The best spa hotels for a relaxing staycation
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As the temperatures dip, warm up with a soak in a hot tub or perhaps a long swim in a heated pool in the woods. From lake houses to converted stables, modern and homely, we've got you covered. Book that aromatherapy scrub or hot stone massage – it's time for a relaxing spa staycation.
Once a coaching inn, the Feversham Arms in North Yorkshire by the North York Moors National Park underwent several renovations and extensions until its current state today, a cosy hotel and spa centred around an all-seasons outdoor heated swimming pool. There are dozens of spa treatments to choose from – try the champagne and truffles facial or back massage with basalt lava stones. The 33 guestrooms come with teddy bears so bed down with one, post-massage.
It's an all-round nautical theme – white and baby blue striped bedsheets, light-wood furniture – at this hotel and spa by the Salcombe Maritime Museum along the pristine Devon coastline. The spa has an indoor lap pool fronted by individual cabanas, as well as a sauna and five treatment rooms. Sign up for a body scrub and facial, then wind down with a cocktail at The Jetty, the hotel's bar and grill with terrace seating overlooking the estuary.
Palatial Romanesque bath dreams come true at the Gainsborough in Bath. Book an aromatherapy massage then plunge into one of the Spa Village's three indoor thermal pools, the largest of which has a grand two-storey glass atrium supported by cream columns. The Gainsborough saw many incarnations, first as a hospital in the Georgian era, then, for some time, it belonged to Bath's art college before Malaysian luxury group YTL Hotels gave the building a major facelift. With steel-blue walls, silver curtains and gold-rim coffee tables, the 99 rooms are seamlessly regal.
A stone's throw from Beatrix Potter's house in the Lake District, the Gilpin is ultimate luxury with a touch of whimsy. The main building has 25 rooms and is set in sprawling gardens with resident llamas and alpacas, and a mile away are six spa lodges sprinkled throughout 100 acres of private grounds that include a big lake. It's deep in the throes of nature here, so make full use of the en-suite spa, hot tub and sauna. Stay during winter and watch the premises transform into a storybook setting when the snow settles.
Occupying an 18th-century manor in Ballymena by the River Maine in Northern Ireland, the Galgorm is a playground for adults, albeit a luxe one. The activities on offer are endless: horseback riding, archery, forest bathing and more. Aromatherapy features prominently at the spa – there's aromatherapy facials, massages and scrub and wraps – as well as hot stone treatments. Wind down a day of fun and facials with a swim in the indoor heated pool with floor-to-ceiling windows that look out into the lawns or a glass of champagne in the outdoor hot tub.
Just a 20-minute drive from Heathrow and an hour from London, Coworth Park is a stately beige 1770s building set in 240 acres of meadows in Ascot that are perfect for exploring on horseback. The grounds include a polo centre and fields, an equestrian centre and a lake, and guests can also play a game of tennis or croquet. Save time for a dip in the spa's indoor heated pool and a mani-pedi, detox wrap or hot poultice massage before sinking into the comfy four-poster beds in one of the 70 guestrooms spread across the main house, cottages and stables.
A lovely vine-covered 18th century building in Bagshot, Surrey, the Pennyhill has eight outdoor and indoor swimming pools to choose from, including an 18m outdoor heated pool, open-air hot tubs and a hydrotherapy pool. Obviously, it's all about pampering and besides the pools, there are also mud treatment rooms, steam rooms and an ice igloo. Despite the hotel's large size – there are 124 guestrooms – each room is homely, thanks to touches such as butterfly wallpaper and lavender lampshades and bed runners.
Perched in the woods on the fringe of New Forest and just a short drive from the coast of Bournemouth, the Chewton Glen boasts one of Europe's biggest hydrotherapy pools. If that's not enough, there are also numerous indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a crystal steam room and a whirlpool. And for those who want to keep active, a nine-hole golf course, tennis court and duck herding activities. For a real back-to-nature feel, book a treehouse room and wake up to a lush forest canopy.
This 16th-century stone manor by Cuckfield Park in West Sussex has an indoor and outdoor heated pool separated by a glass window with a passage to swim through. While the main building dates back to the 1520s and rooms here are traditionally done up, the spa suites above the pool are modern. Lap it up, then relax in the spa's isopod, a saltwater floatation tank designed for total muscle relaxation and rinse off in the rainforest shower fed by Ockenden's own natural underground spring.
From the cobbled driveway lined with flowerbeds to the crawling vines of the 19th-century farmhouse, Whatley Manor just north of Chippenham is a charming old country house with modern spa amenities. The Aquarias Spa has an indoor and outdoor pool and offers tantalizing treatments such as a body wrap and salt scrub shower. The 23 individually decorated rooms come in pretty colour schemes such as baby blue and silver or pink and white, and the attic rooms with exposed wooden beams are rustic yet refined.
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