Modern life’s stresses and strains leave many of us looking for ways to relax and revive, and to do it with a comforting dose of pampering. Thank goodness, then, in these fractious times, for the invigorating benefits of the spa break. It's a trip we usually don’t have to travel too far from home to enjoy.
These escapes offer a chance to detox and de-stress, to recharge the batteries, find ourselves and have fun. The treatments use traditional techniques but have been refined by the latest technology. What’s more, gender bias is no more, with spas having treatments for all and offering to tailor-make them to suit you.
Upvote the spa hotel you'd choose. And if you've had a great experience at a UK spa hotel, let us know your top recommendation at the bottom.
These are the best hotels in London - no matter your budget.
Best UK spa hotels
1. Balmer Lawn Hotel, New Forest, HampshireView now on Booking.com
At the hotel’s Saltus Spa, the biggest dilemma may be choosing how to relax: massages, facials, aromatherapy or body treatments – some available in woodland-themed rooms. One treatment, Hopi Ear Candle, claims to alleviate symptoms of hayfever and headaches using candles made from beeswax, essential oils and flax. Whether or not it works, it's certainly relaxing. There is also a Finnish sauna, hot tub and indoor pool. The hotel is close to the New Forest village of Lyndhurst.
2. Archerfield House, Dirleton, East Lothian, ScotlandView now on Tripadvisor
With its spa recognised by Vogue and Tatler, you can rest easy in the lap of luxury amid 550-acres on the East Lothian coastline. There are 12 treatment rooms and products from Made For Life Organics, Aromatherapy Associates, Voya and Sisley rule the roost. Private bath huts come with hand-harvested seaweed for a detoxifying boost and hot-stone massages are a speciality. All of it – plus two golf courses – are 40 minutes' drive from Edinburgh.
3. Stobo Castle Health Spa, Scottish BordersView now on Tripadvisor
Deep within the epic-feeling Scottish Borders, this castle – built in the early 1800s – is in private grounds and surrounded by pine forest. Choose from standard, deluxe and lodge rooms, or the opulence of the Cashmere Suite – but then get down to the business of relaxation at Scotland's only 25m Ozone Pool (with countryside views) or in the hydrospa. Fairy-lit outdoor hot tubs and a relaxation suite only add to the wellbeing vibe.
4. Old Swan, Minster Lovell, OxfordshireView now on Booking.com
A Cotswolds’ retreat, less than 40 minutes’ drive from Oxford, the Old Swan has a rural inn feel with roaring fires in its beamed dining room and bar. There are 15 rooms to relax in and, while its spa isn’t on the premises … it is across the road at sister property Minster Mill (recently refurbished). There, discover a heated indoor plunge pool, aroma steam room and ice fountain, plus three treatment suites.
5. Salcombe Harbour Hotel and Spa, south DevonView now on Booking.com
A boutique, 50-room seaside hotel but also home to a luxury spa, the Salcombe is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There are beaches and coastal walks to explore if you're so inclined. Maybe a bit of both is best, as the spa, which features ESPA products, has a heated indoor pool, hot tub, sauna and fitness area. There’s a private outdoor terrace to reawaken/revive on after a massage or facial.
6. Low Wood Bay Resort and Spa, Windermere, Lake DistrictView now on Booking.com
On the shores of Windermere and inside the Lake District National Park (England’s largest), this 131-room hotel has wonderful countryside views. It’s a great base for walkers but if resting is your thing, practise it at indoor and outdoor pools, hot tubs, steam room – and mud room! Treatments use Berry and Birch, and ESPA products, and there’s an outdoor sauna (from Finland) offering panoramic views of the lake.
7. Cowley Manor, GloucestershireView now on Booking.com
Cowley’s grand manor building (30 bedrooms) stands in contrast to the modern C-Side Spa built into its grounds. Both provide a restful retreat in 55 acres of meadow and woodland, and it’s easy to see how C-Side won an award in Condé Nast for Best Spa in a UK Hotel. The spa has heated indoor and outdoor pools, and a treatment menu featuring a Detox Facial using kombucha, seaweed and grape extract.
8. St Brides Hotel and Spa, PembrokeshireView now on Booking.com
Thermal bathing and a Marine Hydrotherapy pool take centre stage at this south Wales getaway. Relax in treatment rooms that offer sea-salt infusion, herbal rock sauna, a bracing ice fountain and even a sensation shower room, where there’s a selection of three water experiences with differing temperatures, aromas and colour therapy light moods. The clifftop hotel overlooks Saundersfoot in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.
9. Lough Erne Resort, Enniskillen, Northern IrelandView now on Tripadvisor
This five-star resort is on a beautiful peninsula in the Fermanagh lakelands and is swanky enough to have hosted the 2013 G8 summit. It’s a TripAdvisor favourite, features two golf courses and offers a Thai-inspired spa experience – going as far as having a specialist Thai massage couch. Plunge in, in search of wellbeing, to its infinity pool or blink worries away in the light therapy sauna.
10. Cliveden, BerkshireView now on Booking.com
Bin the budget and embrace the splendour of a stay at a spa with the X factor (and infamy, due to its links to the 1961 Profumo Affair). There are seven treatment rooms, indoor and outdoor pools, hot tubs, and sauna and steam rooms. The spa’s kitchen does a fine line in healthy lunches – and potent cocktails. The rooms are almost beyond luxurious and Cliveden is sister property to the equally swanky Chewton Glen Hotel and Spa in Hampshire.