Thursday, 31 August 2017

A review and a rant | Calcot Manor spa day

Yesterday, I visited the spa of dreams: Calcot Manor. A luxury hideaway in the Cotswolds, this place has it all.

Beautiful old stone buildings. Understated signage. That tell-tale spa scent. Slick staff who whisk you off into the apex of relaxation, a million miles away from real life. Outdoor hot tub of dreams - deeper and hotter than all other hot tubs*. Treatments you enjoy so much you can't bear the thought they have to end. An outdoor wood fire.

*this may not be true

And yet...

Calcot has, unknowingly, unleashed a rage in me. A plant-based, dairy-free rage (not all vegans fit the placid, hippy stereotype). Consider the V's well and truly flicked, and here's why.

When you spend £200 on a spa day that includes a two-course lunch and you're vegan, you make sure to let people know this at the time of booking. You may have been caught out before, see. So let's eliminate any possibility of it all going wrong. Good plan, huh? You might also like to gently remind the lovely woman who greets you at the beginning of the day, the one who brings a jug of soya milk with your complimentary pot of tea and confirms your treatment times. Yep, they've got it noted.

You start to relax. This is a day for it, after all. Dip in the tub. Horizontal on a lounger in the relaxation room. A read of your book. The aforementioned treatment - a hot stone massage - that gives you the feeling of a day on a hot beach when all your bones feel warmed. You begin to feel peckish. Down for lunch? Good plan.

Fresh apple and pear juice to drink plus a read of the menu. 'Now,' says the waiter, 'we don't actually have anything on the menu for vegans.'


'But you can pick and choose from what we do have.'

Which is....?

'Not the starter, that's a vegetarian soup but has cream in it.'

So this two-course lunch then, main course and pudding?

'There's actually only one vegetarian main course which is a tomato, pesto and mozzarella salad. But you can have it without the mozzarella. Or the pesto.'

Tomatoes then?

'Maybe with some seeds on top? Oh, you could have the piedmont peppers but you'd have to pick off the anchovies.'


This is not good enough. It's unacceptable. There are over half a million vegans in the UK now, a 360% rise in the past decade. Whether we choose this way of eating/living for health or ethical or environmental or any number of other reasons, veganism is growing. This is not something we'll just grow out of or get bored with. Those in the catering or hospitality industries who view veganism negatively need to think very carefully about their stance. Veganism is protected as a human right under Article 9 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights, after all. Increasingly, the green pound can and will affect business. We are a growing population and we are not always treated well.

Two pepper halves with the anchovies picked off, some undressed salad leaves and sliced tomatoes is not lunch. I had to request dressing, the aforementioned seeds (which never came) and some bread (which came late).


Dessert was a fruit salad. The only option.

Should I feel grateful there was a dessert option? This feels like 1992 when I first went vegetarian. It's 2017! The past 25 years have seen so, so much progress - documentaries, products, awareness, studies, promotion, all furthering the cause of a plant-based diet. Stick your fingers in your ears all you like but we're not going away.

I should've had an amazing day. Apart from this, it was a five star experience. But this is big.

It's not that hard to do a little research, to be interested in your customers, to experiment with a type of cooking that you have yet to discover. Is it? Maybe I'm wrong. Or maybe I'm in the wrong place. Something's wrong. Whatever it is, I'm furious. And very, very unrelaxed.

This is not a sponsored post.
We visited Calcot Manor as paying guests.

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