Yes, it’s darker and colder but there’s a lot to love about the AW season – from crackling fires and firey leaves to hot chocolate and woolly cardies. Many spas are designed for the colder months, too, with open fires, eucalyptus-infused steam rooms, al fresco hot tubs and incredible autumnal views. So don’t hang up your cossie just yet… book the last spa break of the year.
With fewer tourists and deserted beaches, Devon can be even more beautiful at summer’s end, when the wind whips the sea into a frothy frenzy and walks along the sand blow the cobwebs away. After a stroll in the elements, warm up in the spa’s hot sauna or slide under the hydrotherapy pool waterfall before indulging in a luxury Thalgo or Gaia (from October) treatment. Full-height glass makes the most of the sea views.
Less of a pampering experience than a test of your mettle, a visit to The Bathhouse is guaranteed to kiss those winter sniffles goodbye. Book in for the full Parenie ritual and reap the benefits of 15 minutes in a steam room so hot you have to wear a felt hat (where attractive men waft steam into your skin using eucalyptus branches) followed by a dip in a cold plunge pool. End the treatment end with a shot of Vodka and you may never sneeze again...
If Seasonal Affected Disorder (SAD) strikes during the winter months, a trip to Lucknam Park might be just what the doctor ordered. Replicating the change of light from sunrise to sunset, the 40-minute Haslauer Reflective Sunlight Therapy – taking place in the spa's own wellbeing house - stimulates vitamin D production and boosts immunity. Take a dip in the sleek pool afterwards, backed by flickering fire, or brave the outdoor salt plunge pool.
Sometimes it’s not about the spa itself but the setting, and Galgorm – on the gushing River Maine and in expansive grounds dotted with red trees - has autumn wrapped up. The alfresco Thermal Village is second to none, with riverside hot tubs heated by open fires (where strawberries and Champagne can be served) and a Celtic sauna with river views. Inside, winter treats include a snow cabin, heated water beds and a mud room.
A large fire pit warms the outdoor space at the spa at Ockenden Manor, especially inviting in the winter months. The spa itself is a bold Cubist block with glass walls allowing natural light in and providing views over the rolling South Downs. Step into the pool indoors and swim outside onto the fire-lit terrace,overlooking misty countryside by day or twilight. Ockenden Manor offers modern and comfortable spa suites for the ultimate cosy spa escape, as well as a Michelin starred restaurant.
Even on cold days the glass-walled Greenhouse lounge - with its central circular log fire - makes guests at Dormy House Spa feel cosy. Set in a renovated Cotswold farmhouse, the spa’s Scandinavian design contrasts the hotel itself, with a 16-metre infinity pool, heat rooms and treatments by Temple Spa and Natura Bisse. For dinner, tuck into hearty plates and real ales at The Potting Shed, with its hilly views.
If winter is all about romantic escapes, Chewton Glen is sure to deliver. Nothing screams romance more than a soak in a private hot tub on the deck of a treehouse suspended 35ft in the air overlooking the New Forest. You may have to pinch yourself to believe your luck. Chewton Glen pampers, too, with a 17-metre ozone-treated pool and treatments by Linda Meredith. Restaurants at Chewton use ingredients from the hotel’s own kitchen garden.
As highland flings go, Gleneagles is all brilliance - and no bagpipes. Hole up in front of the fire in the tartan-clad drawing room or adorn a pair of Hunters and try your hand at clay pigeon shooting, horse riding, archery or fishing. There’s also a Championship golf course and Michelin-starred restaurant. The spa is worth the schlep alone: de-stress in a garden courtyard with its glass roof and open fire or heat up in one of several thermal experiences (think Crystal Steam Room, Hot Sauna Cabin).