Easily accessible from major cities yet consisting of delightful English countryside and coastline, the South East is a thriving area to explore. Work your way along the coast from the famous white cliffs of Dover to buzzing beach towns like Brighton, Eastbourne and Portsmouth. Enjoy a stroll through the beautifully green South Downs National Park, or visit rugged and magnificent castle ruins or tread the historical streets of Canterbury or Hastings.
Here’s our guide to some of the best spas in the South East, organised according to county. So, pack your bags and check-in for some rest and relaxation.
Foodies and vinophiles will adore this 18th Century luxury hotel. Their infamous wine cellar holds over 30,000 bottles and their delightful restaurant has 3 AA stars. The compact, but elegant spa is in a circular glass conservatory looking out over trees. With its chrome railings and pillowed loungers, it feels like the deck of a luxurious ocean liner.
This large, modern hotel is surrounded by the rolling hills of the Berkshire Countryside. It’s just moments off of the M4 making it a peaceful and accessible escape, particularly from London. Spa-goers will feel pampered by the fabulous food, nurturing spa treatments, and poolside food and drinks, while the health conscious will enjoy the bright modern pool, classes and heat facilities
The enchanting grounds are a real delight at this lakeside destination spa surrounded by National Trust-managed forest. With over 90 spa treatments - including personalised Champneys treatments, good quality spa facilities, a range of classes and an alternative holistic health clinic, there’s plenty to keep you occupied (or not) at this Champneys Resort. Just don't miss the new cutting-edge poolside Thermal Suite.
Sitting proudly on Southampton’s Harbour-side Ocean Village, the deck and glass of the hotel echo the cruise ships which set sail from the port. The waterside setting offers calming sea views at every turn. It’s a sociable, laid back, light and bright spa, so grab a friend and catch up over a pamper, spa-style. If you’re on a spa break, head up to the rooftop HarBAR at night for cocktails and food with a view.
Experience a slice of Thailand in the heart of the new forest at this sumptuous and expansive spa. The zen gardens, Thai food, therapists trained in Thailand and Thai décor create an authentic experience with wellness at the heart. There’s a huge spa pool, whirlpool, herbal sauna, crystal steam room, ice room, laconium, tepidarium… we could go on! It’s so easy to lose time on a spa day here.
Set in acres of leafy gardens, this Victorian manor house has a Roman-inspired classic spa. Temple-like pillars and Italian fresco designs surround both pools. The Mediterranean is further bought to the Kent countryside thanks to the range of treatments offered by Temple Spa.
Part of the Handpicked Hotels Group, this elegant Georgian Mansion is in the heart of Kent. You can expect a high standard of customer service and excellent food throughout the spa and hotel. The spa offers a satisfying mix of gym, swimming pool, Jacuzzi and heat rooms, effective and professional spa treatments and comfortable relaxation rooms.
Eastwell Manor is a 450-year-old neo-Elizabethan pile set in acres of verdant parkland. The Spa, in the Pavilion, offers a 20-metre indoor pool, sauna, steam room, hydrotherapy pool and 20 treatment rooms, while the relaxation lounge offers views of the North Downs. Fitness classes range from falconry to Zumba, to keep active spa-goers happy, too.
This jaw-droppingly vast luxury spa has, not one, not two, but eight pools, the most impressive being a 25-metre ozone-treated ballroom pool with underwater music. The sense of space and vast range of facilities make this an exceptional spa experience. For even more indulgence, book a decadent afternoon tea served with English sparkling wine in the Ascot Bar and, if you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of the England Rugby Team who train on the grounds.
At the end of a long driveway, past one of three golf courses, Foxhills Club and Resort is an ivy-clad Victorian manor house with turrets, bay windows and tall chimneys. The spacious spa spans both indoors and out. The country house hotel's landscape spa garden is the pièce de résistance; here you’ll find a natural pool, a traditional Finnish sauna, warm showers and a raised outdoor hot tub where you can admire the garden views.
Waterbabies will love this bright, contemporary spa attached to a modern hotel on the banks of the River Thames. Inside, there’s an 18-metre indoor pool and whirlpool; outside is a large pool, only open during the summer. This lively and sociable spa is a great place to catch up with a loved one and, at less than 10 miles from Heathrow, is perfect for tired travellers.
This magnificent white Palladian mansion has 300 acres of landscaped grounds, 13 tennis courts, a 27-hole golf course, and grand gardens next to a sparkling lake. From the quirky fish-tank and groovy furniture, to the charming garden with its outdoor sauna and hydro pool, the spa is a peaceful place to hang out in for a good pampering, especially with a friend or two. Add the finishing touches at the nail bar for a luxury manicure and pedicure.
Surrounded by 120 acres of gardens and woodlands, the Utopia Spa at Alexander House four red-star hotel in West Sussex, has a calming, Grecian-inspired interior, with a deep-blue swimming pool surrounded by temple-like pillars. Rather fittingly, treatments are from Mediterranean-inspired brand Temple Spa. Make the most of the setting by stepping outside to the Zen garden and bubbling away in the spa bath.
Bailiffscourt is an incredibly restful faux-medieval hotel just a few metres from the pebble beach at Climping - making it an idea getaway. The Spa is inside a Sussex style barn and offers an indoor and outdoor pool, a sauna, steam room and an outdoor Jacuzzi. Head upstairs to the relaxation lounge and soak up the garden views.
Ockenden Manor is a much-extended sixteenth-century manor house in a pretty village near the High Weald AONB. Hidden behind the hotel is an almost-Cubist modern spa which backs onto ancient trees and pastoral land. The spa is bright, calming and well designed for a restful experience.
Surrounded by ten acres of peaceful grounds, Park House has a small but opulent spa in the most tranquil setting. On a sunny day, the heated outdoor pool - with its bar, raised terrace and countryside views – comes into its own. The hotel has just the right amount of country chic, with white-painted lattice bay windows, red-tiled roofs, and beautifully trimmed tennis and croquet lawns.
This historic property dating back to 1430 is in the middle of a picturesque Sussex market town. The hotel has all the traditional touches, while modern spa opens out onto pretty spa gardens. There’s a secluded whirlpool and small steam room and sauna. Pair a morning wandering Midhurst with an afternoon in the spa and some excellent treatments.
The hotel’s setting in the green parkland of the Goodwood Estate is unbeatable and makes for a very peaceful stay. Its health club spa has a 14-metre pool, sauna and steam room, a Jacuzzi and lots of loungers where you can lie back and relax. We love the sociable mix of hotel pool, informal café and bright, calm relaxation lounge.
Editors note - this article was originally published in May 2015, it was updated and re-written for accuracy and comprehensiveness in October 2018
29th May 2015
Nature-inspired spas, cold water plunges, sound baths, deep tissue massage, delicious food.
Thin walls in treatment rooms, loungers hoggers, bright lights
Behind the scenes