Ragdale Hall

Before heading off on my holiday to Malta I spent a couple of day at Ragdale Hall with my mum.  Ragdale hall is a residential spa located in Leicestershire not far from Melton Mowbray (home to Pork Pies and Stilton!).  Included in our stay was breakfast in bed and a three course lunch and dinner each day.  There was a great range of food at every meal with naughty choices as well as healthy ones, and as I was there to relax rather than detox, I took the opportunity to indulge myself.

Breakfast – Breakfast had to be chosen the night before since it was delivered to your room (between 7.45 and 8.30).  There was a fairly extensive range of choices split into the categories of cold drinks, hot drinks, cereals and dairy, fruits and bakery and protein.  You got to pick one option from each category or there were set detox and energy breakfasts if you preferred.  On the first day I went for an orange pomegranate and pineapple smoothie, some stewed apple and raisins, a dill scone with smoked salmon and crème friache, strawberry yoghurt and some good old fashioned breakfast tea!  On the next day I had the smoothie and tea again, but this time went for pink grapefruit segments, yoghurt with oats, raspberries and honey and a tomato, mushroom and cheese bread pudding.

My two breakfasts

Although the portions were not huge there was enough for me (but maybe not for a big hungry bloke :-p).  It was nice to have a variety of bits to eat, I felt I could try something new from one section without worrying I would go hungry if it turned out I didn’t like it. As it turned out I wasn’t keen on the yoghurt with oats but the dill scone with smoked salmon was delicious and was a wonderfully decadent way to start the day and the savoury bread pudding was really interesting in a nice way.  The only thing I would have changed was the fact there were not hot (or warm) options.  I understand the issue of food going cold before it reaches you, but the option of a bacon bun would have been great!


Lunch – Lunch was in the restaurant with starters served to your table, and then a hot and cold buffet for mains and dessert.  There was only a choice of two starters, but the selection of mains more than made up for this.  There would be 3 or 4 hot choices and then around 20 different salad and cold buffet options to choose from.  There were plenty of meat, fish and vegetarian options including a lovely Persian lamb salad and potatoes in pesto with green lentils and leeks.  It was far too easy to eat too much as all so delicious and both days I ate more than my fair share.


Dinner – This was also eaten in the restaurant, but this time with full waitress service.  The items on the menu were graded according to healthiness (one window for the most healthy, three for the least) so you knew what to go for if you wanted to be good.  In addition to this we discovered that the naughtier a choice was, the smaller the portion that was served!  After the lunches where I went a bit overboard, this was quite a nice touch.  The first thing to arrive each evening was some bread to share along with a dip.  The first evening this was delicious cranberry and lime bread with tomato dip which was quickly devoured, however on the second evening the bread had no salt in it, and although it was okay with the dip, it was inedible by itself.

For my first meal I went for a starter of grilled artichoke, pepper and chorizo on puff pastry, follow by Duck with rhubarb and potatoes, with a side of cabbage with caraway, all finished off with lemon polenta cake and berry compote.

The grilled artichoke, duck and lemon polenta cake

This was all delicious.  The duck was cooked to a nice medium and the rhubarb went really well with it, the cake was light as a feather.

The next night I had herbed goats cheese and beetroot, aubergine brie and asparagus cannelloni and a pineapple parcel filled with cream cheese and mint.

Goats cheese, aubergine canneloni and pineapple parcel

My cannelloni was not quite what I expected, it contained no pasta and instead strips of grilled aubergine had been wrapped around the brie and asparagus, but it was great all the same and it was served with a yummy walnut pesto and lots of cheese!  The pineapple parcel was sprinkled with strawberry sherbet which was another unusual touch that really worked.


All in all the food was great.  Although the portions for breakfast and dinner were quite small I didn’t feel too hungry.  The times for lunch and dinner each day varied according to the treatments etc that you had booked.  When you arrive you get a timetable that tells you when to go etc.


Leaving aside all the lovely food I ate I had a great time at Ragdale hall.  I really enjoyed my treatments (a massage and a facial) and got to try some unusual exercise classes (tai chi sword and a candlelight stretch class).  The Hydro Spa had lots of different rooms each with its own mood and theme, along with some exciting showers (I thought the thunder and lightning shower was brilliant!).  I didn’t get on with the much revered candle pool as I seemed or be too small to fit the shape of the pods meaning that I would drift across the pool, but I loved the outdoor area with its powerful massage jets which did wonders to my shoulders.  I was already planning my return before I left!


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