The Best Spas in the UK
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In light of the news that UK spas will reopen from 13th July, now’s the time to start planning that long-awaited restorative weekend away. The UK spas offering is on the ascendant – so you can ditch the flights and make it better for the planet, too.
The Best UK Spas
Cowdray Park, Sussex
Highly rated by Kate Moss for their fad-free, once and for all approach to eating, Bodhimaya retreats take a big step towards remedying modern-day burnout. Using a combo of tender eastern philosophy and pioneering bioscience, results include a fresher complexion, improved energy levels, better mental clarity – and weight loss. At the heart of the method is intermittent fasting, giving the body periods of digestive rest when it can use its energy to repair and rejuvenate. In the long term, the straightforward eating plan can be easily integrated into busy schedules, avoiding all the hip and hype of foody obsessions.
The immersive six-day detox retreat, masterminded by Cornelius O’Shaughnessy (a meditation expert known for his ability to effect change and promote self-awareness), allows time for natural physical and mental healing in the form of daily yoga and ‘inner stillness’ sessions. Steeped in over 500 years of history, overlooking medieval ruins and nestled in the heart of a 16,500- acre estate, Cowdray House is the perfect setting for just switching off, and there’s plenty of time for a massage, swim or long walk in acres of English countryside. A retreat that feeds you at every level.
BOOK IT: Six nights from £2,695pp all-inclusive. bodhimaya.com
Retreat East, Suffolk
Imagine leaving your hectic, overwhelming life for a true respite where you can reflect and reassess. Author of the bestselling Pause, coach Danielle Marchant has created an ingenious retreat for self-enquiry and nurtured rest. Set at Retreat East, the space is contained and comfy, all white bedlinen and bedside posies. Cocooned by nature, it’s like staying at a spiritual house party. There are group sessions – yet respect between guests forms quickly, so there’s also plenty of personal space. The main ethos is to do very little, allow your body to find its natural rhythm and discover what’s lying dormant in yourself, both creatively and emotionally.
This gentle but profound process is supported by superb shiatsu (our practitioner Kate had hands like hot irons, smoothing out tension) and Scaravelli yoga, a form of exercise that goes beneath the rational mind to let your instinctive body release. Wild swimming, a powerful fireside ritual and outstandingly vibrant and delicious food support a radical transformation. Danielle is a soft but astute presence, missing nothing. She gently coaxes you to truly show up for yourself, which is both heartbreaking and uplifting. Dress down: PJs all day are encouraged.
BOOK IT: Four nights/five days from £2,255pp all-inclusive. suffolk.farm
Cottonmill at Sopwell House
If Louis XIV could design a 21st-century spa, it would be The Club at Cottonmill, the £14 million members-only addition to Sopwell House. With sumptuous country house hotel beds and a private courtyard with your own spa bath, it could be tempting to stay in one of the mews suites all day – but you’ll want to head for The Club. Think sleek indoor and outdoor vitality and hydrotherapy pools, a panoramic sauna and ‘deep relaxation room’, perfectly calculated to meditate away life’s stresses. Yoga and pilates classes are on offer at the studio for something a little more re-energising – or undertake a brisk soaking in one of the new ‘experience showers’.
And don’t miss the more easy-going poultice massage on an amber and quartz crystal bed. Afterwards, swap your spa robe for your finery and head to the award-winning restaurant, where even the most religious foodies will be impressed by ‘62-degree egg’ with salt-baked celery and truffle, and succulent beef fillet with truffled gnocchi and perigourdine sauce. The perfect antidote for stressed-out city dwellers.
BOOK IT: Doubles from £469 B&B with access to The Club at Cottonmill. sopwellhouse.co.uk
MORE UK SPAS: The Best Day Spas in London
Back to Nurture by Arrigo
Getting back to nature is a nice concept but we’re not all cut out for roughing it in wobbly tents and muddy wellies. Trust Fiona Arrigo, doyenne of retreat chic, to pull the bunny out of the hat once again. Her new Back to Nurture retreats transform the wilderness wellbeing trope into a whole new pattern of luxurious simplicity. Home is a magical safari-style ‘tent’ (complete with log burner, super- comfy beds and – oh yes – your own flushing loo and steaming-hot shower). Food is mainly vegetarian (though smoked salmon sneaks in for breakfast) and so healthily delicious you almost feel your cells giggle. Sublime bodywork tells your body to let go – you’re safe. Put your inner sceptic on a tight leash and go commune with those trees and dance barefoot in the dew. Uncover your inner weaving woman, your inner banging-a-drum woman; roar your angst at the fire (tears optional). The invitation is to stop and reconnect with your deep, instinctual self, and it’s beyond beguiling. We all need a dose of this – a grass-roots, back- to-nature experience that helps us connect to something primal, as well as to our inner essence.
BOOK IT: Four days from £1,890pp (double occupancy) all-inclusive. thearrigoprogramme.com
The sound of a gong used to mean dinner time in the 17th-century mansion’s former life as a private dwelling. Now the gong is a crystal singing bowl heralding the start of a detoxifying salt scrub at the hotel’s Three Graces spa. Local Yorkshire businesswoman Valeria Sykes has poured her heart (and funds) into this magnificent property and done it with style. The spa is as top notch and cosseting as the hotel itself. Nature and nurture are the abiding tenets, with British organic skincare brand Ila featuring alongside Natura Bissé. Treatments are designed to soothe brain and body, activate energy flow and promote healing.
It’s easy to while away the day as you flop from heated pool to daybed, sauna to snow room (yes, real snow) and out again to defrost in a hydrotherapy pool before another round of massage, crystal healing, or perhaps a facial. An adjoining fitness centre offers an altitude chamber, underwater treadmill and cryotherapy, helpful if you are carrying a niggle or for post-op recovery. Whether you’re a stressed-out exec, mum-to-be or simply after some me-time, the Grantley team and head-clearing Yorkshire air will do their best to work some magic.
BOOK IT: Doubles from £340 B&B. grantleyhall.co.uk
As UK spas go, Mullion Cove boasts the best views. Perched on a clifftop overlooking an historic fishing harbour, the spa enjoys breathtaking sights over the Lizard coast. You can bring your four-legged friend, but after a vigorous coastal walk, let Fido sleep it off while you head to the recently opened eco spa, which uses only Soil Association-approved products in its treatments. Headed up by holistic therapist Hannah Martin and with the mesmerising murmur of the sea as your soundscape, rejuvenating facials use a special combination of massage techniques from India and Japan to leave your face glowing, while seaweed-infused body treatments play on the Atlantic Ocean connection (but not the smell, thank goodness!) to keep things as local as possible.
Both day and hotel guests should visit the salt laconicum, sea-view steam rooms and indoor hydrotherapy infinity pool, but we urge you to go for their signature treatment, the Mullion Ocean Essence, a blissful indulgence that incorporates jade ‘wave stones’ to target areas of tightness, a Japanese scalp massage for bliss-out zen and healing reiki to rebalance the body and soul.
BOOK IT: Doubles from £175 B&B. mullion-cove.co.uk
It’s usually pretty blustery hiking on the headlands of the beautiful North Devon coast, but this place clears out the fug of city living and re-energises the gloomy with such dazzling precision that many people make it an annual detox. A Yeotown retreat stretches muscles, pumps pulses you never knew you had and unravels the whirr and buzz of the busiest minds. Run by Simon and Mercedes Sieff, he leads the charge for surfing and hiking, while she lengthens and stretches weary limbs with her excellent yoga classes. They’ve created a cosy weekend house party vibe rather than a spartan, spa-like detox.
The staff are all stars, from Jaz the vegan chef, who has the most voracious carnivores oohing and ahhhing over her veggie dahl, to Mo the hiking guide, who herds the most sofa-prone sloth up vertiginous coastal paths using patience and gentle persuasion. Everyone bonds over simple pleasures such as hot baths with Epsom salts and nightly massages in the barn. The running theme here is space – both to stretch your body and free your mind (they encourage you to set down your gadgets). Each day is completely different so you learn to live in the moment, and what a liberating moment these precious five days are. Expect to feel a seismic shift.
BOOK IT: Four nights from £1,950pp. yeotown.com
THE C&TH SPA GUIDE