The North West of England is famous for its beautiful landscapes rich with history, buzzing cities, great music scene and warm people with a stoic sense of humour – we love the customer service at these spas. Yes, the weather can be a bit damp. The advantage of plenty of precipitation, though, is how it shapes the landscape, filling lakes until they shimmer and taking a bright green crayon to the soil. The North West takes up a large chunk of the UK, serving Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire, Merseyside and Cumbria (home to the Lake District) – think Liverpool, Manchester, Chester, The Wirral, the Ribble Valley and vast areas of outstanding natural beauty. It’s no wonder, then, that the North West is filled with fab spas – from urban metropolises to remote retreats. Here’s our pick of the best spa days in the North West – don’t forget your wellies.
The refurbishment of The Spa at Carden Park has moved it into the ranks of world class, with a spa garden larger than most. Float around this vast green spa facilities area, dipping in and out of hydrotherapy pools, hot tubs and glass-walled saunas, before climbing into one of several design-led glass pods to admire the view. Thirsty? Order a glass of fizz to be served poolside. Hungry? Pad over to the Garden bar and enjoy lunch on the terrace or by an open fire. Inside you’ll find a refurbished pool with a sparkly roof and an overhauled spa treatment menu with additions from Elemental Herbology.
It’s worth a visit to The Woodland Spa for the setting alone 100 acres of rolling countryside, dense woodland and verdant parkland. The spa is housed in a modern two-storey glass cube, with a restaurant on top and thermal facilities below. The sleek outdoor swimming pool starts at the base of the cube and stretches out for several metres; the indoor pool faces a wall of flickering fire. The treatment menu runs for 12 pages, with top-to-toe treats from Neom, Decleor and Natural Spa Factory. Then tuck into Moules Frites, chocolate fondants and Espresso martinis at the spa café.
City centre spas often lack the space to shine, but Rena Spa at The Midland Hotel makes the most of a slimmer footfall, with an attractive 9-metre mood-lit pool, Alderwood sauna, aromatherapy steam room and lifestyle shower. Spa treatments range from the standard – back massages, scrubs and facials – to the more targeted such as Caudalie’s Vinotherapie (an exclusive range of treatments using grape skins, and often including a glass of wine – cheers!) and targeted Crystal Clear facials. Save some time for Rena Spa’s relaxation room – its ergonomic sleep chambers and cocooning hanging pods will have you dozing off in no time.
Ribby Hall Village is a holiday park with a spa hotel at its centre. The thermal space is impressive, housed in a vast glass structure with a large bubbling hydro pool at its heart of the thermal experience and herbal sauna, aroma steam room, tepidarium, sanarium and Balinese salt inhalation room alongside. Outside, you’ll find a pretty Zen garden, a spa deck with a second hydro pool and bean bags for relaxing. There’s also a fully-equipped gym and a lovely spa café – try the new cocktail sharing platter. What’s not to love? Treatments are from spa gurus Elemis, Neom and ishga.
Maya Blue Wellness is an intriguing subterranean sanctuary hidden away under Liverpool’s Stanley Dock, and part of the stylish Titanic Hotel. Historic red brick archways lead spa-goers from room-to-room: unwind in the jigsaw-shaped hydro pool with its swan neck fountains or treat the feet to a foot spa. The relaxation area has bean bags, relaxation beds and a tea garden guaranteed to bring those shoulders down a notch; treatments from ESPA include facials, back, face and scalp massages, scrubs and treatments for men. Not sure what to go for? Use the express treatment menu to do a kind of spa tapas taster - from shoulder massages to eye lifts.
Ever wondered how you get perfect stripes in a lawn? Swim to the edge of Armathwaite Hall’s stunning outdoor 16-metre infinity pool and you’ll be able to inspect the holy grail of gardening close hand. Or switch to the outdoor hot tub for a more tree-lined view. The rest of the spa and leisure facilities on offer forms quite a list (bear with us): outdoor terrace with loungers, indoor hydro pool, aroma room, steam room, glass-walled sauna, tropical shower, dance studio, gym, spa lounge with fire place, manicure and make-up room, a Courtyard Bar and Brasserie and 10 treatment rooms. Spa days include full use of the facilities, a 25-, 55-, 85- or 115-minute treatment and a two-course lunch.
No expense has been spared on the creation of Aqua Sana spas, part of the Center Parcs villages countrywide. Whinfell Forest’s offering is so large you’ll need a map (no joke). Our advice? Don’t attempt it all in a morning, simply take a dip, warm up, a little pamper, relax and eat. At Whinfell, that means wallowing in the outdoor hydro pool, warming up in the indoor Japanese salt steam bath and Turkish hammam, enjoying a pampering ESPA treatment, dozing on a water bed and eating lunch or afternoon tea for two (with a glass of prosecco) in the Vitalite Spa Café. Job done; time to book your next visit…
Access to Netherwood country house hotel Spa’s newly-refurbished facilities will cost non-residents £20 for three hours, just enough time to get around the traditional sauna, aroma steam room (with rotating fragrances), salt inhalation room, monsoon shower, ice fountain and sunken hot tubs, of which there are three. Some time should be set aside for gazing, too, with breathtaking views of Morecombe Bay at every turn. After a treatment -- try an anti-ageing facial by Germaine de Capuccini, with one of the most advanced skin care laboratories in the world -- enjoy a manicure or pedicure in the nail bar with a glass of Prosecco or relax in the candle-lit snug - a delightful spa experience.