Middle Piccadilly, England

Wellness retreat with vegetarian food and sublime therapists in rural Dorset


Open all year round. Stay from two nights to two weeks, starting whenever you wish.

From £100 per person per night full board on a juice detox including all meals and two treatments. There are no single supplements.

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Best for: Those looking for quiet, low-key down time

Not for: Anyone who wants a plush spa experience or scheduled group activities

In a nutshell: Middle Piccadilly at Holwell near Sherborne is a peaceful, back-to-basics vegetarian retreat offering various relaxing and detox breaks in a 17th century thatched cottage with outhouses surrounded by rolling countryside. Owners Dominic Harvey and his wife Lisa, a holistic therapist have created a relaxed, homely atmosphere where you can recharge your batteries, have treatments with therapists who work with skill, dedication and heart and maybe delve a little deeper into the world of spirit and soul.

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What’s Queenly?

Middle Piccadilly was established in 1986 and Eliana Harvey, the founder, is still very much involved - her experience and wisdom is worth a visit in itself. Family-run, they work as a team and have the knack of finding (and keeping) really special therapists who take time and treat you as a real person. For those who want, this is a great place to try more spiritual treatments such as shamanic healing.

What’s Lowly?

Only one of the five bedrooms has an ensuite bathroom, with the other four rooms sharing two bathrooms. Though these are kept spotlessly clean, it’s worth noting that the bedroom off the living room has its bathroom across the living room and down a corridor, which might not be ideal for night-time loo runs.

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Retreat Activities


Deeply relax with a range of detox and wellness breaks that combine juice fasting, raw food or vegetarian meals with different types of treatments. There’s also a sauna and soak tub, and private yoga and meditation sessions can be arranged.

Choose the signature The Lifestyle Retreat as a four, five, six, seven, 10 or 14 day retreat. You’ll start with a juice fast, progress to a raw food diet, and then eat vegetarian meals after that. The accompanying treatments depend on the length of your stay and might include a deep tissue full body massage, a Heart and Soul Treatment, a detox mud body wrap, a Lifestyle session and Shamanic healing.

Whether you’re a die-hard detoxer or a newbie who’s collapsing on his or her feet, you can also opt for a flexible approach to cleansing and get the team to tailor a detox to your needs based on either a juice detox, a raw food menu or vegetarian menu. You can have wheatgrass shots, or include psyllium and bentonite clay (following a discussion about what you want to get from your stay). If you want colonics to accompany your detox, the team will take you off site for a session with an experienced practitioner.

Unplug for a couple of days and tune in with the abundant nature around Middle Piccadilly. No mobile phone use is allowed in communal spaces and discouraged in private, and you’ll be in a wi-fi free area of the house. To compensate, you’ll eat a vegetarian menu and receive a Heart and Soul Treatment and a detoxifying mud wrap.

The 5 night Middle Piccadilly detox fasting retreat includes juicing, raw food and a water fast along with a Therapeutic Massage, a Heart and Soul Treatment, Shamanic Therapy, Lifestyle Review, Exfoliating Bodyscrub, Moor Mud Soak and Yoga.

Depending on your goals, a range of relaxing retreats are on offer which include veggie meals and a range of treatments. On the 2 or 3 night Body Refresher you’ll have a homemade organic exfoliating bodyscrub and a detoxifying mud wrap. For a boost to your system, choose the 4 night Energiser retreat for a deep tissue full body therapeutic massage and exfoliating bodyscrub, or if you want lots of down time, go for the 5 night Chilled retreat and receive a deep tissue full body therapeutic massage and an Indian Head massage during your stay. Extra treatments can always be booked.

The treatment menu is deliberately small and quite quirky in its selection, and all treatments are given by reliably good people who have been treating guests here for years. Some come included, and you can book extras as you want.
The Heart and Soul Treatment comes highly rated, their twist on an ‘extended’ reflexology experience, it’s a gentle nurturing and energy balancing therapy using Spiezia products, an organic range from Cornwall. There’s also a full body deep tissue massage, Middle Piccadilly’s own hand and foot massage, and organic facials. For complementary therapies, you can choose reiki, reflexology, Indian head massage and ear candling (great for ear, nose and throat conditions).
There are also a fair few wraps going on – including a Detox Mud Wrap made from herbs, plants and minerals that improves skin tone and leaves it super soft – and four different scrub treatments, including an exfoliating body scrub where you choose from various coconut-based mixes with peppermint, coffee, lavender, lemongrass or brown sugar.

Yoga and meditation sessions can be arranged in advance on a one-to-one basis with co-owner Dominic’s highly experienced mother Eliana, who set up Middle Piccadilly and is in her late 80s. These take place in the Star House in the garden, where Eliana also offers private and powerful 90-minute shamanic healing sessions.

There’s an infra-red sauna to use, and a genius soak tub. This is a metre by metre square Japanese-style omnitub that’s around 75cm deep and can be filled with things like mud, seaweed and herbs. It’s deeply relaxing and included in most programmes, but you do need to book a spot!.

Cooking classes are not a regular part of the programme but may be requested and run when co-owner Dominic has time, which is usually at weekends. There’s a demonstration of how to make a raw food or vegetarian dish, some nutritional advice, and you’ll get the recipe to take home.

Wander in the garden or have a stomp through the two acres of grounds beyond. Middle Piccadilly is set in Dorset farming country, and there’s a nice circular walk (around an hour) from the retreat or, if you’re feeling the need to get out and about, there are head-clearing, tranquil walks a short drive away.

Personal spaces

Bedrooms: There are five small bedrooms, one ensuite and the others with access to two clean and functional shared bathrooms with complimentary mini-sized Highland Soap organic products.

Compact but warm, comfortable and clean, they are decorated in taupe and teal colours with wooden beds and wardrobes, and depending on the room, features such as a leather chair or elegant dressing table. One of the single rooms has French doors onto the front garden.

Tea lovers will appreciate the tea-making facilities with complimentary Clipper teas, while each has a warm blanket and hot water bottle for extra comfort. Two bedrooms have a television and three have wi-fi.

Personal spaces

Other places to be: The garden has a few benches and seats to sit and ponder on, while the Star House in the grounds is always open and makes a lovely place in which to meditate or follow your own yoga practice when it isn’t being used for a workshop or one-to-one class.

Insider Tips

Middle Piccadilly can cater for intolerances if given advance warning, and allergies if accompanied by a doctor’s note. Views from the bedrooms can be mixed (and may include the carpark) so check when you book.

 

Bring books, notebooks to write in, paints to draw with – anything to make the most of your downtime here. Bring shoes you can walk in the countryside in. There are some wellies you can pop on in wet weather.

When to Go

Any time. January and February can be busy, as they are usually a favourite time for detoxing, and August is also a busy month for summer relaxation. December is quieter, and they are closed over Christmas, but re-open on the 29th December for the New Year - come to detox, relax and escape the traditional New Year festivities.

Shared places

The House: Middle Piccadilly consists of a mellow thatched farmhouse with converted outbuildings and a more modern (1980s) extension which houses most of the bedrooms. It’s a quirky and comfy, rather than boutique and smart.

The living room is off and away in a former barn – it’s a high-ceilinged space packed with curiosities including paintings, ceramics - they used to run pottery retreats, old books, wall hangings and objects garnered from around the world. There is wi-fi available in one area of the retreat, leaving a signal-free zone for those wanting a digital detox.

Shared places

The House: Middle Piccadilly consists of a mellow thatched farmhouse with converted outbuildings and a more modern (1980s) extension which houses most of the bedrooms. It’s a quirky and comfy, rather than boutique and smart.

The living room is off and away in a former barn – it’s a high-ceilinged space packed with curiosities including paintings, ceramics - they used to run pottery retreats, old books, wall hangings and objects garnered from around the world. There is wi-fi available in one area of the retreat, leaving a signal-free zone for those wanting a digital detox.

Shared places

Star house: Tucked away in the grounds is the Star House, a wooden hexagonal shaped building on stilts over a pond that’s used for workshops and private yoga classes. Built where two leylines meet, there is a sense of it holding strong healing energy. Inside it’s beautiful – a gorgeous airy space with the feel of a wooden tepee with a window in the apex of the ceiling, images from many religious traditions, and, in the centre and under the star window, a small medicine wheel of crystals.

Sustenance

Meals are eaten in the family kitchen which could have come straight out of The Hobbit: solid wood, stained glass and  row upon row of earthenware pots and jars. Co-owner Dominic runs the kitchen and is a passionate vegetarian chef, with a particular interest in raw food which we found a revelation on our visit – bizarrely warming, filling and nourishing.

You can choose a full vegetarian diet, a raw food diet, or have a juice fast. Dominic endeavours to use organic where possible and at present it’s about 50/50 organic to conventionally grown produce.

Breakfast is a help yourself affair and quite basic: a selection of cereals in large glass jars and a loaf of bread by the toaster, plus butter and home-made jams. There’s a fruit bowl, a jug of orange juice, and you can make tea or coffee. The raw food breakfast was soaked oats with nuts and seeds on our visit. Lunch is also simple and comprises soup, bread, salad and a selection of cheeses such as Cheddar, Brie and a round of delicious goat’s cheese.

The evening meal is more elaborate. There’s only one choice for each style of menu, but it’s solid and comforting. Vegetarian mains might be a Port and mushroom ragout with matured cheddar gougere or nut burgers with steamed vegetables. Puddings include delicious crumbles or a raspberry parfait. Raw food options could include Pad Thai with rainforest nut butter puree or a ‘creamy’ curry with parsnip and nut ‘rice’. Pudding could be light and dark raw chocolate mousse on a cashew raisin crust.

There’s also a juice option with three juices a day. These are served at the same time as the other eating options, though juicing at the same table as guests eating full meals might be a stretch for some people. If you prefer, ask to have your juice or meal bought to your room.

 

Throughout the day there’s a full range of herbal and regular teas courtesy of Clipper Teas (a local Dorset company) and coffees, plus Glastonbury Spring Water.

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Sustainability

Middle Piccadilly recycles to minimise waste, including food waste, and uses recycled products, organic and ecological products where possible.All the therapists working here live locally, and include co-owner Lisa.

LOCATION

Holwell, Sherborne, Dorset

Airport: Bristol

Sherborne

Transfer time: 75 minutes from the airport and 10 minutes from the train station

3 Reviews
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Heather Gale

I booked in for the 4 night Detox at the end of October. It was my third stay at Middle Piccadilly, previous two were approx 20 years ago. Then I drove down from London, this time took the option of travelling by train to start relaxing before I arrived, with an easy taxi journey from Sherborne station. The aura at Middle Piccadilly is such that one begins to relax as soon as you arrive and unpack. No pretentiousness, just very easy going; no feeling of having to keep to an agenda. Given a sheet of the times of selected therapies, then left to your own devices, only needing to leave your room for therapies, mealtimes, or enjoying the countryside. In between the deeply relaxing treatments, I took a daily 70 min walk around the aptly named Peaceful Lane, both of which helped to look at life with fresh eyes. I was amazed that on the 48 hour detox, I was not hungry only drinking one fruit/veg drink and a piece of fruit each mealtime, I even lost 4lbs in weight. The farm is set in such peaceful surroundings, with no noise or streetlight pollution, deep relaxing sleep is ensured, leaving 4 days later fully refreshed.
Thank you to Dominic, Eliana and Claire. I will be back.

Elisabeth

I’m six nights in to my stay here at Middle Piccadilly and want to leave a review while everything is completely fresh in my mind.
My stay has been absolutely wonderful so far. I’ve done a couple of retreats of this type in the UK before and Middle Piccadilly far surpasses the other places I’ve been to. The most wonderful thing about this place are the staff, everyone is so friendly. The staff have done everything possible to make my stay comfortable and healing.
I loved my shamanic session with Eliana, having worked with many shamans over the year this was one of the most beautiful and transformative sessions I’ve ever had. I also have had a mud wrap which was completely divine and left me feeling renewed and relaxed.
Dominic who runs the place is absolutely lovely. I’m juice fasting so have yet to try out his famous food but I’m looking forward to trying it before my stay is over. I feel completely supported through the juice fast and have found it so far more beneficial than others I have done. Dominic is extremely knowledgable and I feel in very safe expert hands which is important while fasting.
The rooms are clean and comfortable. There is mineral water provided as well as the most divine smelling toiletries in the bathrooms.
The Star House is an extraordinary structure on the grounds which you have access to for yoga and meditation – it’s a real privilege to have access to such a beautiful space to meditate while I’m here. The grounds are beautiful and there’s gorgeous countryside to walk in, it’s really a peaceful haven and completely unpretentious. This is definitely a hands-off retreat, I love that I’ve been mostly left alone while I’m here, I appreciate the space and haven’t felt at all lonely or bored.
I thoroughly recommend Middle Piccadilly to anyone who wants a genuinely heart-cantered restorative retreat. Magical place, thank you.