To say the spa industry has had a diffiult time of it recently is an understatement. Not only did they have to do the hockey-cockey ‘we’re open/we’re shut/we’re open’ dance, but many spa-goers are reluctant to return for fear of contracting the dreaded virus.
Having sent our Spa Spies out to spas since the unlock, however, reports of unusually quiet spaces, strict social distancing guidelines and facilities that make you feel like you’re abroad have made us wonder whether now isn’t actually the best time to keep calm and spa on… Here’s why.
They’re quieter than usual
Spas, as we all know, can get very busy, with larger, more affordable places experiencing high footfalls, particularly during school holidays. But with limited numbers in the pools, treatment waiting rooms and even the thermal rooms, you can avoid other guests wherever you go – you might even bag that hot tub with the view all to yourself.
You can avoid flying
Green list countries turning amber or red at the drop of a hat; scary PCR tests that may or may not be positive and fluctuating flight prices based on demand… heading abroad right now is likely to be more headache than heaven. With hundreds of spas dotted all over the country, you can choose your spot and let the train take the strain, or drive straight up to the front door. Easy peasy – and environmentally-friendly to boot.
There’s a spa for everyone
Whether you prefer an urban retreat (they don’t come much sleeker or design-led than The Bulgari Spa; pictured above), a view of the sea, a countryside getaway or an English Country Garden, there’s a UK spa for you. Perhaps it’s all about the outdoor pursuits on offer – from horse-riding to tennis and archery to wild swimming? - Or you’re a foodie after an indulgent afternoon tea, or a spa with a Michelin Star? Check out our 2021 award winners and nominees for inspiration – this really is the cream of the spa crop.
If, like me, you spent lockdown juggling work with home schooling (and tears/ tantrums), you won’t just have a few more pesky grey hairs in your locks but shoulders you could break doors open with. If anyone deserves to be pampered, it’s the working mum (can I get a ‘hell yeah’?). Whether you book in for a knot-busting massage, spend a day reading a book on a sunny lounger or wallow in warm waters while looking at something pretty, you’re guaranteed to feel more relaxed than when you arrived.
Nothing really beats a holiday abroad but some spas come pretty darn close. Take the 5 Bubble Luxury Galgorm Resort & Spa with its gushing river, countless outdoor spa facilities and waterside hot tubs. Or try 5 Bubble Luxury The Spa at Carden with its newly-opened – and hugely innovative – spa garden. For a rooftop pool with a view, look no further than Rudding Park Spa (also 5 Bubble Luxury) with its infinity edge pool practically spilling out onto the Yorkshire Dales. And don’t forget the beaches – C-Bay Spa, The Headland Spa and The Scarlet Spa are all set on dreamy coastlines. You can even feel like you’re camping – check out with our round-up of spas with self-catering facilities.
From anxiety to putting on weight, and drinking too much to smoking, lockdown has left a lot of us with battle scars. But before you buy the whole supermarket up of kale, consider a spa visit. With an A-Z list of courses and treatments designed to help with a range of issues – think acupuncture, breathing workshops and hypnotherapy – you can solve a problem with a side of mini-break. Even a massage followed by some time in warm water is thought to reduce stress levels.
More to do with dry salt than angels, as the name suggests, Halotherapy (or dry salt therapy as it is also known) has been proven to help people suffering with long Covid recover. How? Well, salt particles entering the lungs can clear the respiratory system, reducing breathlessness, unblocking pathways and aiding oxygenation. Treatments can be dry, wet, or both; time spent in a salt cave (dry) followed by a salt bath (wet) is a common – and effective - combination.
When we’re in the middle of a pandemic, it’s hard to stop watching the news, but constant doom scrolling - as it has now been coined – is only going to get your mind racing. Thankfully, spas rarely let you take your phone into the wet areas and, even if they do, the moist atmosphere and gallons of water aren’t likely to do it any good. Put your beloved device in your locker, shut the door and walk away… even three hours without your screen – with its bleak news and work emails – will make you feel detached from the world. In a good way.
Food glorious food
Gone are the days when spa cafes only offered limp salads and tepid tea. Now you can tuck into a whole host of delights during your spa visit, from super-foods and healthy bites to fish and chips and local ales. Fine wines, patisseries that wouldn’t look out of places in a French deli and Michelin-quality dishes could also grace the menu, as well as options for vegetarians, vegans and those with intolerances. Bon appétit.
Day spa joy
Not ready to commit to a full spa break quite yet? Don’t worry… day spas, like Aqua Sana Sherwood Forest above), are great places to test the water while saving the pennies. Several spas offer morning, afternoon or evening sessions where you can make use of the wet facilities, try a treatment and enjoy lunch or dinner without staying too long. Take a friend for a much-needed chin-wag and the world will soon feel right again.