When the Good Spa Guide launched ten years ago, there were only a handful of decent spas in the UK. Now we have hundreds, and standards are so high that we no longer need to travel far for a blissful spa escape. You just need to know where to look.
Lucky for you, we Spa Spies have tried and tested pretty much every spa in the UK and abroad to help consumers have the best spa experience – you’re welcome. We award bubble ratings, with Five Bubble Luxury being the most jaw-droppingly gorgeous, and Five and Four Bubble totally fabulous, but often way more affordable.
Without further ado, here are our top eight spa breaks (which all have a Five Bubble rating) that will make you feel properly pampered for way under £200 per person (based on two sharing).
The Spa Hotel at Ribby Hall, Lancashire
The holiday village and hotel are nice enough, but the adult only Spa out the back is, like, wow. A huge modern glass atrium houses one of our favourite thermal spaces and leads out to a pretty spa garden with plenty of seated areas to cosy up with a loved one or group of friends. Inside is a stunning central spa pool and lots of steam and sauna experience rooms dotted around. Head outside to a deliciously warm, bubbly hot tub looking over the Zen garden with hanging pod chairs, and order a smoothie or fizz from the outside bar. For a little extra, have an Ishga, Neom and Elemis treatment or a wellness consultation. Our bedroom was delightfully comfy, the staff were so friendly we wanted to take them home with us, and the food was outstanding, whether you choose something healthy or indulgent.
Spa Breaks from £99 pp include breakfast, dinner, access to the Aqua Thermal Journey and overnight stay. £161 gets you a 60-minute treatment on top. www.ribbyhall.co.uk
Y Spa at Wyboston Lakes Hotel, Bedfordshire
We loved the bold, modern design of this spa set in a leisure complex in 350 acres of countryside. The highlight for us was the outdoor hydrotherapy pool with its two water jets, Jacuzzi-style seats and underwater benches to recline on while bubble jets massage your back. Channel your inner Marilyn (or Tony) in the amusingly named outdoor sauna, Some Like It Hot, then snuggle up by the fire in the stylish outdoor terraced seating area. Indoors are two fabulous steam rooms, a cooler sauna, and an ice room. After an Elemis, Neom or Murad treatment, catch some zzs on waterbeds or gaze at the fish in tanks in the cool spa café.
Sunset or Sunrise Hideaway midweek break starts at £104pp and includes bed, breakfast, spa buffet lunch and four hours in the Thermal spa. www.yspa.co.uk
Lifehouse Spa and Hotel, Essex
If you need a lifestyle overhaul, a total de-stress or support with health issues, this serene modern spa outside London has your wellbeing needs covered. Lifehouse has a team of wellness experts who will help tailor a retreat programme to suit your needs, while staff have been trained by the NHS Christie Trust to adapt treatments for anyone recovering from cancer, stress or bereavement. You can book treatments such as ‘soul soother’, personal meditation and yoga sessions, food intolerance screenings and life skills coaching. We love the soothing Scandi-design and the delightful listed gardens, especially when the bluebells are in bloom.
Hello Sunshine Spa Break from £119.50 pp begins at 3pm and includes a three course dinner, a 25 minute treatment, use of facilities and gardens, overnight stay, breakfast and checkout at noon the next day, although you can enjoy the facilities until 3pm. www.lifehouse.co.uk
Rookery Hall, Cheshire
Rookery Hall is a romantic neo-Elizabethan manor in picturesque parkland, the spa and leisure club housed in its gorgeously modernised red-bricked stables. A stunning glass atrium above the swimming and hydra pools fills the space with natural light, and allows you to gaze up at the clouds as you float, swim or bubble away. There are two relaxation areas and a beautiful nail-bar, where you can watch ducks on the lake while having your buff and varnish. Elemis treatments are top-notch, and a spa host makes you feel perfectly looked after.
Take Time Out Spa Break £128 pp for a one night stay including dinner, breakfast, a two-course spa lunch, use of spa facilities and a choice of 25-minute spa treatments. www.handpickedhotels.co.uk
Utopia Spa at Alexander House, West Sussex
Alexander house is an attractive Georgian red-bricked manor set in 120 acres of woodland and parkland. The Grecian-inspired spa spans three floors – thankfully you will be given a map on arrival. Indoors is a fabulous 15-metre swimming pool with black tiles, columns and glittering lights, a hot tub and hydrotherapy pool. Step outside to the beautifully manicured zen garden with its quirky barrel sauna and another Jacuzzi. If you have cash to spare, book a Treetop Suite.
Sunday Night Spa break from £179 pp includes an overnight stay, energizing back, neck, shoulder and scalp massage or Utopia express facial, Sunday supper, the full works breakfast. www.alexanderhotels.co.uk
The Headland Spa, Cornwall
This stunning red-bricked Victorian hotel commanding views over Fistral bay has a beautiful spa, with a pretty café and terrace stretching out over the white sands of the beach. The thermal area is tastefully tiled in pale stone, with a large hydrapool, a small hot Jacuzzi a pebble lined Cornish-salt steam room and wooden sauna. Striped deckchairs bring the seaside in. We loved the Rasul with its scrummy Natural Spa Factory muds, the cosy relaxation room with its twinkly lit tree and refreshments, but most of all we loved the eccentric hotel and its location.
Stay Away from It All from £109 per person includes a 30 minute SpaScape treatment and a two-rosette dinner. www.headlandhotel.co.uk
Stanley House Hotel and Spa, Lancashire
If you like nature plus design, you’ll love Stanley House. The spa in the courtyard of this pale-stone manor is set in verdant acres of beautiful countryside: sit in the super-stylish relaxation room and you’re surrounded by green fields and gentle hills. In the thermal area, the hydro-pool has a glass wall allowing you to see flora and fauna with birds and vivid flowers. In the spa lounge, two large paintings mimic the fabulous view. Treatments are luxurious and use Natura Bisse and Ila.
Escape for the Night package starts from £150 pp and includes a room in the Manor House or Woodland rooms, breakfast, three-course dinner, a two-hour thermal journal, a Himalayan Salt Foot Ritual, and a 25-minute treatment. www.stanleyhouse.co.uk
The Spa at Ramside, County Durham
Mermaids will adore dipping in and out of the five pools in this bright and modern spa. There’s a 25-metre indoor pool for serious swimmers, a bubbly hot-tub next to it, a large-hydro-pool with various massage jets, an outdoor vitality pool and a private infinity-edge pool which you can book as a small group. There is also a herbal infusion sauna with a glass wall overlooking the herb garden, a hotter ‘sunken’ sauna with views of the pool and an invigorating Himalayan salt steam room. Best of all, a spa butler is on hand to tend to your every whim.
Classic Spa Break includes a 45-minute treatment, spa Brunch, a two-course dinner, full use of spa from 3pm check-in to 5pm the next day from £175 pp. www.ramsidespa.co.uk
Caitlin Dalton is the Editor of Good Spa Guide . Caitlin started her career interning for one of the world’s largest health websites in California and since then has worked in health publishing from a small specialist publisher to the multi-national RELX Group (formerly Reed Elsevier). She joined Good Spa Guide in 2014, bringing a health angle to the world of spa content.