It’s January – it's bleak, and the chance of getting some sun are about as high as never having to hear the word Brexit again.
It’s a time when we all dream of being back on our beach holidays.
But you don’t have to book a package deal to feel the benefit of those sunshine rays.
All the boons of a day spent relaxing by the ocean are squeezed into 30 minutes at the Sabbia Med therapy treatment available at Spa at Ye Olde Belle hotel and spa, Retford.
To enter the room is to enter another world. There’s real sand between your toes, a beachfront vista on the walls, and the sounds of sea birds in the air.
The treatment is fun – we had a ball posing in the straw hats on the deckchairs – and by the time we emerged into the rest of the new multi million pound spa, our moods had definitely lifted.
We were shown around by another unique feature of the facility, spa butlers. These are staff who are dedicated to making your visit as hassle free as possible, whether that be by pouring you another cup of calming herbal tea, or showing you to a locker.
First port of call had to be the outdoor pool.
It is not vast but what it lacks in size it makes up for in impact.
There are lots of fountains, jets and seats to put to the test while gazing out at the picturesque surroundings.
The location is less than an hour from Sheffield and even closer to Doncaster, plus a short journey from the motorway - but you’d never know it.
Nordic style shelters heaped with furs sit next to outside flame pits, and the red brick spa has plenty of other outdoors nooks and crannies to relax in, as well as eight thermal experiences.
It may be compact but there’s everything you’d expect - a tropically hot steam room and sizzling sauna - as well as a few out of the ordinary experiences.
The salt inhalation room allows for the mineral’s healing properties to come out of a truly gigantic slab of the stuff while relaxing on a beanbag.
And a specially designed machine poured water on to burning embers in the Stone Bath room, filling the air with steam and a touch of drama. Cooling off in the “snowstorm walk” where ice falls on to your body was almost as theatrical too….
Upstairs, our massage therapists picked oils based on our zodiac signs. It was an interesting touch, and proved prophetic.
My permanently tired husband’s sign matched up with the oils said to promote relaxation, while mine focused on energy.
Firm and soothing massage techniques were used to ease our muscles into a languid state, before a towel was used to gently stretch the often neglected neck.
Our shoulders were truly down by the time it came to lunch - served in the spa’s own garden brasserie, there are three short menus depending on whether you want to stay healthy or have a little treat.
The chicken wellington, made fresh to order, was sublime, and we couldn’t get enough of the turmeric infused bread.
My deconstructed cheesecake was a light and fruity way to finish, while he dived in with a divine sticky toffee pudding.
It was so good, in fact, he also had it for dinner at the Ye Olde Belle Hotel, which is a few metres away from the spa.
In a stark contrast to the modern spa, this is a traditional hotel steeped in history and with all the attractions you’d expect of a rural retreat that dates back to the 17th century.
Chat by the log fire in the lobby with other guest, retire to your cosy bedroom with free standing bath, or take a walk in the grounds.
Dinner is worth visiting for alone – the kitchen holds an AA rosette, deservedly.
Luxury is the intention of the menu. Lobster bisque for starters, home made warm breads and a ham hock amuse bouche set the standard.
Seabass was pearl-like and lush, dappled with butter, and his lamb tender to a T.
A chocolate fondant proved so gooey as to be sinful, and the sticky toffee pudding? Just as decadent as the first time.
Escaping the January blues? It’s a real breeze here.
A spa break at Ye Olde Bell Hotel and Spa starts from £149.50 per person.
This includes an overnight stay, full English breakfast and spa.
Call 01777 705121 or visit https://www.yeoldebell-hotel.co.uk/spa