If you want sisal rugs, a flame-effect gas fire in your bathroom and old shutters on your window, then Cotswold House has the style you're looking for. It's located in the near-perfect Cotswold town of Chipping Camden with an extensive traditional English garden of box hedges and broad pathways The hotel's Decleor Spa is located in the old stable block of this Grade II listed building and deliberately eschews mud baths and gadgetry in favour of total peace and quiet.
This year Cotswold House is trying out an intense fasting experience for getting healthy again. The Buchinger Programme will either thrill you or scare you so much you'll reel back to the bar and order a stiff drink. Imported from Austria where it was pioneered by Dr Otto Buchinger, this fasting technique involves no solid food (just juice, broth, teas and water) plus lots of exercise, a complete detachment from your daily routine and getting in touch with nature.
Guests at Cotswold House who sign up for this programme will be mentored in yoga and meditation. They'll also be taken on long hungry walks. According to those who've tried it, Buchinger fasting will kickstart you into a healthier way of life. It is also claimed to be a fountain of youth that may help the body fight off modern afflictions like cancer, Parkinson's and dementia.
This is extreme detox but if you're going to go healthy in 2017, why not go all the way and crash-course your way to the new slimmer you at Cotswold House.
Bovey Castle keeps winning awards as a wonderful get-away-from-it-all hotel retreat. It was actually built by W H Smith (he of the High Street newsagents) in the middle of Dartmoor overlooking a perfect Devon valley that has since been turned into a golf course. From a distance Bovey looks like a Tudor palace or a very long Oxbridge College. The Smith family (later enobled as Viscounts of Hambledon) sold it in 1930 to Great Western Railway for use as a hotel and it has remained so ever since. Staying at Bovey Castle has overtones of spending the weekend at a rich uncle's country house but its new bistro (named Smiths for reasons that don't take too much working out) brings the hotel up to date.
Bovey castle also has an Elan Spa, which for once is not kept in the hotel basement but is up on the first floor behind mullioned windows. It's all very stylish but what makes this spa experience different is its Gentleman's Quarter, a large treatment room with monochrome pictures of Butch and Sundance and Steve McQueen on his motorbike rather than the ubiquitous sea shells and reclining Buddhas. There's a dark leather treatment table and an old fashioned barber's chair where men can enjoy wet shaves and beard trims. Anyone who feels his masculinity undermined by the very word “spa” will be much happier in the Gentleman's Quarter, where you can close the door on all those fluffy white robes and soft downy slippers and make the January detox a truly manly experience.
There are many ways to get healthy in the New Year and I somehow doubt that the excellent wine list at South Sands is one of the most effective, but I'd still recommend this coastal hideaway for a New Year retreat. South Sands sits on the Salcombe-Kingsbridge estuary in a steep little dark green fold in the coastline. You come down the hill into this small valley and there it is, a modern hotel right on the beach with the delicious smell of wood-smoke rising from its open fireplace.
The less you do at South Sands the better. The only important task is to get a room with a good view of the estuary then put your chair in the window and read a bit, fall asleep, wake up to watch the tide come and go and wander downstairs occasionally for meals. You can decompress at South Sands to a point when it's difficult to remember your name or how long you're staying —particularly the latter.
South Sands is right on the South West Coast Path which means you can also go miles on foot if you want to walk yourself healthy in 2107. The hotel will come collect you if you get lost or too tired to stumble back. This is a very kind hotel. Its only cruel streak lies in the tempting nature of that wine list. You just have to not listen to anything that Richard the Sommelier says.
Luton Hoo is a remarkably glamorous hotel, hardly any distance at all from the far-from-glamorous Luton Airport. Were it not for the occasional orange easyJet passing overhead you'd never guess the two places occupied the same Universe, let alone postcode. Luton Hoo House had a long history as a film set before being restored as a hotel some time after that particularly embarrassing scene in Four Weddings & a Funeral. Today it is hugely popular for afternoon teas and weddings, and its spa – sweetly located in the old stable block – is a place where detox is never applied too harshly.
The 55-minute Winter Rescue package involves back exfoliation followed by hot stone massage and a 25-minute facial. Winter warmer packages are even more gentle: full use of the spa and wellness facilities combined with a three-course dinner in the excellent restaurant, a complimentary nightcap and traditional English breakfast. Now that's my kind of detox.
Set in the heart of Berkshire countryside, The Crab & Boar is a cosy 14-room country pub with a thatched roof, beds in the eaves, wood-panelled public rooms, a log-burning stove plus a few four-poster beds and even al fresco hot tubs for some lucky guests.
In this idyllic rural setting, with fields rolling in all directions, it may seem a shame to go Cold New Year Turkey especially when there is such a fine selection of local ales, Sipsmith artisanal gin and Nyetimber, Britain's answer to the Champagne question. But that is not what the Crab and Boar is proposing. Instead of Dry January, this pub has adopted Try January, a recent British landlord phenomenon that proposes that a change is a good as a rest. So when you go to stay the weekend at the Crab and Boar, instead of being offered carrot juice and spelt you'll be encouraged to change your tox to something alcoholic you haven't tried before, instead of detoxing completely.
It makes a lot of sense to me.
On the borders of Belgravia, the Jumeirah Hotel in Lowndes Street is tucked away behind its brassier sister, the 18-storey Jumeirah Carlton Tower. Both hotels enjoy private access to Cadogan Gardens, one of West London's beautifully tended "residents only" oases, which is a great place for a morning jog or even some stretches on the lawn.
But if you really want to get fit and healthy while staying at the 88-room Jumeirah Lowndes, take the lift to the 2nd or 9th floors of the Carlton Tower and enjoy the Peak Spa experience.
On the second floor there's a swimming pool that is designed for actual swimming rather than splashing around with inflatables, while up on the ninth floor the gym is stocked with every conceivable piece of exercise equipment and full of people taking classes or staring out across affluent Knightsbridge as they pound the treadmill.
From January, as part of its project to get us all looking and feeling healthier, the Jumeirah Lowndes Hotel is introducing Skeyndor anti-ageing products, including a takeaway pillowcase if you book a Global Lift Facial. The idea of the Illuminage Skin Rejuvenating Pillowcase is that you sleep on it while staying at the hotel after your treatment and then, when it's time to leave, you take it home where the pillow's copper oxide fibres will continue to weave their magic for weeks.
The Greenway is a sixteenth-century Cotswold manor house set in eight acres of grounds just outside Cheltenham. Inside there's a real sense of the English country house. There's a wood-panelled dining room, board games in the lounge and just nineteen bedrooms upstairs with two more at the lodge. There are lots of long country walks to be had nearby with the opportunity to flop down in one of the sofas either side of a roaring fire.
But there is more: inside the walled garden there is a small modern spa with its own hydrotherapy pool, treatment rooms, enormous wooden hot tub and an outdoor fireplace which you can sit in front of and be cosy. Treatment of the month for December 2016 is the Festive Reviver, which aims to get you revitalised in time for a truly indulgent Christmas. Contact the hotel direct to find out what they plan in January to put everything right again.
You wouldn't immediately think that the thirteenth-century fortress of Dalhousie Castle was also the first hotel in Scotland to introduce a hydro spa. This comfortable country house hotel has witnessed a lot of history. In 1298 King Edward I stayed at this castle on his way to fight William Wallace at the Battle of Falkirk in 1298. In 1400 King Henry IV besieged the forces of Sir Alexander Ramsay for six months here, and Oliver Cromwell used the castle as a base for his invasion of Scotland.
The fiercest thing you'll encounter these days at Dalhousie is the glass-lined Hydro Pool where multi-massage jets, designed to reach those muscles where tension is stored, pummel your stresses away. There are also treatment rooms that employ Elemis therapeutic and beauty products to help send you home happy and refreshed.
Today Dalhousie Castle with its fluted ceilings, ivy clad walls and dining room watched over by suits of armour has an authentic baronial feel to it, but also a modern commitment to healthy living in its spa.
Fawsley Hall in Northamptonshire was occupied by the Knightley family from 1416 until 1913, a remarkable achievement when you consider that Sir Richard Knightley's family survived the Wars of the Roses, the English Civil War and several bloody regime-changes over almost 500 years. The main house was added to in Georgian and Victorian times but still retains a magnificent Tudor Great Hall at its centre where afternoon tea is very popular. However a new name has now been added to the Fawsley escutcheon, that of Grayshott, the Surrey-based spa company that delivering ?? the treatments in a light and airy new spa. Other brand names that will thrill those seriously addicted to health and well-being include Guinot facial products, Jane Iredale make up, Jessica Full Body Spa and Aromatherapy Associates. There's also a delightful oak-framed indoor swimming pool that looks out over the spa's secret garden, an outdoor heated hydrotherapy pool, relaxation room, steam room, and sauna.
This New Year, spa breaks at Fawsley Hall combine lunches for two in the spa and a table d'hote dinner for two in the restaurant as well as two treatments apiece such as shaping and polishing fingernails, tired-eye treatment and full body scrubs.
What would Sir Richard think?
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