We arrived in Sherborne, a small town about two hours south west of London, just as the mist began to set in for the afternoon. The rain spitting lightly, Dominic Harvey from Middle Piccadilly Rural Spa Retreat swept us up in his four wheel drive from Sherborne train station. Twenty minutes and a few narrow, country roads later and we arrived at Middle Piccadilly farm, our relaxation destination for the next two nights.
Middle Piccadilly is an unassuming property, surrounded by lush green gardens and paddocks, located down a typical country lane in Dorset. The original thatched roof house dates back to the 17th Century. Dominic’s parents, Eliana and Gerry Harvey began the retreat in 1975. Dominic and Lisa now run the retreat.
The five rooms on site range in size.We stayed in a comfortable room with a four poster bed, dresser, organic coffee and tea and Damana organic bath products. All rooms are modestly decorated and one has an ensuite (ask for this room when booking if you need your own bathroom). The other rooms, like ours, have access to a large shared bathroom. Guest rooms, treatment rooms, a reading and multimedia room and the Starhouse are spread throughout a few different buildings on the property. Each area has been decorated to promote calm, comfort and a “home away from home” feel that the retreat aims to achieve.
This retreat is unique. It’s not a five star resort. It doesn’t run like a hotel at all. Taking a maximum of nine guests at a time, there is an intimate, personal feel to Middle Piccadilly. Unlike most retreats, there are no expectations to be met here in terms of activities or treatments. If you are after a luxury resort style retreat with a rigid schedule and strict rules, this isn’t the place for you. Instead, it’s a case of choose your own healing adventure at Middle Piccadilly with the team there to gently guide you down your chosen path.
When it comes to your time, you spend it as you wish. If you want to indulge in a digital detox, the main reading room offers cosy couches, a gorgeous view of the garden, a wood fire, a full bookshelf and most importantly, lots of peace and quiet. If you need to keep in touch with the outside world, the multimedia room (and some guest rooms) have wifi access and the option to watch DVDs. The Starhouse an wooden bale is located offers a space to meditate or practice yoga in a quiet setting among the apples trees. If you have a little more energy there are endless country paths and roads for a country run, ride or stroll. We found ourselves discovering a new back road each day on our running route.
Meal times are the only part of the day that is universally scheduled at Middle Piccadilly. Guests converge on the communal table in the kitchen three times a day. The conversation usually begins with each person explaining the motivation for choosing a rural retreat in the middle of the English countryside. Each guest’s reason is different; some need a break from work, others a break from the kids and others some time for healing. As with most retreats, the common theme is that everyone here is taking some valuable time for self reflection and self care and each guest is supportive and respectful of the others’ goals.
Guests at Middle Piccadilly choose between a vegetarian, raw food or juice cleanse plan. Of course, you can move between one and the other, depending on how you feel you are progressing during the stay. Dominic is the retreat’s chef and he prepares each of the meals, specific to each person’s preferences. At each sitting guests oooed and awed over the colourful creations, trying to work out what was in Dominic’s delicious recipes. Thankfully, he is working on a recipe book so guests will be able to get to work to recreate his dishes when they return home.
We opted for the vegetarian menu and taste tested a little of the raw food too. The vegetarian food was delicious. Our first evening we ate ratatouille with potatoes, a nut burger and spinach. I tried a bit of the raw vegetable curry with cauliflower, parsnip and macadamia rice. It was amazing. For dessert, the vegetarian option was 100% chocolate cake and the raw equivalent; a raw chocolate cake. Both cakes were melt-in-your-mouth incredible.
The treatment list is vast at Middle Piccadilly Rural Spa Retreat, particularly given the group they take as one time is small. The list ranges from the simple therapeutic options to the deeply spiritual; everything from a simple holistic or hot stone massage to organic facials and scrubs orShamanic healing is on offer. During our stay I tried two treatments, the Spiezia Hand on Heart and the Shamanic Healing.
Hand on Heart
Hand on Heart is a relaxing treatment that focuses on clearing energy blockages in the chakras of the body using a combination of Reiki healing and gentle massage on the pressure points of the hands and feet. Practitioner Claire Pateman began the treatment with a sage clearing, followed by Reiki healing and continued to work on massaging my hands and feet in a circular motion around my body. There were moments I drifted off into sleep but I felt very calm at the end of the massage.
Shamanic Healing is for the spiritually adventurous. If you are open to something a little outside of the realm of an aromatherapy massage, this could be a good one to try. You have to approach a Shamanic Healing session with an open mind as the practitioner calls upon otherworldly help to treat emotional and physical ailments. Eliana Harvey, one of the retreats founders and Dominic’s mother took me for my Shamanic Healing session. It was quite an intense experience but a very interesting one and I found Eliana to be very intuitive.
It’s easy to see why many of Middle Piccadilly’s clients are repeat guests. The retreat offers a comfortable, laid back place to rest and recharge without the pressures that some might encounter with rigorously scheduled detox programs or high intensity health retreats.
Thank you to Middle Piccadilly for hosting The Fit Traveller during our stay at the retreat.
Middle Piccadilly Rural Spa Retreat
Middle Piccadilly, Holwell
Sherborne, Dorset DT9 5LW
+44 0 19 63 23468
Skye is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Fit Traveller. She is a journalist, writer, photographer, intrepid traveller and a former personal trainer with a passion for helping others reach optimal health. As a TV journalist and producer, Skye has worked for household names such as 60 Minutes, Sunrise, TODAY and Nine News. She has also written for Women’s Health, Fodor’s Travel and Yahoo7 Travel, among many others.
Skye created The Fit Traveller as a beautiful online space and community where people feel inspired to escape the desk to move and explore more.
Equally comfortable in a 5-star resort or hiking a far-off mountain, Skye loves the unexpected and enriching life experiences that each trip brings and can often be found in a backstreet chatting to locals with her camera in hand.
Skye is based in Sydney, working to master the balance between motherhood and her insatiable appetite for adventure.