Move over maximalists – it’s National Simplicity Day on July 12.
This is one of our favourite days, mainly because it is based in such sound principles. It was created by the Emily Fund, which honours the memory and work of an inspirational student activist murdered in 2009 at the age of 19.
To celebrate National Simplicity Day is not just to de-clutter your life and cut out what is unimportant (although that helps) but to volunteer for - or donate to - a worthy cause. One idea is to think of something expensive you have wanted to buy for some time, then donate the money instead.
But the main aspect of this unofficial holiday is to celebrate the life of philosopher and proponent of simple living, Henry David Thoreau, who was born on this day in 1817. Thoreau was anti-slavery and one of the first environmentalists who laid out his guide to the good life in the book Walden - which you could take a day off to read, preferably in a hammock by a lake.
In light of the current financial crisis, a ‘simplicity day’ could seem a little insulting. But this is not about austerity or hardship but slowing down, rediscovering your priorities and strengthening your bonds with things – and people – that matter. Instead of rushing about like a blue-arsed fly, focus on your connections to yourself, to people you love and the causes you care about, especially the environment and inequality.
Although to celebrate such at a spa may seem a little against the point, you could embrace the compassionate principal and donate a spa day cost to a cause – or simply treat a friend who has given a lot of themselves lately.
Best for… giving
Take your selfless someone to The Mandarin Oriental, winner of best Eco Spa in the Good Spa Guide Awards 2022 – they banished single-use plastic and gift free, branded reusable water bottles, for one. It’s also the ultimate eco-luxe for someone who really deserves a break but maybe doesn’t have time for a full destination spa vacay. Set in the heart of Kensington (although you wouldn’t guess it from its tranqulity), the spa also has disability access and cancer care trained therapists.
Best for… Thoreau-lovers
Head for spas with a minimalist aesthetic and sustainable credo. For wild scenery, Ayurvedic treatments and eco friendliness, you couldn’t do much better than The Scarlet – as long as you have an electric car to take you to Cornwall. Read Walden beside the freshwater pool or in one of the clifftop hot-tubs with Atlantic views and ponder on this: “You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.”
Best for… eco capitalists
Bamford Wellness Spa is one of the early organic spas. It began as an absurdly chic farm shop for West London’s itinerant boho-riche, then expanded to become a yoga studio, cooking school and stylish wellbeing spa. Chuck out everything you own and re-clothe yourself - and your kitchen - in hemp and cashmere goods from the gift shop, bend yourself into yogic shapes and experience bliss with a Bamford treatments. They now have a stunning pool, too.
Best for… essentialists
Monkey Island – named after its early resident monks rather than our ancestral primates – has a compact Floating Spa on a moored narrow boat. Treatment rooms are in cabins; treatments inspired by botanical cures and elixirs created by the monks that inhabited the island 800 years ago. Remember to pack your journal and have a deep think about what is unnecessary in your life or read this modern simplicity bible: Essentialism – the Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown, which gives great advice on how to say no to the non-essential, and free up your creativity.
Best for… forest bathing
Head to Herb House Spa at Lime Wood, with its larger than average hydro-pool with forest views. There’s an indoor ozone treated pool, a Mud House using 100 percent organic mud, the Raw and Cured restaurant using sustainably-sourced food and herbs grown in the grounds, a menu of holistic treatments, and the surrounding New Forest, in which to appreciate and absorb the beauty of nature. You can also practise yoga in a pretty garden or relax on a sunny deck.
Best for… environmentalists
The Spa at South Lodge in Surrey does not scrimp on its stunning pools – indoor and outdoor, including a natural swim pond that Thoreau would surely love – and has a tastefully luxurious eco design that blends in with the natural landscape. Good to know, too, that the building is made from sustainable materials with a wildflower natural roof to insulate and attract local wildlife. They are paper free, use biomass boilers and solar panels to heat, and have delicious botanical treatments to help you blend in with your surrounds, too.
Best for… embracing Lagom
For you, Simplicity Day could be about honouring the principle of minimalism or, as the Swedes say, lagom – meaning ‘just the right amount’, or enough. The UK’s first eco spa was Titanic Spa located on the edge of the Pennines in Yorkshire. The last word in minimalist chic, it uses solar panel heating and has access to a natural source for filling its salt-regulated swimming pool. Stay overnight in one of the spa’s light and airy carbon-neutral apartments and give your head the space it needs to enjoy life's simple pleasures.
11th July 2022
Clever, inspiring design, sublime views, a vast, clean and empty pool, solitary relaxation areas to read, write or commune with my muse.
Small talk, discussions about spirituality or astrology, any products containing tea tree oil or aloe (sadly am allergic), busy pools where you can’t do laps.
Behind the scenes