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Tuesday, April 13, 2021

The best hotels for spa breaks in the UK, for some much-needed pampering

These are unusual times, and the state of affairs can change quickly. Please check the latest travel guidance before making your journey. As it stands, hotel stays may be allowed from May 17. Please note our writers visited these hotels prior to the coronavirus pandemic

Even before the pandemic the spa-scape was constantly evolving. It wasn’t long ago that a spa meant a couple of pokey treatment rooms doing overpriced, mediocre massages and facials. The UK once lagged way behind the likes of Austria, Germany, Italy and Hungary – countries where spa-going is part of the culture, and a steam, sauna and cold dip (often in the nude, men and women alike) is the natural thing to do before a pre-dinner G&T. But as our insatiable interest in wellness, fitness and, increasingly, mindfulness continues to grow, so has the offering in spa hotels across the UK. We round up some of the best we hope to see again in May and beyond, from year-round rooftop spas in Yorkshire and natural pools overlooking the Cornish coastline, to the thermal spa waters of Bath. 

Thermal waters are the draw at The Gainsborough: its Spa Village has thermal pools, powerful massage jets, ice alcoves and thermal fountains. Other treatments normally include ‘freedom’ – controlled submerging with a therapist, which is liberating both mentally and physically – ginger exfoliation, and magnesium wraps (the mineral antidote for anxiety). Guests can take the waters in the privacy of their own rooms (the city’s famed natural healing thermal waters are drawn in the bathrooms) and guests booking the Bath Spa Suite can also enjoy spa products and gifts including a scented candle.


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Calcot & Spa

Tetbury, Cotswolds, England

9
Telegraph expert rating

The sprawling and spacious spa complements this extensive country house retreat with its relaxing treatment rooms, heated outdoor hot tub and indoor slate-lined pool (with separate swimming times for children) as well as large outdoor pool. Treatments include a new Aromatherapy Associates Immune Support boost massage which uses a blend of essential oils of tea tree, eucalyptus and pine to provide relief and support a healthy immune system.
Reiki is also on the menu; a good option for those who prefer a more hands off treatment. On the first floor, a brand-new yoga studio will be perfect for socially distanced classes.


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Set beside a wooded private lake, Gilpin’s swanky private spa suites offer cosseting boutique hotel luxury combined with stress-busting seclusion. Each cedar-clad cabin is 6ft above ground for show-stopping views across the Lake District fells. There are log fires, state-of-the-art music systems and sitting rooms that convert into treatment rooms for massage à deux. Personal en-suite spas also boast a steam room, sauna and hot tub. The first couple of five new, larger Spa Lodge 100s have opened, too.


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255

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Cliveden

Taplow, Berkshire, England

9
Telegraph expert rating

There are country house hotels – and then there’s Cliveden. This National Trust property, dating back to the late 17th century and set among 376 verdant acres on the banks of the Thames in Berkshire, is truly something special. The outdoor pool – where the infamous Profumo Affair started – is a real boon in summer. Inside, the spa includes an indoor pool and hot tub, an orangery-style room for relaxing, and treatments.


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500
Set in one of the Highlands’ prettiest locations, this spa is known for its crack team of practitioners who nudge you back into wellness via tailored diet, fitness and lifestyle programmes. The ESPA spa features top treatments and superstar therapists: a must is the two-hour Serenity Package, blending body and facial massage with shirodhara (warm oil drizzled over the forehead to relax and still the mind).


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244
You will find this modern, funky, and oh-so quiet spa deep below the hotel. Many of the marvellous treatments are based around mineral-rich Scottish seaweed – you can steam, swim or relax in a bath of the stuff flown in daily from the Hebrides. Other treatments use Ila or Ishga Organic skincare, the latter of which makes its products using antioxidant-rich organic seaweed from the Isle of Lewis. When the spa fully reopens, hotel guests will have complimentary access to the Thermal Experience; a circuit of wet and dry, warm and cold rooms.


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During Galgorm’s Celtic Sauna Ritual (spa circuit) there’s a choice of things to admire – from the picturesque grounds through the sauna window, to the staff wafting oil-infused steam around the room with a towel – while participants simply sit and inhale. The outdoor thermal Spa Village is a watery wonderland (do pack your swimming gear). It has a large pool (with a polished pebble floor to massage pressure points in your feet), indoor and outdoor thermal spa pools, an ice room where you can slather shards of ice over yourself post-sauna, or soak in the log-fired hot tubs dotted along the riverside.


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In the shadow of Edinburgh Castle but far enough from the glitz of George Street, the hotel is the epitome of 19th-century railway glamour – all chintzy carpets and chandeliers – while the Guerlain spa is Parisian pampering perfected. Each treatment kicks off with a personalised ‘fragrance journey’ where guests choose their favourite Guerlain scent and then towels, foot-bath and body oil are drenched in it. There’s a decent fitness room, swimming pool, steam room and sauna.


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143

Dormy House

Broadway, Cotswolds, England

9
Telegraph expert rating

Sprawling over several floors, the Scandinavian-chic House Spa leads directly off the reception lobby, so you are in no doubt that it’s centre stage at this ‘reinvented rustic’ country house hotel. There are gyms for workouts, classes and personal training sessions and a thermal suite with a Cotswold lavender sauna and salt therapy room, plus a hot tub outside. Treatments are by Temple Spa and there’s a nail parlour and an infinity pool.


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565

Lime Wood

New Forest, Hampshire, England

9
Telegraph expert rating

This is the kind of place you go to feel pampered, and you won’t be disappointed. The sybaritic spa at this refined country house in the heart of the New Forest is encased in glass and surrounded by greenery. There’s an outdoor hot pool, indoor lap pool and hydrotherapy suite. Spa treatments are by Bamford, Voya, Pai, Tri-Dosha and Aromatherapy Associates.


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1,250

Coworth Park

Ascot, Berkshire, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

The hotel’s innovative, environmentally friendly credentials are hidden behind a smoothly stylish interior and heralded by a vast and spectacular wildflower meadow. The curving, half-hidden spa has to be one of the most self-indulgent in the country, flooded with natural light and decorated with art and sculpture. It has eight treatment rooms, the Spatisserie serving light meals (and champagne, of course), a Technogym and a heated pool with underwater music.


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There are eight indoor and outdoor pools at Pennyhill Park – one even has soothing underwater music. There are also several hot tubs, herbal saunas and steam rooms, plus myriad natural and organic treatments designed to detox, cleanse and relax. And the heated ceramic relaxation beds, shaped to the body’s contours, are almost impossible to leave. Guests are also able to book some time on the tennis court and are invited to practice pilates and yoga on the lawns.


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455

The Scarlet

Mawgan Porth, England

9
Telegraph expert rating

In the airy, multilevel, environmentally friendly Scarlet, the feeling is one of intense relaxation. The womblike spa specialises in Ayurvedic ‘journeys’, with tented treatment rooms and pods suspended in the dark for ‘deep relaxation’ and an all-glass sea-facing roof for ‘light relaxation’. Once lockdown lifts, most of its spa features should be back in action: for instance, the reed-fringed, rock-strewn outdoor pool which extends from the indoor one, punctuated by two bright scarlet wood-fired hot tubs perched between boulders overlooking the sea.


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Combining old-school, classic elegance and impressive grandeur with a contemporary, holistic approach, Chewton Glen’s award-winning spa is said to have one of Europe’s largest hydrotherapy pools. There’s also an ozone-treated indoor pool lined with blue mosaic tiles and surrounded by Grecian columns, plus an outdoor hot tub and swimming pool.


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395
The contemporary spa makes a startling contrast to the Elizabethan manor: an uncompromisingly modern building with a spectacular box-like exterior and an airy and natural interior. Facilities include an indoor/outdoor pool, a hot tub, walk-through rain shower, steam room, sauna, gym, relaxation area, sundeck, and guest lounge. Six knockout bedrooms open onto a roof garden with superb views.


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219

Whatley Manor

Malmesbury, Cotswolds, England

8
Telegraph expert rating

For a super-spoiling weekend, head to this restored 19th-century country manor with tranquil gardens, an ivy-clad entrance, wood panelling and Persian rugs. Team a facial and fizz with a fondue (Swiss style). The spa has a steam room, sauna and indoor/outdoor hydrotherapy pool with massaging jets overlooking fields. Massages feature Ila products, using ingredients wild-harvested from remote, untainted regions far and wide (Morocco, the Himalayas) but blended and bottled 50 miles away.


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One of Harrogate’s health-giving natural springs feeds directly into Rudding Park’s award-winning rooftop spa and garden, which impresses with myriad facilities including herb-infused saunas and steam rooms, experience showers, and relaxation areas.


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You will make full use of the guest binoculars from an Estuary View room in this sleek, family-friendly spa hotel. The river is startlingly close and mesmerisingly gorgeous, with plenty of boat and wildlife activity plus nearby coves for bucket-and-spade outings. Treats usually include the blissful lava shell massage – hot shells that iron out tension – and ESPA facials (The Lift and Firm truly does!). With cocktails, superb seafood and a mini-cinema, everyone is happy.


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159
The state-of-the-art spa complements the elegant Georgian mansion and its extensive surroundings; indeed, you can easily spend a whole day there, luxuriating in an indoor pool embellished by a panel of flickering fire, an array of thermal treatment rooms and tubs, and 12 treatment rooms, all surrounded by delightful gardens.


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382
Helmsley is a classic market town and this spa reflects that, with welcoming tweedy fabrics and a down-to-earth approach. Guests can book specific treatments or time slots so they can mix and match on the day to get their full spur-of-the-moment money’s worth. Afterwards, tuck into burgers and bubbly. Detox, you do not! The pool, set in a courtyard garden, is transformed every summer by pots of lavender.


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140

Source: Telegraph




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