Blowing hot & cold

May 1 2024

Stylish Spy

4 min read

Drench shower

Jumping into a freezing cold pool after a session in a toasty sauna might seem like utter madness (this particular Spa Spy isn’t a fan) but the benefits are well documented. The sudden change in temperature is said to shock the lymphatic circulation into action, flushing out bacteria, reducing inflammation and enhancing the body’s immune system. It can reduce stress and prevent cellulite from appearing on prone spots like thighs, bums and tums, too. Not too shabby.

So, the next time you’re at one of these five spas, pull the handle on that dreaded drench bucket, slather crushed ice on those hot limbs, plunge into that cold pool or set the experience shower to ‘Arctic. We’re game if you are…

Three Graces Spa at Grantley Hall

The Nordic Garden at Three Graces Spa

The new Nordic Spa Garden at Three Graces Spa is well designed for a hot-to-cold circuit, with the facilities positioned leaping distance from one another. Heat up in wooden steam sauna (a blend of dry heat and steam) before lowering yourself into one of two cold water baths supplied by aptly-named Brass Monkeys; both are kept at a chilly 0 degrees. Re-heat in the hydro pool before braving that bath again. After a few rounds (rinse; repeat), relax in the House of Suntory Terrace, an al fresco bar open in the summer months with cherry blossom installation and views of the ornamental Japanese garden that was built in 1910. The whole area is available for private hire, too, so you can grab some pals and scream to your heart’s content.

Guerlain Spa at Raffles London

Steam room at Raffles London

A relative newcomer to the spa scene, Guerlain Spa was crowned Best New Spa at The Good Spa Guide awards last November. Spread over four floors and covering a whopping 27,000sq feet, it’s large by London standards with an entire floor dedicated to wellness (gym, studios, changing facilities) as well as a 20-metre pool, vitality pool and comfy loungers with butler service on the floor below, accessed via a sweeping staircase. The thermal facilities – with welcoming flickering fire – are tucked behind the vitality pool. Bathed in creamy mosaic and patterned tiles, the steam room is one of the most attractive we’ve tired; sit in here for a good 10 minutes before cooling down under one of two experience showers. The sauna opposite (for re-heating) is roomy enough for 10.

Ragdale Hall Spa

Ragdale Hall Spa 2

There’s an array of hot and cold experiences at Ragdale Hall Spa with the Thermal Spa area containing some exciting things to try – from a candle-lit pool to a volcanic salt steam room. The newly-installed Kelda Bubble Shower uses 50% less water than a traditional shower, while the rose-scented sauna smells like an English country garden. It’s the Cave Shower that intrigues us, a natural cave-like room with star-lit ceiling that changes according to the water feature chosen, be it ‘cold mist’, ‘waterfall’ or ‘thunderstorm’. Don’t miss a session in the Thought Zone either, a dry heat room with gentle music and changing ceiling images ideal for a spot of meditation. Forgotten your glasses? Grab the pair placed outside each thermal room and read up on the quirks - and benefits - before entering.

SenSpa at Careys Manor

Sen Spa Crystal steam room

With 22,000sq ft to play with, SenSpa has plenty of heat and ice experiences to flit between. To get sufficeintly hot under the collar, there’s a crystal steam room, a herbal sauna, a Laconicum with heated floors and a Tepidarium with heated beds for starters, as well as Rhassoul mud room for two, a poolside sauna and steam room, and a Jacuzzi with bubble jets. Three experience showers - each with three settings (brave ‘cold sea storm’ with its heavy drench and salty scent if you can) - and an ice room take care of the cool down beautifully. For hot and cold of a different kind, head to SenSpa’s dedicated Thai restaurant and tuck into a spicy Pad Thai washed down with an ice-cold Singha beer.

Serenity Spa at Seaham Hall

Ice pools at serenity spa at seaham hall

Whether it’s hot or cold, inside or outside, Serenity Spa at Seaham Hall will get the circulation going. Inside, there’s wealth of facilities to warm up in, including a eucalyptus-scented steam room with central amethyst crystal, a Hammam with snail showers and bubbly Jacuzzi, an Asian herbal sanarium seating 12 and a salt sauna with orange salt-brick wall. Enter these in order of heat intensity, starting at warm and ending with hot (ask a passing spa butler if you’re unsure) before cooling down at the ice fountain, under an experience shower or by braving one of two icy plunge pools. Sunny day? Swap ceiling for sky in the Zen Garden with its infinity edge hydro pool and two bubbling hot tubs. Spa goers really wishing to test their metal can also take a dip in The North Sea.

Banya No. 1 Hoxton

Banya No 1 Hoxton

You’ve not experienced extreme temperatures until you’ve visited a Banya, an Eastern European concept where the steam rooms are so hot spa-goers must wear felt hats to protect their heads – yes, really. The signature treatment here is a Parenie, a ritual that takes the thermal cycle to another level using fragrant bundles of birch, oak and eucalyptus twigs to work the steam into, and around, the body. This is followed by a cold water plunge or ice bucket to trigger a release of adrenaline and stress hormones. Other than being instantly invigorating, the benefits include better sleep, stress release and a strengthened immune system. Some even claim that it reduces jet lag. Reward your bravery with a pot of Chamomile tea or a glass of Champagne afterwards.

Other spas to try:

For a recent refresh: Aqua Sana Elveden Forest
For more facilities than you can shake a cossie at: Galgorm Resort & Spa
For natural thermal springs: Buxton Crescent Health Spa Hotel


Stylish Spy

1st May 2024

Spy Likes:

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

Spy Dislikes:

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

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