Natalie French

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We all deserve a little rest and relaxation - and where better to unravel than at a spa? Natalie French shares some of the best spas to retreat to here in the UK

Winner of the ‘Best Outdoor Facilities’ at the 2020 Good Spa Guide Awards, Rudding Park Spa in Harrogate is all about the rooftop spa garden. From the hydrotherapy infinity edge pool and range of thermal experiences, to the cabana with cosy seating and a firepit. Those in need of a vitamin D fix should retreat to the Sunlight Therapy Room for a simulated sunrise and sunset, without the harmful UVA and UVB rays. This perfect post-winter boost is great for those suffering with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), eczema and aching joints. 

Inside you’ll find three floors of spa heaven – with glass walls to show off the stunning gardens. Facilities include an indoor pool, juniper log sauna, rasul, and four ‘mind and sense zones’. 

Lucknam Park is all about laid back luxury. This elegant mansion, just eight miles from the ancient spa city of Bath, is found at the end of a tree-lined driveway, set within 500 acres of unspoilt parklands and gardens. You’ll find the ESPA spa situated within the walled gardens, blending in beautifully with its surroundings. Take a dip in the 20-metre indoor heated pool, beside a flickering wall of fire, or the indoor/outdoor hydrotherapy pool. Shoulders will drop as you float from aromatic steam room to Japanese salt room, sauna to amethyst crystal steam room. There’s also a salt water plunge pool, ice bar and experience showers to awaken the senses or, alternatively, take a nap in the post-treatment relaxation room. 

Situated in the West Sussex countryside, The Spa at South Lodge is 44,000sq ft of designer gold. Unlike the honey-hued Victorian mansion house hotel, the spa is ultra-modern with huge floor-to-ceiling glass walls designed to soak in the amazing views of the south downs - making the most of every sunset. The 22-metre infinity edge, UV heated pool is at the centre of the spa and has plenty of comfy rattan loungers for ultimate chilling between dips. The thermal suite includes a gentle herbal steam room, invigorating salt steam room and a large sauna with wave pattern ceiling and an ingenious glass wall overlooking the hydrotherapy pool outside. Beyond the bubbles, there are steps down to the natural 18-metre swimming pond. Or you can cool off inside under the Nordic drench bucket shower. 

Try a treatment from luxury Hungarian product house, Omorovicza, in one of the 14 treatment rooms and don’t miss brunch in Bontanica – for a Mediterranean menu with lots of plant-based dishes and power juices, or giant slabs of cake and English fizz!

Hedonists will love the Vineyard Spa. Unwind in the circular-shaped glass spa, overlooking the grounds, complete with a circular-shaped pool. Downstairs you’ll find a sauna and steam room. Feast on 3 AA rosette cuisine in the restaurant and work your way through the 30,000-bottle wine cellar, 100 of which are available by the glass. The treatments are luxurious and you can even try the Vineyard’s own signature spa treatments using Red Grapes. Cheers to that!    

While you may, or may not, be able to fly off to a tropical Thai island, the New Forest’s SenSpa is a great place to get your East Asian fix. From the delicious Thai food in the Zen Garden Restaurant, to the authentic Thai décor and therapists trained in Thailand. Then there’s the (extensive) facilities…hydrotherapy pool, 14-metre swimming pool, herbal sauna, crystal steam room, health and experience showers, laconicum, ice room, tepidarium and Rhassoul mud room…you get the idea! 

The Spa at Pennyhill Park is a playground for grown-ups. Inside you’ll find the 25-metre heated ballroom pool with underwater music (how cool?) and a maze of extensive thermal rooms. Spend your time wandering from juniper sauna to ice igloo, salt steam room to drench bucket shower – a fun experience for couples or whilst catching up with friends.  The outdoor spa garden has its own wow factor – situated in a natural valley between the main hotel and spa. Swim some laps of the Riviera-style swimming pool or hang out in the Canadian hot tubs and bubbly hydro pool. For extra pampering, treat central heating weathered skin with a luxury Natura Bisse facial in one of 23 treatment rooms.  

Foodies are spoilt here too, with a choice of three restaurants, but if you’re really looking to indulge, book a table at the Michelin-starred The Latymer. Every dish on the 6-course Discovery Menu is as intricate as it is delicious and the extensive wine list includes varieties from one of the oldest wine makers in China. 

Love the beach? Love a spa? Then this super-modern, three-story-spa is for you. Located atop the North Devon cliffs, at the end of a spectacular stretch of sand and dunes, you’ll find Source Spa and Wellness. The marine-inspired thermal suite includes a salt steam room, Finnish aroma sauna, ice fountain and marine vitality pool with floor-to-ceiling glass overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The outdoor heated pool and double treatment room also enjoy epic beach vistas and there’s a rooftop sundeck where you can order a sundowner and watch the surfers, while listening to the rolling ocean below – bliss. 

This North-east coast spa is set high on the cliffs above the Durham Coast reached by an underground walkway that connects the spa from Seaham Hall hotel. Stroll past pebbles and running water until you are greeted by a huge carved elephant. Inside, you’ll find a 20-metre pool with swan pipes and jets to massage your shoulders, an Indian steam room, salt inhalation sauna, crystal light therapy, herbal saunarium, a hammam and Jacuzzi - plus ice fountains and plunge pools. Outside, you can soak in two bubbly hot tubs or chill in the Zen Garden with an infinity edged hydrotherapy pool, loungers and fire pits. `

Treatments are a big thing here – with both Temple Spa and Hebridean brand, Ishga, on the menu – not forgetting a whole host of holistic treatments – from hypnotherapy to a wellbeing session. 

Ragdale Hall Spa has gained quite a cult following over the past 40 years. Set in 13-acres of rural Leicestershire, this country house spa is dedicated to rejuvenating life-weathered guests with over 130 therapists, offering the latest treatments. The thermal spa has a huge array of heated rooms and relaxation areas and no less than six pools – but the pièce de résistance is the 12-metre rooftop infinity pool. Jutting out from the glass-fronted indoor lounge, spa-goers can lie back in the steamy water and soak up the rolling countryside views, while being gently massaged by the underwater jets – heaven! 

Located beside both the ocean and the forest, the spa at Chewton Glen is a great place to escape to. As well as the newly refurbished 17-metre ozone-treated swimming pool, there’s a hydrotherapy spa pool with a variety of jets and heated beds, a sauna, steam room, drench showers and heavenly relaxation room. Outside you’ll find whirlpool and 10-metre heated pool and sun-drenched terrace. Active spa-goers will love the gym, a huge range of classes, tennis, jogging trails, beach walks and personal training ‘buddies’.