There’s this thing Gordon Ramsay does on every episode of Hotel Hell – EVERY EPISODE… He strips down to either his speedo (usually bright blue), or a towel and struts around for a bit. Every episode.
So this past weekend, when Husband Person and I were invited to spend a night at The Caledon Hotel and Spa we stood with our fresh towel robes in our arms and eyed the steep pathway to the spa up the hill and asked ourselves: ‘What would Gordon do?’
But little Miss Priss here wasn’t about to schlep up a hill on a chilly late afternoon in her bather and a robe, while guests pulled up for a night with Lady Luck at the casino. So instead, I rammed our bathers in my handbag and changed at the spa – and then lugged my unwieldy, overflowing bag from pool to pool. Next time? Totally doing a Gordon.
We started at the Victorian Bath House, as one does. Biting back the horror of having to leave my robe on a hook, I padded carefully to the cold shower, and a touch more hurriedly to the pool steps, where I slid into the heavenly warm water. Our fellow wallowers lounged around the edges talking quietly, while we waded slowly to the centre of the pool, tendrils of steam curling up into the evening air. And what gem did I come up with, in the magical moment? ‘I feel like a Roman!’
Once we’d stewed a little, we decided to go exploring, so it was back into the ice cold shower and then, heavy bag in tow, we headed up a winding stone stairway. As we rounded a bend, surrounded by lush vegetation we found a bubbling, steaming pool, filled to the brim with kids, just bobbing around, going various shades of pink. I smiled hello at the watchful parents sprinkled among them and we headed on upwards. The next pool had notably fewer mini humans, but the allure of pushing still higher kept us moving (albeit a little slower – just about dragging the bloody handbag behind me by that stage).
Our perseverance was rewarded however when we reached the very top pool and clearly the source of the water that feeds all the rest. Each pool had an info board giving the depth, average temperature and recommended max time to spend in the water. This one suggested two to three minutes. Psssht, what kinda delicate flowers visit this place, I thought as I flung off my robe (there were no spectators this high up) and shimmied down the ladder.
Husband Person outlasted me in the hot pool
Now, I like a hot bath. I like the kind that turns me instantly red and has me swearing as I lower myself slowly in. The kind that leaves a distinct line where the water first was up to an hour after I’m dry and in PJs. That pool was hot. And deep. But still I doggy paddled bravely over to the lip of the waterfall and gazed across the valley, admiring the view and the sheer beauty of the place. For all of 20 seconds, before I splashed clumsily back to the ladder and hauled my puce body into the cold air. Well, puce and orange because I managed to get the metal residue that had collected on the steps all over myself. I looked like an Oompa Loompa after tackling an aggressive giant squirrel. But I didn’t care. I just sat there on the stone wall and didn’t even fuss too much about my insubstantial towel when a couple of sightseers came into view.
We also stopped in at the Added Relaxation Area where we roasted in the sauna for a bit before Husband Person braved the Frigidarium pool… Me? I was getting reacquainted with my robe.
Then it was time to head back to our room to get ready for dinner, and well, we pulled a Gordon. Yes, I shuffled barefoot and be-robed down the drive, smiling at but not making eye contact with a couple of staff members near the hotel entrance. All the while repeating my temporary mantra silently in my head ‘Own it, own it, own it, for god’s sake own it.’
The view from our balcony
A hearty dinner at the Black Sheep Diner, of onion rings (with a gratuitous second portion, because yum), chicken schnitzel, and ribs, was followed by a glass of wine on our balcony, before we headed back downstairs to see Loukmaan Adams and his fabulous Take Note Band perform.
I can’t tell you if it was ‘taking the waters’, or the absolutely epic bed, but we slept better that night than we have in a while. There’s something so magical about luxuriously soft white linen and a firm mattress… Suffice it to say that at 6.05am our previous night’s plan of a 6am Gordon up to the spa was quickly shelved as we pulled the duvet up round our ears, just for ‘a couple more hours’.
Over an ample buffet breakfast later, we decided we’d definitely be back to visit again soon. I’m determined to beat my 20 second wallow in that top pool. And maybe next time we’ll take the 6am plunge, but I’m not making any promises…