SOMETIMES you just need a bit of privacy, a day away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and time to recharge your batteries.

I find a spa is the perfect place to do this, where you can relax, enjoy a little leisurely exercise and also treat yourself to a bit of pampering.

Tucked away on the magnificent Bowood estate between Calne and Chippenham, the Spa attached to the Hotel and Country Club there may have escaped some people's notice, or you've always thought it was private. Far from it, just like the restaurant in the hotel next door it welcomes day visitors as well as hotel guests, and now offers a membership package so you can use it regularly if you wish.

I sampled the facilities there on what, sadly, was one of the summer's greyer and damper days, a real shame as I'd been looking forward to relaxing on the terrace or the spa's own private sitting out area.

Still, as my friend and I remarked as we lounged lazily poolside, you can't have everything.

The day visit package at Bowood includes brunch, which you can have served up until 11.30am, giving you time to arrive, relax, eat, enjoy a treatment and relax some more before heading off home.

We were welcomed by a very helpful receptionist, who showed us to a changing room where we found dressing gowns and towels and slippers (extra marks for providing slippers) waiting.

The spa is linked to the hotel complex, and at first the layout seemed a little confusing, until we realised that the pool wing had originally been added to the end of the main house, so everything followed the line of the terrace with its views.

A recent refurb and upgrade has expanded the spa's facilities, so it now has more treatment rooms and changing areas. Everything is full of little touches, with deep carpeting, sparkling paintwork and an air of luxury, rather than the more functional approach favoured by some spas.

Returning swathed in fluffy towelling, we took a seat in the relaxation room, which is full of soft couches and chairs and has a view through a glass screen over the pool area, although the only way to the pool appeared to be to walk round through reception and the cafe.

It's a quiet and light-filled space, though we did wonder if the central fire really needed to be lit on a summer day? It's a lovely feature but was making the room rather warm.

We'd booked morning rather than afternoon treatments, and having filled out the usual thorough medial questionnaire were soon led through to our separate treatment rooms.

I was having a Garden of Deep Calm full body massage, which uses Western and Thai techniques and a variety of beautifully scented products, using malabar grass, sweet orange and vetiver, certainly made me feel relaxed, cared for and left my skin georgeously soft.

My friend had opted for a back and shoulder massage, hoping to ease some tensions, and reported that too was very effective.

Rather than plunge straight in for a dip, and was off all that lovely massage oil, we decided to relax again before our brunch.

Bowood is one of the quieter spas I've visited, lovely for ladies like us who want to relax and enjoy a lazy day but perhaps not quite lively enough for a mixed age party - I've taken my daughters on spa days and I think they would have found this too quiet.

When we were called through for our food, in the little cafe off the main reception area, I rather regretted having gone for the healthy choice option of poached eggs and smashed avocado on wholegrain toast. Not because there was anything wrong with it, far from it as it was piping hot and very tasty, but because my friend's Full English breakfast was so good.

Eggs, bacon, sausage, black pudding, beans, hash brown, tomato and toast as well, it was a real indulgence. Note to self, next time remember this is a treat day.

We spent the rest of the afternoon sampling the whirlpool spa tub next to the pool, swimming lazy lengths and experimenting with the sauna, steam room and showers which are poolside.

I usually find steam rooms too clammy but this one must have been set differently as it was very pleasant, though beware the shower for afterwards - when it says Cold, it means freezing and when it says Hot it means Ouch. Then again, as I took my glasses off for the steam room, perhaps I read the controls wrong.

We left around 4pm, having enjoyed a full day of relaxation, chatting, catching up on gossip and the progress of our families.

Spa days are definitely one of the best ways I know to relax and revive yourself, which is something we all need more of in today's busy world.

Alison Phillips

The Spa at Bowood

Bowood estate, Calne

01249 823 883

Open 7 days a week

Treatment times

Monday – Friday: – 8.30pm

Saturday: 10am – 6.30pm

Sunday: 9am – 5.30pm

Pool & gym

7am – 9pm

Junior swim times

8.15am – 9.30am and 3.45pm – 5.00pm

Prices: Spa days start at £80, with treatments from £40 upwards.