Review of Ringwood Hall, Derbyshire
Ringwood Hall Hotel and Spa is an elegant 19th-century manor house set within stunning grounds near Chesterfield, and within easy reach of the Peak District.
Rooms are individually designed, with high-quality furniture and fittings to give an opulent and luxurious atmosphere. We stayed in a spacious room in one of the historic annexe buildings set within the grounds. These are conveniently situated close to the Garden Secret Spa, so are ideal if staying at the hotel on a residential spa break.
Our room was extremely comfortable and featured a super-king-sized bed, flatscreen TV, writing desk and armchair. The en-suite bathroom – with a huge bathtub, separate shower, and fluffy towels – was gleaming and spotless.
After we had checked in, we headed to the Garden Secret Spa, just across the courtyard from our room. Spa access is not included in the price of an overnight stay at Ringwood Hall, but residents of the hotel can take advantage of discounted rates for access. Alternatively, special residential spa packages are available.
A visit to the spa is highly recommended. Recently opened, it's a luxurious oasis comprising a range of thermal experiences. Our favourite was the Herbal Sauna, which is filled each day with fresh herbs from the garden. The subtle, calming scents of lavender, rosemary, thyme, sage and lemongrass – coupled with gentle heat – was deeply relaxing.
There's also a citrus-scented steam room, ice fountain, tropical and cool rain showers, and foot spas. The spa experiences are arranged around a beautiful curved infinity pool, with views out to the garden.
For even deeper relaxation there are two relaxation rooms, with comfy beds and blankets to snuggle up under.
The spa's Glass House Brasserie offers light snacks, tasty treats and drinks. Much of the food prepared in the kitchen here is locally sourced, with loose-leaf teas from Northern Tea Merchants in Chesterfield, and vegetables produced on-site in the hotel's kitchen garden.
Local produce is used in the hotel's restaurant kitchen too, with seasonal fruits and vegetables grown in the kitchen garden. During our stay, French beans, courgettes, carrots, potatoes and strawberries – as well as tomatoes and cucumbers from the hotel's Victorian glasshouses – were on the menu.
With such fresh produce on offer, dinner was delicious. There's an excellent range of starters, main courses and desserts on the menu, including plenty of vegetarian and vegan options.
The meal was even more enjoyable knowing that the food miles needed to get it from field to fork were minimal – any food not produced on-site is sourced as locally as possible, with meat, eggs and dairy items provided by local suppliers.
Breakfast was highly enjoyable too. Again, there was plenty of choice, with all diets catered for. Breakfast is served in an elegant room featuring high ceilings and chandeliers, and flanked by a conservatory with superb views across the garden.
Visiting the gardens during a stay at Ringwood Hall is a must. The house is surrounded by beautiful, flower-filled grounds that are a delight to explore – and guests are free to wander at will. It's a wonderful way to fill an hour or two, with formal walkways, brightly coloured flower borders, countryside vistas, and secret corners to discover.
One of the highlights for us was the Victorian walled kitchen garden. It was lovely to see all the well-tended produce – including onions, courgettes, beans and peas – and to know that much of the dinner we had eaten the previous evening had travelled just a few metres to reach the hotel's kitchen.
The garden has been recreated on the site of the original kitchen garden – which until recently stood derelict and unused – and is designed in a charming potager style, with flowers and herbs mingled amongst the vegetables.
The whole garden at the hotel is managed without the use of pesticides, and is packed with nectar-rich plants such as lavender, thyme, buddleia and globe thistles. These blooms were buzzing with life – we spotted peacock, painted lady and comma butterflies, as well as dozens of bumblebees.
A wild area near the kitchen garden was also alive with pollinators, and looked very attractive – demonstrating how wild, natural areas can be incorporated into, and even enhance the appearance of, a formal garden scheme.
The gardens at Ringwood Hall are an excellent example of how hotels, schools, councils, and other businesses and organisations, can be working to encourage and increase biodiversity in well-managed green spaces.
Ringwood Hall Hotel and Spa already holds a Green Tourism Bronze Award, and – thanks to many new eco-friendly initiatives – hopes to be awarded a Silver Award in the near future. These initiatives are implemented by the hotel's Green Team, which meets regularly to plan new ways to further improve the hotel's environmental sustainability. Upcoming plans include tree-planting, and the installation of electric car charging points.
The hotel also has a partnership with Eco Voltz – one of the UK's leading e-bike companies, based in Chesterfield. Guests can pre-book an electric bike, pack a picnic from the hotel, and set off to explore the surrounding area. Nearby bike-friendly destinations include the towpaths along Chesterfield Canal – considered one of the most beautiful and varied waterways in England.