We arrived for our Lifehouse day spa and were welcomed but not given any kind of orientation or a map (Bearing in mind that the place is a bit of a maze and it was our first ever visit this was disappointing). Even some of the staff did not know their way around enough to direct me to the nearest toilet later in the day. Once we had worked out where the pool was we had a nice swim and there were plenty of beds to lay on. The pool and hydro pool were very nice and also quiet. We had the morning at leisure. We shared a changing room with other day spa guests which was fine but when we went to get showered we realised that there was only one shower and one toilet in the whole changing area and a queue of 8 people (including the 5 of us) trying to shower before lunch so we ended up having to shower when we all got home.
Lunch was at 1.15 at the buffet area. We arrived promptly to find that no table had been allocated and it took ten minutes before 3 tables were pushed together to seat our party of 5. We were shown to our seat and then realised we just had to help ourselves as no formal instruction was given and we were not offered any drinks apart from the water on the table. I went to get soup. There were no soup bowls or spoons and hardly any soup left, but luckily another party had asked for more soup. The soup was very poor quality. I tasted like it had been very watered down and was just tepid. I was very disappointed as were my friends. The next course was either the salad bar (which was 100% vegetarian and looked like last night's left over roasted veg with some lettuce) and the other choice was 3 plates of hot food. Plate 1 was roasted swede, Plate 2 was a watery looking vegetarian chop suey, and plate 3 was completely empty. I asked the ladies behind the counter if that was it and they assured me that another dish would arrive in 2 minutes. They were sorry but it was “not their fault” and blamed the kitchen, however if they had kept an eye on the buffet it would not have run out. After 10 minutes of chasing the third hot dish finally arrived. As an apology for our long wait a lady offered us a free soft drink each off the menu so we all had a smoothie which was very nice. But when the final hot dish arrived again if looked like last night’s leftovers. It was a tasteless curry all mixed in with rice. It was a very weird selection as apart from the chicken in the curry, the whole buffet was vegetarian and a very poor combination. When we went to grab dinner plates they were all filthy dirty so the staff had to get more clean plates for us. The staff were all very friendly and polite, but lacked common sense and were only reactive not proactive. They were poor at clearing tables and I had to remove the dirty plates from display and put them back to be rewashed as they did not react to our comments. Dessert was nice but as the starter and main were so awful and the service rather dismal it had spoilt everything. It is without a doubt the worst buffet I have ever experienced. I did bump into a lady guest who was staying overnight who said the food in the main restaurant was great, so why was the buffet so awful and resembled leftovers?
The massages after lunch that came with our package were lovely. And we all enjoyed those.
The sleep pods we had to share which I thought was rather silly. And the staff had heated them and as it was a very warm day they were more like sweat pods so we only lasted 10 minutes which was a shame. Again when we got back to the changing rooms, there was a queue for the showers so we were unable to have a shower before heading home. There were over 25 lockers but only a single shower. It was like they were not set up for day spas at all.
So all in all we had a nice day as it was 5 dear friends meeting up for a nice catch up. But the food was beyond appalling and the staff involved should be deeply ashamed of the quality and quantity of the food and the poor service. It may be a great place to stay if you stay in the hotel part as you can shower in your own room and eat in the main restaurant. But as a day spa it is currently an embarrassment. It has the potential to be fabulous as the grounds and rest areas are quite stunning. Management need to rethink this one completely. Do it well or don’t do it at all. I was thinking of bringing a group to stay for a weekend as the place looks lovely but this has totally put me off.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Lifehouse Spa & Hotel, located in Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex, is a contemporary lifestyle spa. Only 80 minutes from London by train and set in 130 acres of grounds, Lifehouse Spa & Hotel will help you revitalise and relax in beautiful surroundings. With a selection of day and residential packages to choose from, guests can indulge in a day of pampering, or truly get away from it all with an overnight stay. With 89 bedrooms, 35 treatment rooms, a gym, exercise studio, swimming pool, sauna & steam room, thermal spa area with salt-inhalation room, relaxation area, manicure and pedicure stations,and 12 acres of listed gardens, you can do as much or as little as you like! ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Lifehouse Country Hotel Thorpe Le Soken
- Lifehouse Hotel & Spa Thorpe Le Soken, Essex