Good Escapes: Spa-cations far from the madding crowds
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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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 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).
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).
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).