I remember visiting London when I was in my early teens and being struck by how many people wore the same rubber-toed trainers. Those trainers were Converse, and despite this being only around 16 years ago, I’d never seen them before. Ever since then I’ve been fascinated by how long it takes certain fashions and trends to make their way 250 miles north to my provincial hometown, admittedly not a bastion of culture, but still, an interesting benchmark.
Harrogate, a historically conservative spa town, isn’t far from Darlington, so when I heard that the town’s Rudding Park Hotel & Spa was offering “CBD experiences”, I was taken aback for two reasons. Firstly, there are only a handful of spas and clinics that offer these treatments in the whole country; those are largely in London, and most of them can be found at Soho Houses (impressive then to find somewhere on this latitude). And secondly, just how pervasive CBD has become if it can be found in such a capacity in this unlikely corner of the country.
I’m very aware that you’ll find countless CBD products – teas, coffees, moisturisers, sweets, chocolates, oils, balms, clothing, you name it – as far north as the Shetlands. For those you only need to visit your nearest Holland & Barrett. What I didn’t expect was that someone in a genteel country house hotel in North Yorkshire might run you a CBD bath, squirt a couple of measures of CBD under your tongue, and then proceed to rub you down with CBD-infused massage oil.
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“We’re always looking for something new and niche, and we try to jump on any new wellness trends,” says Rudding Park Spa’s manager, Sarah Johnson. More reassuringly she adds, “We currently work with the National School of Healthcare Science so we’re very aware of the benefits: managing anxiety, reducing chronic pain, balancing inflammation, improving sleep, as well as helping to treat symptoms relating to Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Epilepsy, and MS.”
Perhaps this is exactly where the difficulty with CBD lies. There’s most certainly a bandwagon that’s gained considerable momentum, and anyone in wellness, beauty, food or drink, would be well within their rights to jump on it. But is that really credible motivation?
Meanwhile, there’s more and more evidence to suggest that CBD does actually do what it says on the tin – The Harley Street Clinic for example swears by Maripharm CBD, the same oil used at Rudding Park – yet it still gets branded “snake oil” almost as often as it does a “miracle cure”.
Either way, in Harrogate it’s definitely caught on. Johnson tells me they do approximately half a dozen CBD spa treatments a day, and their CBD Meetings – corporate get togethers furnished with CBD tea, chocolate and the customary squirt under the tongue – are particularly popular. I imagine Rudding House could be the only place in the country to offer this unusual facility. It’s probably not every CEO’s cup of tea.
So with conjecture this rife, the only thing to do was to see for myself. The Friday afternoon drive from London to Harrogate was long enough to leave a couple of convenient little knots in my back that during my pre-treatment consultation we decided it would be useful to focus on. Those and a lingering ankle injury I wasn’t too hopeful about helping.
As my therapist squirted CBD oil under my tongue and wrapped my hands in a hot towel – also infused with CBD – she explained how the vitamin E in the oil has great anti-aging properties that would give my skin incredible elasticity, and how the thermal detox wrap she was about to give me was a “circulation-boosting body tonic”. I have to admit, I was already feeling particularly relaxed, but then I had spent the morning leisurely sweating, showering and sipping my way around the hotel’s state-of-the-art rooftop spa.
After a CBD foot scrub and invigorating body brush (intended to shed dead skin cells before the nourishing mask), it was on to the thermal wrap; a head to toe massage using Elemis Cellutox oil infused with, you guessed it, CBD, on a heated bed. I was then wrapped in plastic to help the mask soak in. By this point I was extremely relaxed, and any anxieties about the whole trip being a self-indulgent waste of time were long gone.
But then I got to thinking, even if this massage didn’t have the CBD infusion it would still be the most relaxing thing I’d done all day. How much is it the cannabinoid, and how much is it the combination of the massage, the soothing soundtrack and that huge breakfast? Accurately ascribing any accentuated relaxation is like sitting in the sauna counting beads of sweat when you’re already wet.
What it boils down to is you’re not really in a position to decide whether CBD works unless you do suffer from anxiety, or chronic pain or a degenerative disease; in which case you can actually measure the effects. For that reason, I admit, I might not have been the best writer for this review. But then again, how could I resist?
After my treatment I’m given a cup of CBD tea, a couple of CBD chocolates and a bottle of Love Hemp Water – that’s CBD infused spring water, by the way. What next? What, if anything, is beyond CBD?
It might not have fixed my ankle, but my niggly back was as good as new. And I slept like a baby that night. That for me was enough.
Rudding Park Hotel and Spa, Rudding Ln, Follifoot, Harrogate HG3 1JH;
Book now by phoning 01423 844822 or visiting https://www.ruddingpark.co.uk/
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