Tucked away in the spa at The Grand, it’s hard to imagine you’re steps away from the York city throng. So tranquil is this little corner, with just the bubble of the Jacuzzi and low chill-out music from the treatment rooms, you forget all about life happening outside.
And happen it does, for The Grand itself may be on a quiet side street, but just around the corner are the coming and goings of York train station, ever-busy Lendal Bridge, and the current renovation of the Aviva offices into a new Malmaison next door. The first time I drove into York centre, I had a panicky drive the wrong way down a bus lane near the station, but all this is forgotten as a therapist glided warm basalt stones along my back.
Located in the former vaults of the North Eastern Railway company, the spa feels hushed and private. The Edwardian businessmen who stashed their millions within these walls would scratch their heads in confusion at the neo-Roman décor now in place, but it works in an escapist spa way.
As is the case with many city centre hotels, the spa isn’t large, but as it caters mostly to hotel rather than day guests, it doesn’t get overly busy (I’m told).
The spa has a Jacuzzi, 14-metre swimming pool, sauna and aromatic steam room, plus a compact gym. The candlelit treatment rooms are a swaddling blend of earthy tones and plush towels. A dedicated relaxation room gives you somewhere to enjoy a quiet moment post treatment.
It’s a curious thing that several UK spas formerly using ESPA and Elemis have now converted to Temple Spa, and The Grand is one of these. Perhaps ESPA proved too costly, but surely as a five-star spa they should be going for all-out luxury?
Anyway, these days the spa does a perfectly good range of British brand Temple Spa treatments. Stand outs include knot-busting Work It Out massages, detoxing Glorious Mud wraps, customised facials and my favourite, Rocks of the Med hot stone massages – bliss.
One bonus of the spa’s former incarnation as a money vault are the heavy doors adding an extra layer of soundproofing, ensuring you’re not lying there listening to traffic honking outside.
As a side note, it’s important not to get waylaid shopping or in traffic before your visit. Give yourself plenty of time to arrive and get settled in before your treatment if you’ve booked one, because it is spa policy to cut treatment times if the guest arrives late, while still charging full price.
As a therapist myself I know this is standard policy for most spas; and anyway, it’s nice to get there early and chill pre-treatment, as opposed to running in breathless and flustered right on the wire. Of course, drifting down from a five-star room at The Grand itself would be the best scenario…