There was a time when a spa in a British hotel meant a couple of treatment rooms in the basement.
These days, wellness offerings are often the main draw, offering everything from sunlight therapy to altitude training – and even an underwater treadmill…
SOPWELL HOUSE, ST ALBANS
Classical design: One of the treatment rooms at Sopwell House’s new spa, called Cottonmill. Massages are enjoyed on the quartz and amber bed
Wow factor: The massages you’ll enjoy on the quartz and amber bed at Sopwell House’s new spa, called Cottonmill, are among the best (60 minutes, £99). The grains are heated to 42 degrees (ancient Egyptians apparently used sand to cure muscle pain) while the vibrating bed is tilted to aid circulation.
The Club at Cottonmill is the kind of place at which you could easily spend a day, moving between the outdoor hydrotherapy pool and the deep relaxation room with colour-changing seats.
Among the 128 hotel rooms are 16 modern mews suites, some with private hot tubs.
Cost: A one-night half-board stay with a 60-minute treatment plus lunch costs from £289pp (sopwellhouse.co.uk).
GRANTLEY HALL, RIPON
Wow factor: For seriously cutting-edge facilities alongside an excellent spa, look no further than Grantley Hall, which opened last year.
Chill out in the snow room and cryotherapy chamber (to increase cell rejuvenation and reduce signs of ageing), work out on the underwater treadmill or in the altitude training studio, and book sessions on everything from life coaching to gait analysis.
There is all the normal spa stuff here too, and an 18-metre pool. The 47 rooms are divided between the classical country house style in the Palladian mansion and coolly contemporary ones in the new spa wing.
Cost: B&B doubles cost from £275; a 60-minute massage is £90 (grantleyhall.co.uk).
RUDDING PARK, HARROGATE
Champagne reception: Enjoy a glass of bubbly during a break at Rudding Park, pictured. It has a hydrotherapy pool, hot tub and herbal steam room
Wow factor: Grantley Park isn’t the only innovative spa in Yorkshire: less than 15 miles away, Rudding Park is home to a two-storey facility topped by an open air spa garden with a hydrotherapy pool, hot tub and herbal steam room.
There’s a sunlight therapy room to drive away winter blues, an oxygen pod to help prevent signs of ageing and to strengthen the immune system, and even CBD-infused spa extras, with baths, foot rubs and tongue sprays incorporating (legal) cannabidiol.
The 90 contemporary rooms include spa rooms with a private steam room, sauna or spa bath.
Cost: A one-night half-board stay with a 50-minute treatment costs from £185.50pp (ruddingpark.co.uk).
Soothing: Enjoy a facial at Dormy House, a converted farmhouse on the Farncombe estate
DORMY HOUSE, BROADWAY, WORCESTERSHIRE
Wow factor: Spas don’t come much sexier than at Dormy House, with its candlelit infinity pool, outdoor hot tub by the fire and Scandi-style thermal suite.
There’s even a Veuve Clicquot Champagne nail room.
Grown-up treatments at the Temple Spa include a champagne and truffle facial.
The cosy converted farmhouse, on the 400-acre Farncombe estate, has 38 elegantly understated rooms.
Cost: B&B doubles cost from £269; a 60-minute massage is £85 (dormyhouse.co.uk).
OLD COURSE HOTEL, ST ANDREWS
The Old Course Hotel in St Andrews, pictured, is home to the Kohler Waters Spa, a hydrotherapy haven with treatments using seaweed and marine extracts
Wow factor: Yes, this hotel overlooking one of the world’s most famous golf courses is a haven for golfers, but those in the know also go for its Kohler Waters Spa, a hydrotherapy haven with treatments using seaweed and marine extracts.
Other features include a 20-metre swimming pool, hydrotherapy pool and rooftop hot tub.
Try the 90-minute Sok Overflowing Bath With Massage (£148) where you wallow in a chromotherapy bath before some serious pummelling. The 144 rooms have tartan touches, and there’s also a whisky tasting room.
Cost: B&B doubles cost from £275; a 50-minute scrub is £94 (oldcoursehotel.co.uk).
SEAHAM HALL, COUNTY DURHAM
Inside the spa at Seaham Hall in County Durham. It has just launched a series of therapies combining Ishga, an organic seaweed skincare range, with an ancient ‘touch’ technique for those affected by cancer, anxiety, depression or stress
Wow factor: They’re rolling out hypnotherapy retreats as part of a move to more holistic treatments at this luxurious destination spa.
It uses organic seaweed skincare range Ishga and has also just launched a series of therapies combining the product with an ancient ‘touch’ technique for those affected by cancer, anxiety, depression or stress.
Whatever your need, the spa, with its 20-metre pool and floor-to-ceiling windows plus thermal rooms, is superb. Just a ten-minute walk from Seaham Beach, the 21-room elegant Georgian hotel has several hot tub suites as well as a Zen Garden with pool.
Cost: B&B doubles cost from £195; a 60-minute massage is £85 (seaham-hall.co.uk).
SWAN AT LAVENHAM, SUFFOLK
A suite at the 15th Century Swan at Lavenham in Suffolk. Here guests can enjoy a mind therapy massage
Wow factor: Feeling seriously stressed? Then hotfoot it to the Weavers’ House Spa at the 15th Century Swan at Lavenham for a Mind Therapy Massage.
The resident hypnotherapist and meditation teacher has introduced this treatment during which clients are guided on a meditation while they enjoy a massage from a separate therapist.
The 60-minute session (£150) can be tailored to your needs, helping stress, depression or sleeping disorders. The hotel – think timber beams and crooked corridors – has 45 rooms.
Cost: B&B doubles cost from £150; a 60-minute massage is £77 (theswanatlavenham.co.uk)
Inside the Gainsborough Bath Spa, where one of the best treatments is simply to wallow in the waters in a pool flanked by Romanesque columns
GAINSBOROUGH BATH SPA
Wow factor: You may get more advanced facilities in other spa hotels, but you won’t get Bath’s natural thermal waters there, full of natural minerals to ease stiff joints, soften the skin and help rebalance the immune and nervous systems.
At the Gainsborough Bath Spa, one of the best treatments is simply to wallow in the waters in a pool flanked by Romanesque columns.
There are also aquatic therapies such as The Freedom Treatment, during which your body is dynamically stretched underwater by an experienced healer (45 minutes, £120).
The Grade II listed hotel has 99 rooms kitted out in a neutral (if sometimes bland) palette.
Cost: Room-only doubles cost from £290; a 60-minute massage is £120 (thegainsboroughbathspa.co.uk).
ST BRIDES SPA HOTEL, PEMBROKESHIRE
Wow factor: It’s all about the sea at St Brides – there are spectacular views over Carmarthen Bay from the restaurant, bar, and some of the 34 nautically themed bedrooms.
The best view of all is from the saltwater outdoor infinity pool in the boutique spa. So it’s no surprise to find that treatments are based on thalassotherapy (using seawater or products). There’s a salt infusion room among the thermal cabins, and many therapies use Irish product line Voya with organic seaweed products designed to detoxify, remineralise and restore.
This isn’t a destination spa where you can hang out for days, but with the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park outside, that’s all for the better.
Cost: B&B doubles cost from £95; a 55-minute massage is £70 (stbridesspahotel.com).
LODORE FALLS, LAKE DISTRICT
Steaming hot: The outdoor pool area at Lodore Falls in the Lake District. It has 14 Scandi-style spa suites directly above the treatment rooms
Wow factor: Lie back on an underwater lounger in the 16-metre hydrotherapy pool at Lodore Falls and enjoy glorious views over Derwentwater and the Lake District fells.
You’ll get the same view from some 14 Scandi-style spa suites directly above the treatment rooms (there are also four spa suites in the main hotel). The rest of the beautifully designed stone and timber spa annexe includes a sprawling thermal suite and champagne bar.
For something different, try the Akwaterra massage, where the therapist uses warm sandstone pods to relieve muscle tension (50 minutes, £85).
Cost: B&B spa suites cost from £460; a 50-minute massage is £75 (lakedistricthotels.net).
CHEWTON GLEN, HAMPSHIRE
The spa at family favourite Chewton Glen, pictured, which features Grecian-style columns
Wow factor: Family favourite Chewton Glen even caters for children in the spa, with facials, manicures and scalp massages. There are 50 different treatments and therapies on offer, many using products designed specifically for the spa from nutritional skincare brand Oskia.
If you stay in one of the hotel’s swish modern treehouses rather than the main house, you can even enjoy a massage by the hot tub on the deck.
The spa itself has an impressive 17-metre indoor pool surrounded by Grecian columns, and one of the largest hydrotherapy pools in the UK.
Cost: B&B doubles cost from £370; a 60-minute massage is £105 (chewtonglen.com).
THE SCARLET, CORNWALL
The adults-only Scarlet in Cornwall, pictured, has clifftop hot tubs as well as an outdoor barrel sauna
Wow factor: There are other spas in Cornwall, but the adults-only Scarlet, near Newquay, still leads the pack with its clifftop hot tubs and outdoor barrel sauna, which both offer cracking sea views.
They make the most of the seaside setting here, with seaweed scrubs in the copper tub, and amazing sea views from the indoor pool thanks to its floor-to-ceiling windows.
Some of the 37 bedrooms – with lots of pale wood and sumptuous furnishings – enjoy the same vista.
Cost: B&B doubles cost from £240; a 60-minute massage is £60 (scarlethotel.co.uk).
CAREYS MANOR & SENSPA, HAMPSHIRE
Wow factor: Check into Careys Manor, a comfortable, gleaming 18th Century manor house in Brockenhurst in the New Forest and you’ll also have access to an award-winning Thai spa.
Holistic wellness is at its core, inspired by ancient Eastern rituals offered in an exhaustive list of treatments. Even the food served in the spa restaurant, The Zen Garden, is Thai – main courses include chicken with cashew nuts and vegetables, and crispy duck with tamarind sauce.
Day packages such as ThaiTox (£159pp) is a detox with a Thai twist – and you get to take home some goodies. Visitors can take advantage of all that’s on offer from a crystal steam room, herbal sauna, ice room and hydrotherapy pools. As you would expect, the traditional Thai massage is knockout, and relaxation classes in The Thai Temple studio aim to relax and uplift.
Cost: B&B doubles cost from £175; a 60-minute traditional Thai Massage is £85 (careysmanor.co.uk).