Making massage a regular, guilt-free treat

Liz Nicholls


We’re all up to our eyeballs in depressing news about the rising cost of living… But we also know how vital self care is for good mental health… So what’s a stressed out, strapped-for-cash girl to do? 🤔

As far as luxurious treats go, a great massage is top of my treats list. You’re either a massage person or you’re not. For me there is no other wholesome indulgence that quite hits the spot when it comes to topping up that mojo. Being a single mum, prone to life-ruining migraines and living with a non-hugging teenager, the prospect of some no-strings touching always appeals. 💆

So the ethos of The Massage Company, born in Camberley in 2016 and growing ever since while winning a few industry awards, really appeals to me. It’s a subscription-based service on a mission transform massage therapy from a “once in a blue moon occurrence” to a regular part of our wellbeing routines. This brings the costs down, and helps you enjoy a regular top-up just for you, so you can enjoy the benefits (better sleep, reduced anxiety anyone?) without feeling guilty or waiting for another birthday to roll round.

I popped into the High Wycombe branch and shared my goals with the friendly team. Although petite and dainty, Gabi the therapist was happy to indulge my “go-hard or go home” approach. Her Swedish style massage was expert, and incredibly relaxing, along with the calming fragrance ooozing out of the mister. You can also opt for deep tissue if you’re the hench type, or hot stones. I treated myself to an additional scalp massage which involved Gabi focusing on my temples and neck, gently pulling small sections of my hair which unleashed all sorts of weird & wonderful sensations elsewhere.

I wafted out into the real world feeling light as a feather and full of beans. And I was plagued by none of my usual headaches for more than a fortnight (and counting). I hope many more of these franchises spring up and urge everyone to put themselves first and treat themselves. We’re all cancelling treats and direct debits but this one should pay for itself.

*The Massage Company branches include Camberley and High Wycombe. To find out more, visit

Eastbury Hotel & Spa review

Liz Nicholls


Lazing in the bubbling jacuzzi, gazing up at the round ceiling window, where concentric circles of rain pulse outwards… this is about as close to Zen as I can remember feeling.

I have entered the round, inviting, Hobbit-like door to the bijou spa at the bottom of the walled garden at The Eastbury in Sherbourne. Inside is a nurturing safe haven that feels a million miles from the daily hubbub, with a luxury wet spa, hydrotherapy tub, sauna and treatment room where even the most frazzled can feel their cares melt away.

Treatments on offer from healing hands include nourishing facials, stone therapy and deep tissue massage, using the premier cru of wellness brands Caudalie. There is also an outdoor jacuzzi for good measure, and you can book exclusive use of the spa suite or perhaps treat yourself to a nourishing body wrap or tub and scrub.

If you are worn out by your own life and need a restorative change of scene, I can think of few places more suited than The Eastbury. The recently refurbished 26-bedroom country house hotel is the winner of the “best value experience” in the prestigious Conde Nast 2022 awards for Excellence.

Sherborne – the ancient capital of Dorset – is a sleepy market town with many local gardens (Stourhead, Minterne, Tintinhill), fly fishing, hot air ballooning, Sherborne Castle and Abbey. The area is surrounded by National Trust and English Heritage Sites and is a great base from which to explore the Dorset coast including Chesil Beach, Durdle Door, West Bay and Brownsea Island (a drive away of less than 45 minutes).

The five Victorian Garden Potting Shed Suites are beautifully appointed, snuggly warm and cosy, thanks to their underfloor heating. Each one has its own entrance and tri-folding rear doors so you can enjoy the private terrace and gaze at the stars, alongside the fire pit. These get-away suites are nestled in the award-winning gardens of the 17th century stone period property, where the outdoor seating, croquet, badminton, table tennis and large chess set add to the quirky charm of this luxury getaway. The newly refurbished Eastbury Cottage is has three generous bedrooms, if you’re looking for a group stay.

There are some dog-friendly rooms with comfy canine beds, bowls, treats, a squeaky dog toy and even a welcome letter from the owner’s chihuahua Monty. Each beautiful room offers a walks guide so that you can venture out to make the most of the local scenery, including Badbury Rings, Glastonbury Tor and the River Yeo.

Whatever your stress levels, a stay promises to top up your mojo levels and leave you feeling pampered, refreshed and ready to face the world anew. Aaaaaaand relax!

Doubles from £206 B&B per night. Eastbury Cottage price based on two people is £625 per night or £4,375 for seven nights. Price based on four people or more is £850 per night or £5,950 for seven nights on a self-catering basis. Includes a private garden, six-seater outdoor table, barbecue and a classic garden hot tub (available from the end of September). Minimum two-night stay. For more info or to book a stay visit or call 01935 813131.

We have a five-star overnight stay with spa & dinner for two people at The Eastbury to give away! Click here to enter

The Three Daggers in Edington

Grace Tracey


A stay at the dog-friendly The Three Daggers certainly made my tail wag, not to mention that of terrier Roger

Anyone who knows me knows I love dogs. Another thing I love is staying in beautiful B&Bs in the gorgeous countryside (who doesn’t!). So a stay in The Three Daggers, a dog-friendly inn in the middle of Wiltshire’s valleys, was perfect for me!

Unfortunately, I don’t have a dog (yet) – so I borrowed my mum’s rescue terrier mix, Roger, for the trip. I‘d seen the pictures online but the whole property had such charm it simply can’t be captured in an image.

The self-proclaimed “quintessentially British” accommodation certainly lived up to the title. Our room was spacious and luxurious with a massive comfy bed and bathroom fit for a king. There was also a Roger-sized armchair which he soon settled into with his favourite blanket and one of my mum’s shoes.

We were shown Edington Farm Shop, full of local produce and much from their own Priory Farm inclduing their special Three Dagger ales from their micro-brewery. They also had fresh fruit & veg, pies, sausages, some rather lovely dog treats and even local artists’ work.

In the micro-brewery we were told by Jackie the Accommodation Manager, who was very kindly showing us around, they hold small weddings and with this year’s restrictions they have had a lot of interest from couples in using this stunning location for their big day, holding the reception in the upstairs of the restaurant which doubles as a quaint events room.

Just in case a pub, accommodation, brewery and farm shop were not enough for you – they also have a Spa Barn onsite which has an extensive treatment list and also includes a sauna, steam room, outdoor hot tub and a plunge pool! What more could you ask for!

Roger was in need of exercise by now, so we took a walk around the quiet roads and fields surrounding The Three Daggers as the sun began to descend. The hills and valleys made for a fantastic sunset, and the pinky-purple sky guided us back to the inn.

I’m envious this isn’t my local as it had a lovely warm and welcoming atmosphere – the staff could not have been nicer to Roger (and us of course). We ordered starters and mains and ‘cheers’ed a delightful house red to having a great time so far.

I’m not just saying this because we’ve not been out much since the lockdown, it genuinely was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. I enjoyed a creamy baked camembert to start, a delicious veggie pie while my partner (often disappointed by small portion sizes) was pleasantly surprised with his pig terrine starter, steak and chips main. We both opted for the salted caramel cheesecake for pudding as we’d seen it pass on the way to another table earlier and decided sharing one wasn’t an option.

After a heavenly sleep, we were greeted by a basket of warm pastries and other breakfast treats outside our door – I loved the pain au chocolat. A brief walk with Roger in the morning sun and it was time to head back to reality.
If you’re a lover of the countryside and looking to treat yourself – and your pooch – this is an ideal destination!

If you fancy booking a visit for yourself or to find out more about the beautiful venue visit

Spa & away

Round & About


September is the perfect month to book in for some R&R. Here are a few great places to enjoy some pampering treatments and time out!

Thames Valley & Gloucestershire SPAS

Hidden behind the garden walls enveloped in tumbling roses and lavender, discover a tranquil oasis. Spa packages will make you feel like a princess, especially if you go for the thoroughly indulgent Eternally Cliveden option. Visit -yourself for the full range.


Your mind & body are in good hands at the sublimely tranquil
Spa Illuminata at Danesfield. The House Treatment of the month is the Bioslimming Hourglass Body Treatment; September’s special price is £70 (RRP £95). Visit or call 01628 891881 to find out more.


Spa6 is a a tranquil Cotswolds haven. Check out the Dry Flotation and Rasul Ritual experience as well as spa treatments including massages and wraps, facial and classic beauty treatments as well as men’s grooming. Call 01285 864071 or visit


Among the heavenly treatments on offer at award-winning Donnington Valley Hotel & Spa is the new Bamboo Massage, using different sized bamboo sticks to balance, calm and energise the body and ease stubborn muscle pain.


Hailed by Vanity Fair as one of the Four Must Visit Spas in the World, The Spa in The Pavilion is a luxe haven with a pool, Italian marble steam rooms, deep relaxation room, atrium with tropical aquarium, outdoor sauna and hot tub. Visit or call 01753 717171


The Wellness Spa at Richmond Letcombe Regis is an exclusive haven to treat body and soul. Visit or call 01235 774575 to find out about spa days including the Champagne Luxe, spa treatments and hairdressing plus exclusive membership for the over-50s.

Skin Clinic, bourne end

Helen Smith is Level 4 practitioner in Lynton IPL as well as Plasma Elite, a non-surgical skin tightening technology. She also offers beauty treatments including facials, massage, cranial sacral therapy and more. Call the clinic, based in Elio Georgio, on 01628 850084 or visit


Grayshott Medical Spa offers
award-winning health programmes, healthy stays and enrichment retreats. Among the therapies on offer is relaxing sound healing, which can help with an array of issues from migraines to tinnitus. Visit


Mayflower Spa opens soon in Dorking. Founders Vicky and Andy want you to help you relax at your own pace. In an incredible historic building, the organic products and hand-picked team offer an outstanding experience. Email [email protected] for progress updates and a welcome gift.


BSpa at Brooklands Hotel in Weybridge has state-of-the-art facilities, including the new Sunlight Therapy Room and hydrotherapy hot tub with deep-tissue massage jets. Visit to check out the range of innovative and classical therapies.


Among the heavenly treatments on offer at award-winning Donnington Valley Hotel & Spa is the new Bamboo Massage, using different sized bamboo sticks to balance, calm and energise the body and ease stubborn muscle pain.


The Ned’s public spa, Cowshed, is a one-stop shop for treatments such as the signature Moody Massage, Dermalux LED Phototherapy, VitaDrip® infusions, Urban Warrior pollution-proof facial from de Mamiel, pedicures and manicures. Visit for the full range of day spa options.


The Spa at Pennyhill Park is 45,000 sq. ft. of award-winning facilities including a state-of-the-art fitness suite, 23 relaxing treatment rooms, nail bar and nutritious dining in the Themis restaurant. Relax in thermal and sensory experiences, hot tubs and indoor and outdoor pools. Visit


The Ned’s public spa, Cowshed, is a one-stop shop for treatments such as the signature Moody Massage, Dermalux LED Phototherapy, VitaDrip® infusions, Urban Warrior pollution-proof facial from de Mamiel, pedicures and manicures. Visit for the full range of day spa options.

Thai Square Spa

Thai Square Spa on Embankment is a calming haven boasting 11 opulent massage rooms and a vast VIP suite treatment room in a beautifully converted Victorian Turkish baths. Book in for a Vichy Shower Treatment, Himalayan Salt House, Ice Fountain and signature treatments including the Temple of Jade Hot Stone Body Massage and Thai Herbal Ceremony. Call 020 7839 7990 or visit

Secret Oasis

Need a massage closer to home? You’re in good hands at Secret Oasis spa in Fulham; call 020 7371 5118 or visit

Noah’s Ark Spa

Book in at Noah’s Ark Spa in Putney Bridge Road for waxing, beauty treatments and more; call 020 8780 1771 or visit

Escape Skincare Centre

A Clarins Gold and Thalgo Crystal Award salon, Escape Skincare Centre in Putney Exchange offers Guinot, CACI, St Tropez, Sixtus and Jessica treatments. Its sister salon, Original Bodywork in Munster Road, Fulham, also offers Elemis treatments and a full range of grooming. Call 020 8780 9376 or visit

Solent Hotel & Spa

Liz Nicholls


Solent Hotel & Spa in Fareham, Hampshire, has the perfect spa break and dining packages to help you hit the “reset” button and offers a great base to explore the south coast

Do you believe in fairytales? My daughter is always asking me this – it’s her current obsession. For me, sleep is the miraculous saviour and life-restorer, better than any charming prince.

So I know something magical has occurred when I wake up in my serene bedroom having missed breakfast (this never happens – I‘m as greedy as I am frazzled) unsure how I’ll leave the comfiest bed I’ve ever had the joy of lying on…

Rewind to the previous afternoon, I’d arrived tightly wound, even for me. After the usual juggling act, I was in the nick of time for my taster treatment in the calming sanctuary of the spa, adjoining the wooden-beamed hotel. Winner of a World Luxury Spa Award last year, the team are expert in treatments devised by the gorgeous Bordeaux-born skincare brand Caudalie which combines science with the ancient secrets of wine (yes, wine). I felt instantly calmer when I met Imogen who then proceeded to take me to a different level by delivering a Des Vignes back massage. I can never usually get the pressure I crave to ease my knotty shoulders, but this treatment seemed to knead away my tension, leaving me feeling light as air in body and soul.

As much as I love Oxford, it’s landlocked and nothing appeals to my soul as much as a seaside break. The hotel and spa feel like a breath of fresh air, decked out in calming azure tones. After enjoying the steam room and sauna, alongside the pool, I was delighted to find my haven for the evening was more of a welcoming luxury penthouse than a room, with double of everything (even two tellies!), a beautifully stocked fridge and a welcome gift of local fudge and chocolates.

Nothing appeals more on the coast – especially after an indulgent afternoon – than fresh seafood and the restaurant does not disappoint on this score. The AA rosette-winning Terrace is cosy and chic and we went up to the chef’s table to admire the fish on offer – you can have this cooked to order or go a la carte if you’d rather leave the decision-making in the capable hands of the chefs. Unable to choose just two, my friend and I loved our trio of dishes, including king prawn linguine and sumptuous scallops on a samphire bed. The cocktail and pudding menu also make this the perfect destination for any special event.

Solent Hotel & Spa (PO15 7AJ) is the perfect base from which to explore the Isle of Wight and other Hampshire delights. If you too want to feel like a princess, check out the great deals such as the Escape Spa break which offers amazing value.

this treatment seemed to knead away my tension

To find out more and to book your visit, go to Solent Hotel