Plan your new year spa break with help from the C&TH Spa Guide 2018, your complete guide to the best luxury spas in the UK and around the world. See our comprehensive collection of spas – from family-friendly UK bolt-holes to luxe retreats in Italy and Alpine ski breaks in Switzerland…
- Family Friendly
- Male Friendly
- Medical Cleanse
- Ayurveda Experts
- Short Haul
- Best of British
The Best Spas in the World 2018
Spa and family are words that can go together happily.
Jumeirah Zabeel Saray, Dubai
Everything is bigger in Dubai and the family-friendly Jumeirah Zabeel Saray is no exception. A mini-palace with 443 rooms and 10 restaurants on The Palm, the central pool is the size of a small lake with views stretching over to the Atlantis hotel in the distance. The brilliant kids’ club features its own pool, a climbing wall, play areas and an indoor area with everything from a Playstation to drawing and games. Leave them there and head to the hotel’s Talise Ottoman spa, which is heaven for tired parents. With 42 – yes, 42 – treatment rooms, the spa is one of the largest in the Middle East. Think soaring ceilings, mosaic floors and Ottoman- inspired decorative touches, not forgetting three hammams, two thalassotherapy pools and various saunas and steam rooms, all dotted through a maze of darkly glamorous corridors spread over two vast floors. But what it lacks in intimacy, it makes up for with dazzlingly good treatments such as the Collagen Myoxinol facial (to smooth out fine lines), a full-body Citrus Hydration ritual and an indulgent Arabian rose and gold hammam. The post-treatment come down is beautifully managed with plenty of time to soak in a Jacuzzi, discover your inner Elsa in a snow room or relax on a hot stone bed. All that’s left for you to do is find your way out.
Borgo Egnazia, Puglia, Italy
This magnificent hotel, built of tuff stone to resemble a Puglian village, offers everything; a trendy beach club, hearty restaurants, swimming pools, cycling, cooking classes, a zinging kids’ club, golf and the most magical spa for weary parents. Literally – the ethos here is Puglian healing based on ancient witchcraft and ritual. Descend to the labyrinthine spa, where you are met by local healers dressed as Grecian goddesses. Into this sepulchral calm, every inch of space is considered vast troughs contain rock crystal to absorb negativity. Sink into the white-curtained cinema for mind-bendingly beautiful films with no dialogue. Unknot your body in the spectacular Iyengar studio. Fall into the arms of the therapists whose treatments are beyond description – they release muscles and emotions in the most intuitive way. Perfectly pitched, you will leave whoozy with disconnected delight. Vair Spa will blow your mind. It offers destination spa standards hidden in a family resort.
Evian Resort, Evian-les Bains, France
A stately retreat for worn-out parents meets a fresh-air adventure playground for children. Évian Resort sits in 42 acres of alpine woodland with hypnotic views of Lake Geneva and a backdrop of the Swiss Alps. For grown-ups there’s every top-notch aesthetic and wellness programme you can think of – from rejuvenating beauty treatments to detox, fitness and yoga retreats. Spa Évian Source is savvy to the boom in family wellness and not only offer a range of kids’ treatments – mini massages and ‘fairy fingers’ manicures – they’ve also created a genius mother and baby programme, where exhausted mothers can check themselves in for three days of R&R, safe in the knowledge that their babes are enjoying ‘aquababy’ sessions. The resort’s highlight is Hôtel Royal – an exquisite 19th-century palace with gorgeous suites, first- class service and a recently awarded Michelin- starred restaurant, Les Fresques. There’s also a championship golf course, tennis courts, a concert hall and even a casino. Oh, and you must hop on the complimentary shuttle bus down to the town to sample Évian water at source.
Schloss Elmau, Krun, Germany
Tucked deep in splendour of the Bavarian Alps, Schloss Elmau is a sanctuary framed by snow-capped mountains and rushing streams. The secret to the hotel’s success lies in its six spas, even with the 115 rooms and suites at full capacity you will find space to unwind. There are relaxation rooms with open replaces and scenic saunas in the most secluded spots. The Jivamukti Yoga Centre is another highlight, offering open classes on a daily basis. This family-run hotel is positioned as a place for generations to come together and enjoy the endless choice of activities on offer. While adults unwind in the spa, children can check in to sport, debating or craft clubs. The hotel is also home to eight restaurants, including the Michelin-starred Luce d’Oro, two libraries and a concert hall. With an established cultural programme, Schloss Elmau lures a cast of world-class performers, from classical musicians to literary masters such as Ian McEwan. If you can tear yourself away from the award-winning facilities, the 70 surrounding peaks offer countless mountain biking and skiing routes too.
Think spas are mostly for the female of the species? Think again. We despatched thee men to India, Austria an Switzerland for some ‘me-time’. This is how they got on…
Ananda, The Himalayas
Tim Lott is a veteran spa goer, and it’s the Ananda that pulls him back again and again. This time, though it’s to address his mental, not physical wellbeing.
Arriving at the Ananda Spa in the Himalayas is not a new experience for me. I have visited twice before. The trouble is, the moment I leave, I just want to go back. This time it was a nine-year wait. Too long. The Ananda regularly features on the ‘best spa in the world’ lists. It is in a beautiful location – in the foothills of the Himalayas overlooking the Ganges river valley – and its spa is matchless, with 25 rooms spread across thousands of square footage. But that is not why I love the Ananda. I love it because it is sincere, a quality hard to articulate in writing. You just have to go there.
The spa is slick and professional. The staff are utterly charming, not simply trained to charm. You change into white linen pyjamas the moment you arrive, and get a fresh pair every evening. Their signature massage is a joy to experience. I could talk at length about the physical treatments, but I wanted to find out if the Ananda was as good for my mental health. Because it struck me that the whole wellness industry seems to avoid mental health issues – sticking to the respectively more tangible and more ephemeral issues of the physical and the spiritual. But as a lifelong sufferer of depression and recently diagnosed with ADD (Attention De cit Disorder), I wanted to see if a spa could do anything for my mind.
The spa seemed a little bemused when I asked them to put together a schedule to address my issues. Really, the truth is there was nothing in particular that spoke to the mind specifically, except the general idea of relaxation, adjusting chakras and energies and alterations to the diet. On arrival, you have a consultation with a doctor who categorises you as pita, kapha or vata, and thereafter your treatments and diets are based around that, your body type. But there is little for psychological matters. The best mind food I could find was the twice-daily Vedanta lessons. This is a unique feature I have not come across before – philosophy lessons to help you achieve peace of mind. Vedanta is a philosophy that goes back thousands of years, but the teachers here are from the modern Vedanta Academy in Delhi where there is a 90-year-old guru, Swami Parathawarsy, in charge. By contrast, the teacher at the spa looked about 19, but he was charming, funny and very sweet. The Indians have a genius for philosophy and storytelling and he was expert at both.
I attended lectures about marriage, choice, self-control, ego and more besides. The scheme of Vedanta itself seems largely about personal mental discipline, and making sure your intellect is in charge of your passions. Nothing new here, really. I listened in particular to his advice about marriage, having recently got divorced – the other person is always right apparently. If only that had occurred to me at the time. To tell the truth the most peace of mind I could have had was with some good sleep. But for some reason, I suffered from insomnia. I have no idea why. I even changed the pillows (they have that ultimate symbol of decadence, the pillow menu). It was a bit stuffy and I couldn’t open the window because of the monkeys coming in and – well, my imagination stops there. I don’t know what monkeys do to people in the night. Apart from this, everything was pretty much perfect. I hardly spoke to anyone all week, which was fine by me. The food was superb. By the end though, I was getting stressed by the amount of relaxation I was required to do. And some of the treatments were vaguely irritating – having oil poured onto your head for 30 minutes as in shirodhara, reminded me too much of getting stuck under my Hillman Imp in the 1970s with a leaking sump.
But the thing is, you do get peace of mind – and even elevation of mind. This isn’t only through meditation and so on, but also – the highlight for me – the visit to Rishikesh for Aarti where they hold a sunset ceremony on the Ganges with children from the local ashram. This was not merely novel and colourful, but deeply moving. At the end of my stay, I was still feeling a little rough – the lack of sleep had got to me – but I had had wonderful time. Did it help my depression? Well – I’m not depressed. As for the ADD, it’s… where was I? Oh yes, as for the ADD, it’s still there. I think. But there is a limit to what even the best spa in the world can achieve. And the Ananda may be exactly that.
Vivamayr, Maria Wôrth, Austria
Henry Conway gives his liver a break
Toxicity could be my middle name. Over the past decade and a bit, I have habitually gone to bed at 4am more nights than most and never held back when it comes to a dry Martini or three. So seven days at VivaMayr, where I would be denied all my favourite things, would be anathema to me but no one can accuse me of not being game. The advantage of the Mayr is that it’s like a private hospital – various appointments with a doctor, six blood tests later, and you really do get a full body 360. Even for the most pampering- averse, you get a proper look over. It’s a hypochondriac’s dream. My test results were pleasantly surprising – I seem to have a ‘superliver’, hence my rare hangovers despite a level of bacchanalian abuse that would make Caligula blush. It turns out I also have higher than average testosterone – my feather boas are just a ruse… Mornings start with a ‘Kneipp’ – basically stepping from steaming hot buckets of water to icy cold ones (cue small shrieks), all in the name of circulation. Then the gut work starts.
The Mayr method is based on a ‘healthy gut, healthy body’ theory, so each day also starts with a pre-breakfast Epsom salts drink, which makes you appreciate each room’s bidet. NEVER do this with a lover. Your meal plan is prescribed by your doctor – balancing protein and carbs, and even though diet food (properly tiny portions), it is delish. You have to chew everything 40 times, and dress properly for dinner. Oddly though I never felt hungry and nor did I particularly miss alcohol. I did miss caffeine dreadfully – the sleepless headachy third day was all caffeine withdrawal. The rest of your day is punctuated by massages, liver compresses and voluntary exercise. I did Nordic Walking, basically bouncing over the mountains with sticks. If you are a regular gym-goer, the exercise classes are very gentle; but with your calorie restrictions, that’s for the best.
I came back feeling revived and everyone told me I looked fresher – though most of my friends thought I had been forced into rehab rather than the gentler Mayr. I didn’t manage to keep up the regime quite as the doctors would have liked –we touched down at Heathrow at 2pm, and by 6.30pm I had a glass of cold Veuve Clicquot in hand. A leopard may not change his spots, but a good detox did kick-start a healthier new me, and I now want to go back once a year for an MOT.
Kulm’s, St Moritz, Switzerland
Sam Kinchin-Smith needs to feel he earns his pampering time
We who are about to die, to the steam room! Despite its unparalleled luxury and glamour – or perhaps because of it – St Moritz is a deathtrap for the aristos and playboys who throw themselves down its historic slopes and tracks. Unless you’re racing horses on a frozen lake at ‘White Turf’, notching up head-first speeds of 80mph on the Cresta Run, or skiing by moonlight on the Kulm Hotel’s private mountain, you might as well go home. But for those willing to risk life and limb, a reward awaits them at the Kulm Spa. Because the key, in my experience, to relishing an afternoon of wellness, as a male of the species, is to feel like you’ve earned it. The jackpot, that is. A proper pool, for starters; Jacuzzis and a spectacular open-air whirlpool, too, but it’s the magnificent 20m centrepiece that announces the Kulm’s leading edge. After a serious swim, there’s a reassuringly gadgety, even macho maze of corners to explore – an infrared cabin and a saltwater grotto, Kneipp footpaths and gender-segregated saunas – before your massage. My ‘AktiVital’ treatment zapped both overwork- and snowsport-induced tension with startling precision, in an atmosphere of heated pine, Alpine herbs and total competence. Adrenaline pumped, then diffused, with my masculinity totally intact. Perfect.
Give yourself a full body MOT
Espace Chenot at L’Albereta, Brescia, Italy
A serious regime from Henri Chenot, the king of Italy’s detoxing, may not be what you first expect from this glorious Relais & Châteaux hotel close to Milan. Usually, Italy means exceptional food – and there are temptations nearby. But a dedicated restaurant for those on ‘the cure’ and a super busy spa timetable make things easier. Days are peppered with treatments. Energy-giving acupuncture and Chinese cupping massages focus on rebooting your meridians, and daily hydro-jet baths and mud wraps are designed to break down fatty tissue, stimulate the lymphatic system and aid deep body cleansing. Powdered magnesium, which acts as a laxative also helps, as does the one-day liquid broth cleanse. Otherwise, three-course meals satisfy all your senses (though they are tiny), and you should swim, walk, hit the gym, sleep, read, sleep some more, so as not to notice the hunger. Some guests lose up to half a stone in a week, and the nutritionists really help you crack not just your physical needs, but your emotional approach to food, which – let’s face it – needs work in most of us. It’s all about banning guilt and enjoying different flavours and textures in every meal.
Lanserhof Lans, Lans, Austria
Lanserhof Lans is no arriviste. Ensconced in an idyllic Tyrolean village, it was converted from hotel to clinic in 1984, only the second in Europe after the original FX Mayr Health Centre. This year, it emerged from the chrysalis of a £25m refurbishment by Christoph Ingenhoven. Everywhere, those gorgeous mountains have been unveiled, a new bathhouse with a pool that has a salt content hovering at 3.5 per cent, and new cryotherapy chamber. Its practice, built organically over decades, is detoxification and de-acidication of the body through gut cleansing rituals. Like all Mayr Clinics, it offers that magical fusion of cutting-edge medicinal diagnostics and traditional holistic healing. You can come post-chemo to have infusions to strengthen the immune system; to re-start your gut health, to eat healthily and play golf, or to rest and have some pampering. It’s perfect for anyone with white-coat syndrome, as it doesn’t feel like a clinic – more slick hideaway.
Park Igls, Igls, Austria
‘It’s not what you eat, it’s when you eat and how you eat it,’ were just some of the wise words imparted by Dr Peter Gartner at Park Igls, an impeccable Mayr cure-based retreat. And if you come away with anything (apart from a tighter tummy and renewed vigor), it is knowledge, and knowledge is power. The (minimum) seven days are really a process of re-education. Learning to realise when you’re full, the key to food mixing, not eating late at night and chewing obsessively will be the new foundations to your relationship with food. Recent medical research has even found that neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s start in the gut, so it’s well worth paying attention. And if the doctors do find something more sinister going on, you’ll be whisked off for an MRI at nearby Innsbruck Hospital. Add in the glorious mountains of the Austrian Tyrol (walking and skiing aplenty), a daily regime of exercise, kneipping, lectures, films and special excursions – interspersed with herbal teas, broth and delicate portions of nutritious food (depending on which ‘stage’ you’re on), boredom is not an option. A future full of vital energy and health is, so grab it.
Villa Stephanie, Baden-Baden, Germany
Nestled in the heart of the Black Forest in the historic spa town of Baden-Baden, the progressive Villa Stéphanie spa (just next door to Brenners Park Hotel) covers medical, emotional and fitness issues, as well as aesthetic ones. Whether you’re checking in for an annual health check or a specific detox or fitness programme, there’s a 360° approach to getting well. The ‘full Monty’ includes having every ounce of your being analysed (body scan, brain scan, spine, heart, bloods…). On top of that, there’s an intense nutritional and body analysis (protein, body fat, intracellular water etc), followed by a prescribed reparative programme that includes vitamin infusions and other treatments for your body’s needs. Don your robe and slippers and your day will be a rotation between doctors’ appointments, a relaxing hammam and massage, a spot of light yoga, and then back to your room for a detox supper (always early) where you can select a pillow from the pillow menu for the ultimate night’s sleep.
For eastern healing, look no further than theses Ayurvedic experts
Shanti Maurice Resort & Spa, Mauritius
This island resort remains a magnet for die-hard ayurvedies. With one of Mauritius’ best views, just gazing out onto the starlit sea generates enough ‘om’ to send you in to a meditative slumber. Shanti Spa is one of the largest in the Indian Ocean and ancient practices of ayurveda and yoga are fused with cutting-edge wellness regimes. Airy treatment rooms circle lily ponds encased with tropical foliage, creating a horizontal haven. As well as traditional ayurvedic offerings, Shanti Dhara is one of the most popular choices from the Indian treatment list. Designed to relax the nervous system, the full-body, synchronised four-hands massage is followed by a blissful stream of warm herbal oils. An hour in and chakras are balanced to a state of pure nirvana. The cuisine is pretty hard to fault – head to Stars for ocean views and posh nosh; Fish Shack does a tasty rustic beachside BBQ; and La Kaze Mama serves up authentic Mauritian home-style treats in a gorgeous outdoor setting. The laidback Rum Shed is the place to enjoy a sundowner. All suites and villas among the 36 acres of fragrant tropical gardens offer private pools, outdoor rain showers and dining pavilions or ‘salas’, with breathtaking ocean views. Interiors are fluid and spacious. Large windows allow the sunshine to soak through.
Surya Lanka Ayurveda Beach Resort, Talalla, Sri Lanka
Head here if you don’t want to break the bank and fancy ayurveda – most do an intensive panchakarma cleanse – beside a golden beach. A sari-clad doctor will diagnose your dosha and select your therapies – so plead ‘stress’ to bag a shirodhara of warm oil dribbled on your forehead to banish those incessant thoughts. Bedrooms are simple – with mosquito-netted beds and ceiling fans. You’ll waft around in a batik sarong and towel turban – allowing that herbal scalp paste to do its thing – practise yoga, and eat under palm trees amid monkeys and iguanas. If you’re not nibbling according to doctor’s orders, you’ll feast on excellent buffets – fragrant coconut soups, mango curry and lentil pancakes. Fall asleep to the sound of the Indian Ocean and awaken to the tuktuk mobile bakery tinkling in the village behind. Leave rejuvenated, with your dosha as balanced as a tightrope walker.
Soukya, Bangalore, India
When your GP can’t help you and you feel like there is nowhere else to turn, head to Bangalore, the garden city of India. Founded by the esteemed Dr Issac Mathai (whose full title comes with a host of reassuring initials) and his nutritionalist wife, Suja Issac, Soukya is a yogic healing haven set amid 30 acres of organic fruit orchards and herb gardens. The 12 pretty cottages have open res, hand-carved beds and private meditation areas. Many a guest (including the Duchess of York, George Harrison and Sting) have come to address health issues that modern medicine can’t help them with. Soukya offers visitors access to a range of medical and complementary treatments as needed, including modern psychotherapy for addiction, state-of-the-art MRI scans and, of course, India’s most ancient health system – ayurveda. Treatments such as abhyanga (a two-handed massage with warm oil) and shirodhara (when hot oil is dripped gently and constantly on your third eye) help to ease and release tired bodies and clear chaotic minds. Don’t-miss activities include full moon meditations and cookery demos.
Atmantan, Pune, India
Located about three hours south of Mumbai, in a ridiculously pretty valley, deep in the Sahyadri mountains (renowned for their healing, crystalline properties) and overlooking the serene waters of the Mulshi Lake, the aim at Atmantan is to combine traditional Indian healing practices with a variety of international therapies and western fitness techniques. The end result is a transformative healing of mind, body and soul. Your ayurvedic doctor will put together a programme according to your dosha, including a customised diet from the delicious spa restaurant (cooked using ingredients from their own organic farms) and a schedule of treatments and exercise. Days pass by happily in a restorative blur of kriyas, massage treatments, yoga, infrared saunas, juices and evening meditation. Rooms are modern, spacious and chic with beautiful views over the lake and herb and butterfly-filled gardens. You might, however, want to go incognito in the remote luxury villa (beloved by Mumbai’s elite), which has its own pool, kitchen and private gym for the ultimate secluded pampering.
Treading the spiritual path can lead to better health in mind and body
Yoga Rosa, Santa Eularia, Ibiza
A decidedly quieter experience of the party island. Come to Yoga Rosa for daily two-hour morning yoga classes and meditation in the evening. Rosa is your teacher and she is passionate, authentic and works from the heart. Having recovered from a near-death accident, she now shares the tools she acquired with guests, and her feel-better magic can help shift you out of a rut. Her yoga is accessible to all, and while the hour’s meditation may be challenging to begin with, the pace and methods used are varied enough that you’ll cope better than you might think. This is yoga as a philosophy, not a sport – and Rosa’s intention is to balance intellect with instinct. Meals are decadent and nourishing – taken as a group – and consist of a hearty brunch (eggs, porridges, the best tomatoes and avocado), followed by an early evening supper overlooking the setting sun. The chef carefully calibrates everything, and you barely realise you’ve gone vegan. Some days are allocated for silence and digital detoxing. Relish the me-time and rediscover your inner world. Meanwhile there are beaches and markets to explore (if you hire a car), or you can hunker down on the estate with its two pools, pigs and chickens. The sunshine is healing in itself. A real find.
Amanyangyun, Shanghai, China
The first spa to open after Aman’s new push into wellness is an impressive 2,840 sq/m, has ten treatment rooms and state-of-the-art gym; a yoga and pilates studio; suites for reflexology and hydrotherapy and bathhouses with a Russian banya and a hammam. With immersions in place which free you of stress, unwanted kilos or an imbalance between your ying and yang, this is somewhere where you should linger. Your doctor in traditional oriental medicine include acupuncture, will definitely include meditation and either tai chi or qigong. Body treatments are divided into grounding, purifying and nourishing. Nutrition and diet are also discussed and a menu created for you which can be adhered to whether you are eating in the Chinese, Japanese or Italian restaurant. Transformation is the aim of the game here, with a team dedicated to imparting the sort of knowledge that helps you maintain balance in your lifestyle, mind over matter indeed.
Four Seasons Bali At Sayan, Indonesia
The journey begins as soon as you arrive at the resort – over the lush valley via an Indiana Jones- style wooden sky-bridge and into a reception area like a sleek modern spaceship landed in the jungle. The spa itself nestles near the sacred Ayung River, lost in the rice paddies and verdant grounds dotted with soaring palms and fragrant frangipani. While it offers all the holistic beauty treatments you’d expect, it is in its bid to pamper the inner – as well as the outer – that it shines. The clue to this is in the bright eyes of the therapists. Conceived as a journey inward, the spa’s menu offers innovative treatments that concentrate on each chakra in turn. For those who like their spirituality more actively delivered, there is yoga, meditation, healing and dharma talks, as well as fabulous anti-gravity yoga. And on hand is the resident former Buddhist nun who oversees perhaps the most extraordinary treatment: the sacred nap. Cocooned in a silk hammock hanging in the middle of rice paddies, you are gently rocked as the sounds of nature and a story gently told lull you to sleep. Relaxation as you have never known it.
Chable Resort and Spa, Chocholá, Mexico
To the Mayans, cenotes (natural swimming holes) were sacred, so it makes sense that the spa at this stunning new 750-acre Yucatán resort is built around one. Dip into the complimentary daily programme of classes and you might nd yourself practising early morning zen meditation or full moon yoga. Or book in for a treatment in one of the wooden cabins with a cenote-facing balcony. The Mayan herbal compress massage, where herbs grown onsite are combined with organic oils to ease muscle tension, leaves you floating. Tucked away in the forest is the temazcal or ‘sweat lodge’ for anyone wanting a deeper, more soul-searching experience. It’s not for the faint-hearted (literally – as volcanic rocks are heated to up to 1,000°C) or those who are claustrophobic (you sit in the igloo-shaped lodge in the dark), but it can be incredibly emotionally cleansing as chanting and gentle questioning by a shaman help you recall some of your earliest feelings. The joy of this place is that it is more about balance than deprivation. A magical haven to unplug and reconnect.
BOOK IT: Doubles from £835 B&B (). Return flights via Mexico City from £547.57 ()
After all ‘spa’ is short for salus per aqua – health through water
Masseria San Domenico, Puglia, Italy
Once used by the Knights of Malta as a watchtower during the Ottoman wars, this 15th-century farmhouse in Puglia is now a white-washed picture of peace, an impeccably chic hideaway with a fabulous thalassotherapy spa. Thalasso means ‘sea’ in Greek and this serene retreat has come up trumps in harnessing the healing power of marine water. Everything is tackled here: dropping the pounds, shifting cellulite, skin conditions, or simply recharging your batteries.
There’s a dizzying array of treatments to get stuck into such as hydro massages with seawater jets to boost circulation, detoxifying seaweed wraps, sea salt scrubs with essential oils and the revitalising algotherapy, where your entire body is covered in pulverised seaweed. Don’t miss the aquabiking (spinning in water) – hardcore but great for toning. Food focuses on a low- calorie Mediterranean diet. But there’s no deprivation here – just fresh, local ingredients with generous smatterings of the hotel’s own olive oil (the sea bass mille-feuille is a must). Afterwards, op in one of the ornate first-floor suites – vast with views of the sparkling Adriatic.
Old Course Hotel, St Andrews, Scotland
You might only have had reason to visit Old Course Hotel near Edinburgh for the golf; now you can add lavish – not to mention vast – new spa as a seductive draw, so couples can feel equally spoilt (the hotel spent £8m bringing the space up to scratch). Water is at the heart of its healing ethos (it is located by the sea, after all), with a hydrotherapy pool, cold plunge pool, buttock-clenching ice fountain and a 20m swimming pool as just some of the watery attractions. Thirteen treatment rooms offer mineral-rich seaweed or spiced peat wraps, anti-oxidant facials and hot stone massages, as well as a host of specific ‘bathing’ rituals. Lying in bliss looking out of the floor-to-ceiling windows at that epic coastline, this is the perfect spa for those who appreciate the therapeutic elements of nature – from a comfortable distance, although a bracing walk in all that wildness will also do you the world of good. Just book in for their signature Tranquility pro-sleep massage and a roof-top hot tub session afterwards.
Hoshinoya, Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo’s only luxury ryokan (Japanese inn) cocoons you in calm from the moment you step through its 300-year-old cypress doors. You slip off your shoes (to be stored in intricate chestnut and bamboo boxes) and pad about in hushed reverence, feeling the feng shui. Tatami mat floors, washi paper walls and delicate shoji screens create the typical ryokan ambience, complemented by subtle five-star services. The hot USP is the open-air onsen (hot spring bath) on the 17th floor: it draws mineral-rich, ancient seawater from 1,500 metres below street level. If you visit at night, you will bathe naked (as is the custom) in the 40°C water beneath an inky sky, the seductively lit high granite walls reducing the city’s cacophony to a low rumble. With your core revitalised by the onsen, a shiki treatment therapist will massage your body with fragrant oils and two warm balls made from rice cake and ground, steamed Japanese herbs.
Das Central, Sölden, Austria
From the warm ‘Grüss Gott’ on arrival to award-winning restaurants (one featured in a Bond movie) and the three-storey Water World Venezia, Das Central is a glistening oasis of wellness in the Austrian Alps. The Venetian-inspired Water World comes complete with an indoor pool, a plethora of saunas, steam baths and water beds, and its very own gondola. At the Spa & Wellness Residence, 16 treatment rooms play host to holistic massages, scrubs and classic beauty treatments. The resort is also ripe for adventure seekers – in addition to 429 hectares of pistes, there’s a Technogym and fitness programmes. Rooms are fresh, bright and airy, fusing clean lines with Tyrolean touches, views of the Ötztal mountains are standard in most, with wellbeing suites featuring in-room saunas. Culinary delights are prepared by Gottfried Prantl – the award-winning chef who rustles up delicious local delicacies such as river trout and potatoes grown in hay. There’s also an impressive fine wine cellar, with 30,000 bottles, should you like a little of what you fancy.
There’s nothing like nature to soothe the senses
Tierra Atacama Hotel & Spa, Chile
Check into your private villa at Tierra Atacama, with views of the Licancabur Volcano bordering Bolivia, and take time to stop and gaze: it might be the only time you stand still here. On arrival, your own private adventure concierge will run through the extensive excursion options – choose from climbing volcanos, mountain biking, horseback riding, hikes, stargazing in the desert and visiting the iconic Atacama salt ats and Chaxa lagoon to learn about the three species of amingo endemic to this area. You can keep yourself active from dawn ’til dusk – and at an altitude of 2,408m you’ll be keeping fit, too– but make time for the Uma Spa. There are indoor and outdoor pools, a Jacuzzi and hot tub, yoga classes three mornings a week and a host of signature treatments using local products. The Tierra Ritual is a must- do – a full-body exfoliation using desert salts and chocolate, a desert clay and chocolate body mask, the most gloriously comprehensive massage and some reiki.
Aman Le Melezin, Courchevel, France
All the hassle normally associated with skiing vanishes as soon as you step over the threshold of the newly refurbished alpine Aman. In the spacious ski room, obliging Frenchmen ease your feet into boots fitted by the in-house rental service, before you walk the few steps onto the slopes where your skis await. After a long day on the mountain, don a fluffy robe and slippers, and pad down the parquet-floored corridors to the new spa area with St-Just aqua glass panelling. Two further underground doors to accommodate five treatment rooms (including a Thai massage suite), a yoga studio for pre-ski sessions and a wellness area featuring a sauna, steam room and plunge pool – brilliant for reducing swelling and lactic acid build-up. A 14-metre lap pool and gym with state-of-the-art equipment are available for those wanting to get their heart-rate up. Eat at the new Nama for sublime sushi, before sinking into an enormous bed, with views of the Bellecote piste below, and dreaming of the first lift.
Ashford Castle, Co Mayo, Ireland
Once home to the Guinness family, Ashford Castle, perched on the edge of Lough Corrib, is straight out of a fairytale with its ancient stone turrets, glorious gardens and peerless setting. Following a meticulous, multi-million-pound refurb in 2014, inside it’s all four-poster beds, sumptuous décor, suits of armour and Irish wolfhounds lolling in front of roaring res. The last piece in the renovation jigsaw was the spa, which was unveiled in 2015. Ashford is Ireland’s first hotel to work with Spanish luxury skincare brand Natura Bissé and on the menu are impeccable treatments such as the Diamond Rose Body ritual which leaves you fully rejuvanated and silky smooth. There are also Elemis facials, seaweed leaf wraps and the spa’s very own PureFlow system, which uses counter- pulsation technology to improve circulation and oxygenation while detoxifying. But there’s also fresh air aplenty in the 350 acres, with activities like falconry, stand-up paddle boarding and fishing. Afterwards, feast on slow roasted rib of beef from the carving trolley in the glorious George V dining room before retiring to your room t for a king. Bliss.
Nihi Sumba, Sumba, Indonesia
This elegant eco-hotel on the remote island of Sumba in eastern Indonesia is famous for its private wave, Nihiwatu, on which only ten surfers are allowed at any one time. But that’s not all that’s on offer here – choose from galloping a thoroughbred along the private beach, yoga in an airy pavilion with breathtaking 360° views over surrounding tropical forest and rice fields, paddle-boarding, deep-sea fishing or visiting local villages. While there’s a spa in the hotel, don’t miss the NihiOka Spa Safari, a 90-minute trek through rolling countryside and rice fields followed by a healthy breakfast cooked on a wood re accompanied by fresh coconut water and pots of coffee before enjoying a half or full-day spa in a private, cliff-side room with as many treatments as you can fit in. Afterwards, instead of taking a shower, plunge yourself into the surf on the beach below. Go to sleep in your thatched, private villa listening to the sound of waves crashing on the beach below, happy in the knowledge that money spent staying here goes directly into improving the wellbeing of the community via the hotel’s Sumba Foundation.
Kurhotel Skodsborg, Denmark
Just a 25-minute drive from the centre of Copenhagen, this hidden gem – formerly a sanatorium – is home to Denmark’s largest and most enticing spa. Founded in 1898 by Dr Carl Ottosen, the hotel has a long history of promoting healthy living. Today the Scandi-chic state-of-the-art fitness and wellness facilities offer daily yoga classes with the gloriously picturesque 1,000-acre, deer-filled Gribskov Forest as their backdrop. The SaunaGus is the signature treatment where gutsy guests are steamed in a sauna before taking the plunge into almost-freezing water from the private jetty. Invigorating and not for the faint-hearted. The chef’s table by Erik Kroun is a don’t-miss gastronomic journey. In keeping with the overall vision, each course is complemented by a fresh juice (or wine pairing if you prefer). With simple Nordic traditions at the core of this hotel’s philosophy you’ll find mini hot water bottles tucked into your bed at night in rooms that have high ceilings, muted palettes and standalone bath tubs. Sophisticated but cosy. A real find.
Preidlhof, South Tyrol, Italy
The hills are alive… with a brand new six-storey spa tower joining a renovated ve-star spa hotel long visited by savvy Italians and Germans, 10km from the historical spa town of Merano and within easy reach of the Val Senales glacier. New rooms have balconies with double day beds overlooking the cloud-hugged mountains of the Vinschgau Valley, where Nordic walking sets you off to a good start. Follow a session in the hills or post ski with a life-changing deep tissue massage, followed by a health check and the comedy icing on the cake to us Brits: a sauna show. With six different saunas, some with glass walls overlooking that invigorating view, Marcus, the handsome spa maestro performs a sauna infusion to classical music sporting a toweling kilt; prudish Brits are allowed the same to avoid what they refer to as ‘free willy’. The restaurant serves a truly gourmet menu full of local specialities – still healthy but indulgent too – as well as a more restricted version for serious spa goers. Forget fitness and health for a bit and whizz around the local village on one of the resort’s canary yellow Vespas.
A short-haul flight means you can be on the massage table before you say, ‘full body please’
Hotel De Crillon, Paris, France
As Paris’s most exclusive address, bar none, it is only fitting that the recently re-opened Hôtel de Crillon should, under its new Rosewood management, offer a sensational spa behind its magnificentt 18th-century, neo-classical façade. Find it at the end of the long, narrow, art-filled hall, past the gilded heritage ceiling of Les Ambassadeurs Bar, where you should stop for a Paris Mule cocktail, before continuing on down to a long swimming pool, its foor glittering with 17,600 gold scales, and walls covered by a mural from noted ceramicist Peter Lane. Beyond are the treatment rooms; pearly white-on-white with marble oors and tranquil tones, with separate showers and dressing rooms complete with jewellery boxes. Choice of products include French brand EviDenS de Beauté, acclaimed for its anti-aging properties, creator of bespoke facial 360 ̊ Global Anti-Age Ritual, and the renowned Maison Caulières, which draws on the 250 years of knowledge acquired through its cultivation of plants. But not to be missed is a massage with the brilliant Fernando and the sweet almond balm created by Kos Paris for the spa. Afterwards float upwards on cloud nine to dine on oysters and champagne at the Brasserie d’Aumont and imagine for a moment that you are Marie-Antoinette.
Hotel Les Ottomans, Istanbul, Turkey
Istanbul gives good value for flight time: within just a few hours you can be zipping down the Bosphorus by speedboat, bisecting Europe and Asia, and marvelling at the city’s countless spoils. Hotel Les Ottomans may be a touch gaudy at first glance, but it soon reveals its distinctly Turkish delights: spacious suites, charming service and a great al fresco restaurant and bar on the waterfront heaving with Istanbul’s glitterati. Thinking of heading to a hammam but petrified of the public offerings? Then the Caudalie Vinothérapie Spa will do nicely. The signature Rose Remedy will see that (almost) every inch of you is washed, exfoliated, masked and watered liberally in a grand marble wet room. You’ll be draped in huge pillows of soap foam with rose extract – the perfume of choice for discerning women of the Ottoman era –and massaged into blissful relaxation. Once reinvigorated by handfuls of ice cubes rubbed on your silken skin, you’ll be glowing with the best of them.
La Butte Aux Bois, Near Maastricht, Belgium
Set on the edge of Belgium’s only national park, surrounded by forest, this is an elegant architectural juxtaposition of old and new, a historic house offset by a modern spa with 20 eco-chic rooms. An award-winning gourmet hotspot, you can choose from the Michelin-starred restaurant (where signature dishes include hamachi and North Sea crab and Dombes duck) to a spa menu featuring the likes of yellowfin tuna with shrimps in tempura, which can be enjoyed fresh from a dip in your towelling robe. In addition to all the first-rate facilities you’d expect – pool, steam, gym etc – there are eight treatment rooms with the latest quartz sand and waterbed treatment tables. However, it’s the dermatological offering that really sets this spa apart. Led by Dr Yolande Bullens- Goessens, Belgium’s leading authority on anti-ageing, the qualified team of therapists offers procedures including peels, fillers and botox. A perfect trip for anyone wanting to return home with a glow and – naturellement – the exclusive La Forêt by Dr Bullens medi-cosmetics are on sale at the hotel too.
Valsana, Arosa, Switzerland
Sandwiched between the frozen lake and bordering the forest in the iconic ski resort, this 40-room hotel is powered by an ice battery. The first hotel in Switzerland to use this cutting-edge technology, energy is captured by geothermal probes and from waste energy from the hotel and its neighbouring supermarket, all of which heat and power the building and its large spa. Spend the day walking or skiing, and return for a relaxing swim or sauna with views into the forest. Treatments are classic and use Clarins products; think facials and sports massages, perfect for limbs aching from the slopes. The spa features a pool, steam bath and 24-hour gym, yoga studio with twice-daily classes. The menu in Valsana’s Twist restaurant caters for every taste – with vegan, gluten- and lactose-free options and organic, locally sourced produce. The surrounding nature and modern technology of the hotel have been fantastically captured by interior designer Carlo Rampazzi – his mix of industrial chic, roughly hewn Aztec rugs and botanical prints goes hand in hand with the whole ethos of this pioneering hotel.
The Body Camp, Ibiza
Get fit, lose weight and change the way you think and prepare food, improve your health and come away feeling like a new you. A short flight from London takes you to the magical White Isle where your journey begins. Set in the picturesque Ibizan hills, The Body Camp welcomes groups or individuals to the five-star resort with its salt water pool and calm, elegant rooms. The week’s activities are planned by CEO and founder Kate Whale and head coach Rick Parcell and each day is about living in the moment only discovering what’s in store as the days unfold. It might be guided mediation, yoga, life coaching, circuits, TRX, boxing, beach workouts, hiking or a cookery workshop, along with daily positive thinking workshops. All fitness levels are welcome and how far you push yourself is up to you. Chef Ben Whale, keeps your appetite sated with an 80 per cent plant-based organic diet, removing processed foods, refined sugar, gluten and dairy from the menu – his ideas will follow you back to your own kitchen. Any time out of the schedule can be spent on dreamy treatments including top-class massage, osteopathy and a range of more holistic treatments to keep body and soul humming along perfectly.
Constance Halaveli, The Maldives
If unapologetic luxury is your bag, there are few resorts to beat the Maldivian island of Halaveli, with its trio of chic restaurants, its 20,000-bottle wine cellar and resident tennis pro and yoga instructor. This is the kind of place people revisit time and again (families and honeymooners are welcomed alike), as manta rays and whale sharks also return year in year out. The all-inclusive Cristal package includes access to 160 fine wines and innovative food from former El Bullì chef Jordi Vila. The diving is some of the best in the world, and the water villas are so private that you feel as though the entire turquoise ocean, from fingertip to fingertip, is yours alone. The spa, perched on the longest jetty in the Maldives, has its own range (U Spa by Constance); alternatively, choose a Brice Nicham foot treatment or a top-end facial with Swiss brand Valmont. A massage here, gazing down on the resident blue octopus in the gin-clear waters below, takes some beating.
Hilton Labriz, Silhouette Island, Seychelles
Small boats bounce over the waves from Mahé, the largest island in the Seychelles. In the distance there’s North Island, where William and Kate honeymooned, and where a villa will set you back £6,000 a night. But, your boat veers left and in around half an hour you’re dropped at the more egalitarian Silhouette Island. Here, there are no roads and, apart from a small B&B, just one resort: the Hilton Labriz. If there’s a preconceived picture of paradise, this has to be it: villas with private plunge pools, talcum powder-sand beaches, calm, crystal-clear sea and a lush, hilly, forest-clad interior. At one end of the resort is the Eforea Spa, which has the air of a Hobbit village, tucked away into the hillside, and almost covered by vegetation and trees. The six treatment rooms are set slightly up the hill, some with gorgeous views out to sea and with nothing but the sound of birds and waves to disturb you as you embark on a Volcanic Heat or Orchid Champagne massage. You might be too blissed-out afterwards to walk back along the beach, but the golf-buggies are just a phone call away.
Six Senses Zighy Bay, Oman
If you are after health with a bit of heat, but don’t want to schlep across the world, this is the place for you. It’s a hop to Dubai, a skip from there over the border into Oman, across the mountains and then, if you are brave, a jump (or paraglide) down to this beachside paradise. Eighty-four very private villas complete with pools, sit low amid the palm trees. The spa is sensational as be ts a Six Senses resort. Book Ketut, a Balinese therapist with a sense of humour and hands that tease out any knots. The detox massage is brilliant, loosening toxins and breaking up cellulite. There are homemade scrubs, think sea salt, mint and honey. Other indulgences include treatments by The Organic Pharmacy – such as the signature rose crystal lymphatic facial, as well as anti-aging facials from high-performing ayurvedic-based Subtle Energies and biomimetic brand Margy’s. There are hammam treatments and the Arabian body rasul, which slim and purify. Best of all, when you are glowing, wrinkle-free, thinner and rested, your ight home won’t put you back to square one.
Domes Noruz, Crete, Greece
Belonging to Marriott’s prestigious Autograph Collection, this adults-only boutique hotel stands on its own sandy beach and is home to a vast subterranean spa. With architecture inspired by the domes of nearby Chania’s Venetian shipyard, its clean lines and secluded spaces are decorated in earthy tones. Each of the 83 suites offer blissful relaxation, complete with a plunge pool, outdoor Jacuzzi or private pool. If you can tear yourself away from the h sun loungers and waiter service, the Soma Spa features an indoor heated pool, sauna and steam room. The treatment menu offers everything from soothing massages using locally sourced oils to pioneering BIOTEC facials by British brand Elemis. Be sure to watch the sunset from the rooftop Raw Bar, then sample the locally sourced menu at the hotel’s restaurant Zeen (named after the Greek expression for living well ‘ey zeen’). They also offer a wellness and tness package that includes a personal training session, outdoor yoga, a rejuvenating spa treatment and a bike ride to discover the local area. Perfect for putting health at the heart of your beach holiday.
Hemingways, Watamu, Kenya
The African welcome is as warm as the beating sun at Hemingways’ spa, housed in the grounds of this recently refurbished iconic boutique hotel on spectacular Watamu beach. Its 39 bedrooms and 21 sumptuous apartments are chic and comfortable with four-poster beds, grand bathrooms and private balconies to soak up that Indian Ocean view. Sign up for the four- hour detoxifying journey – a body mask, harmony massage and facial given by the healing hands of three therapists using delicious oils from Terresd’Afrique. Your face, mind and body will be eternally grateful. All that spoilingcomes after long walks on East Africa’s most beautiful unspoilt beach and swimming in its clear waters. A top tip is to visit the extraordinary Arabuko-Sokoke forest just 10 minutes from Hemingways, where you can spot over 60 species of birds on an early morning walk and catch elephants at the swamp at sunset. Finish off with a seafood feast after one of the hotel’s legendary cocktails. What could be more blissful?
Vilalara Longevity Thalassa & Medical Spa, Algarve, Portugal
An idyllic haven for sun-soaked oceanside wellness. With one of the best thalassotherapy centres in the world integrated with the internationally renowned Longevity Medical Spa, this is the perfect alliance of cutting-edge preventative and anti-ageing medicine combined with the healing power of marine therapies.They really do take your health seriously here, and Longevity’s wellness programmes have been expertly executed – from detox, weight loss, tness, stress management, anti-ageing and health check-ups, to holistic healing and alternative medicine. Opt for one of the gentle wellness retreats for some R&R or the high impact and structured programmes for a total body overhaul. You can enhance your experience with an array of spa, thalassa, anti- ageing and aesthetic medicine services – all are available à la carte. ‘Healthy & Tasty’ nutrition plans and medically approved liquid diets are also available as an add-on or are already included in the Longevity programmes.
Big name brands that deliver
La Mer at Adare Manor, Co Limerick, Ireland
What better way to reboot your system than at a fantasy neo-gothic castle that has just undertaken its own life-affirming makeover? The two- year renovation of this historic estate, once the home of the Dunraven family, is said to have been one of the biggest construction projects in Ireland outside of Dublin, and no expense has been spared. At a glance it appears to have been faithfully restored to its 19th-century heyday – gurning gargoyles, decorative carved staircases and hand-knotted Tibetan rugs – but the bones of the building conceal all the technical wizardry a modern spa-goer has come to expect.
The small, but perfectly formed spa is exceptional in that it is the first, and only in Ireland, to have partnered with Crème de la Mer. What began as a physicist seeking to self-remedy burns sustained after an experiment gone amiss has snowballed into the cult brand beloved by serious beauty fanatics. With the bracing Wild Atlantic Way just a short drive away, it seems only appropriateto be slathered in products that harness the power of the sea. After the 180-minute La Mer Miracle Broth experience you’ll be looking for any excuse to dive head first into the four-poster princess bed you’ve had your eye on since check-in.
Espa at Castello del Nero, Tuscany, Italy
If you want to zzzz in a 12th-century former nobleman’s castle – set in 740 tranquil acres of rolling hills – then try Castello del Nero’s new Sleep Retreat created with ESPA. Bag a suite with Pompeian-style, 18th-century frescoes and let the butler draw you a steaming, essence-infused bath strewn with rose petals. If you’re awake by lunchtime, tear yourself away from your zillion thread-count Egyptian sheets to eat foods rich in tryptophan (makes the sleep hormone melatonin) and fresh ricotta and spinach ravioli (with its sleep-inducing magnesium), all whisked up in the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant. Then, pop down to the spa for the ESPA Sleep Ritual: think mindfulness meets massage with a foot ritual, cymbals to open the chakras, breath work and meditation, and a hot stone massage with a restorative body oil of frankincense and rose geranium. All guaranteed to calm a busy mind and have you sleeping like a bambino.
Vinotherapie at Les Sources De Caudalie, Bordeaux, France
Pampering combined with Michelin-starred dining and wine tasting? Mais oui, naturellement. Just 20 minutes from Bordeaux, in the Château Smith Haut Lafitte Vineyards, the world-class Vinothérapie spa sits in beautiful French gardens, surrounded by endless acres of green, green land, offering the perfect weekend away for spa bunnies, gourmands and oenophiles. After all, a little of what you fancy never hurt anyone. Feel virtuous on bike rides and walks through the wondrous countryside, then return and surrender to your senses. Traditional hands-on face and body treatments with signature Caudalie facials and massages (no half-hearted Swedish massages here) invigorate and rejuvenate stressed-out bodies (the Caudalie brand was developed here by the vineyard owner’s daughter, Mathilde Thomas, and the château is its very heart and home). After that, it’s wining and dining in the way only the French know how, before collapsing, fully sated, in a cloud-like bed for the sleep of the dead. Bliss.
BOOK IT: Doubles from €300 B&B (). Easyjet flights from £23.24pp one-way ()
JK7 Spa Retreat at the Sullivan Estate, Oahu, Hawaii
If you haven’t heard of beauty brand JK7, it’s best known for flogging the world’s most expensive anti-ageing serum for around £1,400, so that gives you some indication that a stay here is not for the financially challenged. In fact, you have to book out the whole lushly tropical five-acre estate and its top-notch facilities in their entirety, so gather a group of friends (up to 12) and embrace your wellness journey together (although it’s feasible for just two to stay). A vast, stunning eco house is your home from home with a private chef to provide balanced delicacies. The basic spa package offers a yoga class, massage and Spa Sensator session (a techy treatment brilliant for stress busting) during your stay, but you’ve made it this far, so we say go bespoke and every detail of your stay can be personally crafted for you, from diet to the type of yoga you practice. For the rest of the time, you can hit the gym, get on the Power Plate, enjoy endless steams and saunas, meditate in the room designed just for that, then collapse in front of a movie in your own cinema.
Best of British
Cliveden, Taplow, Berkshire
Pray that it’s a hot day when you hit Cliveden’s dazzling new spa showpiece. There can’t be much that beats lounging around on sunbeds in a beautiful lavender and rose scented walled garden by the pool (the only listed outdoor one in the UK) made famous by Profumo. But, don’t despair if it’s raining, you’ll be well looked after. Plump for treatments using Cliveden’s latest chatelaine, Natalie Livingstone’s own range of Cliveden-inspired beauty products. A favourite is the sleep-inducing bespoke floatation therapy where you lie on a warm water mattress for two hours while therapists work their magic, and the Sarah Chapman (she who’s responsible for Meghan Markle’s famous glow) facials are a must. Feeling peckish? Order a super salad or a green detox juice from The Spa Kitchen. Before all that pampering though, get your boots on to explore acres of glorious National Trust park and woodland, running down to the River Thames. And afterwards, play Lady of the Manor yourself in the exquisite bedrooms: the Lady Astor suite is one of the best – deliciously feminine with its own handmade kingsize bed and outdoor terrace). An utterly spoiling treat.
Rudding Park, Harrogate, North Yorkshire
Harrogate has secured its spot on the luxury map with Rudding’s swanky new spa, a project that has taken over a decade to complete with no expense spared. A lesson in decadent relaxation, this humongous spa is split over three floors and takes the concept of a ‘spa garden’ to new levels. On the roof lies a panoramic cabin sauna, spa bath and sun loungers amid luscious plants. Buried below are 11 treatment rooms offering heavenly pummelling, and a host of zones from medication to visual, which plays spellbinding videos. The impressive pools draw natural waters from the grounds, playing on Harrogate’s aqua heritage. But the ultimate must is the mud bath where puttied minerals are massaged into your skin and rinsed with a tropical shower. Claire Horsley’s fresh interior design touch lifts the space while the spa’s spectacular Horto restaurant was built around its star chef, Murray Wilson. Meanwhile, gregarious GM, Peter Banks, is the hotel’s beating heart, with a yesteryear charm that will guarantee your return.
Cowarth Park, Ascot, Berkshire
The Dorchester’s country cousin offers all the glamour, elegance and pizzazz of a grown-up London hotel but in a bucolic rural setting. It even has its own polo field, among the immaculately maintained 240 acres complete with tennis courts and an equestrian centre, so there’s much to do. Foodies will be impressed by the recent Michelin star awarded to executive chef Adam Smith, who serves up beautifully presented British dishes with a seasonal focus, the simplicity of the menu belying the complication of the execution. The spa is also an impressive affair, set apart from the main building and namechecking superb brands, such as Carol Joy London (get high tech with a microdermabrasion machine to leave skin radiant), Kerstin Florian (the Firm and Tone body treatment will have you skipping out of the spa feeling pounds lighter) and Aromatherapy Associates (if you suffer from problem skin, choose the Skin Solution facial) and a choice of 13 different massage styles. After that, return to your deeply cossetting room, all gentle colours and rich fabrics, modern and elegant, for an incredibly peaceful night’s sleep.
The Lygon Arms, Broadway, Worcestershire
The fact that this 16th-century coaching inn in the idyllic Cotswolds village of Broadway (think art galleries, gorgeous independent home and gift shops and one of the best children’s playgrounds we’ve seen), which was recently bought by Iconic Luxury Hotels (Cliveden and Chewton Glen) who lavished a multi-million pound refurbishment upon it, had 100 per cent occupancy on a cold, wet February night, is testament to its many charms. There’s now a laidback informality that runs throughout – from the staff uniforms (dark jeans and shirts) to the handsome panelled main restaurant, which serves up family-friendly fare (and a killer breakfast buffet). But what those in the know really come for (local membership is available) is the excellent and extensive spa with one of the loveliest swimming pools around (complete with Jacuzzi) and a decent gym. When it comes to facials and therapies, they’ve cleverly chosen to work with two brilliant British beauty brands, ila and Oskia, and there’s a raft of massages – from hot stone to deep tissue – available, a Jessica nail bar. A perfect adjunct to a Cotswolds country weekend.
Boringdon Hall, Plymouth, Devon
If you ought to practise what you preach then owner Diane Nettleton has taken a hotel that was tired around the edges and converted it into a cathedral of health, juxtaposing the original 16th-century manor with a glossy new glass spa; a temple to modernism that juts out from the old building in a way that would set Kevin McCloud’s pulse racing. The space is an homage to Gaia – Mother Nature – and a grounding presence certainly permeates everything from the specially developed products, made from a blend of macerated and infused oils to balance, awaken or calm, to the mood-boosting herbal infusions by your bed. If hydrotherapy is your bag, you’re spoilt for choice between the crystal salt steam room, laconium, Finnish and herbal saunas, but if you’re not up to the shock of hot and cold cycles, oating between the indoor and outdoor pools via a trapdoor will keep you occupied. Diane powers up the good karma by giving back to the local community, offering charitable spa days to people living with cancer.
The Lanesborough, London, W1
Plush, old-fashioned, furiously expensive, Hyde Park’s The Lanesborough isn’t the most cutting- edge or exciting hotel in London but it is reliable and it does reassuringly burst with butlers, fresh flowers and plump cushions. The new spa continues this pampering theme. And it’s not just a spa, it’s a swanky members’ club. The high tech, high spec gym is a Bodyism get-up from James Duigan and will get the lardiest physiques into shape in a mindful fashion. Meanwhile, the poshest spa café in existence offers an all-day Clean and Lean menu and an array of shakes and juices. But it’s the spa treatments that are the real jewel here. Yes, there’s La Prairie, but if you are seeking soul nurturing then opt for one of the beautiful, deeper ila life therapies. Or fall into the blessed, uber healing hands of Anastasia Achilleos – you’d be hard pushed to find a better, wiser facialist (she is so much more than just a facialist), and a layering of steams and creams combined with craniosacral work and the sort of massaging that relaxes your entire central nervous system will leave you feeling fully rejuvenated. Worth every penny.
What to Pack
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