Tents, muddy fields, portaloos, wet wipes…. when you think of a UK festival these are the sorts of things that would normally come to mind. However Wilderness Festival in Charlbury is a festival on a whole different level. Wilderness takes place in the forests, lakes and parklands of Oxford’s nature reserves and is an amalgamation of live music, theatre, debate, wild swimming, workshops, sporting activities and poetry, with a whole host of incredible pop up bars and restaurants thrown in! Sounds heavenly right? Well it was. Oh and did I mention there is a spa?
We descended on the festival, 28 women strong, for my sister’s hen do, spending Thursday to Sunday adorning ourselves in stripes and glitter and dancing till we dropped. And no sister of mine’s hen do would be complete with a little bit of luxury, so with much excitement, we booked advanced tickets for the Lakeside spa for the Saturday morning.
The spa is nestled in amongst the “wellbeing zone” and is a little haven of luxury and tranquility in and amongst the action of the festival. On arrival we were given Neals Yard tote bags, a towel and a sample of Neals Yard lift serum. We changed into our swimmers, had a hot shower (yes you heard right – HOT shower) and headed down to the lake.
The spa was set around the lake with wood-fired hot tubs, a wooden barrel sauna and a Veuve Cliquot champagne bar (of course!) lining the edge. We lazed in the hot tubs and sauna, taking the occasional break to jump in the lake to cool off. When we arrived the sun was shining however it got really dark and stormy about 30mins in and at one point we were asked to get out of the hot tubs because of the lightening! Which in all honesty just added to the amazing atmosphere.
After our time was up we reluctantly returned to the top of the hill to change. We enjoyed one final hot shower, complete with an array of beautiful smelling Neals Yard hair and body products. Then one final bit of luxury – mirrors and hairdryers! Leaving us clean, rejuvenated and ready for a day of dancing and disco balls ahead!
Our visit to the Sanctuary and Lakeside Spa on the Saturday morning was without any doubt the highlight of the festival for me. Everything about it felt like such a treat and I have since found myself at work day dreaming about going back next year! So with that in mind (!), the Sanctuary and Lakeside Spa scores pretty well:
COST: 5/5 Each hot tub fitted 6 people and we paid £250 per hot tub, so £41 per person. For the incredible setting and experience this felt like excellent value for money.
CLEANLINESS: 5/5 Everyone was asked to shower before they went in and there were foot baths on the entrance to each hot tub. Once in the tubs and sauna both were spotless.
IN THREE WORDS: LUXURY, DREAMY, WILDERNESS
The Sanctuary and Lakeside Spa at Wilderness is hosted by Bathing Under the Sky, an amazing Cambridge based company that rents and sells the hot tubs and saunas, as well as running pop-up spas at a number of events and festivals across the U.K. Rumour has it that they may also be opening a permanent fixture in Cambridge soon – one to definitely watch out for!