Check-in for a 2020 Super-spa break
I'll tell you what I want, what I really really want... a massage, mani and Jacuzzi please, and make it snappy.
I can’t think of a better antidote to those tough days that life throws at you than something fragrant and pampering to look forward to. Here are the ones I’d most like to be floating blissfully around in a fluffy white robe in the coming months – and we’re not just talking any old spas here. We’re talking the blockbuster, A list, dream destinations that everyone is talking about. Because you’re worth it, obvs.
Calcot Manor, nr Tetbury, Gloucs
Calcot Manor is about as quintessentially Cotswolds as it gets – all that gorgeous honey stone and rolling countryside and fit young farmers forking hay with their tops off (hey, just go with it). The spa is a tranquil retreat with headline facilities including an indoor heated 16m pool, sauna, steam room, seven treatment rooms and relaxation lounge but you’ll find us mainlining the outdoor fireside hot tub in the pretty lavender-lined courtyard. The spa’s also kitted out with the latest gym equipment, plus a full timetable of classes from gentle pilates to HITT (tried it once, couldn’t walk for a week). There’s also the option to borrow a bike to cycle around the 220 acre grounds or a racket to hit the tennis courts.
House Spa, Dormy House, Broadway
How utterly heavenly does this infinity pool look? House Spa at luxury Cotswolds retreat Dormy House has top-notch facilities (and a bucketload of awards to boot) including soothing lavender sauna and salt-infusion steam room. Treatments all come from cutting-edge brands Natura Bisse, Temple Spa and Pure Massage plus you can have a pop at golf or, erm, quad biking afterwards if that’s what floats your boat. Individual treatments are available to guests only, but you can book onto a spa day if you’re not sleeping over.
Bamford Spa, Daylesford Farm, Gloucs
Located next to Daylesford Farmshop (spa and shop, anyone? Me, ME!), Bamford Haybarn Spa is an absolute corker of a space and, like everything at Daylesford, has been created in the best possible taste. The spa has an extensive programme of activities in the stunning studio – yoga, meditation, pilates, sound healing, HITT, personal training – and treatments that have a holistic approach, using Bamford’s own range of natural body-care. I have some in my bathroom, it’s divine.
The Langley, Bucks
The Langley opened last summer after a mega five year build and it really is a stunner (read my review here). Head underground and you’ll find a luxe superspa, the second biggest underground spa in Europe, with 1600 sq m of luxury, plus the only hotel hammam outside of London. The spa also features exclusive VIP suites, an amethyst crystal steam room, female only areas, heated relaxation loungers, plunge pool, ice fountain, five treatment rooms, two thermal areas, a remarkable Himalayan salt sauna. I can tell you from personal experience that it’s drop dead gorgeous and, well, you’ll want to stay forever. A treatment list to boot including a range of massages, facials, hair treatments, manicures/ pedicures, waxing, men’s services and fitness counselling. FYI fitness guru Matt Roberts has a gym here too if you want to book in for some buns of steel (yours not his).
Stoke Park, Bucks
One of world’s must-visit spas, according to Vanity Fair and pretty damn fine – the spa is situated in The Pavillion with it’s own set of 28 bedrooms if you fancy a relaxing weekender, plus top-notch facilities – an indoor heated pool, Italian marble steam rooms, Scandinavian Suana, hot tub, nail bar and five meter tropical aquarium because why the hell not? Running from Jan – Mar is a Sensory Spa Retreat including full use of the spa, a full body aromatherapy massage with the option of a warming lava shell (alright, go on then!) and two course lunch (cost: £135, £170 if you want a facial thrown in).
Spa Illuminata, Danesfield House, Oxon
The sister spa to the groovy Spa Illuminata in Mayfair, the spa at Grade II listed, late Victorian, five star Danesfield House is accessed via a glass walkway from the main hotel. The star of the show is the gorgeous, glittering 20m indoor pool and poolside jacuzzi, plus there’s a huge range of treatments on offer including a full range of massages, facials and holistic treatments such as Reflexology and Reiki. There are loads of Spa packages available, but if you opt for an overnighter at the hotel then you get full access to the facilitates including the gym and fitness classes.
Soho Farmhouse, Oxfordshire
David Beckham’s favourite hangout (he lives next door) and Meghan Markle’s hen-do venue is a member’s club but book an overnight stay and you’re free to roam amongst the beautiful people. There’s an excellent Cowshed spa on site, a large gym in the basement, a hair salon and a show-stopping indoor/outdoor pool with views across 100 picture-perfect acres of Oxfordshire countryside.
Cottonmill Spa, Sopwell House, Herts
Brand spanking new this year, Cottonmill Spa is the UK’s first private members’ spa located on Sopwell House’s 12 acres of gorgeous countryside (you’d never guess it’s just a one hour drive from London). The spa cost £14m *yikes* to build and is three storeys of state-of-the-art facilities including an organic sauna, a plethora of steam rooms, vitality pools and high-tech gym. Members have access to signature treatments that harness the soothing and healing powers of sand and water like thermal therapy on an Amber & Quartz Crystal Bed, and bespoke hydrotherapy. There’s also a stunning spa garden created by award-winning garden designer Ann-Marie Powell along with luxe touches like Tom Dixon lighting, Dyson Supersonic hairdryers and sensory showers.
Chewton Glen, Hampshire
Yeah baby. Floor-to-ceiling windows, natural light and heavenly hydrotherapy pools at superluxe, 5* Chewton Glen spa in the New Forest. Lose yourself in the sprawling facilities, including an outdoor Jacuzzi, steam room, sauna, 17m swimming pool, and choose from 50+treatments that use delicious beauty products in collaboration with Oskia. Top top: save up for a stay in one of the treehouses – and make sure you leave time between massages for a stroll down to the beach.
Lime Wood Hotel, Hampshire
A sublime chic New Forest hideaway, Lime Wood’s Herb House spa is your spot for a luxe Sarah Chapman facial – which are like gold-dust because they make you emerge resembling a supermodel. There are indoor and outdoor pools, a hydrotherapy suite, a rooftop gym and helipad – phew, I was wondering where to park my chopper. For New Year there’s a special package for two (Jan – Feb, Mon – Thurs) which includes an overnighter, use of the spa and Champers, from £299.
Monkey Island Estate, Bray, Berkshire
It may sound like something out of a Disney theme park but it’s actually a très chichi boutique hotel that opened in April 2019 on an historic private island in the middle of the Thames. The design team behind The Dorchester in London and The Carlyle in New York are conjuring up 41 rooms and suites, from £275 and all with amazing river views, of course, plus – the tour de force – a floating spa on a converted barge. Because, well, why not?
Ragdale Hall, Leics
An awards-magnet, this Leics hotel is a dedicated pampering palace with extensive facilities like this amazing rooftop infinity pool. Romantics can get stuck into the atmospheric candlelit pool and a ‘cave shower’, which mimics being caught in a tropical downpour, complete with thunder and lightning. Full marks for creativity. Not forgetting the vast treatment menu, with 140 therapists for whom your wish is their command. In which case, I’ll take three days of massage with a side order of Chris Hemsworth please.
Aqua Sana Sherwood Forest, Notts
OK, here’s a curveball – this is actually part of Center Parcs which admittedly might not be your first port of call when it comes to a dedicated spa break. But, but, but… in 2019 it was voted best spa in its region by The Good Spa Guide so it’s definitely worth a look. The highlight is the treetop sauna with superb views of the surrounding forest and, with treatment days starting from £79 per person, it won’t break the bank. Center Parcs – who’d have thought it, eh?
Any utterly brilliant UK spas I’ve missed off the supers list? Let me know in the comment box below. It’s my duty to try them all.