Arriving at The Malvern is a tale of contrasts. On the one hand there is the grandeur of the Malvern hills in the background looking rather dramatic at the moment we arrived (it happened to be a late-autumn afternoon of low sun), but on the other hand it felt slightly jarring that we were situated on the edge of an industrial estate. It’s not the first place you’d imagine to find a spa!
Nevertheless, once inside The Malvern Spa you’re not thinking so much about the location and focusing more on rest and relaxation.
We received a warm welcome at reception before going on a short tour around the spa facilities. The hotel and spa is a petite but well-equipped space, purpose built and well thought out.
The facilities include a hydrotherapy pool, thermal suite, spa treatments, a gym and classes timetable, a restaurant and a coffee shop.
We immediately checked out our room for the night and were pleased to note that the hotel has a small number of rooms (33 in total), lending to a relatively peaceful vibe.
The room at The Malvern Spa appeared to be newly refurbished, it featured a lovely contemporary colour scheme and I can confirm that the bed was comfy!
Overall it was pretty functional and we did have a good view of the Malvern hills.
My only gripe would be the lack of spare plug sockets to charge our phones and cameras, I would like at least one spare plug by each bedside table.
As soon as we could we changed into our swimming costumes and the robes provided in the room, and made our way down to the spa.
The spa features a large relaxation/reading room area that serves as the hub for the spa. There are a few sofas, chairs and two loungers by a fire which is lit up in the early evening.
On one end of this space is the bar and coffee shop area. Here you can purchase the usual hot drinks, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages.
To one side of the relaxation area is the mani-pedi station. On another side there is the long dark corridor to the spa rooms and quiet space. And on the final side there is the entrance to the pool and thermal suite.
The pool features a small-ish indoor pool with jets on one side. Around this there are a number of lounger beds all facing towards the large floor to ceiling windows. When we arrived most of the beds were taken up with old towels so it was hard to tell which ones were taken. We did find a couple spare in the corner so we made that our spot and quickly jumped into the pool.
The pool is heated to a glorious 35C. Walking into the pool felt like you were submerging yourself into a warm bath, it was lovely. You immediately feel relaxed.
The indoor part of the pool isn’t particularly big but there are seated parts around the edge and some jets on one side. The main event, however, is the outdoor section of the pool. You simply swim/walk through the double plastic entrance to the hydrotherapy area.
I do love an outside pool that is well-heated. We were there at the beginning of November and the outside was air was pretty crisp. But keep your whole body under the water and it’s super warm.
The hydrotherapy pool has 6 sections, for the most part they are different arrangements of jets for massaging with the water. There is a lounger section which is quite fun but I found I bobbled along off it as it was so strong. There is also a ‘volcano’ section which I avoided as the water completely envelops you and I’d just had my hair tinted as I was avoiding chlorine on it. But it did look quite the experience.
One of the great things about the spa is that it’s open until 10pm, so you can enjoy the novelty of sitting in a warm pool whilst its dark and cold outside. We found that quite fun. I did notice that the vibe changed a little in the evening.
Most of the couples and groups of friend bought drinks in the bar and even brought them into the pool. This is an adults-only spa so it did feel quite adult-y in the evening.
The thermal suite
The thermal suite has 4 rooms of which 2 are steam and 2 are saunas. My favourite was the herb sauna, it was a perfect heat and humidity (it’s apparently around the 75-80C mark) to enjoy a good 10 minutes in there relaxing. I didn’t notice it feeling or smelling particularly herb-y but I enjoyed it nevertheless.
The Malvern Spa boasts the first kelo sauna in the UK. It is a unique rustic sauna constructed from naturally fragrant wood found in the Arctic Circle. It is indeed a lovely cosy sauna and the wood makes it feel super inviting. However, for me, it was too hot to withstand for long at around the 90C mark.
The crystal steam room was a nice large steam chamber. It’s pretty dark, coupled with the thick steam, so you do need to almost feel your way around to find a spare spot on the benches. There is a large crystal in the centre of one wall and a fibre-optic ceiling that twinkle with little lights. It was a pleasant steam room but I’d prefer friendlier seating options.
The other room was the salt grotto which is supposedly heated to 49C, so probably should be the first on the list to try. However, for us I think the heating wasn’t working properly that day as it almost felt cold. The salt grotto has a running water feature down one side and the salt in the air is supposed to have natural healing properties.
In the centre of the thermal suite is an ice fountain available to grab handfuls of ice to rub over the skin. This helps stimulate circulation and cools you off.
In another corner there is a bucket shower that douses brave souls with a rather exhilarating experience of chilled water.
There are also two experience showers in each corner.
Finally, there is a so-called ‘foot spa’ at one end of the thermal suite. It’s basically a bench with a few bowls with taps. I found the foot spa didn’t really do much as the bowls are too shallow. Some jets there would make for a better experience.
Overall the pool and thermal area was pleasant and relaxing. The heat of the pool and a couple of the thermal rooms were a quite nice way to unwind.
However, I was concerned by the lack of maintenance throughout our time there. The floor in the pool area was dangerously slippy as large pools of water gathered from guests getting in and out of the pool. Even with the slippers on I felt myself almost tumbled each time I walked about that area. There really does need to be someone on hand to keep that mopped up and less slippy. So I would exercise some caution if you visit and walk slowly around the pool.
We did spend some time in the relaxation area on our first afternoon. The loungers were large and comfy and once the fire was turned on it was a cosy spot to just read. I think Raj even dozed off a few times.
Likewise we also spent time in the quiet room at the end of the treatments area. It was a lovely dim space with loungers, cushions and blankets. I like to just snooze in those spaces after a long period of pool and steam time.
It was hampered a little with the therapists speaking loudly each time they showed a new client to the door. And a couple of guests were not getting the hint and using the space for a gossip. Raj being Raj he did go over and ask them to be quiet. I do think we need a little bit more awareness of spa etiquette (that might be a post for another time), but overall it was a really relaxing space.
Overall, the facilities were good but I found the staff didn’t quite measure up to what I’d hope for in a spa. In particular there were a lot of loud voices, chatter and laughing which, when you’re paying for a spa day to relax, it can be quite distracting or even disorientating. When spending time in the relaxation area there were dirty dishes from previous guests that we ignored and not cleaned up for almost an hour. And I would’ve preferred a member of staff to help me bring my tray of tea over to the table as I felt a bit wobbly in my sodden slippers trying to carry it myself.
In the evening we made our way down to the restaurant for dinner. It’s a small area near the reception of the Malvern Spa and I imagine it’s set up for outside guests to visit for dinner as well.
The lights were down and the ambience was a nice steady chatter of guests. The design was a bit of let-down with rather tired looking furniture, and I don’t know why but I do prefer table cloths on these occasions. Or at least nicer tables. One guest even had a chair give way and break on her halfway through the dinner.
The meal was a tale of two halves. Some of the dishes were nice. The pork starter I had was fantastic, a soft pulled pork full of meaty flavour and a crunchy coating. There was a slither of pork crackling with it, certainly not enough! Raj had the scallops which he enjoyed. I tried them and found them to be under-cooked. But a generous portion nonetheless.
The rest of the meal was ok, but not quite up to scratch. My cassoulet was overloaded with cream and cloying, but the fish was well cooked.
There appeared to be some issues with the waiting staff and the chefs, a couple next to us sent back their food, and another couple had water dropped on their table. It was all a bit awkward.
At breakfast the next day we experienced similar problems. My breakfast was actually pretty poor and I didn’t finish it. The sandwich I ordered arrived with butter on having requested it without. It came back to me within 2 minutes with fresh bread but clearly the bacon and sausage had just been transferred and not freshly re-made. Likewise, the portion was poor, and the ingredients tasted cheap and overcooked.
The final major problem we encountered was actually pretty bad. We requested an extra hour for check-out which was approved by the receptionist. However just after we had showered and changed, a housekeeper walked into our room un-announced. Not only a breach of privacy but terribly unprofessional.
There are clearly some staffing issues, and I did feedback to them straight away about our experience. They have accepted the experience fell short of what they hope to offer and will aim to rectify this immediately.
In sum, the Malvern Spa is a great facility. There aren’t many spas like this in the Worcestershire area and I think it makes for great getaway. I would certainly visit again, and I’d like to try out a treatment next time to see how that fares.
Further, Malvern is a lovely little town and if you love a bit of activity I’d highly recommend going for a walk through the hills.
Afternoon Tea at Colwall Park Hotel
Once we checked out of the Malvern Spa we took a short drive through and over the Malvern hills to Colwall Park Hotel for afternoon tea. It was a gorgeous bright autumnal day, perfect for driving through the countryside.
We arrived in the small village of Colwall and parked up at the charming faux-tudor hotel. It was a gorgeous spot, the village had that quaint English vibe, and there were some lovely decor details I enjoyed throughout the hotel. In particular, the tapestry/fabric wall covering near the toilets was fascinating.
We spent the next hour digging in to sandwiches, scones and cakes. There were even a few truffles in there too. I requested some sandwiches without butter which they were happy to oblige. And we worked our way through several top ups to our pot of tea.
There was a glass of prosecco included but I found this too sharp for my liking so I stuck mostly to the tea.
All in all, it was a pleasant location and a way to spend a Sunday afternoon. If you’re in the Malverns it could be worth checking out.