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What is it about spas that make them so appealing? Perhaps it’s the idea of a velvety facial in the hands of an expert after a long week, or doing the crossword with your mum as you watch swimmers idly lapping the pool. It might be getting lost in a book to the sound of trickling water, or bagging that perfect outdoor daybed just in time for a drinks order – as you put the world to rights with your best friend. They are places where ordering an Aperol spritz in your bathrobe at 10.30am comes with no judgement, and no sideways glances are given as you pant and sweat next to a complete stranger in the steam room. For some, it’s simply about reuniting with old friends, and soaking in the fresh country air from the warmth of a whirpool. Or reading the paper, in the silence of a solarium.
All of this – and some of the loveliest grounds, restaurants, suites, views and service – make wellness-oriented mini breaks in the hotels below utterly irresistible. Especially when many are a short taxi ride from a train station, or the valet will take care of the parking for you. For a few days’ R&R, whatever the season or weather, take a look at our pick of the best weekend spa breaks in England.
Armathwaite Hall Hotel & Spa, County Durham
There is surely nowhere else in England where you can do yoga with lemurs, savour a long afternoon tea, jump into a lake, and enjoy a deep-tissue massage all in one day? At this imposing hotel on the banks of Lake Bassenthwaite you can, with wholesome weekends centred around comfy lodgings, filling food and fresh-air fun.
Start your trip with afternoon tea or a light lunch at the Courtyard Brasserie. Head to the spa for a dip in the pool or a soak in the steam room. After your treatment (Temple Spa facials come highly recommended) order a glass of champagne to wallow about in the infinity pool with – the perfect aperitif before dinner at the two-Rosette Lake View restaurant (think elevated classic British and European-influenced dishes).
Don’t rush off after lemur yoga at the adjoining wildlife park (guests also get discounted access to the park) – hang around for a bit and enjoy some of the talks. Stroll back for a coffee on the hotel’s terrace, and settle down with a book in the library – or return to the spa before you check out. Outdoor activities like tennis and woodland trails keep things fun when the weather permits.
Dating back to 1866 and owned by Lord Beaverbrook, this modern country house hotel is historic – but doesn’t take itself too seriously. The Coach House spa, designed by Brian Clarke, is a refreshing riot of colour, with two pools (indoor and outdoor) and a whirlpool, steam room, sauna and ice fountain; while the house’s rooms are elegantly designed and individually styled by Susie Atkinson.
From a hyperbaric oxygen therapy chamber to a range of NAD immune-support intravenous infusions, you can choose to go extra ‘out there’ with your treatments at Beaverbrook – or stick with the traditional signature specials. If weather permits, the checkerboard-bottomed outdoor pool, lined with loungers and umbrellas, is the place to be.
Breakfast is served in the dining room of the main house – but save room for a light lunch at The Coach House Deli, which offers flatbreads from its wood-fired pizza oven alongside homemade baked goods and fresh salads. Activities spread across the gorgeous grounds are many and varied, from tennis to a cookery school.
Chewton Glen, Hampshire
Chewton Glen on the fringes of the New Forest is a place of many parts – all of them wholeheartedly luxurious. The exterior is all ivy clad walls and crisp croquette lawns, and an old-school elegance pervades the interiors. It’s one of the most popular spots in Hampshire for weekend spa breaks – the treehouse suites are particular favourites of overnight guests.
The hotel is said to have one of Europe’s largest hydrotherapy pools, near which guests will find an indoor pool lined with blue mosaic tiles and surrounded by Grecian columns, aromatherapy saunas, crystal steam rooms, a long menu of treatments with experienced therapists, plus an outdoor hot tub and swimming pool. Head to the spa’s café for a healthy buffet before you explore it.
Other activities include tennis, golf, archery, buggy riding, even duck herding. After a treatment, bicycles and walking maps are available to use and there’s a choice of films to watch in the cinema – and buggies to take you around the estate.
Dormy House, Cotswolds
You’ll find Dormy House up a steep hill and on the outskirts of the honey-hued Cotswold village of Broadway. The simple exterior of this 17th-century farm belies the size and scope of what lies inside: a warren of cosy sitting rooms and snugs, inviting bedrooms, alluring restaurants – and a superlative spa. It’s a 15-minute taxi from Moreton-in-Marsh station; 90 minutes from London Paddington on First Great Western.
Begin with a flotation session in the House Spa to enter a state of deep relaxation and really switch off. The fact the tank is filled with Epsom salts means you will naturally float; and you can choose between total darkness or comforting coloured lights that flit from deep blues to greens. Other treatments available include facials, massages and body scrubs. Then it’s cocktails and boardgames in front of the fire before dinner at The Back Garden. Don’t miss the Comté cheese soufflé.
Rise early for laps in the tranquil indoor infinity pool before breakfast. The outdoor hydrotherapy hot tub is best in winter, when you can slip off your robe to sink into the warm waters and gaze into the flames of the outdoor fireplace. A lavender steam room, juniper sauna, ice buckets and cool showers complete the offering. Later, borrow Le Chameau wellies from the boot room to stomp across the wooded grounds.
Gilpin Hotel & Lake House, Lake District
This 100-acre Lake District bolthole, complete with its own boat house, Michelin-starred restaurant, Jetty Spa and resident llamas is a truly wonderful place for spa weekend breaks. Garden Suites have their own cedarwood hot tubs but the Spa Lodges also have whirlpools, steam rooms and saunas. Better still, Spa Suites have private lounge and dining areas and a spa room with steam room, sauna, infrared lounge bed, and an automated massage chair. The Jetty Spa is exclusive for Lake House Guests. All residents get complimentary passes to a local health centre (main-hotel guests can book treatments at the Jetty Spa).
Whichever suite you’re staying in, hit the hot tub! After champagne on arrival, follow the Spa Suite Trail (includes food matched to the treatments). If you’re staying at the Lake House, The Jetty spa has a couple’s treatment room in the tree canopy above the hotel’s private lake – but you’ll want to make time for the three-hour circuit here. Try and get a table at Michelin-starred HRiSHi, if only for the chilli-glazed lobster with claw fritters.
After a long breakfast, head off to Lake Windermere, either on a walk or for a lake cruise. Return to more spa time in the suites, lodges or Lake House and aim for a post-spa cream tea or Indian tapas at Gilpin Spice.
Grantley Hall, North Yorkshire
Everything about this Palladian estate near Ripon has been stripped back and reinstated to an exceptionally high standard, from landscaping to head-turning interior design.
The Three Graces Spa is currently exclusive to overnight guests (so very peaceful indeed, and ideal for a spa weekend for two) and boasts a vaulted indoor pool, in/out hydrotherapy pool, a sauna and a snow room. Make the most of this before a pre-prandial house champagne (Pol Roger) and a wildy delicious meal at pan-Asian EightyEight – or if you’re feeling particularly splashy, Shaun Rankin’s restaurant.
Stellar treatments, prompt lounger service and complimentary post-treatment champagne – best enjoyed on a duvet-clad day bed in the private garden terrace – show how grown-up luxury is done. Make the most of it while you’re here.
Lime Wood, Hampshire
Come here for an indulgent weekend at a contemporary, stylish country house hotel spa that makes the most of its peaceful setting. The spa is located in its own building, with a herb garden on the roof that’s used for yoga in summer.
Explore the facilities, which have a fantastic sense of place: the hydro pool and sauna look out over the forest, while the steam room ceiling twinkles like the night sky. Black slate interiors are sleek and elegant, the light-flooded lap pool is lined with loungers, and there’s a door from here to the Instagrammable outdoor hydro pool. No restraint should be shown at Hartnett Holder & Co, Angela Hartnett’s Italian restaurant, in the evening. For something truly special, book the Lake Cabin, but all rooms are lovely spaces and have country boutique-chic nailed.
After breakfast in the pantry (think homemade granola, local cheeses, salmon from the on-site smokery and quail eggs to pop in the poaching machine), wander the grounds, taking in the kitchen garden and greenhouse. Then, time for a treatment: perhaps from celebrity facialist Sarah Chapman, or the Bamford Body Signature Treatment. If you’re feeling virtuous, lunch at Raw & Cured, the healthy spa café, or treat yourself to afternoon tea in the hotel’s gorgeous glass-roofed courtyard.
Lucknam Park, Wiltshire
A mahogany-infused country-house hotel, set in a Palladian mansion dating from the 1720s in the verdant wilds of Wilshire. Bath train station is about 25 minutes’ drive away and there’s plenty of parking on site.
Arrive and order a glass of champagne as you unpack to views of the grounds – look out for deer in the grasses. Throw your robes on and head through the building to the cream-stone spa for a treatment: dry flotation therapy with body envelopment, perhaps, or a ‘mindful’ facial from the signature collection. Enjoy luxuriating in the post-treatment relaxation room with its private outdoor dipping pool, before getting ready for a Michelin-starred tasting menu.
After breakfast, take a morning stroll around the gardens before returning to the spa for a couple of hours’ downtime. Order a drink to your lounger and pad between the five thermal cabins, indoor-outdoor pool, and hydro jets. Check out, and end your weekend on a long, boozy lunch at The Brasserie (serving the likes of wood-roasted creedy carver chicken with fondant potato, or Insta-worthy Burford Brown eggs Benedict) before your car collects you for the train.
Rudding Park Hotel & Spa, North Yorkshire
One of the north’s great country house hotels, complete with two golf courses, woodland walks and private cinema. It’s highly accessible, 10 minutes’ drive from Harrogate (direct trains to Leeds and York for London connections).
Blast away any cobwebs with an afternoon at the rooftop spa and garden, a playground for adults. In one corner is a panoramic sauna, with views onto the glorious outdoor hydrotherapy pool with an array of massage jets for the feet, neck, legs and back; and in another, an ice fountain, shower and herbal steam room. Outside, there’s a sunken whirlpool bath and another sauna cabin with big windows.
Go back to the the spa and book the rasul mud-room treatment – popular with couples. If you’re opting for a treatment the Elemis Garden of England is a whole body massage guaranteed to wean the 9-5 desk knots out (and leave you smelling of roses). The hotel is popular with golfers – check out the driving range – and perfectly placed for some lovely country walks.
Rockliffe Hall, County Durham
The hall is steeped in history, all mullion windows and red-brick exteriors, with origins dating back to the 1800s – but the wellness area, set in a modern extension with the most beautiful original stained-glass windows, is quite different. Ultimately, this is has to be one the best spa getaways in the UK for oenophiles.
Book a session in the Spa Garden, a private relaxation area with tepidarium beds, glass-fronted sauna and monsoon showers overlooking a lovely warm infinity pool. Treatments? Indulge in the spa’s signature ‘vinotherapy’ (the concept behind French skincare brand Caudalie). Continue the vino theme with wine tasting in the cellar followed by a tasting menu in the Orangery – with flight.
Detox from the night before with a dip in the generously sized hydro pool and explore all the ‘ariums’: a tepidarium (warm beds), tropicarium (moist heat) and caldarium (aromatic steam room) – plus igloo room, Roman sauna with dry heat and foot spa, and an outdoor hot tub. They serve a great lunch with views over the golf course, too.
Seaham Hall, County Durham
A cream mansion on a clifftop where Lord Byron married Annabelle Milbanke in 1815 is now one of the north east’s best spa hotels. The extensive Asian-inspired spa has recently been expanded and you’ll likely spy some Newcastle United footballers relaxing on the loungers.
There’s a thrill just walking to the spa, which is reached via an underground walkway surrounded by buddhist statues and a trickling stream. Once you’ve arrived, the curved pool is the centrepiece, flanked by a hammam, salt sauna, ice fountain and amethyst crystal steam room. More fun is found outdoors with hot tubs, a hydrotherapy pool and roof terrace. All 21 suites are generously sized and the best have private hot tubs.
Opt for an Ishga treatment, which uses Scottish seaweed and natural spring water to promote glowing skin. Alternatively, a classic ‘drift away’ massage uses Temple Spa Mediterranean essential oils and there are also plenty of prenatal options. Allow time for lunch at the pan-Asian Ozone restaurant or at least a G&T on its terrace before check out.
Contributions by Rachel Cranshaw, Lizzie Frainier, Hattie Garlick, Sherelle Jacobs & Charlotte Johnstone