East Anglia probably isn’t the first region spa goers think of when it comes to booking a spa day but – what it lacks in spa hotels (and those that are here are well worth shouting about) – it makes up for in beaches, historic towns, windmill-fringed waterways, dense forests, culture and gastronomy. The area also enjoys more sunshine than many other regions in the country. Stylish Spy rounds up the best spas in Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk.
This county isn’t just for smarty pants - although the University could be counted as a tourist attraction in its own right - with much to enthral even the least scholarly of visitor. After a capital crawl, take to the roads (preferably in a soft-top classic car) and marvel at the British countryside, pit stopping in idyllic pubs before buying tat (or treasure) in bric-a-brac haunts.
Well worth the trek to the outskirts of the city, Cambridge Country Club’s recently-opened, architecturally-designed wellness centre is a treat. Work out in the gym, take a class in the studio or enjoy a nutritious lunch or afternoon tea in The Lounge. Spa goers will love the stylish swimming pool surrounded by loungers, Himalayan Salt Spa, relaxation rooms and manicure and pedicure lounge, with its statement pink chairs. Elemis takes care of the pampering in five treatment rooms.
Being part of a private house, visitors to Sandpiper arriving by car could well think their sat nav has thrown a wobbly (we did). But this is no ordinary spa experience, with the entire space yours for the day. Enjoy exclusive access to the indoor pool (which is large by house standards), Jacuzzi, sauna, steam room, snow room and spa garden with bubbling hot tub. Make regular, and unlimited, detours to the cosy lounge and kitchen for snacks and drinks. Elemis rules the treatment roost.
Essex has come a long way since the days of TOWIE with a lot to love - beginning with a tantalising food scene (Jamie Oliver’s pop-up restaurant has breathed new life into Southend Pier). There’s also better shopping and a surge of new hotel openings set on beaches or tucked away in the countryside. Mersea Island is so beautiful it doesn’t feel like it belongs, but that’s the beauty of it.
The whitewashed, Scandi-style Lifehouse Hotel & Spa - located near the trendy coastal town of Frinton-on-Sea - stands out amongst acres of greenery, drawing visitors in like a magnet. Inside, clean lines, neutral hues and plenty of glass keep things paired back and Nordic. The adults-only spa facilities include an 18-metre heated indoor pool, saunas, steam rooms and a gym, as well as spa treatments from Elemis, Clarins and Made for Life.
Bulging out of the UK map as if it’s trying to peel away, Norfolk isn’t easy to get to. But, with fewer tourists than Devon or Cornwall, and just as much to discover, that’s how the locals like it. Visitors purposely come to the county to discover 50-odd (and completely different) beaches, narrow waterways and Norwich, a buzzing city with as much history as it has hipsters. It’s also the proud home of GSG HQ.
The herb gardens at this Norfolk countryside hotel on the edge of the Sandringham Estate are famous – they’ve been on TV, featured in calendars, magazines and books. Gardeners pick herbs to flavour dishes in The Samphire Kitchen and The Secret Garden Spa, a blissful spot with a 12-metre indoor pool, sauna, steam room, bio-sauna, showers, foot baths and Gram-worthy outdoor hot tub. The Elemental Herbal Facial is just what the doctor ordered.
The Black Barn Spa is a petit, exclusive-use spa where you can retreat and relax with your loved ones. Opened in 2020, the spa has heaps of personality with unusual interior design - its namesake black underpins the decor - an eight-metre pool, outdoor hot tub and an outdoor barrel sauna. Sit in the spa garden and soak up the sun or feel smug bubbling in the hot tub. Spa treatments include facials, aromatherapy massages or signature Black Barn treatments.
Arguably the wealthiest county in East Anglia (a house in spendid Southwold will almost certainly set you back as much as London), Suffolk is rich in sights and experiences, too. The genteel beaches rate highly, as does the wildlife and the gastronomic scene. Tudor villages, seemingly lost in time, make good day trips; nature reserves such as Orford Ness and Dunwich Heath will make you wish you’d packed the binoculars.
Being in higgledy-piggledy Lavenham - with its black and white Tudor buildings and old-world charm – is a pretty peaceful experience in itself; a stay at Weavers House Spa at The Swan hotel could be the cherry on the tranquillity cake. Despite a relatively small footprint, the well-designed spa has a sauna, steam room, garden room and outdoor vitality pool on a pretty terrace. Spa treatments showcase Temple Spa and Jennifer Young.
Set in a separate building a short walk from the Georgian hotel - the lawns brimming with lavender in the summer months - this tasteful Newmarket spa has a dramatic glass structure housing the hydrotherapy pool. Lie among the bubbles and gaze at the sky. There’s also a glass-fronted sauna and steam room, a Rasul, an ice-fountain and a decked roof terrace with a hot tub. ESPA has treatments well and truly covered.
The Gainsborough is a health club and day spa set inside a 16th Century barn in the heart of Suffolk countryside. Floor-to-ceiling windows bring that countryside a little closer while simultaneously flooding the pool and Jacuzzi area with natural light. The sauna, aromatherapy steam room and serail mud chamber are worthy timewasters, as is a Babor facial. Beauty treatments are also on the menu, along with therapies for men and mums-to-be.