“ Home Place Spa, Challacombe, Barnstaple, Exmoor National Park, EX31 4TS „
Last weekend we had a very, civilised hen weekend at Spa Home Place in Challacombe, North Devon. 7 of us booked out two chalets, designed to sleep 6 people in one and 4 in the other. Initially our party was for 11 people but as always there were drop-outs.
Prior to our arrival we had paid a £65 deposit each (11 of us) and then 2 weeks ahead of our stay 7 of us paid the outstanding balance of £60 each. The price of £135 included 2 night's accommodation and either 2 30minute spa treatments or 1 60minute treatment. It also included full use of the steam room, Jacuzzi and loungers. Individually priced this was extremely reasonable, however the total paid was £1115.00, which worked out to be quite expensive.
One of our party had paid in full but was unable to attend as wasn't allowed a refund of the money over the deposit because the owner said she had lost too much money already. We found this a little unfair as that is the whole point of the deposit. Instead we took another person which meant we didn't lose out financially.
The location is idyllic. In the small village of Challacombe on the edge of Exmoor the Spa is down a country lane surrounded in fields. There is no mobile phone reception and we had a weekend of being out of communication with the internet, texts and calls.
The Spa has 4 chalets and the spa room all situated in a courtyard with a large farmhouse on the other side. On the first night there were no other visitors and with the spa on one side and our second chalet on the other - it was Sing-star until 3am!
The accommodation is fully furnished. The bigger chalet had 3 bedrooms, 2 twin and 1 double. 1 twin had an en-suite shower room. All rooms had wardrobes and radiators, but the heating wasn't switched on.
Downstairs the lounge was huge and was suitable for all 7 of us. There was an 8 seat dining table and a kitchen big enough to cook. Appliance such as cooker, microwave, fridge, kettle etc were all provided and the chalet had a flatscreen wall mounted TV with freeview. The bathroom was downstairs and had a shower over a bath.
The 2nd chalet had a lounge, with kitchen attached, which you walked through to the bathroom and stairs. Upstairs were 2 twin rooms.
The beds in these chalets were VERY comfortable, we all had excellent sleep whilst on our break and the accommodation was clean and tidy.
Both chalets were very cold on arrival and we were told that the heating wasn't on at this time of year. Thankfully both had electric fires which we kept running most of the time we were inside (we also utilised the heat from the oven to warm up). The bathroom seemed to be the coldest room and in the middle of the night going downstairs was freezing! The electric heaters in the bedrooms of the bigger chalet didn't work, but I am unsure if it was faulty or switched off at the mains.
Cereal and individual jam jars were provided for breakfast but there wasn't enough for all of us to eat. This wasn't an issue as we all took food, knowing it was self-catered and cooked up breakfast in the mornings.
Our package included electric and linen, however prior to going we read reviews on the place which weren't good, because people had booked a "no frills" package where additions like linen and electric have to be paid for separately. I would fully recommend an all-inclusive package as it saves on additional unplanned for costs.
The spa building was very nice. It was on a keypad code to get in and on entering are two treatment rooms, a bathroom and shoe rack. Up the stairs is a heated room, with a heated floor, Jacuzzi/pool with various settings and a steam/shower room. There were 3 loungers but the room can cater for up to 8 people at a maximum at any one time.
The Jacuzzi/pool wasn't that clean. It was a lovely temperature and a good depth at 1.4meters. However the vents felt like they had cotton wool stuffed in them and there was grit on the bottom of the pool floor. There were also bits floating in it. We only went in once as it could have been cleaner, however the room was extremely warm which was nice after a rainy day out and about.
Our treatments had been considerately planned around our day plans and were carried out in a clean, tranquil environment. We had no complaints overall as the staff were friendly and punctual. We had booked our treatments in advance so the therapist knew what we were all having. This worked really well and they were very prepared. I think one therapist was the owner, whilst the 2nd was hired in to cater for our party. I can't imagine the place gets busy enough to ever need a fulltime therapist.
The facilities are exclusive to those booking the chalets and we had been swayed by the promotional photographs which showed ladies enjoying champagne in the spa. On arrival the information provided stated that no alcohol or glasses were allowed in the spa and that it shut at 7.30pm on the Friday and 6.30pm on the Saturday. Very disappointing when we were anticipating a chilled out evening relaxing in the spa!
On the Friday night we were the only guests, on the Saturday night there was a couple of ladies in the spa.
This felt awkward as the area was so small and whilst we were trying to relax by the pool with a book, they were splashing about and making a lot of noise. We ended up being told at 6.30pm that the spa was shutting and returning to our chalets.
Overall it was a lovely weekend in the countryside, however I would recommend checking your booking as other reviews indicate a lot of people have been stung on a "no frills" package and had to pay the additional charges from things such as linen - to a heated chalet in the middle of winter.
The communication in advance is quite blunt and direct. Its made clear that the deposit is non refundable and that check in is no later than 9pm. There is information within the chalets about safety and contacts etc.
Most amusing that in the information folder is says that in an emergancy in the spa to notify staff - but you may not get a response as its not staffed all the time (despite the limited opening hours).
I would recommend this place to a smaller group where £135 each is a bargain for what you get!