Take me with you…
Set in 850-acres of Cotswold countryside, The Lakes by Yoo is home to ten lakes, meadows and woodland dotted with 170 super-luxury lake houses and apartments. Forget your typical Cotswold chocolate box cottages; these designer lakeside cabins are more Scandi in style with wood exteriors, floor-to-ceiling windows and lake views.
A 90-minute drive from London, they are the perfect escape for city dwellers. Fancy moving in? Prices start at over a cool million. The estate comes complete with restaurant, bar, sailing club and spa.
Shall we spa?
The new-look Spa at Yoo has now opened its doors to non-residents who can walk down the gravel path to a glass-fronted building surrounded by nature.
The spa reception sets the scene with a David Hockney piece – Woodgate Woods, Winter – hanging above the wall fireplace; sink into the striking orange sofa or statement chairs beneath huge rattan pendant lights and calming pale green walls.
Look left, past the pool table (yep), through the floor-to-ceiling glass to glimpse the centrepiece heated 17-metre swimming pool lined by loungers, dotted with leafy plants and offering orchard views. You’ll also find a large blue-tiled Jacuzzi and small sauna and steam room poolside.
The changing rooms have a wall of code-operated lockers and benches on which to change; around the corner you’ll find two showers – complete with Wildsmith Radical Botany shampoo, conditioner and body wash – and a loo. The white marble vanity area – with pale green and orange funky plastic zig zag stools - has space for two. Help yourself to complimentary Wildsmith products; Dyson hairdryer, straighteners and a hair wrap take care of post-spa preening.
The Cryotherapy room can be found just outside; the three treatment rooms – rosemary, thyme and sage – are located at the end of the wood-panelled corridor.
If the weather permits, retreat to the sheltered outside relaxation area and get comfy on oversized sofas centred around a toasty firepit.
Spa rituals are available from high-brow spa brands Dr Barbara Sturm, COSMOSS by Kate Moss, Wildsmith Skin and Moss of the Isles.
We tried Cryotherapy (£85) and a Moss of the Isles Warm Massage (85 minutes, £160)
My therapist, Caroline, asked me to complete a consultation form, and took my blood pressure and temperature (a first). Handing me a bag containing socks, slippers, gloves and a head band, and directing me to the changing rooms, she advised me to pop it all on along with my swimwear and meet her by the Cryotherapy room.
Caroline explained that I’d need to take a sharp inhale upon entering the blue-glowing cryo chamber and stand as still as possible for three minutes. Taking deep breaths would help activate my vagus nerve and allow me to adjust to the -85.C temperature. With a little trepidation, I stepped inside - my nasal hairs freezing instantly.
Having had ice baths before, I felt quietly confident that I’d enjoy cryo; the shock happens the moment you submerge into the ice but, after steadying your breath, the cold ceases and you experience a sense of calm. The cryo chamber stays cold - very cold.
Every 30 seconds, Caroline appeared in front of the door with a thumbs up. On exiting, I felt exhilarated. Cryo is used to for joint pain, muscle recovery and even depression.
Caroline then led me to a treatment room, discussing any areas of concern on the way (ongoing tightness in hips and glutes). Specialising in Sports Massage, she suggested tight calves. Lying face down on the bed. Caroline applied heated herbal compresses to my shoulders and commenced a deep tissue massage on my legs.
Using Moss of the Isles Warm Massage Oil, with pain-relieving arnica and Scots pine, she worked out tension in my calves that I hadn’t realised existed, before locating more tension in my IT band. Using stretching techniques and tissue movement, Caroline moved my hips using three-point pressure to disperse deep seated tension; I exhaled through the discomfort.
She continued her magic on my arms and shoulders before asking me to turn over so that she could raise the blind and reveal a private outdoor post-treatment relaxation area with its own ice bath. Caroline fetched me a herbal tea and advised me to drink lots of water.
How did it measure up?
Caroline’s background in Sports Therapy was obvious and I felt in knowledgeable hands. I left feeling more clued up about what my body needs, too. I slept soundly and woke without the usual aches and pains.
Spot of lunch?
Take a stroll to The Lakes Bar & Restaurant, a fairy-lit tepee adorned with hanging plants and statement lights; sheepskins keep seating cosy while you soak up pretty-as-a-picture views across The Sailing Club Lake.
The menu features brunch and everything from steaks to prawn poke bowls. We feasted on the homemade YOO Burger with pickle and mustard mayo and fries. With no room for dessert, we opted for a black coffee to fire us back up for the drive home. This a great spot to sip something sparkling and watch the moor hens bobbing around on the lake.
Got all day?
After time in the spa and a spot of lunch, make the most of The Lakes setting with a spot of wild swimming. During the peak season (April to September) you can rent canoes, Kayaks and paddle boards, or pull on your wellies and have a stomp around the estate.
Short on time?
Make sure you book one of the treatments; if you’re struggling with aches and pains ask for Caroline to work her magic.
23rd November 2023
Minimalist lines; organic products; facial massage; tranquillity; interesting people-watching.
Discarded towels on loungers; steam rooms that aren't steamy; mobile phones.
Behind the scenes