At Good Spa Guide we are asked about the best spa hotels all the time, and thanks to our rigorous and experienced Spa Spies™ who deliver the bubble rating verdicts, it is a relatively easy question to answer.
But if you were to ask us, what is the best spa for you, it’s another thing entirely. This is why we have a system in our spa directory which allows you to hone your search to match your individual needs.
Finding your best spa hotel
Perhaps you wish to holiday en famille and require activities to amuse your children, as well as something special to distract your equally demanding husband?
Bedruthan Hotel & Spa in Cornwall may be the best spa hotel to answer your prayers. Languishing in a glorious stretch of sandy beach, you can indulge in tonnes of shared family activities such as surf lessons, as well as escape for some organic therapies or a swim in the infinity pool. There’s also a Baby Break and Toddler’s Paradise for parents for whom a lie-in is but a distant memory.
Or perhaps the best spa hotel for you offers holistic overhaul – somewhere aesthetically beautiful to indulge your spiritual and mental wellbeing? In which case, picture yourself stargazing from a hot-tub, swimming in a reed-filtered cliff-top pool or lathered in mud in a lantern-lit tented treatment room at Cornwall’s astonishingly lovely Scarlet Hotel Spa, which also offers complimentary yoga classes to guests.
Maybe outdoor activities make for your best spa hotel – perfect if total non-stop relaxation sends you into twitches of anxiety. Try surfing lessons at The Vale Resort in Cardiff, or cycling through the New Forest at Senspa at Careys Manor. The Spa at Bovey Castle has a Dartmoor on Horseback Adventure and a range of activities such as cider and sloe gin making and art masterclasses.
This five bubble luxury spa hotel is a rustic 17th Century converted farmhouse just a Cotswold stone’s throw away from Cheltenham. It has a cosy upmarket home-from-home feel (if your first home is in Chelsea), with log fires and softly furnished rooms overlooking a patchwork of rolling fields. The food is locally-sourced top end gastropub, while the spa feels like a trendy Scandinavian resort, at the centre of which is a 16m candlelit indoorinfinity pool. There are six treatment rooms, with a couples’ room opening to the rasul mud room, a glass-sided Finish sauna and an ice-rub station. There’s also a mad-men style nail bar where you can have your nails done while sipping a glass of Veuve Cliquot.
It’s immensely luxurious, but what we love about Dormy House is its laid-back, friendly and fun atmosphere. We also loved the ingenious use of the outdoor space. The hydro-pool is positioned in a cosy dip, the spa terrace fenced off against the winds, and on the other side of the hotel, a breakfast terrace catches the morning sun.
More adventurous guests can head out by foot, car or bike to explore the local surrounds. Staff are happy to help you book a bike or even a vintage car, and supply you with a map and a famous Dormy Hamper.
You can read our full review of Dormy House Hotel and Spa, or you can:
Set in 130 acres of Hampshire countryside, Chewton Glen country spa hotel is like something out of an F Scott Fitzgerald novel, sprinkled with contemporary playful touches and innovative design. Here you’ll find the most glamorous treehouses you have ever seen, ideal for adventurous families or romantic couples, which now boast their own treatment menus as well as detox packages. There is a walled garden where many of the excellent restaurant’s ingredients are grown, a golf course, tennis courts and a secret path down to the local beach. The English eccentrics among you can even indulge in a spot of croquet, falconry or duck herding.
The Spa has a 17m ozone treated swimming pool with Grecian columns, vast floor-to-ceiling sash windows overlooking the grounds, and a pool bar serving an alkaline diet. There is also a large hydrotherapy pool, male and female aromatherapy saunas and an outdoor whirlpool. 11 treatment rooms (and a private double for couples) offer a wide range of facials (with exclusive Linda Meredith skincare) and massages, including Hawaiian lomi lomi and hot stone, plus holistic therapies such as reflexology and reiki.
You can read our full review of Chewton Glenn Spa, or you can:
Just six miles from Bath, Lucknam Park hotel is a magnificent Palladian mansion dating from 1720, with four-poster beds for a full on Downton Abbey experience. The stunningly designed spa was built in 2008 and features a 20m indoor pool with floor-to-ceiling windows and a flickering fire wall, lit at night. There’s also a Well-Being House offering yoga, pilates, dry floatation, sunlight therapy treatments, and a fabulous reading selection in the relaxation area.
The indoor/outdoor therapy pool allows you to swim outside and admire the listed parkland view, while the wet spa facilities include an amethyst crystal steam room, a Japanese salt room and a glass-sided sauna that could comfortably accommodate 20 people. Treatments include an Aromatic Steam Massage for the chronically stressed, and Carita Cinetic Lift Expert Facial – purely for looking fabulous.
On a spa day, you have a set lunch menu in the Brasserie and can dine in your robe, and in the evening head for The Park restaurant run by Michelin starred chef Hywel Jones. There is also a riding centre and cookery school.
You can read our full review of Luckham Park, or you can:
If you love fine wine, good health, romance and dogs (well-behaved small to medium sized pooches are welcome), what’s not to love about this five bubble luxury rated hotel and spa. Located in Berkshire, the Vineyard was originally a small manor house, now extended to embrace 49 rooms (including suites) and a compact but elegant spa. A glass floor in reception allows you to view the 30,000 wine bottles in the cellar – a glimpse of the Bacchanalian before you head for what they rightly claim as the Champagne of Spas.
Topped with a glass ceiling, the spa (unusually) does not have a health club, hence the exclusive and serene atmosphere. There’s a current in the swimming pool for you to swim against, and natural treatments (the spa uses Darphin products) specially tailored to your needs. Our Spa Spies™ were especially impressed with the bento boxes for lunch, the stunning restaurant meals with, of course, an amazing wine selection, and the exceptional customer service. To your good health!
You can read our full review of The Vineyard Spa, or you can:
Magnificently Gothic and set in 375 acres of Darlington parkland, the spa at Rockliffe Hall is a similarly jaw-dropping – if more modern – feast for the mind body and soul. After a round of golf (it is home to the England Senior Open), relax around the 20m pool where spa butlers will keep you topped up with champagne and juices. It’s lovely to swim in while colours from the stained glass windows (reclaimed from an old chapel) play on the water.
Opposite the pool are two monsoon showers, a 20-person sized sauna and a caldarium with hot, aromatic-infused steam. Frosted glass doors take you through to a hydro-pool, tepidarium, tropicarium and igloo room. The luxurious treatment rooms all have private showers and silk-draped ceilings, while signature treatments include Tibetan Sound Massage, a Body Bliss massage fusion and our favourite – Relax and Renew by Murad.
You can read our full review of Rockliffe Hall, or you can:
Five bubble luxury Pennyhill is so well established as the UK’s leading spa destination, it seems almost too obvious to mention. But to leave it out would be a serious oversight. Surrey is just 45 minutes away from London, and the Exclusive Hotel and Spa is in a separate building in the grounds of a luxury, ivy clad mansion. There are eight different pools (including a 25m ozone ballroom pool with underwater music), a large gym, 21 treatment rooms and many thermal experiences. The large showers are, as our reviewer put it “positively decadent”, with a main waterfall and body jets. Outside there are three hot tubs and another large pool.
As for innovation, where else would you find a schnapps steam room? Our Spa Spies™ particularly loved Pennyhill’s seamless spa journey with own-brand products made from locally sourced ingredients (they make their own honey with Pennyhill bees), and above all, the two Michelin starred menu at The Latymer.
You can read our full review of Pennyhill Park, or you can: