While describing a spa, we pay so much attention to the pools, the thermal spaces and, of course, the treatments. But what about the unsung hero of the spa day: the relaxation room?
Isn’t relaxation what spas are all about, after all? It’s all very well dipping into a hot tub and having your muscles pummelled to a blissful state of release by bubble jets. But if you then lay upon a damp towel to the tune of screaming kids, what’s the point?
The humble relaxation room – or designated chill out space, indoors or outdoors – is the cherry on the chillout cake. It also offers us permission to do absolutely nothing, to switch off and let our gaze drift across a view, stylish ornaments or chic soft furnishings. It allows us to savour the effects of the treatment, to wallow in spa scents and drift away, leaving our cares behind. This is the reason that when reviewing spas, we class relaxation rooms as an important spa facility.
It is usual to have separate pre- and post-treatment rooms, the first usually lighter with views, maybe a roaring fire and cosy chairs, the second darker and designed for snoozing.
Larger spas may have three or four designated relax spaces each with a different function: a Zen space to meditate, a well-lit comfy lounge to read or journal and sip herbal tea, or a sleep room where you can snuggle under a blanket and have a nap.
In the best spas, as much thought goes into a relaxation room as a panoramic sauna, or the indoor-outdoor pool. They can be so blissful they make it to the highlights of our spa reviews, the ‘we loved’ section. Throw in a concierge and hello – we’re talking Five Bubble Luxury.
Whether it’s a vibrant spa lounge to reboot, a peaceful room to recline with a view, or a dark cosy snug for a post-treatment snooze, here are some spas that have gone above and beyond in the r&r department.
This new and expanded spa in opened in January ‘20 and has 23 beautifully designed rooms and experiences laid out over two floors. We loved the amount of relaxation rooms. Snuggle up in the ‘Sweet Slumber’ tepidarium, the ‘Deep Relax’ waterbed room (pictured above) and the ‘Forest Nesting’ relaxation room with five large cocoon beds and ambient lighting. Head outside to a wooden shack, and enter a cosy, dark ‘Scandinavian Snug’ (pictured below) with sofas, soft, fluffy blankets and a flickering fire pit. Chill out in the ‘Fireside Relax’, a large low-lit room with 12 semi-circular beds, soft rugs and two firepits flickering in the middle.
The ‘Forest View’ relaxation room has eight beds that face a floor-to-ceiling window with views of woodland frequented by feeding deer. In the ‘Forest Meditation Room’, you can relax on a soft bed and listen to sleep-guidance. The ‘Forest Cavern’ is designed to look like an open cave with hanging plants and a waterfall. Lie on one of six double beds and look up to the sky. A fine mist sprays from the ceiling every few minutes coating you in cool water that makes you tingle.
You may need a lie-down from wow-factor overload at this stunning new spa. Outdoors are many loungers where you can recline admiring country views, as well as futuristic oval glass mediation pods each with a different theme. Indoors there are three relaxation rooms; ‘Panoramic’ has glass walls overlooking the gardens and fields and designed with calming soft greys and blues. Lie in the big soft chairs and help yourself to hot drinks. ‘Sensory’ has a video of waves lapping on a shoreline which fills the whole of one wall – you feel like you could touch the water. A fire flickers invitingly in the subdued lighting of the ‘Deep Relaxation Room’ where you can slumber on wave loungers under a warm blanket.
Hoar Cross Hall is a Grade II-listed stately home in 50 acres of Staffordshire countryside with a delightfully modern spa. The relaxation rooms are true havens of peace and tranquillity: you may find it hard to leave. ‘The Sanctum’ is a silent relaxation room with soft carpets, hanging pods, and comfortable beds that can be curtained off. Soft lighting and muted cream and brown hues give this a very restful vibe. The post-treatment ‘Tranquillity Room’, is a low-lit haven of warm water beds, calming ceiling lights and a flickering wall fire. The traditional, manicured gardens are picture-postcard pretty; ask for a garden view room if staying overnight.
The gothic-style listed mansion has a modern spa that runs over two floors around a plant-filled courtyard. Across the spa there are plenty of relaxation areas with soft-cushioned sofas and suspended dome chairs (pictured below), and a spacious conservatory with its own café, terrace and indulgent ice cream bar overlooking the gardens. The post-treatment summer room is lined with enticingly snug beds, while the silent, low-lit slumber room has cosy cocoon hammocks alongside more beds. Make time to visit the sheltered central courtyard with attractive flower beds, bountiful greenery, singing birds and sun loungers.
The decked spa garden is the jewel in the Utopia Spa crown: the sunken outdoor hot tub and barrel sauna are bordered by hedges, trees and grass. But the relaxation rooms indoors and upstairs are absolute gems. The large pre-treatment lounge looks out to the gardens and has six comfortable, curved beds with spa butlers available to order warm and cold drinks. The beautiful and rather grand post-treatment relaxation room is much quieter with 12 dreamy loungers around the edge, each with a soft throw. The room is bisected by a curtain of long thin ribbons hanging from the ceiling that flutter hypnotically as you lie back and relax.
There are plenty of places to relax at Y Spa. In the spa garden, jaunty deck chairs line the pool and a large corner sofa is tucked away in a quiet spot by the sauna chalet: ‘Some like it Hot’. At one end of the spa garden there’s a secluded spot with super comfy rattan sofas gathered round the outdoor fireplace (pictured below). A covered pagoda means you don’t even have to worry if it rains and, when we visited, there were plenty of fluffy blankets to keep us cosy. Y Spa also has two indoor relaxation areas, the ‘Chill Lounge’ and ‘Time Out’ both divided into three zones; one with comfortable beds facing a crackling fire, one with relaxation pods to curl up on and a third with waterbeds (some curtained-off) and soft lighting.