Natalie French

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As we hurtle at breakneck speed towards the end of the year – with the (official) arrival of the festive season and all its to-do lists – lots of people are tinkering close to the edge. So, instead of pressing the pedal to the floor and welcoming imminent burnout, why not steal a moment to unravel at a spa instead? You don’t even need to travel far… Natalie French shares some of the best spas to retreat to within 20 miles of London. 

Located on the edge of Hyde Park, The Lanesborough Club & Spa is one of London’s most exclusive. Take the lift down to the subterranean spa and you’ll arrive at the spa reception. Opulent art deco design and top-notch customer service come as standard here. Once you’ve worked up a thirst bubbling away in the infinity-edged hydro-pool, simply press a button to summon the pool-side butler. Treatments are as indulgent as they are effective – choose from ila, Tata Harper and, brand new to The Lanesborough, Royal Fern – from German skincare specialist and world-renowned dermatologist, Timm Golueke. 

Winner of the Best Spa in the East & East Midlands at The Good Spa Guide Regional Awards 2022, The Club at Cottonmill is pure spa nirvana. Saunter through three floors of saunas, steam rooms and experience showers before sinking into the indoor/outdoor hydro pool. The piece de resistance is the Spa Garden - designed by gold medal winning RHS Chelsea Flower Show designer, Ann-Marie Powell. Kick back on one of the cabanas or bubble away in one of three secluded hot tub – surrounded by the soothing Japanese-style waterway and the scent of flowers – before retreating to the cocoon-like Deep Relaxation Room. 

Just a short train ride from the city you’ll find Sequoia Spa at The Grove, where 300-acres of green parkland - complete with urban beach and Zen Garden - await you. After a recent redesign, the inside is equally impressive - mixing up earthy tones and natural materials. Don your robe and mooch between the black mosaic-tiled pool, sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi. There’s a brand new relaxation lounge, while female spa-goers can take full advantage of their very own wellness pool in the changing rooms. The revamped treatment menu includes heavenly treatments from ESPA and Natura Bisse with all rituals lasting over 80 minutes – bliss. 

You’ll find The Runnymede Spa perched on the banks of the River Thames in Egham, Surrey. The spa itself is centred around the 18-metre pool and whirlpool bath; natural light floods through the floor-to-ceiling windows making it a delightful place to take a dip. You’ll also find a toasty hot sauna, eucalyptus-infused steam room and infra-red cabin, heated to a balmy 40-45 degrees. Cool off in the plunge pool, found in the changing rooms. The spa menu features treatments from Guinot and ESPA, plus alternative therapies including reflexology and osteopathy. There’s also a good choice for exam-stressed teens.

It’s all about the location at the Peak Health Spa at Jumeriah Carlton Tower in Knightsbridge; positioned on the ninth floor the spa offers a calm space to soak up central London vistas. Unravel in the sauna and steam room or swim laps in the 20-metre naturally-lit stainless steel swimming pool. When it comes to treatments you’re spoilt for choice; head to one of the five elegant treatment rooms and choose from clinically-inspired skincare from 111Skin, Aromatherapy Associates or Hungarian brand Omorovicza. Active spa-goers will love the Technogym with yet more panoramic views. 

Head to the outskirts of South East London to Wilmington in the Kentish countryside. Here you’ll find an English country manor complete with a Romanesque-style spa; expect lavish murals and temple-like pillars, along with plenty of therapeutic water and heat facilities for optimal wallowing. With a nineteen treatment rooms, including two doubles, it would be rude not to book in for some pampering. The spa menu offers treatments to help restore equilibrium – with British brand, Temple Spa; bio-nutritional therapies from OSKIA, and Jennifer Young’s Beauty Despite Cancer. Post-treatment, cosy up on under a blanket in the low-lit Relaxation Lounge. 

The small but perfectly-formed B-Spa is located on the third floor of The Brooklands Hotel in Weybridge, Surrey. Bubble away in the alfresco hot tub overlooking the Mercedes-Benz World track, chill on heated water beds in the colour-changing Meditation Room or top up vitamin D levels in the Sunlight Therapy Room. The latter (almost) transports you to a tropical island with beachside backdrops, giant driftwood sculptures and six infrared sunlight simulators that replicate sun light. Immune system boosted, opt for a Comfort Zone Tranquillity Pro Sleep Massage - inspired by the Indonesian Sea Malay Massage – to ease you into a deep state of rest and wellbeing. 

Back in the city you’ll find a little urban oasis in heart of St James’s District. Sofitel Spa serves up three sun-drenched floors of spa luxury thanks to glass-covered walkways, arched windows and sky-high ornate ceilings. It’s all about the treatments here with high-end French skincare houses Cinq Mondes and Codage Paris performed on heated beds. If you’re looking for a results-driven facial, the spa has recently partnered with HydraFacial who promise to cleanse, extract and hydrate your skin using non-invasive technology - guaranteed to remove all remnants of the big smoke and leave you with a new-found glow.