Ever found yourself struggling to get over a particularly bad breakup? We’ve all been there. But what if we told you there was somewhere you could go to recover from your heartbreak, complete with cashmere mattresses, guided yoga lessons and even a spot of therapy? Enter The Heartbreak Hotel, the UK’s first retreat dedicated to repairing broken hearts.
Counselling psychologist Alice Haddon set up The Heartbreak Hotel in the Peak District alongside bestselling author, coach and friend Ruth Field back in 2021. Their mission? Helping women who’ve suffered the trauma of a breakup to find their groove again. Their concept has proved wildly successful, with wave after wave of re-energised ladies going back out into the world with their oomph replenished. Andy Hill caught up with founders Alice and Ruth for a chat about the project…
How do your guests find you?
The first step is to fill out a form on our website that asks about their situation, how they feel and how they’d like to feel. It’s important we get as much info as we can. It’s more than just a retreat, though — we’re a mental health operation, so we want to make sure people are in the right place. Many of our guests exhibit symptoms of PTSD, depression and anxiety. It’s important to know where people are at clinically. Breakups are a serious trauma.
What’s the vibe of the retreat, and what should guests expect?
We like to cocoon our guests in warmth and comfort. We spent a long time sourcing the perfect venue. Right now we occupy a beautiful place up in the Peak District, with floor-to-ceiling windows gazing out toward the horizon. We don’t allow phones, and there’s no alcohol, because we feel you can’t be numbing your feelings whilst simultaneously learning how to manage them, and live with them. There’s lovely cashmere mattresses, underfloor heating, hot water bottles, a real fire, great healthy food, soft lighting. As you can imagine, we get through a lot of candles.
Do guests make friends?
We host eight guests at a time, and group them together based on shared experiences. On the first night, they all sit by the fire and share the story of their heartbreak. By the end of the weekend’s therapy, we gather by the fire again to tell a different story. It’s a rescripting of all they’ve been through, based on the fresh perspective we’ve helped them achieve. It’s by far the most moving part of the retreat.
What happens to guests at the end of the weekend?
Our guests leave feeling empowered and strong. The world outside might still be tough – there could be divorces, or other tricky situations to navigate. But they’re equipped to deal with these things. When we check back in six months later, our guests almost always report lasting positive changes. Our groups form friendly WhatsApp communities, through which they support and keep in touch with each other.
Can you tell us about your future plans?
We have big plans! There’s a book in the works — which places the reader in a lightly-fictionalised version of our retreat, sharing stories with five other guests. Our wider mission is lighting up hearts all over the world, and sadly a handful of retreats just isn’t going to do that. So we’re hoping to develop a virtual Heartbreak Hotel, where we can help women – and perhaps eventually men too — feel cocooned and work through their trauma in a healthy manner.
Rates for a stay at The Heartbreak Hotel are £2,500 per retreat. A 10% early bird discount is available for bookings made four weeks in advance. theheartbreakhotel.co.uk