For a truly relaxing start to the new year, stay at Lucknam Park in Wiltshire and ask for one of the bedrooms with a working fireplace. Few hotels will let you have a log fire in your room these days, which is a shame as there is nothing more soothing in the long winter evenings than sitting in front of a roaring fire with a good book in your hand.
Located at the end of a very long tree-lined drive, Lucknam Park is a wonderful place to withdraw from the world. Bedrooms are in the old house or around a quadrangle formed by the stable block and the main building. Beyond the stables a new glass-roofed spa has been built with treatment rooms, a gym and a long, gracious swimming pool, which has flickering-flame gas fires along the pool's edge at this time of year.
Treatments include the excellent signature ‘De-stress Botanical Oil and Herbal Back Therapy ‘ by Anne Semonin Skincare. After this you can sip green tea in a recovery room that looks out over the hotel grounds and the outdoor salt water plunge pool. There are also horses for riding if you want to enjoy a relaxing trek through the Wiltshire countryside. Although the M4 corridor is only twenty minutes to the north, it feels a world away.
Perched on a hill overlooking Lake Windermere, Linthwaite radiates serenity as soon as you park your car. There's a real fire burning in the grate at reception, comfy chairs and lake-view bedrooms. During January the hotel runs a “lighter choice" menu for those who want to avoid fat and sugar. Freshly prepared fruit and vegetable juices – a personal enthusiasm of Mike Bevans the owner - are available every morning to cleanse the system.
The hotel will also arrange in-room aromatherapy detox massages and for those who feel the need for a more active form of detoxification, a book of local walks has been specially commissioned for the hotel by renowned local walking expert Marc Richards.
Linthwaite began life as a family home and still has the ambience of your own personal weekend retreat. The decor is eclectic, much as you might find someone's house, but its been cleverly matched to create a thoroughly relaxing interior. The food is excellent too. The one problem you'll have is eschewing the seven-course tasting menu in favour of something lighter.
Homewood Park began as a gentleman's residence above the city of Bath but it's been extended several times to create a cheery hotel where the new and the traditional co-exist harmoniously. Rooms in the main house are highly individual yet traditional, while the bar and dining room are arrestingly modern. The hotel specialises in spa breaks and you'll quite often find mothers and daughters in their spa robes eating a healthy lunch downstairs.
The spa itself is a new construction in the garden based around a delightful heated outdoor swimming pool, hydrotherapy pool and sauna-steam rooms. As soon as you arrive for a treatment the warm, humid atmosphere begins to relax you. For the best experience of all, book one of the twin Garden Suites – Manuka or WaterLily – which are just next door, so you can treat the spa and its pool as an extension of your bedroom.
For a healthy, active weekend in attractive rural surroundings it's hard to beat Maison Talbooth, a converted nineteenth-century gentleman's dwelling within easy walking distance of Dedham, one of Essex's prettiest villages. The new outdoor swimming pool is open all year round so no matter how chilly January may prove, you can take a plunge before breakfast and see your breath rise in cold vapour on the waters in front of you.
Dinner at Maison Talbooth is taken down by the River Stour at Le Talbooth, one of the best restaurants in the county, but you can enjoy healthy breakfasts and light lunches at the Maison itself in the Garden Room. In between times the hotel can help you hire cycles and canoes to explore the local area and build up an appetite.
The essence of an effective detox is not just self-denial but also taking time out to live life at a quieter pace. In this respect Maison Talbooth is a perfect place to unwind and doze on a dark winter afternoon under a not-too-demanding book.
You don't have to go to a spa to detox but if you do there's nowhere quite as dramatic as Rowhill Grange's "Utopia",which is an architectural fantasy on the last days of the Roman Empire with columns, porticos and ballustrades and two pools on different floors. The uppermost is for swimming while below is a hydrotherapy pool and a bubbling hot tub. There are also monsoon showers, which are a less Roman innovation, but the whole place has such a fantasy atmosphere you'll be inclined to grab a toga and find a few slaves to rub you down.
For £139.99 this January the hotel is offering a Spa Day Experience, which includes a 55-minute massage or treatment, two-course lunch (or afternoon tea) and use of the spa pools all day.
In contrast to its very dramatic spa, Rowhill Grange itself is a homely mid-Victorian house that once belonged to a retired Lord Mayor of London and has been converted in a colourful but restful way, making it an ideal place to relax in the Kent countryside.
Sign up to our email to receive our most splendid special offers each month!