Clifton Lido Spa Day
On Saturday I paid my first visit to the Lido at Clifton along with a small group of female friends, as part of a fortieth birthday celebration. I knew this was going to be quite a different experience to Portishead open air pool, but I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect.
The Lido originally opened in 1850 as a local authority municipal public baths and served as a community leisure facility for more than 100 years. It eventually closed circa 1990 after allegedly springing a leak. A threat of demolition was fought by the local people and the building was awarded grade II listing. It underwent refurbishment and reopened in 2008 in its present form as a heated outdoor pool, spa, bar and restaurant.
We had booked the spa and dine package which included access to the pool, sauna, steam room and hot tub from 3pm plus a choice of 1 hour spa treatments and 2 courses from the a la carte menu in the Lido restaurant.
In the car on the way there we did quite a good job of convincing ourselves that swimming outside in October was not at all wise and that we might better dedicate our time instead to sparkling wine, massages and the hot tub.
With the help of a phone sat nav we located the pool and managed to find free parking quite easily, just around the corner.
My first impression was that this really is a special place. The raised infinity pool is overlooked by outdoor and indoor bar seating as well as the first floor restaurant.
We were enthusiastically greeted by Mark Thwaites the general manager, who I suspect had had our car bugged as he immediately launched into a pep talk about the correct order of swim, steam room, swim, sauna and cold bucket we should follow to achieve the optimum spa experience. And ONLY after all that were we to relax in the hot tub or pop to the bar! He actually has a poster called ‘7 steps on how to Lido’ to refer to in case you forget the correct order!
He also informed us that the Italian ‘Lido’ should be pronounced lee-doh and the Scandinavian Sauna should be sow-nuh.
Mark’s Scandinavian passion for the Lido is infectious. He explained how they manage to keep pool chemicals to a minimum by asking all bathers to ‘wash naked’ before entering the water – in private shower cubicles of course! They’ve had their own washing products specifically designed for before and after swimming. We were relieved to hear that the pre swim body wash is called Purifying with Cypress, Lime (not Cyber Slime as we initially misheard!) and Grapefruit.
Good little girls that we are, we followed his ‘how to lido’ instructions pretty much to the letter and I’m so glad that we did. Getting into the water it initially felt cool, but the temperature was OK as long as you kept moving.
After a couple of lengths the warmth of the steam room was very welcome and once our body temperatures has risen sufficiently we took it in turns to go out to tip a cold bucket over ourselves. We found it strangely pleasurable and chose to repeat the experience – yes we were surprised too!
When I returned to the cool of the pool water I enjoyed the feeling of cool water on my skin while internally my body still retained the warmth from the steam room. After more swimming and a sauna we relaxed in the hottub briefly before heading off for our massage treatments.
Following a brief consultation with my masseuse about what type of treatment and how much pressure I would prefer, I confirmed that I wanted a classic massage with some Hawaiian lomi lomi technique incorporated. That hour flew by very pleasantly as I was effectively de-knotted and relaxed by her capable hands.
Afterwards our group was led into a private ‘spa tea room’, offered a blanket to keep us warm by our respective masseuse and given water as well as a purifying hot drink to help flush out any toxins. As I enjoyed my mint tea and relaxing with my friends in the bathrobe provided by the spa, I felt rather virtuous about being so immersed in the spa experience that it was now 7pm and we hadn’t touched a drop.
Then it was time to shower – this time using their post swim Rose Geranium gel.
A ‘boudoir’ complete with dressing tables, powerful hairdryers and GHD straightners was available for doing hair and makeup in preparation for our evening meal at the restaurant.
Our package was rounded off with a two course meal at the Lido Restaurant. I enjoyed my scallop starter and rack of lamb main course. I may even have had a pudding after all that swimming and fresh air, but I wouldn’t like to say!
We did have a couple of minor issues on the day:-
- Although high end dryers and hair straighteners were provided, it was a shame there was no diffuser for our friend with curly hair. In the spirit of equality, we decided this was a tad ‘curly-ist’.
- The lighting in the ‘boudoir’ was inadequate. I found that putting make up on was pretty much guess work!
I fed these points back to Mark today and he has responded with the following
- Having checked, we did originally have diffusers but these have either been damaged and thrown away or grown legs?? Will look at replacing.
- I have informed our maintenance manager about the Boudoir lighting, designed by men I’m afraid.
Having spoken to Mark a couple of times, I know he was glad to hear our feedback and I suspect it won’t take him long to sort out those points.
I feel like this was an exceptional day out. From our pep talk at the start to the consultation and treatment from my masseuse, I was made to feel special. The attention to detail is impressive.
“Whether it’s in the spa or the restaurant – everything is made by us or specially for us.”
Obviously it’s not a cheap outing, but the package we bought was very good value for a special treat. There are some really good offers on their website here too.
Mark Thwaites and the team should be very proud of what they’ve achieved. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Lido experience to friends and family – in fact I already have.
Disclosure: For the purposes of this review I was offered a spa and dine package which included access to the pool, sauna, steam room and hot tub from 3pm plus a choice of 1 hour spa treatments and 2 courses from the a la carte menu in the Lido restaurant. All opinions are my own.