7 of the best country spa hotels in the UK
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The U.K. does country spa hotel breaks particularly well. While being up a mountain in Switzerland at a medi-spa is, of course, fabulous, at times these places can be a bit of a “wellness overload”. Sometimes you want a nice slice of cake after your sauna, right?
Country spa breaks in the U.K. combine the best in zen and pampering with fine dining, Champagne, afternoon tea and a good old fashioned Full English breakfast — if you like. That’s not to say you can’t go full detox if you wish, but it’s nice to have the option. Many are also in old country houses, too, so your environs will be pleasant for nice walks and some nature.
So we’ve rounded up our favourites from around the U.K. — some tried and tested and some on our wish list. Note that due to COVID-19 restrictions, some facilities at these spas may not be open — check each spa’s website to ensure services are available.
With 45,000 square feet of spa, you’ll need a whole weekend! At this five-star country retreat not too far from London, there are eight indoor and outdoor pools, 23 treatment rooms, ceramic relaxation beds as well as the chance to practice yoga and pilates on the lawn — weather permitting. When you’re done with that, there’s also an extensive range of thermal cabins of differing temperatures, humidities and aromas. And if you’re after an extra special treatment, there’s an oxygen bubble where the air you breathe will be 99.995% pure.
Meanwhile, the hotel, set on 123-acres of Surrey parkland, offers a selection of cosy rooms and luxury suites, as well as a Michelin-starred restaurant called The Latymer.
Rooms start at £295 per night including spa access and breakfast. Spa days start at £145 per person from 1 October.
Read more: 7 of the best city spa hotels in the UK
Situated almost exactly between London and Edinburgh on the Nottingham and Yorkshire border, Ye Olde Bell is a former coaching inn built in the 1680s. And while the main house has retained much of its Tudor charm — from grand four-poster beds to obscenely ornate drapery — the multi-million-pound spa is anything but antique. From the huge waffle dressing gowns to the heated outdoor pool with private Jacuzzi pods, it’s pure modern luxury.
Among the 10 thermal experiences on offer are a snowstorm shower, a Sabbia Med sunlight therapy room, various heat rooms, foot spas and the best bit, spa butlers on hand to fetch you whatever you want to eat or drink. The spa’s onsite restaurant The Herb Garden Brasserie serves healthsome lunches, and there are plenty of alpine chalets and a rattan “apple” to relax in, too.
The hotel is set on an acre of pretty gardens and also has a smart onsite restaurant called 1650. As summer draws to a close, it’s ideal for cosy suppers by a roaring fire. Afternoon tea at Ye Olde Bell is also a treat — the scones are excellent.
A stay at Ye Olde Bell Hotel and Spa, which includes spa time, lunch and a Full English breakfast starts from £149.50 per person. Spa days start at £65 per person.
Currently, the spa only allows 30 people at a time, so make sure to book your preferred dates in advance.
Gleneagles is synonymous with luxury. Set in the rolling glory of the Ochil Hills, as well as its world-famous golf courses and the “glorious playground” of the country estate, there is the “stuff of dreams” spa. There are three pools (including an outdoor heated one), a thermal suite and a gym all set amid Gleneagles’ stunning views.
It’s said to be a true destination spa, and similar to Ye Olde Bell, the old-fashioned charm of the hotel is juxtaposed nicely with the ultra-modern spa facilities. Other country pursuit activities on the grounds include off-road driving, an equestrian school, shooting, fly-fishing, gun dog training and a falconry school.
The hotel has 232 rooms, including 27 suites, and a double Michelin-starred restaurant. The whole place is super elegant and traditional and even has its own railway station with a shuttle service to the hotel.
Rooms with spa access start at about £395 per night with breakfast, and day spa packages start at £185 per person with lunch.
If you want something a bit more secluded, Gilpin in the Lake District is the one for you. It combines the majesty of the lakes with your own private in-room spa — no swimwear needed here! In these five new detached “spa lodges”, you’ll find rainmaker showers and steam rooms inside, hydrotherapy hot tubs and saunas outside. Just a mile away from Gilpin Hotel is Gilpin Lake House, a sanctuary where up to 12 guests can enjoy 100 acres of private grounds with their own lake, boathouse, hot tubs, saunas and swimming pool — and with a complimentary chauffeur.
Gilpin also has its own Michelin-starred restaurant called HRiSHi. Cumbria used to be the centre of the British spice trade, so HRiSHi, as well as the other onsite eateries, combines exotic flavours with local favourites.
The spa lodges start at £795 per night for two sharing and include breakfast. Regular rooms start at about £255 per night.
Described as a “luxury eco-hotel for grown-ups”, the Scarlet is a piece of paradise overlooking the moody Atlantic. The facilities are outstanding, including cliff-top hot tubs, a natural reed-bed swimming pool and an Ayurvedic-inspired spa. And wherever you are on the property, it’s been designed so that you have panoramic views of the sea. There is also a rhassoul and Hammam, and the treatment rooms are all lantern lit.
What makes the Scarlet exceptional is that every single one of its rooms has a private outdoor space — a balcony or terrace — perfect for stargazing or storm watching. The bistro serves “sophisticated, robust food that is surprising but never pretentious”, with amazing views to match.
Rooms start at £240 per night including spa access and breakfast, and spa days start from £175 per person including a two-course lunch.
The thermal suite at St Brides, which includes a salt infusion room, an ice fountain, hydrotherapy pool and herbal rock sauna, overlooks the Pembrokeshire town of Saundersfoot with breathtaking coastal views — the infinity pool will make you feel like you’re actually part of the sea. If you’re after a treatment, why not try a warming lava shell back massage? And if you want to do so with your partner or pal, there is even a dual treatment room with full-height windows that slide open to reveal the sea air and gentle sound of the tide.
The hotel is airy, bright and modern and prides itself on its big, comfy beds and fresh seafood. The rooms have a nautical touch and, you guessed it, fabulous views.
Rooms start at about £180 per night including spa access and breakfast, and day spa rates start at about £55 including a treatment.
We may have saved one of the best until last. The thermal village is the first of its kind in Ireland and is a “smorgasbord” of heated and cool spa experiences including saunas, steam rooms, hot tubs, indoor and outdoor pools, a snail shower, heated loungers and a snow cabin. That’s just to start. There’s also a polished pebble floor indoor pool, the botanical-inspired Palm House for a snack and an alpine garden.
If golf is your thing, then there’s a championship parkland and a six-hole pitch and putt. Other links courses nearby include Portstewart, Castlerock and the world’s No. 1-ranked course, Royal County Down. Stay in one of Galgorm’s 124 luxury guestrooms or lodges set in 163 acres of lush parkland with the River Maine flowing through and eat in one of the five restaurants — you won’t want to leave.
Rooms start at about £210 per night including spa access and breakfast, and spa days start at £80 per person.
I hope reading this guide has given you some inspiration for a lovely autumnal spa break — at the moment, you probably deserve it. There are hundreds all over the U.K., so it’s likely there is one close to where you live if you don’t fancy the road trip. Either way, treat yourself, and if all that wellness gets too much, a glass of fizz won’t be far off, either.
Featured photo courtesy of Pennyhill Park
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