QUALITY OF EXPERIENCE The therapist was very friendly, with much better English than I had expected. She came from the neighbouring island where the spa scene is a bit of a meat market and was obviously relishing the chance to really get involved with the newly designed spa and menu of treatments.
She personally picked the hay and herbs that were all part of my Muhu hay bath. Apparently locals are convinced by the healing qualities of hay and have been doing this for centuries.
I lay on a bed of hot, wet hay which was covered with a paper sheet and then was encased in another sheet and layer of hay. It did feel a bit strange being lowered down into my water bed, but I still managed to drift off for 20 minutes.
The herbal steam bath I’d had before made sure that I was squeaky clean. My friend and I got a real kick out challenging our inhibitions and jumping stark naked into the freezing cold Siberian tub which sits on another beautiful wooden deck just outside the steam room. All this was done in full view of the hotel guests who were enjoying their lunch in the restaurant opposite! Nudity is encouraged here. There were definitely no paper knickers to be had…
And as for our crocodile skin that was smoothed away with a freshly prepared oatmeal and yoghurt scrub, followed by a full body massage. I have never felt so smooth.
PRODCUTS Local mineral-rich mud and water, plenty of herbs gathered from the forest, honey, birch twigs and fresh ingredients such as goat’s milk and oatmeal.
IN-CROWD There is an eclectic mix of well travelled, hard working international professionals, who want to relax. You could find yourself chatting to an English Lord or a Latvian media type and there is the added frisson of a helipad in the garden, so you never quite know who’s going to fly in.
FOOD Home-made herbal teas and delicate little dishes of hazelnuts, dried fruit and delicious gloopy honey keep you going through the treatments. But, if you want something a bit more substantial try out the hotel’s lunch menu, where you can gaze out to sea, breathing in the lavender as you pick your way through locally inspired recipes.
WALLET WATCH My hay bath was a snip at £58 ; an oatmeal scrub is £38 and a full body message £46 - pretty good value for a boutique five-star hotel.
The author travelled out with Exsus as part of their package. Exsus offers a long-weekend spa package at Padaste Manor from £999 per person based on two sharing. This includes a three-day Body Tuning and Toning program, three nights accommodation in a Junior Suite, breakfast, return economy class flights with Estonian Air from London Gatwick to Tallinn and private airport transfers (020 7292 5050, www.exsus.com)
Flights with Estonian Air from London Gatwick to Tallinn return costs from £170 per person.
A Deluxe Double Room at Padaste Manor costs from £125 per room per night, including breakfast.
NEED TO KNOW Padaste Manor, Muhu Island 94716, Estonia (00 372 454 8800 ; email : [email protected] )