An Engaging Weekend: Ringwood Hall x Lola's Apothecary Review

Today's post is something I don't often do here on The ecoLogical -- a bit more personal, with a glimpse into my life beyond roundups and reviews.  But don't worry, you will still be getting some lovely eco friendly content too!

So tuck in, cozy up, and get ready to read all about my experience at Ringwood Hall Hotel & Spa, thoughts on Lola's Apothecary, and our engagement story!

Ringwood Hall Hotel & Spa review
photo from Ringwood Hall Hotel & Spa website

I really cannot believe it has already been over two months since Tim and I were engaged -- time is truly flying!  We've already planned so much, with a date settled, a venue booked in, a menu in the works, and even vague ideas about decor in place.  Things are falling into place, and it's honestly so telling of our relationship that we managed to not only agree on everything so quickly, but do so without much fuss or stress.

Don't get me wrong, there is a lot of craziness occurring behind the scenes as well, what with visa applications to figure out, my viva coming up, and the fact that my family lives almost 4,000 miles away making it hard to have them as involved as I would hope.  But overall things have been running so smoothly since our engagement...

And today I thought it would be nice to share the whole story with you lovelies!

Bryanna and Tim

Tim and I met back in 2013, but didn't start chatting until about a year later.  It all started over a joke about crewnecks and Valentine's Day, and we haven't looked back since.

Five years on, and as Tim just exclaimed (mouth full of lunch as he sits next to me trying to peek at this post as I finish writing!), it has been "the best five years of my life!"  We've had so many adventures, traveling around the UK, Europe, and Western New York, and I can't wait to see what the next five years bring for us!

But I think we would both agree this last year was hard, so when I was lucky enough to win a stay for two at Ringwood Hall Hotel & Spa (along with a gorgeous bundle of green goodies from one of my favourite brands, Lola's Apothecary!), it felt like life giving us a break.  And as my PhD submission deadline was end of September we decided it would be a wonderful treat to have a weekend getaway soon afterwards so I could decompress, Tim could have a much needed pause from responsibilities, and we could just relax and enjoy some much needed chilled out time together.

Lola's Apothecary Body and Massage Oil Review
my stunning prize from Lola's Apothecary!

Ringwood Hall Hotel & Spa is just outside Chesterfield, so it was a fairly easy train journey for us from Norwich.  We got in really late (after 11PM I think!), as we both had a full day at work, but the hotel staff were super accommodating and got us our room key and map straight away.  The only hiccup was we got lost on our way to our outbuilding, as it was separate from the main lodgings - we roamed around for a while in the rainy drizzle, but eventually found it and started to settle in!

The room itself was cozy, spacious, and had everything you could possibly need for a calm retreat: a mini fridge, sofa, comfy bed, desk, and a bathroom with a shower cubicle.  In terms of decor, it was very much a crossover between an art-deco and Victorian design -- very traditional, but not in a stuffy way.  It was snug, and perfect for the quiet weekend we were hoping for.

Ringwood Hall Hotel & Spa Review - front garden

Ringwood Hall Hotel & Spa bedroom

After a good night's sleep, we woke up just before 9AM so we could get ready to head over to the complimentary breakfast.  While Tim was in his element, with loads of sausages and eggs to load up on (we never do a full breakfast at home), I found it a little trickier to find vegetarian/vegan options.  I don't like heavy or sweet food in the morning, but I'm also not keen on carb loading first thing either (meaning toast and cereal isn't really for me).  I chose some mushrooms and a hash brown, and couldn't manage anything more.  I also really struggled with the coffee, as I'm so used to freshly ground beans and admit I'm a bit of a coffee snob.  I actually ended up skipping coffee entirely on the second morning as it just wasn't for me.

Luckily, the spa does properly brewed drinks, so I managed to get a lovely black americano soon after we checked into the facility!  And the guy behind the bar was kind enough to set aside my drink so I could finish it after our spa treatments were finished.  Tim was booked in for a True Elysium with the beautiful oils and scrubs from Lola's Apothecary, and I had selected the Bespoke Blend Mud Patch which uses a selection of products from Natural Spa Factory for the first day.

Tim was totally blissed out after his session, and got pampered with the incredible Sweet Lullaby line, a "hug in a bottle" blend with sumptuous notes of rich vanilla, ylang ylang, and sweet lavender.  It's no wonder he felt so calm and rejuvenated after his experience!  It helped settle his nerves which he most definitely needed I later found out -- but more on that in a bit...

I've only ever been to the spa once before, and have never had a mud treatment so I was super curious about what the experience would be like.  And oh boy, was I in for a treat.  It was warm, luscious, and so so relaxing.  The therapist ran through all my options, and explained what she was going to do which made the experience all the more calming.  I get really anxious about new situations, but I found myself easing into everything pretty quickly.  Especially once I smelled how gorgeous the Yuzu + Watermelon Scrub was!  It was delectable, and so different from other aromas you typically find in products.  Truly a perfect start to the day!

And it only continued to get better from there, with a whole afternoon to spend in the 5 bubble spa facilities that include experience showers, vitality pool, foot spas, a Himalayan salt sauna, herbal sauna, blossom steam room, and an ice fountain (which we both steered clear of!).

Ringwood Hall Hotel & Spa facilities review
no photos in the spa to keep everyone's privacy, so this one comes from Ringwood Hall Hotel & Spa website

I'll admit, it was a little odd at first, as everything was in one hall and I felt weird with all the other people around.  But everyone did really well at taking turns and not imposing on anyone else's personal space, so it turned out just fine.  And when we returned later in the evening it was pretty much empty so we got to enjoy the space all the more as we could chat and laugh without feeling like we were being too loud or intruding.

My favourite areas of The Garden Secret Spa had to be the botanical steam room which felt like a intense rain forest (literally dripping with water after just a few seconds!), the Himalayan salt sauna, and the foot spas.  I loved how warm the rooms were, and seriously felt like my body was being reset.  After a hectic run up to my PhD submission and so much happening throughout the year, it was exactly what we needed.

And the food options for lunch at the spa totally saved the day too for me -- the grilled vegetable ciabatta I chose was delicious, and filled me up perfectly.  It came with a delicious side salad with red peppers, onions, and tomatoes, and it wasn't drenched in dressing which I really appreciated.  We had gotten dressed for lunch, as we planned on taking a short pause before going back into the spa (good to digest first, yes?), but you do have the option to remain in your robe and sandals which are provided by the facility, making for a leisurely dining experience.

Ringwood Hall Hotel & Spa The Garden Secret Spa review

The room is super cute as well, a great blend of eclectic and posh which makes it feel even more special.  I found the seats really comfortable, and you can see into the spa so you retain a sense of the calm and quiet even though you are outside in the cafe.  Overall it was the perfect refuel before we went for a walk around the grounds!

Which takes me to the next part of the story...

After wandering around the hedgerows, discovering the various garden areas (there are 29 acres to explore, and you can just wander at your own pace which is lovely), and finding a fabulous lookout point, we found ourselves back in the tucked away spot near the centre...

And that's where I said yes!

engagement ring

engagement announcement

We spent the rest of the day happily chatting, rotating through the saunas and steam rooms, and then had a wonderful dinner in the hotel restaurant.  There was live music playing quietly, and though the wait was very long, the food was great.  There was fresh bread to start with which was delicious, my started was brilliant, and while my main was tiny (apparently vegan food = a baked tomato?) Tim devoured his dish!  And we even braved dessert which we don't usually do.  The vegan ice cream was AMAZING, and another one came with fresh fruit drizzled on top which was the perfect touch.  We came away full and happy, and after a celebratory cocktail headed back to our room to cozy up and have a long rest.

To wrap up the weekend with even more bliss, we both booked ourselves in for one final treatment before heading home.  I was desperate to have a full hour with the peaceful aromas from Lola's Apothecary, so both Tim and I chose the Euphoric Balance Full Body Massage which we got to do side by side in one of the larger rooms.

It was stunning.  The massage really helped address some of the pain I was having from built up tension and tightness in my muscles, and the gorgeous aroma of the Sweet Lullaby lineup (including the nourishing and buffing body polish, the moisturizing and soothing body and massage oil, and the healing body souffle) really settled my thoughts.

And of course I couldn't come away without some new Lola's Apothecary goodies to remember our amazing weekend away with!  Ringwood Hall Hotel & Spa had loads of skincare and makeup items available in their shop, and I was pleased to find they also had a few specially curated gift sets.  I picked out one that included a favourite of mine as well as a product I had yet to try -- the Breath of Clarity Body Polish.  I'm so happy I chose this, as it ended up being such a brilliant formula for winter (so much so you can find it in my Ultimate Ethical Christmas Gift Guide, along with one of my all-time favourite teas, Clementine Calamity!) and it has already proven to be a wonderful multi-tasker.

Ringwood Hall Hotel & Spa - The Garden Secret Spa review
Tim snapped this photo of me at the end of our treatment - I look like a mummy all wrapped up!

Lola's Apothecary Review
my Lola's Apothecary gift box - gorgeous!

We had an amazing getaway at Ringwood Hall Hotel & Spa, full of pampering treats, milestone surprises, and much needed relaxation, and we are so thankful for the experience.  We definitely want to go back at some point -- maybe for an anniversary??

I hope you enjoyed this more personal post, and do let me know if you would be interested in hearing more like this in future.  Also, as we are hoping to make our wedding as eco friendly as possible, it would be great if you could share any tips or ideas with us!  I'm considering writing about the planning experience too -- what do you think?? xx

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