There are many hotels in the south of England that offer spas; but there is a subtle but definite distinction between ‘hotels with spa’ and ‘spa hotels’. The former offers spa facilities of some sort – often excellent – but it can’t be said that they are the main point of the hotel. The latter’s spa, usually in a separate, purpose-designed and often beautiful building, is the primary reason that many people choose that destination. These places take their jobs very seriously, with forward-thinking managers and therapists who are trained in-house as well as by the product companies, extensive facilities, food offerings that are as innovative and health-oriented as the treatments, rituals and therapies on the spa menus, facilities for couples and an increasing emphasis on the well-being of the whole person.
Dormy House, Worcestershire
Sprawling over several floors, the Scandinavian-chic House Spa leads directly off the reception lobby, so you are in no doubt that it’s centre stage at this ‘reinvented rustic’ country house hotel. There are gyms for both work outs, classes and personal training sessions, a thermal suite, including a Cotswold lavender sauna, salt therapy room, rhassoul mud room and outdoor hot tub. Treatments are by Temple Spa and there’s a nail parlour, and a 16m infinity pool.
Cowley Manor, Gloucestershire
One of the first of the new breed of contemporary country house hotels to put their spa, C-side, at the heart of their offering. The glass-fronted building is a beautiful piece of modern design, sunk into a hill to one side. The treatments in the four rooms use the hotel’s own Green & Spring products, employing local natural products. There are indoor and outdoor pools and a dedicated manicure and pedicure area, gym, steam room and sauna.
Coworth Park, Berkshire
Coworth Park’s innovative, environmentally-friendly credentials are hidden behind a smoothly stylish interior and heralded by a vast and spectacular wildflower meadow. The curving, half hidden spa has to be one of the most self-indulgent in the country, flooded with natural light and decorated with art and sculpture. It has eight treatment rooms, the Spatisserie serving light meals (and champagne, of course), a Technogym and heated pool with underwater music.
Babington House, Somerset
This gorgeous, rustic chic spa is divided into Cowshed Active and Cowshed Relax. The former is a space in which to exercise and regenerate, with indoor and outdoor pools, steam, sauna and aroma rooms and gym. The latter has sweeping views of the Victorian walled garden and is the place to indulge and pamper, with a shop and extensive treatment areas using natural Cowshed products.
The Scarlet, Cornwall
In the airy, multi-level, environmentally-friendly Scarlet, the feeling is one of intense relaxation. The womb-like spa specialises in Ayurvedic ‘journeys’, with tented treatment rooms and pods suspended in the dark for ‘deep relaxation’ and an all-glass sea facing roof for ‘light relaxation’. The reed-fringed, rock-strewn outdoor pool extends from the indoor one, punctuated by two bright scarlet wood-fired hot tubs perched between boulders overlooking the sea.
Chewton Glen, Hampshire
Combining old school, classic elegance and impressive grandeur with a contemporary, holistic approach, Chewton Glen’s award-winning spa includes Europe’s largest hydrotherapy pool. There’s also a 17m ozone-treated indoor pool lined with blue mosaic tiles and surrounded by Grecian columns and outdoor hot tub (as well as outdoor swimming pool). There are aromatherapy saunas and crystal steam rooms in the changing rooms and treatments on offer include Ananda and Ila.
Ockenden Manor, West Sussex
The contemporary spa makes a startling contrast to the Elizabethan manor. An uncompromisingly modern building with a startling box-like exterior and an airy and natural interior, it has an indoor/outdoor pool, hot tub and Jacuzzi, walk-through rain shower, steam room, sauna, gym, relaxation area, sundeck, guest lounge and café. Six knockout bedrooms with shutters in the bathrooms open on to bedrooms that in turn open on to a roof garden with superb views.
Calcot Manor, Gloucestershire
The sprawling and spacious spa complements this extensive country house retreat with its relaxing treatment rooms, heated outdoor hot tub and indoor slate-lined pool (with separate swimming times for children) as well as large outdoor pool. Treatments include massages, facials, men’s grooming, manicures and pedicures and include Aromatherapy Associates, Caci and Skin Regimen, a new scientific, holistic approach to halting the skin’s ageing process.
Lime Wood, Hampshire
In the sybaritic Herb House Spa – airy, encased in glass and surrounded by greenery, there are private bathrooms with deep copper baths in the changing rooms, sensuous swimming, hydrotherapy and steam pools, a pioneering raw food café, Raw and Cured, a tempting shop, Curated, a mud house, relaxation rooms and state-of-the-art gym leading to a beautiful rooftop garden, all with sylvan views. Spa treatments are by Bamford, Voya, Pai, Tri-Dosha and Aromatherapy Associates.
Lucknam Park, Wiltshire
The state-of-the-art spa complements the elegant Georgian mansion and its extensive surroundings; indeed you can easily spend a whole day there, with an indoor pool that is embellished by a panel of flickering fire, an array of thermal treatment rooms and tubs and 12 treatment rooms, all surrounded by delightful gardens. The Well-Being house offers yoga, Pilates, dry floatation and sunlight therapy treatments.