Spas are set to reopen their doors on April 12 and we know we're not the only ones desperate to head straight through them; 'spa day near me' has seen a 5000 per cent rise in Google searches versus last year. With spa breaks in such high demand, it's lucky we have such a wealth of amazing, relaxing spas rights on our doorstep to decamp to, including these winners and finalists in the Good Spa Awards 2020.
It's worth noting that while spas are set to reopen on that blessed April day, they will not be allowed to operate their saunas and steam rooms until May 17 and any indoor restaurants onsite won't come into play until then either.
As with many things in our Covid world, spa breaks are set to look a little different to what we're accustomed to; while we used to search for spa weekends, searches for twilight sessions and morning or afternoon spa slots are increasing substantially according to Caitlin Dalton, editor of the Good Spa Guide . "We've seen an average of 159 per cent growth month on month for half-day or evening spa slots. With many spas giving guests allocated time slots in the pools and/or thermal facilities, a half-day experience uses the time wisely, with an hour or two in the thermal and wet facilities, an hour for treatment and then lunch [when allowed]."
Whether you're looking for a full day of chilling or a morning to escape from the world, here are the UK spas to pencil into your diary for next year – we can hear the hot tubs calling already!
Best for: Outdoor spa experience
Winner of the prestigious ‘Best New Spa’ category at The Good Spa Awards 2020, Carden Park, a luxury country hotel, recently spent £10 million building a world class spa in the heart of the Cheshire countryside. Inside you’ll find a sleek indoor pool with a sparkly ceiling and extensive thermal suite – complete with Finnish sauna, ice fountain and salt steam room. The pièce de résistance, however, is the epic spa garden. Spend your day sauntering between the heated outdoor 11-metre pool with swan neck showers; three large hot tubs, an outdoor sauna with glass windows overlooking the gardens, oval glass pods with comfy soft seats, a fire pit and, at the centre, a Bollinger garden bar. We were lucky enough to visit The Spa art Carden back in March – read our review for full, glorious details .
Book in for: The ‘Signature Spa Day’ (from £235) which includes a 105-minute treatment and a lunch in Elements restaurant. We recommend the top-to-toe Signature Experience using Elemental Herbology products with ingredients and therapeutic herbs picked fresh from the Spa Garden. Your full body massage and facial will be rounded off with a glass of home-grown Carden Park Estate Reserve sparkling wine – cheers!
Best for: Insta-friendly surroundings
This highly anticipated northern spa is a real showstopper – making the most of natural light through huge panes of glass, while creating a sense of calm with wood and marble. It’s far from yawn-inducing though, with geometric patterns, plenty of celebratory gold, and an unapologetic use of baby pinks, burnt oranges and royal blues making it extremely ’grammable.
The pools are a real highlight, with a leisure pool snaking round a large hydro-pool and hot tub and a lap pool separated by glass doors, surrounded by as many glass panes as there are comfy loungers. The thermal facilities (Bechel sauna, organic sauna, salt steam room, monsoon shower, ice fountain, cold room…) take up the entire length of the pools far side, each spacious and well thought-out, and housed in yet more glass.
Book in for: The ‘Robed & Relaxed Spa Day’ from £139 per person. All the delights of a classic Champneys spa day, with the added bonus of a 50-minute treatment – bliss.
Best for: A quick break from London
This countryside cousin of The Dorchester Hotel is home to a super glamorous, high-end, spa. From the pool which is lined with stunning amethyst sculptures to the delightful “living roof” herb garden, this is eco-luxe at its finest.
The Spa at Coworth Park won the Good Spa Award’s new-for-2020-only (we hope) category, ‘Best Response to Covid-19’. The spa team implemented a comprehensive set of measures and changes to make guests feel really comfortable, safe and well-looked after when the spa reopened its doors – from a wrist temperature scanner at reception to zoning the changing rooms and reducing capacity. The wellness of the spa staff also remained a top priority during lockdown.
Book in for: The ‘Restore Spa Afternoon’ £160 per person, for a decadent afternoon of chilling, plus a 60-minute treatment from Aromatherapy Associates or Hebridean brand, ishga and afternoon tea at the Spatisserie.
Best for: Countryside views
This five-star, red-brick spa hotel has it all – including spa butlers to tend to your every whim (well, almost). Soak away life’s stresses in the thermal bathing suite – with its tepidarium, caldarium, sauna, tropicarium, hydropool and ice fountain, or relax on the sound-wave therapy beds. Outside the modern Spa Garden building, you’ll find an infinity-edged pool with knock-out views of the 365-acre estate.
Book in for: ‘The New Beginning Spa Morning’ (£130) from coffee in the Clubhouse Kitchen & Bar on arrival to two hours floating about in the award-winning spa and thermal suite. Round off the morning with a lavish 60-minute treatment from a choice of luxury spa product houses including Neom, Caudalie and Comfort Zone.
Best for: A sustainable spa experience
The Spa at South Lodge is 44,000sq ft of new spa gold, set in a design-led building with flowing meadow roof. Across all areas of its operations – staff, waste, heating, catering (even the Waygu beef, featured on the menu, is from the neighbouring fields), laundry and facilities, South Lodge is actively working to minimise its environmental impact – making it the worthy winner of the ‘Best Sustainable Spa’ category in the Good Spa Awards 2020.
Inside is cool and minimal, with just the right amount of glass to show off the West Sussex countryside. Swim lengths in the indoor 22-metre UV-heated pool. On sunny days, drape yourself around the outdoor 18-metre natural infinity pool and bubbly hydro pool.
Book in for: ‘The Spa Bespoke By You’ from £255 per person – a tailormade spa day with full access to the facilities, a choice of two spa treatments and £30 towards the bill at Botanica or The Watershed Bar.
Best for: woodland surroundings
The impressive Aqua Sana Spa at Center Parcs Whinfell Forest is set on one level surrounded by Lake District woodland. Outside you’ll find a large hydrotherapy pool with lots of bubble stations and a zen garden. Inside, a laconium, Greek herbal bath, Japanese salt steam bath, Balinese and Indian blossom steam room, Tyrolean sauna and Turkish hammam. Not forgetting the quiet zone with waterbeds to take a well-earned nap on.
Aqua Sana Whinfell Forest was the clear winner of ‘Best Community Spa’ category with a long list of good deeds – including supporting two charities, two local colleges, donating lockdown stock to local good causes, encouraging staff to volunteer during furlough, a Women’s Development initiative and having their own mental health first aider.
Book in for: The three-hour Spa Session – sneak off for three hours of spa bliss and free spa wellness session. We recommend you book a 20-minute Express treatment too, like the Decléor Harmonie Calm Express Facial. POA
Best for: Fitness and wellness lovers
A newbie on the Yorkshire spa scene, Three Graces Spa is a worthy winner of the ‘Best Spa for Wellness’ due to the breadth of treatments offered and new dedicated wellness retreats. With cryotherapy, altitude training, EMS training and underwater treadmills, the physical wellness facilities at Grantley Hall make it stand out from the competition.
Spa goers can also swim in either the Grecian-inspired indoor pool or the 18-metre heated outdoor pool, relax in a sunken cedar hot tub or take a dip in the indoor/outdoor hydrotherapy pool.
Book in for: The Twilight Spa Package (£145 per person, available to book from 8th January 2021) – watch the stars from the steamy outdoor hydrotherapy after feasting at Bar & Restaurant EightyEight. Choose a blissful 60-minute Natura Bisse face and body ritual treatment too.
Best for: Natural healing and energy boosts
In the heart of the Surrey Hills, Beaverbrook is the quintessential British country estate. The influence of the English countryside setting is reflected in a natural healing philosophy, the range of treatments and state of the art facilities at the Coach House Health Club and Spa. New treatments include Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy and The NAD Clinic – which uses IV infusion to ‘enhance energy levels, promote brain health and cellular regeneration’, proponents say.
Book in for: Winter Warmer Spa Day (from £225 per person) – when the weather is cold, retreat for a full day of indulgence including a 60-minute bespoke relaxing massage or facial. Morning refreshments and a deli lunch with drink and sweet treat included!
Best for: Outdoor treatment experiences
Three floors of spa heaven – with glass walls to show off the beauty of the surrounding garden make Rudding Park a winner in our eyes. Spa facilities include a sauna with floor-to-ceiling windows, indoor pool, juniper log sauna, rasul, and four ‘mind and sense zones’. The Roof Top Spa and Garden come complete with a hydrotherapy infinity-edge pool, a range of thermal experiences and a sun deck and a cabana with cosy seating and a fire pit. Outdoor treatments can be given in the woodland glade and don’t miss the Sunlight Therapy Room – great for those struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
Book in for: A Full Day Spa (£165) – take full advantage of the Rooftop Spa and Garden and all the amazing facilities, enjoy a two-course lunch at Horto Café and top it off with a 45-minute bespoke treatment.
Best for: lakeside views
With an elevated position looking across Lake Windermere and the mountains beyond, the views are stunning from all the outdoor facilities; pool, hot tub, firepit and sauna. Low Wood Bay offers a contemporary, welcoming and unpretentious space for complete relaxation. Five thermal experiences include an indoor relaxation pool, bubble pool, relaxation lounge, dry salt room, coconut steam room and herbal lounge.
Book in for: ‘Lost in the Lakes Spa Day’ (£145 per person) – choose from a 60-minute Head to Toe Massage, Himalayan Salt Body Scrub or Total Face Treatment. Take a dip in the Fellside Infinity Pool or lie back and absorb the warmth in the herbal lounge, before feasting on afternoon tea or a two-course lunch.
MORE GLOSS: What are spas like in a post-Covid world?