A couple of weeks ago it was Holly's birthday and as a lovely treat, we were invited to visit The Lido in Clifton, Bristol for a spa day. Holly and I rarely get to spend time together, just the two of us, so this was a fantastic opportunity to have a bit of mum and daughter time away from our busy home life. I love spending time alone with Holly, our relationship is totally different when there's no one else around and no toddler demanding my constant attention.
We dropped Rose off at school and headed to The Lido, I discovered the streets outside were quite narrow so if you drive a big car like me I would recommend finding some parking on the nearby streets just off Whiteladies road. We easily found a space and walked the 5 or so minutes to our destination.
When we arrived we were greeted by the super friendly reception staff who provided us with a robe and slippers and showed us to the changing rooms. As part of our spa package, Holly and I got to choose from an hour long treatment. Holly opted for a facial and I went for the hot stone massage. Once changed we went along to the waiting room where other guests were also waiting for their treatments. It was then we got our first peek at the outdoor pool framed by the beautiful windows with hanging baskets in full bloom.
The therapists all walked into the waiting room at the same time and they had so much positive energy about them it was almost as though they'd just done a power yoga class or had a motivational meeting cheers-ing one another with mugs of green tea. Our respective therapists called our names and Holly and I were each led off to the treatment rooms. I think Holly was a tiny bit nervous and didn't know what to expect having never had any sort of treatment, but I could tell by her therapist's warm smile that she was in good hands, quite literally.
The Lido approach emphasises on tailor made treatments, dependent on your specific needs. I've never had a hot stone massage before, so my therapist sat down with me and explained what it entailed. Reminding me to let her know if the stones were the wrong temperature or if the pressure was too hard or too soft. This was to be my hour of calm and restoration and she wanted me to enjoy every minute of it. The stones were very hot but not uncomfortably so. Hot stones are used as well as the therapist's hands, forearms and elbows to give a wonderful massage from head to toe. It is probably the most relaxing massage I've ever had and I almost drifted asleep.
After our treatments, Holly and I met up in the relaxation room for a cup of herbal tea. We used the time to read magazines and chatted mostly about all the festivals that Holly's looking forward to this year. Holly really enjoyed her treatment and her skin was glowing, she especially liked the head massage that came along with the facial and said that her therapist had made her feel really comfortable. The relaxation room was absolutely beautiful with natural light flooding in through the huge windows and the sound of the swimming pool beneath, the water gently swishing against the sides as the regulars swam lengths up and down. We both said we could have stayed in there a couple of hours just reading and chatting and enjoying each other's company.
The Lido was originally built in 1849 (but has, of course, been restored since then) incredibly it is the oldest surviving heated pool in the country, which is pretty amazing! The central swimming area is lined on one side by old-fashioned wooden and canvass cubicles and on the other is a restaurant and cafe. I didn't realise before but the cafe is open to the public so if you're passing I'd recommend popping in for a coffee while taking in the gorgeous architecture. It feels like a real hideaway nestled inside a courtyard of Georgian town houses.
We decided it was time to brave the outdoor pool. We went on a fairly sunny but not hot day, even so, the pool looked inviting and no one appeared to be cold so that was a good sign. We each tentatively dipped a toe and the water really wasn't cold at all. I read somewhere that it's continually heated to 24 degrees which is ample temperature once you've warmed yourself up by swimming a few lengths.
But can we talk about the hot tub? A quick appraisal and I could see five people. In the time it took us to swim a few more lengths, and sit and have a coffee, I looked over for another head count and there were still the same five who'd been sitting bubbling away for longer than 20 minutes. I said to Holly "let's walk over and make it obvious we're getting in and then maybe a couple will leave out of politeness." I hung up my robe and whipped off my towel, one leg in and one out, looking up at Holly gesticulating for her to get in too. No one was prepared to get out to make room but the chap to my left sort of shifted over a bit.
Four more people started walking toward the hot tub and just stepped straight in, no hesitation. Holly had no chance at getting a space. At this point, there was ten of us in there all crammed in and at least half of us feeling really awkward. The guy on my left muttered "this is like hell on earth" loud enough for everyone to hear. I am not quite sure whether he was referring to the general overcrowding situation or the fact that I could not avoid touching his thigh with mine, still slick as a seal thanks to the full body oily massage I'd had an hour before. It wasn't as drastic as hell on earth but it was too overcrowded. The original five were not giving up their space for anything and didn't appear to care at all that other people might like to use the hot tub! This isn't a criticism of The Lido as obviously they can't be held responsible for guest's manners but I am left pondering whether staff should put up a sign about hot tub etiquette that could perhaps suggest a maximum time limit.
So we gave the hot tub a miss and popped into the steam room and sauna instead, which were wonderful. There's a great view of the pool outside and once you've heated up (and if you're brave enough) you can stand under the bucket filled to the brim with ice cold water, pull the chain and let it cascade over you with a giant slosh. Holly did it, but I didn't have the courage!
It was time for lunch so we headed off to shower and get changed. Each shower room has The Lido's own toiletries which I thought was a really nice touch, they have brilliant packaging and smelt absolutely gorgeous too. The dressing room upstairs was really nice with a large mirror along one wall and a couple of vintage dressing tables equipped with hairdryers.
Even though I've never visited The Lido before I'd already heard the food is outstanding and it didn't disappoint. We chose from the a la carte menu each of us opting for the crab and anis filled courgette flowers to start, which were absolutely delicious. For the main, I went for the violet artichokes with peas, broad beans and a charcoal grilled flatbread and Holly opted for lamb chops in Moscatel vinegar. The entire menu was divine and what we ate was absolutely outstanding.
I would go back to The Lido in a heartbeat. I did get a real sense of indulgence which is exactly what I want from a spa day, the stunning surroundings and the finishing touches in the relaxation and dressing rooms really made the experience extra special. I imagine on a summer's day it's even more spectacular but I'd also love to visit one evening just as the sun is setting; to sit soaking up the atmosphere with a glass of wine and fine food would be heavenly.
Thank you very much to The Lido for inviting us and for giving Holly a wonderful first spa experience.
You can find all the information you need to book your own spa experience here on The Lido website.
*We received a complimentary spa day in return for a feature on the blog.