I’ve been to quite a few spas in the last few years, but none quite as big as Champneys. When you talk about going away for a spa weekend, Champneys is often mentioned, and with multiple locations across the UK, it’s easy to see why.
Dating back to 1925, thezs guys were the first proper ‘health farms’. Health Farm is a phrase I haven’t really heard since my Mum used it to describe a weekend getaway with friends in the 90s. Funny enough, it’s not just a ‘Mum’ phrase. It’s the proper name for what defining a Champneys. Those words only really ring true when you realise how jam packed with good food, fitness classes and chilled grounds. This place felt good for my health. Plus there’s no bar on site to lead me astray.
A combination of health, fitness and wellness, I was thrilled to hear Champneys had a similar approach when it came to food. I was informed of their upmost care when it came to gluten free dining, and as I had hoped, it lived up to expectations.
Arriving on a warm Friday afternoon, that liked to frequently dabble in a game of chance when it came to the weather, we unpacked, dodged some rain shows and took a walk around the grounds. I decided to bring my creative partner, Charlotte, as we had some time off before starting our new job. It was the perfect time for some much needed relaxation.
Champneys Tring is home to a beautiful grand building, Britain’s original heath spa, surrounded by 170 acres of Hertfordshire countryside. The colourful gardens that surround it make the perfect spot for sunbathing (if the weather is on your side), or a leisurely walk in your robes.
GLUTEN FREE FOOD
By the time dinner came around, we’d worked up quite the appetite. As we were seated and handed the menu, as I always I asked if someone could talk through the gluten free options. “The whole menu is gluten free,” the waitress replied, as I looked on in astonishment.
Saying words like that will make many coeliacs alike well up a little with happiness, and I did. My face was beaming and I scanned through the menu, remembering I didn’t have to assess my options with a fine tooth comb. It was time to order exactly what I fancied.
With three courses lined up, we sat back and nibbled gluten free bread with an olive oil and beetroot hummus dip in one hand, and a glass of dry white wine in the other.
Soon another of our courses arrived. For stater we decided on Pan Fried Scallops with Sea Rosemary and Beetroot, and Roasted Chicken Terrine wth Pink Peppercorns, Roasted Chestnuts, Brussel Sprouts and Cranberry Dressing, trying each other’s. Charlotte adored the scallops, in particular the fruit purée which accompanied them, and I was just still chuffed I could tuck into anything I wanted!
For mains it was the Halloumi Stack, complete with a gluten free bun, and a whole Roasted Whole Quail with Red Current Jus, served with Roasted New Potatoes, Curly Kale and Fresh Red Currants. The food was delicious and light. Just what you want from a Health Farm.
If you’re looking for chocolate torte or something indulgent you’re at the wrong place. I’m not saying the food was ‘super healthy’ at first glance, just exactly what we wanted. The food was mindfully prepared, with fresh ingredients, and so for dessert, there was choice from three lighter fruit based dishes. We both had the Pineapple and Thyme Carpaccio, which was a lovely simple end to the meal.
We then headed for tea, and popped our heads into the music room in the main grand house.
After surprising even ourselves to awake for a morning meditative yoga class, we headed to breakfast. My back felt a million times better from the simple relaxing movements, in particular using the yoga strap to encourage us to sit up straight. I felt energised for breakfast and the day ahead.
Breakfast wasn’t as simple as dinner had been, but with a few simple questions it was easy to navigate. As always with a breakfast buffet, it can be quite difficult. I’d spotted three types of gluten free cereal, yoghurt and fruit which all appeared fine, but worried about spoon, I asked the staff if they could bring out a separate bowl of cereal from the kitchen, which they kindly did. I decided to also order from the breakfast menu. With a slight extra cost of £5, you could order many egg dishes, which would be prepped in the kitchen. Of course being a serious hollandaise fiend, I ordered the Eggs Royale, of course with gluten free toast and a side of spinach.
When lunch came around, I was astonished with all the wonderful coloured salads, meats and vegetables on offer. It reminded me of Mildred’s restaurant in Soho, with their huge rainbow salad bowls. I would guess 80-90% of the lunch buffet was naturally gluten free and everything carefully labelled. Staff offered to prepare something in the kitchen if I was concerned about cross contamination, but I decided to pick up some bits that were labelled safe and I knew spoons hadn’t been scraped into bread.
Food offerings at Champneys are also particularly great for those who are vegan and vegetarian. Everything is fully labelled with ingredients and nutritional value, so you can make food choices that are right for you.
This place is like a little maze; a very relaxing one. If you have a treatment booked in, and I would definitely advise you to do so.
From room to spa, to the rest of the complex, your stay is seamless. Guests walk round in dressing gowns, and you simply arrive five minutes before your treatment, before beauticians and masseurs come down to great you. We booked full body massages before arriving, but decided to treat ourself on arrival, and were easily able to book a mani and pedi on the day.
A short taxi ride from Berkhamsted station, Champnys Tring is easily accessible from London, with direct trains from Euston in under an hour.
We stayed as guests at Champneys. I can’t thank them enough for such a lovely stay, but as always, all views and opinions are my own. Check out all the options for stays here. I have a feeling they have some good offers on at the moment. Ideal for a little mini break.