The Clover Mill, Worcestershire, England
Graceful and gorgeous ayurveda retreat in a converted mill for treatments, yoga and vitalising meals
Best for: Deeply peaceful healing retreats
Not for: Anyone looking for full spa facilities
Takes up to 6 guests. You can also stay nearby and join a programme.
This is a truly bespoke ayurvedic retreat set in a restored seventeenth century water mill near Cradley in the rolling hills of Malvern in Worcestershire. Come for authentic ayurvedic treatments, use of a large steam room, thoughtful yoga in a light-flooded studio and vitalising home-cooked organic meals. Spring and Autumn seasonal cleanses and specialist retreats on gut health, therapeutic knitting and mindfulness also run here on set dates. Find rest in your stylish eco-lodge in the grounds, secluded by woodland and kitted out with private decking and under-floor heating. All this is delivered by attentive owner Julie and her team of ayurvedic experts.
Founder Julie Dent is the perfect hostess who has put her heart and soul in to creating The Clover Mill – she is attentive without being overbearing and has an infectious enthusiasm for all things ayurveda.
With only three cabins here, The Clover Mill gets booked up way in advance, so you can’t just pick up the phone and book when you’re feeling in need of its attentive care.
Come for 2, 3 and 5 night breaks that mix ayurveda, yoga and vitalising meal or book onto a themed retreat which run on set dates and revolve around yoga and ayurvedic healing.
You can come to The Clover Mill for a weekend or three or five night Ayuveda and Yoga retreats which usually start on Fridays throughout the year. These include a personal dosha (body type) assessment, ayurvedic talks, ayurveda-inspired meals and therapeutic ayurvedic treatments. You’ll have yoga classes and meditation, a self-massage lesson and use of the steam room too. On the five day retreat, there’s a cookery demonstration and healing gong sound bath. Each Spring and Autumn, deep seasonal cleanses are also available.
The ayurveda spa, in the converted mill, is used by guests for a treatment, or for a spa day, or it will form an integral part of your stay. On arrival you’ll fill out a questionnaire to determine your ayurvedic ‘dosha’ type – which will then, together with info from Julie and the other therapists, inform your treatments, plus meals and yoga classes if appropriate.
Julie has hand-picked fantastic therapists who share her passion for ayurveda, and the Tridosha oils they use smell delicious and seep in to the skin far better than a ‘sloppier’ oil massage you might have experienced in India. Treatments include massages, shirodhara (the rhythmic pouring of oil over the forehead) reflexology, exfoliations, chavutti thirumal (a massage done with the feet) and facials.
After a treatment or at another time you can go for a steam in the beautifully tiled steam room, walking past the glass-boxed mill workings on the way. Small special touches and a personally-delivered post-treatment cup of tea will make you feel most at home and well looked after and nurtured.
Over your retreat, you may have the same yoga teacher or you may have the chance to try different styles including Iyengar, vinyasa flow, holistic, kundalini and hatha. All are very experienced local teachers, many being ayurvedic massage therapists also. Classes are kept small so you will receive plenty of individual attention. There’s also a specialist Pranayama, Kundalini and Gong Bath retreat each year.
Meditation and mindfulness feature in all retreats, and The Clover Mill hosts eight week Mindfulness courses run by Mindfulness Malvern with two experienced mindfulness teachers. There’s also an excellent Mindfulness for pain management retreat that runs on set dates during the year. This is a weekend retreat aimed at guests who suffer chronic emotional or physical pain and who would like to learn practical techniques to help improve their quality of life. Accessible techniques from yoga and mindfulness provide ways of reconnecting with mind and body while ayurvedic nutrition and massage allow you to fully relax and nourish yourself in the beautiful surroundings of The Clover Mill.
Running on set dates during the year, The Clover Mill’s Re-set your Gut Microbiome Retreat is aimed at anyone suffering from gluten-intolerance, stress, anxiety, depression, stiff aching joints, digestive issues, chronic tiredness, skin issues, sugar cravings or wanting to lose weight. Attending to the link between the billions of bacteria that live in our lower intestine and our moods and our emotions, the retreat aims to re-set your gut bacteria with meals, massage, meditation, yoga and yoga nidra and enlightening talks.
The Clover Mill works with non-profit organisation stitchlinks.com who promote therapeutic knitting as a healthcare tool to create the Knit 2 Together retreat. running on set dates during the year, the weekends feature both regular yoga classes and special sessions around improving your sitting posture and vision and relaxing your shoulders aimed at making knitting a beneficial pastime rather than one that makes you tense and stiff. No experience in yoga or knitting is required!
This weekend is run twice yearly by Sense Adventures who offer guided activity holidays to blind and sighted groups. Owner Dee is herself visually impaired and aims to provide the sort of holiday she had often sought for herself but could not find. The programme for the weekend retreat is similar to The Clover Mill’s Ayurveda and Yoga retreat programme, but will also include sensory sessions such touching, smelling and tasting the key Ayurvedic spices, and a gong sound bath.
Whichever retreat you choose, let Millie the dog, or owner Julie, take you on a walk through the grounds and meadows along the brook and up to the gushing weir that pushes the water of the river down to the mill, or just strike out alone. Keep your eyes open for the local otters. There are other longer walking trails nearby too. If you are a birder, there are a huge variety of birds around the mill including nuthatches, woodpeckers, tree creepers, herons, goldfinches and many more. You could also see what’s for dinner in Julie’s wellbeing garden where she grows the veggies, fruits and herbs you’ll eat, wander through the orchard, commune with the alpacas or chickens or just sit under the huge mulberry tree in the garden and take in the flower-filled views.
One of the three lodges has wheelchair access and facilities for disabled guests. Wellies are available, but it’s a good idea to bring your own walking gear. To get to the cabins, the mill and the dining room in the house you do need to walk outside.
Bring shoes that you can easily slip on and off. Umbrellas and torches are provided. Travel light – organic ayurvedic products are supplied in the lodges and the spa, and dress is casual. Books, jigsaw puzzles and mindful crayoning are also provided. If you’re a Londoner, this makes an easy escape – direct trains from London Paddington take 2.5 hours to Great Malvern.
When to Go
April to October are the warmest months to visit the Malverns. Julie closes in January and February for her own retreat and refurbishment.
Guests eat together at a large table in the cosy dining room, but whenever possible meals are served outside on the lovely terrace and it’s possible to dine alone if you so choose. The Clover Mill’s talented owner and hostess Julie makes the meals. Self-taught in ayurvedic cooking, she creates colourful, vitalising dishes, three-course evening meals and countless cups of herbal tea in between, making meals here a real delight.
Your first meal will be tridoshic to suit all body types but after that all meals will be tailored to your dosha. Generally, ayurvedic meals are vegetarian, cooked rather than raw, and mildly spiced in order to be easily digested. Healthy doesn’t mean you will be starved, meals are nutrient dense there is always healthy cake or a nibble available.
Dishes include cardamom-infused porridge, fresh vegetable soups, home-made paneer, lightly spiced curries and chutneys made with apples and damsons from The Clover Mill’s orchard. Most meals are sugar-free, gluten-free and wholemeal. Vegan options and specific intolerances are happily catered for.
To drink, there’s home brewed kombucha, teas to suit your dosha type, one brewed yogi tea and fresh mint tea are always available, and from time to time a rose water lassi or something similar.
Hot water for bathing and heating flows underground from the wood pellet fed biomass boiler, and healthy alkaline drinking water comes from the mill spring. Vegetable peelings and any left-over food go to the chickens or to the garden compost. Staff are sourced within an hour of the retreat.
Julie has planted kilometres of natural hedging around the grounds and these are a haven for birds such as nuthatches, white-throats and several species of tits. Local fisherman book their place ahead of time to fish the surrounding brook for brown trout – there are plenty left despite regular otter-sightings. A substantial bat mitigation programme ensured the eight species of bats surveyed at the mill have a purpose built large bat roost in the old barn and new garage roof spaces.
Cradley, Malvern, Worcestershire
Transfer Time: 10 minutes (train station); 45 minutes (airport).