I love a good spa day, and after our work with QC Terme Spas and Resorts, the bar has been set very high. There still remains a gap in the UK market for a truly immersive luxury spa experience where you can totally relax and be yourself, however, that won’t stop me looking for it!
I recently booked a spa morning at Rena Spa at the Midland Hotel in Manchester, for a hen do with four others. This involved half a day at the spa with use of the facilities, a 1-hour treatment and lunch.
The Midland hotel is part of the Leonardo Royal Hotel group:
“The exclusive brand “Leonardo Royal” by Leonardo Hotels includes 4-star Superior properties and guarantees an unforgettable lifestyle experience”
However, my decision to visit the Rena spa at the Midland largely came from the Midland’s own brand reputation in Manchester as being one of the most luxurious hotels in the city. The Midland is well known for its popularity amongst the rich and famous, including, Bobby Charlton and Prince Edward and was even rumoured to be coveted by Adolf Hitler as a Nazi headquarters in the UK!
The Midland Hotel promised a hotel:
STEEPED IN HISTORY. SOAKED IN LUXURY. Experience a hotel where every stay is extraordinary
Whereas the Rena spa promised:
Being part of a hen-do, the intention was to book the spa package before the wedding, however, a lack of availability largely attributed to Covid meant that the only date they could offer was in 4 months time (after my friend’s wedding!)
The telephone system was impossible to get through to anyone, and you couldn’t leave a voicemail as their inbox was full! Instead, I managed to book 4 spaces over email which worked but was a little less personal than I expected.
Part of the attraction of the Midland is the big grand entrance, however, to access the spa we were ushered to a back entrance that felt a little lack-lustre.
When we entered the pool area, it felt a little too busy with a feeling that they’d overbooked for the day.
Whilst the pool décor looked nice and was well maintained, the sheer number of people for the size and range of facilities (e.g. 1 sauna, 1 steam room, 1 jacuzzi) meant that we were reluctant to stay in this main area for long.
The relaxation area was a nice touch and felt more aligned to a luxury spa experience, with innovative seating combined with a quiet and relaxing ambience.
Unfortunately, the changing room facilities were one of the biggest disappointments and completely at odds with the modern and clean décor of the spa area and the rest of the hotel. The showers were dirty with visible mould, the lockers were broken and there were no amenities like shampoos or body wash. They had one hair dyer for the whole changing room and a very cheap pair of straighteners. None of this aligned with the idea of luxury and extraordinary and certainly undermined the idea of uninterrupted relaxation.
The package included lunch and prosecco, and one of the party who had been before said it was normally served in the spa area. We finished our treatments and went to the spa reception at the allotted time for lunch but were told that because of Covid we had to eat in the bar upstairs meaning we all had to traipse back to the changing room and quickly get changed before we missed our slot! I felt the communications around lunch were poor and was disappointed in the staff – it certainly made us feel quite stressed at the end of what should have been a relaxing spa day!
However, lunch itself was lovely. The bar staff were really friendly and put the effort in to make it feel like a special event. They upgraded us to Champagne for free and even allowed us to tweak and personalise the menu to suit us. This very much felt like the luxury experience I expected of the Midland.
The attitude and customer service provided by the spa and the bar staff were polar opposites. Whilst the spa staff felt uncommunicative and a little rude at times and we felt far from looked after, the bar staff couldn’t do enough for us and truly reflected a luxury brand – with attention to detail, care and personalisation - they were the highlight of the trip.
Overall, parts of the experience were really relaxing, like the treatment itself and the upgrade on lunch, however I would say it was more ‘interrupted relaxation’ with issues with service and facilities slightly souring the experience.
Whilst the hotel itself certainly feels luxurious, the spa facilities were tired and didn’t match the expectations created by the hotel itself.