Good Escapes: Spa-cations far from the madding crowds

Jul 31 2020

Seaside Spy

5 min read

Lodore pool 3

As you plan your first post-lockdown holiday, you want it to be special, non-stressful and, in these sensitive times, not overcrowded. This is all the more difficult when we’re limited by where we can go, and are a tad stir crazy. We’ve all seen how easily our glorious beaches become hideously and dangerously rammed at the first glimpse of sunshine: it’s almost enough to put you off going anywhere.

But there are so many beautiful places in the UK, from the wild Durham Heritage Coast down to sparkling Devonshire coves, across hills and dales, lakes and waterfalls. All you need is a pool with a view and a private cottage or tree house to stroll to, while knowing you don’t have to venture too far for a fine meal and some pampering. With that in mind, we’ve unearthed ten gorgeous spa hideaways to fulfil your long-awaited dreams of post lockdown r&r. Obviously, things will be a little different on your return to spa-ing: read our feature on what to expect.

Park House, West Sussex

Nearby: South Downs, Chichester, East and West Witterings

Book into a six-bedroom private house, one of two charming cottages or hire out the whole of Park House with its quirky honesty bar, croquet lawn, tennis court, bowls and delicious spa. There’s an indoor pool with mother-of-pearl tiles and a lovely outdoor pool with a bar and suntrap terrace. Lounge here for an afternoon and it’s easy to imagine you have been whisked away to the Med. Spa treatments can be booked by non-members from September 1st.

Perfect treatment: Caudalie Fleur de Vigne Candle Massage (£70, 60 minutes).

Serenity Spa at Seaham Hall, County Durham

Nearby: Seaham Beach, Durham UNESCO City, Auckland Castle, The Bowes Museum

For fresh sea air and stunning scenery, a stay in this stylishly renovated Georgian mansion on the Durham Coast will blow away your Covid cobwebs. The large spa has a 20-metre pool with swan pipes to massage any tension. Outside are two bubbly hot tubs and a large infinity-edged hydrotherapy pool in the Zen garden. Stay in a ground floor room and you can dip into your own private hot tub outside the French doors.

Perfect treatment: Ishga Invigorating Massage (from £70, 60 minutes).

Three Graces Spa at Grantley Hall, North Yorkshire

Nearby: Yorkshire Dales, Ripon, Harrogate, Fountains Abbey

Grantley Hall is an impressive country house on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales set in 30 acres of parkland. The Three Graces Spa, including the 18-metre indoor pool, the indoor to outdoor hydrotherapy pool and outdoor freshwater swimming pool, is now open to hotel guests only, with plans to bring in classes from August and day spa guests from September. You can book your private outdoor hot tub session in advance.

Perfect treatment: Kundalini massage, also suitable for those with or in recovery from cancer (£90, 60 minutes).

Cary Arms & Spa, South Devon

Nearby: South West Coast Path, Babbacombe, Brixham, Dartmouth, Dartmoor

At Carys Arms and Spa you can have your own private luxury beach hut, beach suite or a charming renovated seaside cottage, and still have access a five-star hotel and spa. The glass fronted sea-facing spa has a waterfall hydrotherapy pool and a spa sunbathing terrace with spectacular sea views.

Perfect treatment: Thalgo Joyaux Atlantique (£100, 90 minutes).

Lodore Falls Hotel & Spa, Derwentwater, Lake District

Nearby: Lodore Falls waterfall, Derwentwater Lake, Ashness Bridge, Keswick, the Catbells and Skiddaw mountains

The Lake District is rammed come summer, but if you want a remote and spectacular setting with an stylishly quirky spa, Lodore Falls is your dream come true. The Victorian hotel sits on the edge of the lake at the foot of mountainous forestry – book a spa bedroom with balconies looking over the water. The newly built spa uses local stone with wooden bridges, walkways and terrace gardens. In all weathers, the large outdoor hydrotherapy pool with its fierce swan jets and forest views is blissfully relaxing.

Perfect treatment: Akwaterra Massage (£85, 50 minutes). Read our review here.

Weavers’ House Spa, Lavenham, Suffolk

Nearby: Lavenham, Newmarket, Kentwell Hall

The pretty medieval town of Lavenham is often thronging with American tourists – it was a Harry Potter location and has over 300 listed buildings – so maybe now is the time to reclaim it. Stay at The Swan Hotel, with its slouchy beams, squishy sofas, bags of character and delicious local food. Weavers’ House Spa is hidden in the back garden, a private courtyard with pots of lavender and a hot tub immersed in the sun-trapped spa terrace. The post-LD menu is designed to make you feel utterly relaxed.

Perfect treatment: Recovery (£100, 90 minutes). Check out the Re-Invention Menu here.

Dormy House Hotel & Spa, The Cotswolds

Nearby: Broadway, Blenheim Palace, Bicester Village, Daylesford, Oxford

Dormy House Spa feels exclusive on the busiest of days, so in lockdown there will be plenty of room to swim in the indoor infinity pool, enjoy the panoramic sauna and outdoor firelit hot tub, or simply relax in the ample and luxurious spa lounge, The Greenhouse. The Cotswolds might be swamped, but you can enjoy 400 acres of private estate. Fancy a quirky bit of privacy? Book into a shepherd’s hut or tree house at The Fish Hotel, which is also part of the Farncombe Estate that owns Dormy and the super-swanky Foxhill Manor.

Perfect treatment: From Sept 1, i-sopod floatation aka The Tub, £50.

The Coach House at Beaverbrook, Surrey

Nearby: The Surrey Hills, Box Hill, Leatherhead

The former home of newspaper magnate Lord Beaverbrook has been gorgeously restored to this elegantly eccentric country retreat. The spa has stunning glass mosaics and indoor and outdoor pools. You can tuck yourselves away in The Coach House garden suites – interconnected so ideal for groups and families, as well as hounds – and take advantage of the hotel, spa and extensive grounds without having to intermingle with other bubbles.  

Perfect treatment: Bio-Dynamic Body Massage (£160, 60 minutes).

The Club at Cottonmill, Hertfordshire

Nearby: St Albans, Warner Brother's Studios, Chiltern Hills AONB

A perfect country retreat for Londoners, Sopwell House is a whitewashed Georgian mansion with a stunning modern spa complex attached. Book into a gated Mews Suite with a private garden, hot tub, spa products and instructions on how to administer your own massage. Even better, you get access to the exclusive, members' only The Club at Cottonmill with its indoor/outdoor hydropool and garden cabanas, hot tubs and firepits.

Perfect treatment: Elemis Garden of England (£89, 60 minutes).

Solent Hotel and Spa, Fareham, Hampshire

Nearby: South East Coast, New Forest, Titchfield Nature Reserve, Lee-on-the-Solent Beach

The Solent Hotel is modern seaside chic kitted out in soothing greys and blues. Check in for a spa break and enjoy a Caudalie treatment, then kick back in the indoor pool, work out in the gym, or bubble away in the outdoor whirlpool. There are also tennis courts and golf courses nearby. The AA restaurant has cosy corners and booths for privacy and there’s an outdoor terrace for sunset cocktails.

Perfect treatment: Caudalie Crushed Cabinet Back Treatment (£70, 60 minutes).


Seaside Spy

31st July 2020

Spy Likes:

Variety, luxury, great results.

Spy Dislikes:

Over-chatty staff when it's clear you want to switch off and relax, unhygienic settings and equipment, poor results.

Spas featured in this article

Behind the scenes

What We've been up to

Best spas for nature lovers hero shot

Spa lifestyle

5 spas for nature-lovers

20 Mar 24

Stylish Spy

1 min read

Read article
Rudding Park

Spa lifestyle

Best spas for a snooze

07 Mar 24

Stylish Spy

1 min read

Read article
Private spa time hero shot

Spa lifestyle

Spas for private hire

16 Feb 24

Stylish Spy

1 min read

Read article
See all Articles