It's been one heck of a year, with travelling to far flung destinations that have been on my travel hit list for a very long time... But sometimes a girl simply craves some peace & quiet in a spa for a day or two. After a quick discussion on where we might like to go for a weekend pre-Xmas break, the bearded one agreed that he fancied shutting himself away in a luxurious spa with me by his side - he's a winner that boy! Philip had enjoyed a taste of spa life in the summer at a local spa to me, but a day just wasn't enough. So we booked ourselves in for a couples break at the Lifehouse Spa at Frinton-On-Sea in Essex. This was simple enough to get to from Cambridge on a Friday night straight from work, traffic allowing us to arrive at 7:30pm where we were swiftly shown to our dimly lit room and left to relax for a while before dinner. A candlelit table for two was waiting for us, with one of the friendliest waiters I've ever encountered, he made our stay both nights as we dined here - he was knowledgable and went the extra mile every time we asked him something. I truly wish service was like this all the time, our waiter could show every service team a thing or two! Whilst we dined at this spa, we enjoyed the best of both worlds - healthy dining, mixed with the odd treat or two - perfect. During our two night stay we enjoyed courgette spaghetti with mushroom ragu, Italian sausages with roasted vegetables and we both couldn't resist the venison burger with a soft brioche roll and fries - this burger was truly delicious! The cheesecake was off the menu by the time we got to dessert on the first night, but I managed to grab a wedge of delicious lime and coconut on the second night. We sampled the "healthier sounding" avocado & chocolate mousse, but it still didn't convince me that this was a nice tasting pud, it's a little unusual for my tastes haha. Sometimes you've just got to combine good food with a serious relaxation session. We booked ourselves in for a couples massage (the first I've ever had and absolutely loved it) followed by a snooze in a private "sleep pod" to curl up together afterwards to snore away zzzzzz. In fact, I think we were either ever so slightly forgotten... or simply left to it because the pod wasn't being used for the rest of the day.... Either way, we woke up (drool and all!) almost 3 hours later, oops! These pods were fabulous, complete with private lighting and sound systems to help you unwind - these are well worth trying out. Chilling out in, around and even over the pool, sauna, steam room and jacuzzi was just what the doctor ordered. We swam, read our books, chatted, walked around the stunning grounds of spa and did what we had intended to do - we switched off, well and truly. The Little Extras: We had treated ourselves to this break at our own cost, however after an excited chat prior to our arrival, the spa offered a few extras for our stay, such as a three course dinner on the first night and a bottle of superb prosecco to kick start our relaxation. They had even left us some delicious alcoholic cocktail-inspired chocolates to nibble on in our room - I can't thank them enough for these little touches to our stay, we truly felt like we had switched off and that's the exact result we had wished for on booking. The breakfast was fantastic, everything you could imagine on offer, from fresh fruit and cereals, warm croissants, meats and cheeses through to a full English buffet. I liked that you could order different options when it came to eggs, I indulged in freshly poached eggs with runny yolks with my toast and bacon, perfect. Our massage therapists gave us a choice of pressure and didn't mess around....sometimes spa therapists disappear for a fair while until they come back to massage you after stripping down - they were prompt in returning and didn't push products on us afterwards - I liked that there was no pressure to but their products, as can sometimes happen in my experience. The Little Niggles: Whilst outside walking, we had wandered back towards the rear of the spa and found we couldn't get back inside, the doors only pushed outwards. We tried two or three doors and even knocked for a member of housekeeping but he couldn't let us in.... It wasn't easy to get back in. The spa was busy from what we saw and it was sometimes tricky to find lounger space around the pool, they are lacking in physical/extra space around the pool, so I can understand it may be tricky. Whilst enjoying our massages, the only fault would be that doors were banging outside our room (quiet closers should be standard in spas!) and a therapist walked into our room loudly and then stumbled around apologising... how could they not know it was occupied??.... Not the most relaxing it could have been to start with, but this wasn't the fault of the therapists themselves in this case. An express checkout option is available on leaving, but if you want to stay on to use the spa on the day of departure you still need to go to the front desk to arrange a key fob, etc for the separate changing area. It was all a little confusing once in there, as it's also used for general leisure members. My locker wasn't locking and nobody had shown me how their locking system worked with a key card - I had to walk back to reception in my robe to ask, not too glamorous. Overall: This was one of my favourite spas within the UK - polite staff, great food, relaxing atmosphere. If I had to be picky, a little more in the way of spa facilities would be great, perhaps they will plan to give it an overhaul sometime soon. It could probably do with more facilities and a little spruce up, however the team on the days we were staying kept on top of clearing away cups, towels and sweeping down the water from the floors regularly, they were very good. We didn't make use of any relaxation or fitness classes, this was a purely lazy spa break, but you could turn is into a fitness retreat, complete with use of their smoothie bar for the ultimate in detoxing. They do offer afternoon tea and it looks delicious, so perhaps next time... if they'll have us again in the future? www.lifehouse.co.uk See my full Facebook photo album for this stay here. Read my new "About Me" page here! You can also read about Miss Sue Flay's "Around The World In 80 Stays Challenge"and other Secret Stays & Reviews here. See more of my travel videos here and more of my food review videos here. Or get in touch via social media through Facebook, Instagram & Twitter for a natter about life in general! Please note – I paid my way during this visit and I am in no means obliged to blog or write about their offerings, but I simply choose to share with my readers, should I enjoy the experience. Any questions or to discuss a "Secret Stay" or review, please do email:firstname.lastname@example.org All images © 2016 Miss Sue Flay, these may not be used or reproduced without written permission from the owner, many thanks in advance.