Best spas for outdoor pursuits


It was during lockdown 2.0 - when gyms were still closed and outdoor facilities were slowly opening up – that I re-discovered my love of tennis. After months of Joe Wicks and walks around the block, playing weekly games in a local park felt like a breath of fresh air. It was sociable, good exercise, fun, outdoorsy - and just £3 a session. When my gym finally re-opened, I was so taken with tennis I considered freezing my membership. But it isn’t just parks or larger gyms that have the necessary space for outdoor facilities – many spa hotels and retreats do, too. There’s a great range of fitness-inducing options to choose from, and the cost is often included in your nightly stay or day rate. Racquets (or clubs) at the ready…

Spa + tennis

Stoke Park, Tennis


Thirteen may be the unlucky number for some but not at Buckinghamshire’s Stoke Park, where 13 tennis courts are available for guests to practice their serve on, including six grass courts, three indoor courts and four floodlit artificial clay courts. It’s little wonder this five-star hotel plays host to the Boodles Tennis Tournament each year, a pre-cursor to Wimbledon.

What else is on offer?

49 bedrooms; three restaurants, bars and lounges; nine event rooms; a 27-hole Championship golf course; a 4,000sq ft gym; and an award-winning spa indoor and outdoor pools, a spa shop and spa gardens.

Spa + golf

Kohler Waters Spa

Some of the world’s best golf courses are within driving distance of The Old Course Hotel in Scotland, home to Kohler Waters Spa & Fitness Centre. Golfers can book one of three packages, combining luxury accommodation and dinner with a round (or two) on one of the area’s prestigious courses, including St Andrews, Old Course, Dumbarnie Links, The Castle Course and The Duke’s Course. The Ultimate Old Course package includes a helicopter ride.

What else is on offer?

175 sumptuous rooms, three restaurants, pub grub at The Jigger Inn, a clubhouse, a sports bar, and a comprehensive spa with indoor and outdoor facilities, a fitness centre and a spa cafe.

Spa + swimming

Rudding Park Spa

Swimming pools are big business at spa hotels with many stunning infinity, rooftop and competition pools on offer all over the country. One of note, though, is Rudding Park winner of the Best Outdoor Facilities category in the 2020 Good Spa Guide awards. The spa’s 17-metre outdoor pool, part of the Roof Top Spa, is designed for some serious lap swimming, with loungers at one end for post-length relaxing. Be sure to stop swimming long enough to take in the glorious views.

What else is on offer?

Four categories of rooms, including cottages and lodges; five dining options, including three-AA Rosette Horto Restaurant; a cinema; an 18-hole Rawtreegolf course; several event spaces and an award-winning spa.

Spa + horse riding

Lucknam Park

With its own equestrian centre that’s home to 35 horses of all sizes and abilities, Lucknam Park is a horse riders’ dream. Whether you’re a beginner, more advanced, a child or a rider after rosettes, every level is catered for here. As well as a full training pen, Lucknam has its own riding school providing lessons in anything from dressage to show jumping.

What else is on offer?

43 bedrooms, two restaurants including Michelin-starred Hywel Jones, a wedding centre, several meeting rooms/event spaces, and an award-winning spa.

Spa + tree climbing

Zip lining Glen Eagles

Yup, this really is a possibility… at Gleneagles, Scotland.  After a period of instruction, harness-wearing, rope-wielding adults and children will scale up a tree until they are high up in the canopy (following a guide of course) before whizzing down on a 110-metre zip wire. You might well need a relaxing spa treatment after that!

What else is on offer?

What isn’t, frankly. Outdoor pursuits aplenty, including tennis, golf, archery, clay pigeon shooting, horse riding and more; more bedrooms than we could tot up on the website; six restaurants, including the revered 2 Michelin-starred Andrew Fairlie; five bars; a sumptuous spa and a beauty lodge.

Stylish_Spa_Spy
  • Author

    Stylish Spy

  • Age 40-something
  • Skin type Sensitive

Spa Likes

"Minimalist lines; organic products; facial massage; tranquillity; interesting people-watching."

Spa Dislikes

"Discarded towels on loungers; steam rooms that aren't steamy; mobile phones."