Skip to main contentSkip to footer

Why Harrogate is the ultimate spa holiday destination

Grantley Hall and Rudding Park are two of North Yorkshire's most luxurious spa hotels

grantley rudding
Nicky Morris
TV and film writer
6 February 2023
Share this:

With Covid easing off, many are reverting back to European destinations for their getaways in search of sunnier climes. For some, Harrogate may not seem like the obvious choice for a weekend trip, but the Victorian spa town surpassed all my expectations. 

In a whistle-stop tour of the area, I spent one night at two of North Yorkshire's most luxurious spa hotels, while also exploring the outstanding natural beauty that surrounds them - and I was utterly blown away. 

Here's everything you need to know about Rudding Park and Grantley Hall, from astonishing spa facilities to indulgent restaurants - and why Harrogate is the perfect destination for a relaxing UK break

Rudding Park 

Our first stop was Rudding Park, a luxurious 90-bedroom hotel set amongst 300 acres of landscaped gardens and woodland, situated just five miles from Harrogate. 

The hotel is privately owned by the Mackaness family, who have invested a great deal of time and money into its development since occupying the land in 1972. The modern building adjoins its original Grade I Listed Regency House, which is simply stunning. 

rudding exterior© Charlotte Gale

Rudding Park holds 90 bedrooms

Frequented by footballers, who make use of the impressive spa facilities, and visited by celebrities such as Gary Barlow and Henry Cavill, the hotel attracts major star power - and it's not hard to see why. 

What are the rooms like? 

Rudding Park boasts a number of different rooms to choose from, including family rooms, suites, cottages and lodges. 

The accommodation itself was decked out with neutral tones and bright furnishings, with our spacious room boasting a south-facing view of the grounds. 

The generous ensuite boasted a bath with a television hanging on the wall above it and also featured underfloor heating.

As for the rest of the hotel, the original Grade I house provides the perfect location for private events, with a number of rooms that can accommodate up to 350 guests - offering an idyllic setting for a countryside wedding. A private chapel is also located in the grounds of the hotel and is a stunning location for a wedding blessing, following a civil ceremony. 

rudding park plompton suite© Rudding Park

The hotel offers a range of rooms, including the Plompton Suite at Rudding Park

What are the spa facilities like? 

Ready for a relaxing pampering session, we headed to the spa, which boasts an array of facilities - including an indoor swimming pool, an ice-cold bucket shower and mud rasul, which offers a traditional Moorish mud treatment experience. 

We made sure to try out the rooftop spa, which featured a range of impressive experiences, including a Hydrotherapy Infinity Pool, a Sunlight Therapy Room, Oxygen Pod and a Herbal Bath Steam Room, which uses herbs from the kitchen garden. 

There is also a rooftop spa garden that boasts a sun deck, hot tub and sauna cabin. 

As for our treatments, I opted for the Invigorating Body Polish, Head, Neck and Shoulder Massage, which took place in a tranquil, dimly lit room. 

rudding sunlight therapy room© Rudding Park

The spa features a Sunlight Therapy Room

Meanwhile, my mother, who accompanied me on the trip, enjoyed the Natura Bisse Facial, using products from the luxury Spanish skincare experts which left her with a radiant complexion. 

The Horto Cafe also features in the spa, which offers a delightful range of food and drinks all day, from buckwheat pancakes and fruit juice to salmon teriyaki and cocktails. 

What's unique about the spa is that it's constantly being updated by the Mackaness family, who bring the most innovative elements from spa facilities they've experienced around the world to the spa at Rudding Park. 

rudding park rooftop spa© Rudding Park

The hotel boasts a rooftop spa surrounded by nature

What is the food like? 

The hotel offers several luxury dining options, including Horto restaurant, a contemporary fine dining experience, and the glamorous Clocktower Brasserie, where we were lucky enough to spend the evening. 

We enjoyed our dinner in a relaxed yet glamorous environment in the conservatory, which boasted several floor-to-ceiling windows and a stunning olive tree as the central feature. 

The menu features a range of classic dishes with a modern twist and caters to all dietary requirements. As we pursued the menu, we were served refreshing gin and tonics by the delightful staff members, as well as a glass of water from the hotel's own Omnia spring. 

rudding clocktower interiors© Rudding Park

The hotel has various dining options, including the Clocktower Brasserie

Following a round of sourdough bread with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, we ordered king scallops and citrus smoked salmon to start, followed by rose chicken breast with toulouse sausage and braised beef cheek, which was incredibly tender, for our mains. 

For dessert, we shared the chocolate brownie delice, which was the height of indulgence.  

What to do 

If massages and facials aren't your thing, then the hotel also offers an impressive golf resort, with its 18-hole Hawtree course and six-hole Repton short course making it a must for lovers of the sport. 

For those who want to explore the surrounding area, the hotel is just a 15-minute drive from RHS Garden Harlow Carr and only five miles from the famous Betty's tea rooms in the centre of Harrogate. 

To book, visit: Rudding Park 

Grantley Hall 

After departing from the centre of Harrogate we made our way to Grantley Hall, a five-star luxury hotel and wellness retreat. 

The hotel interiors are simply breathtaking, with the design of each room intricately planned out and executed, blending traditional elegance with modern designs. 

While also being rich in decadent decor - with each room even possessing a different scent! - the hotel is also steeped in history and dates back to the 17th century.  

grantley exterior shot© Grantley Hall

Grantley Hall is a five-star luxury hotel and wellness retreat

What are the rooms like?

Grantley Hall boasts 47 rooms and suites which are spread across the original 17th-century building and the new wing. 

We were lucky enough to stay in an Executive Room, which was decorated with neutral tones and elegant furnishings, boasting a traditional style. At the centre of the room was a wooden-framed painting, which upon the press of a button lifted to reveal an impressive TV screen. 

As for the ensuite, it was light and spacious, as well as clad in Italian marble. 

It's clear that the comfort of the guest really is paramount as laying on the dressing table were robe and pillow menus detailing different types of materials and styles to be requested. If this isn't the height of luxury, I don't know what is. 

grand suite grantley© Grantley Hall

The hotel offers a range of rooms, including the Grand Suite 

What are the spa facilities like? 

For those looking for a unique spa experience, then The Three Graces spa is the ultimate destination. Featuring an 18-meter indoor pool, outdoor hydrotherapy pool and various thermal experiences, such as the sauna, steam room and snow room, it provides the perfect environment for ultimate relaxation. 

When it came to our treatments, I opted for the Diamond Essence Cocoon facial, a renewing prebiotic treatment which used Natura Bisse products. I'm not exaggerating when I say my skin has never looked or felt better since - and that's coming from someone who has fairly problematic skin. 

three graces© Grantley Hall

The Three Graces Spa features a range of impressive facilities

My mum chose the Inner Peace Immersion, a renewing full-body Himalayan salt scrub which left her feeling revitalised and relaxed. 

If you're in need of refreshment after your spa visit, the Spa Lounge offers a delicious range of drinks and meals throughout the day, including nutritious smoothies, healthy lunches and cream tea. 

If a workout is your idea of self-care, then the hotel's ELITE gym is definitely worth a visit. It offers a range of impressive facilities, including an underwater treadmill, a 3D body scanner and state-of-the-art equipment.  

One thing we made sure to try out was the Cryotherapy Unit, a temperature-controlled chamber that sits at -85 degrees and is essentially like walking into a massive freezer.  

While myself and my mum were both rather apprehensive about the experience, staff member Ben - who was overseeing our session - was very reassuring. The three minutes spent in the chamber didn't feel as long as anticipated and we were both full of energy for the rest of the day. If you're a fan of cold water therapy, then this is a must. 

cryotherapy© Grantley Hall

Grantley Hall's gym boasts a Cryotherapy Unit

What is the food like? 

Grantley Hall boasts an array of exceptional restaurants, so you really don't have to venture out of the grounds for your evening meal. The hotel is home to four restaurants and three bars, including Bar & Restaurant EightyEight, an Asian-inspired eatery that fuses Yorkshire produce and far Eastern flavours, Michelin-star fine dining restaurant Shaun Rankin at Grantley Hall and Champagne and cocktail bar Valeria's.

We ate at Fletchers Restaurant for dinner, which sits in the Queen Anne wing. Its traditional oak panelling and fireplaces made for an intimate atmosphere. 

We were treated to warm sourdough and butter by the friendly staff members whilst we sipped on our gin and tonics and perused the inviting menu, which offered a range of delicious options, as well as an extensive wine list. 

fletchers grantley© Grantley Hall

Fletcher's Restaurant offers an extensive wine list

We finally settled on smoked salmon and Whitby crab, and twice-baked cheese soufflé to start, before moving onto herb-fed chicken breast with fries and butternut squash risotto for our mains. 

For dessert, we were again spoilt for choice and went off waiter Luke's recommendation of the caramelised apple tarte tatin - and while I was completely stuffed by this point, it was too tasty to leave any crumbs on the plate. 

What to do 

While there's plenty to keep you busy at the hotel, if you do fancy venturing out then Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden is just an eight-minute drive away. 

We stopped by the National Trust property, which is simply breathtaking and boasts vast Cistercian abbey ruins, Georgian water garden, a medieval deer park, Elizabethan Hall and a Gothic church.

Ripon, a small cathedral city, is less than five miles away and if you feel like exploring the area, then The Wakeman's House Cafe is the perfect pitstop for a delicious bite to eat.

To book, visit: Grantley Hall

Like this story? Sign up to our HELLO! newsletters to get other stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.

Sign up to HELLO Daily! for the best royal, celebrity and lifestyle coverage

By entering your details, you are agreeing to HELLO! Magazine User Data Protection Policy. You can unsubscribe at any time. For more information, please click here.

More Travel

See more