t many decent spa options in the Birmingham area so the Belfry Spa is a good call if you need some steam, massage, and maybe a catch-up with your friends.