Golf resort

Review: Oulton Hall Hotel, Spa & Golf resort, Leeds – where old meets new

When you book a spa weekend, you’re often filled with excited jitters about being pampered, some time to yourself, and, to put it simply, a good rest. I had my trip to the Oulton Hall Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort on my agenda for months, so of course I was looking forward to the nearly two hour drive there when the date finally arrived.

I was a little apprehensive at the start of our trip, but when I realized that the day of the trip fell on Mother’s Day, and having recently lost my mother, I was a mixture of nervousness at the possibility from the cloud of grief waiting for me, but also excited to have some upcoming self-care activities. As always, my partner was there to support me and I thought, what better way to take my mind off a tough day than to have some good food, a massage and a dip in the pool?

The hotel

One of the drawing rooms at Oulton Hall, Leeds

Oulton Hall is just five miles from Leeds city center and two miles from the M62, but is surrounded by rolling countryside and a 27-hole golf course. It’s in a great location, far enough away to enjoy some peace and quiet, but close enough to Leeds nightlife and other key travel routes.

The historic mansion, which is nestled in landscaped gardens, dates back to the 1700s when the site was that of a simple farmhouse, built by Francis Blayds. Oulton Hall and the surrounding estate have a rich history, which I found fascinating. A history booklet in our hotel room stated that the Oulton site had been transformed over time into a stately home before being used as a hospital during the Great War until the 1970s, and that the building itself was saved from ruin in 1993.

As well as having the booklet in the hotel room, other historical nuggets can also be found scattered around the hotel, showcasing the former owners, the Calverley family. Many portraits hang in the hotel’s parlors, reception rooms, and hallways, and the grand staircases, towering fireplaces, and marble figureheads are more glimpses of the past. The touches of his past life made me feel like I was invited into a home that once hosted wealth, importance and nobility within its community.

It was also interesting to find out that the hotel still offers butler service, giving guests a sense of days gone by and what life would have been like for the Calverley family. I found this historical touch refreshing because you don’t always get to experience the background of a place, especially when it’s in a modern setting like a spa and golf resort. But it is clear that the hotel is proud of its roots.

Huge chandeliers, grand pianos and soft classical music playing in the hallways made me feel comfortable and relaxed when we entered our room. Our room was a standard double room and contained a stacked mini bar, modern bathroom with toiletries, large double bed, TV with Sky channels and a seating area.

The Calverley Grill

Our dinner at the Calverley Grill was faultless. The restaurant takes its name from John Calverley, who was given the original mansion in 1807. We had a three course dinner and a bottle of wine and the food was outstanding. It was simple but delicious, just right after a day of traveling and relaxing at the spa.

For my entree I had the leek, potato and onion soup which came with a wholemeal burnt bread and blue cheese butter. My partner, Mark, opted for the more traditional Italian tomato and basil soup. The leek soup was priced at 6.75 which I thought was a little pricey for a starter but once I tried I quickly forgot about it. The ingredients were fresh and the soup was nice and creamy with the added sharpness of the onion that took it to the next level.


For my main course, I opted for the slow-cooked lamb shank with a rosemary-flavoured jus. This also came with double cream mash, port and spice-braised red cabbage. I don’t often get the opportunity to have lamb at home because Mark doesn’t like it, so whenever it’s on a menu I always take the opportunity, and it hasn’t not disappointed. It fell off the bone, was nice and pink, and the red cabbage complimented it perfectly. The lamb was priced at £19.95 and I would happily pay it again.

the lamb
the lamb

This was all followed by the best cheesecake I’ve probably ever had. It was a cherry cheesecake, priced at £7.75, with satsuma cream and chocolate crumbs. Desserts can be tricky for me as I have a sweet tooth but I get full quickly. However, this dessert was just the right portion size without being too much. The sharpness of the raspberry compote along with the slivers of dark chocolate and satsuma cream all came together for a truly flavorful dish.

The cherry cheesecake
The cherry cheesecake

I was told by the staff that if you were staying at the hotel, booked a spa treatment or a round of golf, guests received an allowance of £28 per head for a meal at the Calverley Grill, which I thought be a bargain. . So if you are ever near the hotel and fancy some quality food, you definitely won’t regret it.

The spa

The spa is attached to the main house and is probably the most modern addition, aside from the restaurant. Of course the whole estate has been modernized but this is the newest addition to the building.

This is where I was disappointed with my trip. The facilities were not up to what I would expect from a place that claims it is a spa. This is the first spa I’ve been to where I didn’t receive shoes to walk around in, usually you are given shoes in the form of flip flops or slippers when you receive your robe and towel. These were not provided so me and Mark had to go back to the hotel room and grab the free slippers provided from our wardrobe and walk around the pool. We really didn’t think we would need to pack flip flops, but I guess we learned the lesson on our behalf.

We were shown around the spa by a member of staff who seemed disinterested in being there which was a shame. In the changing rooms I noticed my locker wouldn’t lock and it was only then that I realized it took £1 to secure it. It wasn’t something we were told at reception and as I have no more cash on me, neither does my partner, we had to turn around, meet in the hallway and leave our belongings together in the locker of the family locker room. the hope that they would not be stolen. It left me feeling very uncomfortable and tense, something you try to avoid on a spa break.

On top of that, I was looking forward to my full body massage which I had booked later in the afternoon. As for other spa facilities, you had a main pool and jacuzzi to relax in, as well as a sauna and steam room. There were also showers and a water fountain. The pool was a little colder and the hot tub was quite violent with its bubbles, so I spent most of my time in and out of the sauna.

Gemma Sherlock in the hot tub
Gemma Sherlock in the hot tub

The seating around the pool was a mix of garden style chairs which left the room a little tired and unimpressive and I could tell from other guests walking in that they seemed to be a bit disappointed. Some, who entered with children, were eager to dive into the pool, goggles cocked and reared up to get going.

Nevertheless, it was time for my spa treatment and the treatment rooms were much nicer. A pleasant scent was present in the rooms and a heated massage bed was the main feature, along with relaxing music playing in the background. My therapist Medina also saved the day. I received a full body hot stone massage and Medina used a mix of Elemis treatments including Frangipani body oil, moisturizer and instant cooling gel.

She was talkative but only if I was and she worked my back (which was full of steps and tension) really well. I felt much lighter after the treatment and was well and truly relaxed. This was my first time getting a hot stone massage and I found the stones comforting and soothing on my skin.


The staircase has
The staircase has

Overall, Oulton Hall Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort is a good stay. The hotel is impressive and the food at the Calverley Grill is wonderful and worth the price. Spa treatments are also good but the spa facilities have a bit of a way to go to match the rest of the stay.

Basic equipment like shoes and even a key for your locker should be provided. More comfortable chairs and seats in the spa would also help to improve the quality level of the spa. I wouldn’t pay to use the spa facilities, I would pay to stay, eat, and maybe play a round of golf, if I felt like it.

Oulton Hall, I loved your story, your character and your food but that’s about it I’m afraid.