Escape to the countryside, discover soporific soothing in subterranean labyrinths or invigorate the mind with fire and ice treatments by the ocean… a new era of Zen is upon us. Here are 10 luxury UK spas you must experience.
South Lodge Hotel & Spa
The newest of our top 10 list of new-age luxury spas, South Lodge Hotel, West Sussex, launched its impressive spa in March this year with high anticipation and much ambition – and they’ve firmly delivered, both on expectation and promise. It’s a seriously sleek, modern, immaculately polished spa – a luxury ‘destination’, whether staying as a guest at the hotel or frequenting as a day-visitor.
The contemporary facilities, utilising the beautifully designed indoor and outdoor spaces, have been crafted with perfect precision, together with the state-of-the-art appliances, including top-of-the-range Dyson hairdryers, and their very own collection of bespoke products, ‘The Spa’, created exclusively for The Spa at South Lodge and sister-property, The Spa at Pennyhill Park, (both are part of Exclusive Hotels) it seems there’s been no expense (of the £15 million invested) spared.
Arguably the most impressive, and certainly the most unique, is their completely natural, 18m long heated wild swimming pool. Already very popular in Austria and Germany, this is a concept that is fast becoming fashionable here in this country, although the one at South Lodge is said to be the UK’s first ‘heated’ natural swim pond. The reduced nutrients prevent algae from growing and keep the water clear. Experience a dip at its best after a session in the sauna – it’s glacial at first, but soon gets you feeling wonderfully refreshed and energised.
The indoor infinity pool is especially remarkable for how it has been designed to bring the outside in – you are inside but still feel surrounded by the natural contours of the landscape. It’s invigorating and does absolute wonders for the mind – even before swimming any lengths. Such an incredible space – and if I didn’t live quite so far away I would be enquiring about membership based on this pool alone.
Then there’s the 14 nature-themed treatment rooms, nail bar and pedicure suite, thermal suite with infused sauna, marble-lined salt steam, jasmine herbal steam rooms – and a multi-level terraced sun deck and fabulous hydrotherapy pool outdoors.
When hunger kicks in, the Botanica restaurant is open to serve brunch, lunch or dinner – with scenic views and extensive alfresco dining. Head Chef Jonathan Spiers draws on the South Downs as a larder for fresh and seasonal ingredients – try their buttermilk pancake with berry compote and maple syrup, or BBQ courgette with pumpkin butter and lemon yoghurt.
And if you can’t quite pull yourself away from the poolside, there’s The Watershed, providing a refreshing range of drinks, alongside some tasty treats and light bites, including gelato and fresh juices – delicious.
For mindful rejuvenation and sensory indulgence, Rockliffe Hall’s 50,000 sq ft spa, complete with mesmeric infinity pool, tepidarium beds, indoor hydrotherapy pool, Roman sauna, cleansing tropicarium and igloo, should do the trick. For the ultimate de-stress, the spa, situated on the County Durham and North Yorkshire border, has recently opened its new Mind Therapy Room, which features a Spa. Wave bed that uses computer-controlled acoustics, gentle sound waves and vibrational massage therapy to soothe the brain. Benefits can include deep relaxation, easing of muscle tension, reduction in stress levels and improved sleep quality.
Gilpin Hotel & Lake House
Nestled amid the Lake District’s ice-dappled lakes and snowy mountains, Gilpin feels like a magical Scandinavian wonderland sprinkled with steamy lakeside cedar hot tubs and hideaway log cabins. All 25 hotel bedrooms boast Lakeland views, six with their own cedarwood tubs, and five intimate Spa Lodges feature their own ensuite spa (rainmaker showers and steam rooms inside, hydrotherapy hot tubs and saunas outside). One mile away, hunkered down in the endlessly romantic landscape lies Gilpin Lake House, a sanctuary where just 12 guests enjoy 100 acres of private grounds, complete with a lake, boat house, hot tubs, saunas, and swimming pool. At the hotel’s Jetty Spa, the Swedish style spa treatment room is raised three metres into the tree canopy for a connection to nature like no other and one of the most captivating forest and lake views in the land.
Cottonmill at Sopwell House
Connection to the elements runs deep in Sopwell House’s new three-storey Hertfordshire spa, where an indoor/outdoor hydrotherapy pool leads out to a restful spa garden created by award-winning designer, Ann-Marie Powell. Inside, a labyrinth of ice and fire experiences with an organic sauna, panoramic sauna, salt steam room and botanical steam room, while a Whisper Room and Rose Relaxation Room provide blissful cocoons of calm. The spa’s true calling card is the UK’s first ever amber and quartz crystal bed, which provides soothing thermal therapy by immersing the body in hot sand to ease tension and deliver muscle-melting relaxation.
Galgorm Resort and Spa
On the banks of River Maine in Northern Ireland lies forest bathing and natural thermal healing at its best. Cocooned in 163 acres of lush parkland, Galgorm’s woodland ‘thermal village’ offers saunas, therapy pools, private wood-fired riverside tubs, a sanarium and Celtic sauna. For the brave hearted, Galgorm’s Snow Cabin will invigorate mind and body with powder snow and crystals and is said to boost circulation and have a positive effect on the lungs and respiratory system.
Hibernate in the garden sauna cabin, sun deck and spa bath of this rolling woodland garden near Harrogate, Yorkshire. The luxury hotel also boasts a rooftop spa with hydrotherapy pools and thermal experiences designed to reflect the beauty of its natural surroundings. A few slippered footsteps from the rooftop pool, Rudding Park’s new Sunlight Therapy Room features heated, sculpted loungers and ‘sunlight simulators’ to boost energy and wellbeing even in the darkest days of winter. Replicating natural sunlight, a 20-minute session can help reduce the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), encourage sounder sleep, ease aches and pains and see an increase in energy and vitamin D production.
Source Spa and Wellness
Perched atop the cliffs on North Devon’s stunning coastline and providing world-class treatments in an uber luxe setting, Source Spa and wellness at Saunton Sands Hotel is the place to find yourself in nature. Inspired by its natural playground, the Spa utilises the breathtaking backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean’s gentle waves and the golden sands to create a tranquil environment. Spanning three levels to rejuvenate, relax and recharge including a lavish marine view thermal suite, a state-of-the-art gym, swimming pools and seven treatment rooms. Begin the Source wellness journey bathing in the mineral-rich marine vitality pool before soothing in the Finnish aroma sauna, salt steam room and ice fountain. Relax in one of the treatment rooms where therapies, rituals and treatments restore, invigorate and beautify. Gently awaken the senses on the top floor rooftop sun deck and restore your equilibrium with awe-inspiring views of huge skies, rugged dunes and rolling waters. Take the experience one step further and plump for an overnight stay in one of the sumptuous bedrooms and delight in two AA Rosette dining for ultimate luxury.
Recharge and restore at this 18th century pile set in 500 acres of divine parkland, just six miles from the historic city of Bath, Somerset. The ESPA spa is the place for decadent relaxation, with a 20m indoor pool, outdoor and indoor hydrotherapy pool, outdoor salt water plunge, an ice bar and thermal cabins featuring Japanese salt, an amethyst room, aromatic steam and sauna. In addition to holistic practices including personalised Ayurvedic dosha and reiki, guests can opt for the innovative Dry Flotation treatment, where the body is cocooned and submerged on a thin warming membrane allowing you to peacefully float without touching the water for ultimate relaxation and weightless rest.
Stoke Park Spa is set within the sweeping natural beauty of a thousand year old estate in Buckinghamshire. Since its visionary creation as the first country club in Britain in 1908, Stoke Park has become a unique and accessible fusion of heritage-rich elegance and contemporary luxury, where some of the finest sporting and leisure facilities in the world can be enjoyed.
The Spa is situated in The Pavilion, which also houses 28 contemporary luxury bedrooms. The Pavilion offers a haven of luxury, indulgence and serenity, with facilities that include an indoor heated swimming pool, changing rooms with Italian marble steam rooms, deep relaxation room, a private atrium with stunning five metre tropical aquarium, outdoor Scandinavian Sauna and hot tub, nail bar and boutique.
A five-star, quintessentially English luxury Country House Hotel & Spa located on the fringe of the New Forest, Hampshire – this is a perfect venue to replenish the mind and body. Swim in the 17-metre swimming pool, before enjoying the hydrotherapy spa pool, outdoor whirlpool, aromatherapy saunas, and crystal steam rooms. With twelve individual treatment rooms offering no fewer than 50 different treatments and holistic therapies you’re spoiled for choice. Or for something more active, there’s a state-of-the-art gymnasium, dance studio with daily programme of classes, 9 hole par-3 golf course, indoor and outdoor tennis centre and acres of woodland jogging and walking trails.