Towns and cities
Thermae Bath Spa, Bath
One of the UK’s most dramatic spas (pictured above), this neo-Georgian building is wrapped in angular glass, with access to three naturally heated spring-fed pools. The spa can get busy, so go early and head straight for the rooftop pool for views across the city. The thermal experience floor includes a sauna, steam room and a “celestial” relaxation room. Make the most of the waters with a watsu treatment (£67) – a form of shiatsu massage in a private pool.
Book it Spa taster sessions, including use of the spa and lunch or dinner, start from £48, thermaebathspa.com
Stay The boutique Queensberry Hotel has doubles from £100 room-only, thequeensberry.co.uk
Kings Head, Cirencester
Overlooking Cirencester marketplace, the Kings Head is a coaching inn dating from the 14th century, with a modern country-chic interior. The spa is in the vaulted cellar, whose tactile limestone adds to the dark, atmospheric space. The facilities are small, with a colour-changing Jacuzzi, infra-red sauna, steam room and cosy relaxation room. Treatments use aromatherapy brand Decleor; the tranquillity scalp massage (£30) gives you 25 minutes of complete switch-off.
Book it The Sunday spa sleepover includes dinner, bed and breakfast, access to the spa and a 25-minute treatment. From £99pp for two, or £149 single occupancy, kingshead-hotel.co.uk
Turkish Baths, Harrogate
One of only a handful of Victorian Turkish baths still in use, these are beautiful, with Moorish design including Islamic arches, intricate glazed brickwork and painted ceilings. The bathing journey takes you around a series of heated rooms – the hottest being the laconium and the coldest a freezing plunge pool. Try traditional treatments such as a hammam (£15), or more modern treatments including hot stone therapy (£70).
Book it Day passes from £18, hammam £15 extra, turkishbathsharrogate.co.uk
Stay Hotel du Vin Harrogate has doubles from £84 room-only, hotelduvin.com
Chapel Spa, Cheltenham
This day spa in a former 19th-century chapel has a hydrotherapy pool, steam room, Arabian mud treatments and candlelit relaxation area. The long treatment list uses brands including La Sultane de Saba and Eminence Organic, as well as its own essential oil blends. Aromatherapy massages start at £30 (25 minutes). The restaurant serves lunch, dinner and afternoon tea.
Book it A three-hour spa retreat costs from £30 (treatments extra), half-day from £55 with one treatment. A “romantic hideaway for two” costs £195 and includes massage, mud treatment, candlelit spa and half-bottle of champagne, chapelspa.co.uk
Stay The Bradley, a grand, antique-filled Regency house nearby, has doubles from £94 B&B, thebradleyhotel.co.uk
Spa at One, Edinburgh
This newly refurbished rooftop spa in Edinburgh’s financial district has an open-air hydro-pool – so you can watch the sun setting over the city skyline from a warm-water cocoon. Facilities include a 19-metre pool, seven saunas and steam rooms, and a dark relaxation room lit by a flickering fire. Try the Mindful Moments massage (£82) using 100% organic brand Spiezia – a treatment that’s good for you and the planet.
Book it Spa days including use of the pools and thermal suites start at £70, onespa.com
Stay 24 Royal Terrace, a Georgian townhouse hotel designed by William Playfair, has doubles from £99 B&B, 24royalterrace.co.uk
The Principal, Edinburgh
This city centre hotel has a brand new spa, with pool, relaxation areas, sauna, steam room, gym and solo or couple’s treatment rooms. The extensive treatment list runs from manicures to Hebridean sea salt scrubs with natural and organic products, from the Oskia or Ishga skincare ranges (the latter developed on the Isle of Lewis and seaweed based). Try the signature Oskia glow facial, combining acupressure and lymph drainage (£80).
Book it A double room with spa access for two starts at £119, treatments extra. Spa experiences from £110 with use of spa facilities, a treatment and lunch or tea in The Garden restaurant, phcompany.com
Spread Eagle Hotel, Midhurst, West Sussex
In a traditional market town, the Spread Eagle – which dates from 1430 – is all oak beams, leaded windows and an inglenook fireplace. The spa is to the rear of the hotel, away from the high street. The vaulted ceiling gives a sense of space to the 14-metre pool area with sauna, steam room, hot tub and courtyard garden. It offers Temple Spa treatments: try the “in good spirits” massage (£74) for a citrussy pick-me-up.
Book it Try a Midweek Spa Escape from £159 B&B for two, or £139 for single occupancy. The package includes spa use and a £50 treatment voucher, hshotels.co.uk
K West Hotel, London
K West may be a bit bling, but for some inner-city pampering, K Spa offers a true cocoon in the capital. Highlights include the “snow paradise”, with temperatures of -15C, used for hot-cold therapy, alongside the sauna. The hydrotherapy pool lies beneath a twinkling ceiling, while the treatment menu features Aromatherapy Associates and Crystal Clear products (from £30 for a manicure, £90 for a massage). Over-18s only.
Book it A spa day with use of wet spa, gym and light lunch costs £65. The “solo time” break, with spa access, dinner, breakfast and a night in a junior-double room costs £135, K-west.co.uk
In a redeveloped mill on the edge of the Pennines, Titanic is a destination spa with good eco credentials: it’s powered by solar panels and the pools use water from a natural spring 100 metres below ground. There’s accommodation in spa apartments, but plenty of people come for the day – though it’s popular and can feel very busy. Saunas, a herbal infusion room, Turkish bath and outdoor hot tub are among the facilities, with Decléor and Elemis products used for treatments.
Book it A Heat & Ice experience day, including spa access and lunch, costs from £79. Overnight stays with breakfast, lunch, dinner, Heat & Ice experience and 55-minute facial cost from £129pp, titanicspa.com
Ironmonger Row, London
Ironmonger Row Baths in Islington is a public gym and swimming pool (refurbished to the tune of £17m in 2012) – but at its heart lie the original Victorian-style Turkish baths, with historic features carefully restored. The spa area has steam rooms, sauna, hammam, a series of hot rooms, plunge pool and ice fountain. The Turkish bath spa experience includes a signature wash, scrub and massage, access to the thermal areas, plus a traditional full-body black soap cleanse, finishing with a shea butter massage (£60, 230 minutes). There’s a long list of modern treatments too.
Book it The Thermal Spa Experience costs £26 (three hours). Some sessions are single sex, so check in advance, better.org.uk
Stay Z Hotel Shoreditch is less than 10 minutes away, with doubles from £75 room-only, thezhotels.com
Adam & Eve Turkish Bath, Liverpool
This place in Liverpool’s Wavertree district, owned by Turk Adem Durmus and his wife Carol, is an authentic hammam. Behind an unassuming front door lies a full Turkish bathhouse, with treatments involving a sauna, exfoliation on a tiled platform, a foamy wash-down and strong massage. Apple tea is served in the relaxation area once you’ve been properly pummelled and moisturised.
Book it The Traditional Hammam experience costs £47 (including all stages from sauna to full body massage), turkishbathliverpool.co.uk
Stay Doubles at Hope Street Hotel in the Georgian Quarter, 10 minutes’ away, from £92 room-only, hopestreethotel.co.uk
Bathsheba, Woodbridge, Suffolk
In the centre of pretty Woodbridge, Bathsheba is a modern boutique day spa, an all-white oasis with candlelit treatment rooms and professional staff. Natural, organic Ren products are used for personalised facials and body treatments (“back to life” massage from £30, 30 minutes). There are no hydro facilities, but there is a cast iron tub for an aromatic mineral soak (15 minutes, £10 extra).
Book it The spa has teamed up with the nearby Crown – a contemporary inn and restaurant with rooms – to offer a half-day break for £70 that includes a body or facial treatment, manicure or pedicure, and either breakfast with fizz, a two-course lunch, or a champagne cream tea at the hotel, bathshebaspa.co.uk
Stay The Crown has doubles from £115 B&B, thecrownatwoodbridge.co.uk
Eden Hall, Nottinghamshire
Dating from 1875, Eden Hall, near Newark, originally had a huge chapel at its heart and an impressive conservatory which is now a light-filled relaxation area and cafe. There are outdoor hot tubs in the garden, and facilities range from a 25-metre swimming pool to a herbal caldarium (scented with lavender from the grounds). Clarins and Elemis are among brands used for top-notch treatments; try a “lava recovery massage” with Kokolokahi oils (£50) or a “foot smoothie” (£28). There are fitness classes and a gym, too.
Book it Spa days from £95 (Mon-Fri) with full use of facilities (including classes), plus a three-course lunch, edenspa.co.uk
Stay The Staunton Arms, a traditional village pub nearby, has doubles from £90 B&B, stauntonarms.co.uk
Garage Spa, Morritt Hotel, County Durham
The Morritt was a 17th-century coaching inn near Barnard Castle on the road from London to Carlisle, and the old stone Garage building makes a decidedly different spa. The decor is unusual too: the wooden, indoor hot tubs are lit by low-hanging car inspection lamps, while the sauna is in a shepherd’s hut. There are manicures in the Paint Room, Car Wash cold showers, and a Forecourt relaxation room. Treatments use Spanish brand Germaine de Capuccini, known for its facials – the “Timexpert lift and contour (£75) claims to give visible results in one session.
Book it A twilight spa break includes dinner, B&B and evening spa use, £149 for two (Sun-Wed), themorritt.co.uk.
Champneys Eastwell Manor, Kent
Eastwell Manor, near Ashford, is one of the newest properties in the Champneys portfolio, and the spa facilities are stylish and modern. There are two 20-metre pools, a hydro-pool, a Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, relaxation room and fitness classes – you get a lot of spa for your buck. Treatments range from Clarins facials and Elemis body treatments to acupuncture. If you have trouble sleeping, the “dry flotation” (from £49) might help you drift off.
Book it Spa evenings, including use of the facilities, classes and a three-course meal, start at £49. Overnight B&B breaks, with three-course dinner, lunch, spa access and £40 towards treatments, from £144pp (until 20 Dec), eastwellmanor.co.uk
The Elms Hotel, Worcestershire
The Elms Hotel is a rather grand, ivy-clad mansion near the village of Abberley with Alpine-style interiors (oak panelling, deer heads and fur throws). The spa, in a converted barn, is a little less luxe, but bright and spacious. There’s a swimming pool, indoor/outdoor Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, relaxation room and sun-trap terrace. Treatments use Elemis – the Nourishing Frangipani Wrap (£75) is a favourite.
Book it A overnight spa break (£89pp for two, or £139 for single occupancy) includes breakfast, cream tea and a 30-minute treatment, theelmshotel.co.uk
Old Swan and Minster Mill, Oxfordshire
The 15th-century timbered Old Swan and Minster Mill sits in 65 acres of grounds, in pretty Minster Lovell village, and has a small but tranquil Garden Spa. There are three treatment rooms (including a suite for couples, with double shower), a heated plunge pool, poolside rock sauna, steam room and ice fountain. Treatments include a “skin radiance facial” (£75). There are various spa day offers – and overnight stays. Roaring fires make the beamed dining room and bars cosy in winter.
Book it Midweek spa days start at £59 for spa access, a glass of prosecco and a 30-minute treatment. Doubles from £113 B&B, oldswanminstermill.co.uk
Bamford Haybarn, Gloucestershire
If you’re looking for holistic, Bamford Haybarn, part of the Daylesford Organic group, is a wellness retreat near Kingham with an emphasis on eco and organic. There are no swimming facilities, but the Cotswold limestone, use of wood and glass, and natural furnishings create an atmosphere of calm. Bamford has its own organic product range – the back, neck and shoulder massage (£55) uses a mix of Swedish and pressure point massage. The spa also hosts yogis and experts from around the world to help improve your surya namaskara (sun salutation).
Book it Build your own spa package – classes start from £15, massages from £55, daylesford.com
Stay There are (expensive) self-catering cottages, but the Sheep pub at Stow-on-the-Wold, three miles away, has doubles from £75 room only, thesheepstow.co.uk
Tor Spa, Kent
Specialising in Ayurveda, Tor Spa offers an authentic Indian healing experience in the village of Ickham in the Kent countryside. The pretty lakeside setting is peaceful and facilities include a super-heated 35C oxygenated pool, using minimal chemicals), steam room, sauna and restaurant serving vegetarian fare. Treatments range from salt brushing (£15) to a four-handed abhyanga (oil) body massage (£90). Only 18 day visitors are allowed, and there are six en-suite bedrooms (doubles from £105).
Book it A spa day with lunch costs £70, with individual treatments extra. Special Panchakarma cleansing retreats, including a consultation with an Ayurvedic doctor, treatments, accommodation and meals, start at £165, torsparetreat.com
Galgorm Resort, County Antrim
This spa boasts a huge amount to do indoors and out. There are pools, hot tubs, Jacuzzis, steam rooms, saunas, a “sanarium” (steam room) and a snow cabin (with real snow). The spa sits on the banks of the Maine, near Ballymena, and has private riverside hot tubs, where a member of staff will deliver a half-bottle of champagne (£40pp). The Paris Suite (£20pp) has a dual treatment room and side-by-side roll-top baths.
Book it A “book early and save” deal (£149 for two guests) includes B&B and spa use, galgorm.com
Balmer Lawn Hotel, New Forest
The red-brick hotel near Brockenhurst has walks on its doorstep and the Moors Valley country park nearby. Post-adventure, the Saltus Spa has indoor and outdoor pools, Jacuzzi, sauna, relaxation room and spa garden. The spa uses Espa products; the back, face and scalp treatment (£90) is a much-loved “hero” therapy. The outdoor treatment area has two massage beds next to each other (for use in clement weather).
Book it An “early winter” offer (£74.50pp) includes dinner, bed and breakfast, a glass of prosecco, spa access and 20% off spa treatments, balmerlawnhotel.com
Lifehouse Spa, Essex
This modern, adults-only spa in the countryside near Frinton-on-Sea has a thermal spa area, a decent pool and great treatment options, from warm stone massages to seaweed wraps. There is a choice of longer wellbeing retreats, comfortable, contemporary rooms and light, airy restaurant serving Mediterranean-influenced cuisine.
Book it Spa days start at £89. The “love life spa break”, with B&B, three-course dinner, use of facilities and 25-minute treatment, costs from £149.50pp, lifehouse.co.uk
Stay The nearby Rose and Crown is a cheaper option, with rooms from £79 B&B, roseandcrownthorpe.co.uk
The Spa Hotel at Ribby Hall Village, Lancashire
Ribby Hall is a holiday village a few miles inland from Blackpool where the facilities range from a water park and a petting zoo to a modern spa. Its adult-only spa is built around a series of heat experiences, including a huge hydrotherapy pool, steam room, sanarium, Balinese salt inhalation room, sauna and aroma room, and uses Elemis skincare products. There’s also a candlelit relaxation room and a sheltered Zen garden. Neom body treatments (£67.90) offer the option to focus on sleep, happiness, destressing or energising.
Book it An “aqua thermal journey” costs from £50pp including access to the spa and a two-course lunch. The spa also runs The Motel in the village, doubles from £49 room-only, ribbyhall.co.uk
Little White Alice, Cornwall
For something a bit different, Little White Alice is a 28-acre sanctuary in Carnemenellis, south-west Cornwall, with a selection of eco cottages and wooden “eco-arks” – plus a bijou new wild spa. There’s a hot tub, sauna (with outdoor bucket shower for self-administered hot-cold therapies), and it’s all powered by the sun, wind and natural wood. There’s a treatment room with therapists from My Personal Sanctuary and a yoga studio, plus plenty for children to do – it’s a nature reserve and smallholding with goats, chickens, Shetland ponies, sheep and alpacas.
Book it From £365 a week self-catering for up to four, sauna and hot tub extra, hostunusual.co.uk
Esya Spa at Retallack, Cornwall
Great for active families, Retallack Resort holiday village, a few miles inland from the north Cornwall coast, has activities including wakeboarding, surfing and water zorbing. There are kids’ clubs, too. The spa – Esya is Cornish for “at ease” – has a 15-metre pool, hydrotherapy pool, sauna, steam, a dark relaxation room and Elemis treatments. The warming “poultice-powered muscle release” (£80) should ease any sore spots earned during an energetic day.
Book it A “sea lavender express” package (£55) includes full-day use of the spa, a massage and a glass of prosecco. Doubles room-only from £145 (under sixes free), retallackresort.co.uk
Mermaid Spa, Portmeirion, Gwynedd
The pastel-coloured, Italianate village of Portmeirion offers an enchanting escape from the world – and the Mermaid Spa in Hotel Portmeirion will further aid relaxation. All products are natural and vegan. Try the aromatic seaweed body wrap (£65); children over seven can opt for a massage or mini-facial or mani/pedi for £35. There’s a heated outdoor pool, too (May-September).
Book it Massages from £35. Day spa options include a half-day package with one treatment and two-course lunch at Castell Deudraeth (£60), one of two hotels in the grounds. There are also holiday cottages and serviced rooms on the piazza, doubles from £99 B&B, portmeirion.wales
Holm House Hotel, Penarth, near Cardiff
Built in the 1920s, white stucco Holm House looks like a classic seaside hotel, with Bristol Channel views and marine-inspired interiors. The pretty, petite spa has a 15-metre hydro-pool, steam room, relaxation lounge and sun terrace, and features spa brand La Sultane de Saba. Inspiration for treatments is drawn from around the world, from Africa to India and Bali. Try the seven-spice facial with a blend of healing ingredients from the Indian spice route (from £45).
Book it The Essential Holm House Escape (£99pp for two, or £149 for single occupancy) includes overnight accommodation, breakfast, lunch, use of the spa facilities and a 30-minute treatment, holmhousehotel.co.uk
The Imperial, Torquay, Devon
This white, cliff-top hotel has good access to the south Devon beaches, Dartmoor national park and sailing on the English Riviera. The spa and leisure club has indoor and outdoor pools, a Jacuzzi, sauna and Decleor treatments. The “ultimate vitamin glow” facial (£65) uses essential oils to balance your skin. There’s also tennis, pool and billiards, and a kids’ club.
Book it A Sunday saver package, with dinner, bed and breakfast and use of the spa facilities, costs from £99. Spa treatments from £28, theimperialtorquay.co.uk
St Michaels, Falmouth, Cornwall
Reopened in September after a £50m makeover, St Michaels now has an impressive new spa on the ground floor. Facilities include the largest hydrotherapy pool in the south-west, 10 treatment rooms, a Cornish sea salt steam room, a Finnish herbal sauna and Moroccan rhassoul for mud therapies. There’s a garden with hot tub and barrel sauna overlooking the sea and more than 60 treatments using products from Made for Life Organics (handmade in Cornwall) and the Natural Spa Factory. A walkway connects the spa to a three-storey gym for the more active.
Book it Three-hour “hydrothermal experience” £35, spa days, with brunch or tea and a 30-minute treatment, from £79. Two nights B&B with one three-course dinner and spa experience, £145pp. stmichaelshotel.co.uk
On the shores of Loch Fyne, two hours from Glasgow, this £10m spa and leisure complex opened in 2015 as part of a state-of-the-art marina development. There’s a hydro pool, sauna, steam room and relaxation area, all with jaw-dropping views towards the Isle of Arran – plus outdoor infinity pool, indoor pool and gym. It’s all very modern, with lots of glass, steel and stone. Seaweed-based Ishga products from the Outer Hebrides feature on the treatment menu (the hot poultice massage costs £60). Accommodation ranges from Scandi-style lodge rooms to luxury apartments.
Book it Day packages (£91) include a harmony retreat with spa access, a bento box lunch, glass of wine and one 55-minute treatment. Doubles or studio for two from £99 B&B, portavadie.com
Caitlin Dalton is editor of the Good Spa Guide
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