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Best spas in the UK: from log-fired hot tubs to salt scrub showers, revel in Britain's most luxurious spa retreats

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Alessia Armenise
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Whether you’re planning a girly catch-up or simply need some time out, nothing shouts indulgence like the prospect of a deluxe spa escape – and the UK’s full of them.

In London there’s the boutique Lalit in a Grade II listed building in London Bridge, the Four Seasons’ Trinity Square complete with futuristic spa facilities, and the luxury Curtain hotel and spa in Shoreditch.

In Nottinghamshire Ye Olde Bell hotel, set in a 17th-century inn, is has launched a high-end spa with an indoor to outdoor vitality pool, herbal laconium, 10 hot and cold sections and Britain’s only ‘snowstorm’ experience.

Happily, Britain is brimming with state-of-the-art retreats, from The Gilpin in Lake District - where you can wallow in a marathon three-hour treatment with swimming, massages and champagne - to the glorious Scarlet spa, with log-fired hot tubs perched on the Cornish coast.

These places are the very epitome of zen, with nothing more taxing to think of than where your next soothing silk body wrap is coming from.

Prepare to relax and unwind with serious dedication via our pick of the UK’s finest lakeside, seaside and city-based spas, with our best spa guide, each featuring a signature treatment. 

  • Salcombe Harbour Hotel, South Devon

    Holidaying at this impeccably located spa hotel will make you wish for at least one rainy day so you can fully luxuriate in its world-class facilities without the guilt of missing out on south Devon’s stunning coast. The stylish refurbishment offers a huge indoor pool with private cabanas, hydrotherapy pool, a sauna, steam room, hot tub and pebble room.

    Signature treatment: The Ocean Spa Ritual is all about two hours and 20 minutes of pure relaxation. Even the mini consultation comes with a foot soak. You’ll have a full body brush and polish using luxury Espa products containing seawood, mandarin and orange before a long, slow massage. Then comes a massage targeted at problem areas before you undergo a personalised facial, scalp massage and detoxifying mask (£185).

    salcombe-harbour-hotel.co.uk/spa

  • Bedford Lodge Spa Hotel, Suffolk

    The award-winning Bedford Lodge Spa Hotel sits just a 20-minute drive from the cobbled streets of Cambridge and five minutes from Newmarket. Renovated from a Georgian hunting lodge, the beautifully designed spa opened in 2013 with a hydrotherapy pool, rooftop hot tub and unparalleled views of the Suffolk countryside. 

    Signature treatment: Espa Time – hours of being pampered with luxurious, natural products by a therapist who has tailored the session to your personal needs (from £80).

    bedfordlodgehotelspa.co.uk

  • The Spa at Galgorm, Ballymena, County Antrim

    Galgorm Resort and Spa opened its luxury £11 million Thermal Spa Village in 2015 with the intention to make the most of the hotel’s picturesque riverside setting.

    There are outdoor hot tubs and heated pools (where Champagne is available), while indoor facilities include steamrooms, a Celtic sauna, a sanarium, an Orangery relaxation room, and a yoga studio. The jewel in the crown is a fantastical snow room designed to help boost the immune system.

    Signature treatment: The Ultimate EGF ritual promotes anti-aging with a nourishing facial cleanse, exfoliating treatment and eye ritual. After this you can enjoy a skin calibrating massage which incorporates warm basalt stones and a hydrating mask. To finish off, and make the most of the quoted 33% increase in around-the-eye firmness, you are treated to a hand and arm massage while a cool crystal eye compress is applied, followed by serum (from £125). 

    galgorm.com

  • Soho Farmhouse, Chipping Norton

    Join the Chipping Norton set at this swanky members’-club style retreat set in 100 acres of Oxfordshire countryside. With a Cowshed spa set in a woodland cabin theme, there’s a sauna, steam room, indoor and outdoor pool, hot tub and a restorative ice shed

    Signature treatment: Cowshed’s signature facials (from £48) are always a winner but the real takeaway from the Farmhouse spa experience has to be the dial-a-cocktail option that comes with the hot tub.

    sohofarmhouse.com/cowshed-spa

  • The Gainsborough Bath Spa, Bath

    This luxury five-star hotel opened in everyone’s favourite spa city in 2015 at a cost of £16 million – and luxury is the keyword. It’s the only hotel in Britain to offer guests and visitors access to Bath’s famous natural thermal waters.

    Signature treatment: Cocoon yourself in the restorative and reviving powers of ginger. For 90 minutes you’ll be exfoliated, massaged head-to-toe and treated with warm healing stones (from £180).

    thegainsboroughbathspa.co.uk

  • Lucknam Park Hotel and Spa, Bath

    Lucknam's spa, with its thermal cabins, saltwater plunge pool and herb garden (the herbs are used in various treatments) was already impressive, but things got even better with the addition of a Wellbeing House.

    Guests can head there for a wide range of alternative therapies, including Haslauer Sunlight Therapy sessions and dry flotation. Visiting experts host sleep and nutrition clinics throughout the year.

    Signature treatment: ESPA Muscle and Mind Ritual (£155). The ultimate switch off for busy minds, a deeply indulgent and totally relaxing massage to release deep seated muscular tension using a combination of salt stones and warm oil gently poured onto your body. 

    lucknampark.co.uk

  • Seaham Hall Serenity Spa, Seaham, County Durham

    Nestled in the heart of a country estate hotel, Seaham Hall's Serenity Spa is enormous and every inch as indulgent as you'd hope.

    Don a fluffy gown and book in a treatment at one of the 17 exquisite suites (many with garden views) or grab a glass of bubbly and head for one of the balcony hot tubs. Surrounded by woodland and a refreshing alfresco breeze, you can't help but unwind before heading to the spa's excellent pan Asian restaurant.

    Signature treatment: Ultimate Serenity (£140). Cocoon yourself in a comforting wrap - excellent for smoothing and softening the skin - combined with a pressure point facial massage and de-stressing scalp massage.

    seaham-hall.co.uk

  • Ruthin Castle hotel, Denbighshire, North Wales

    Manicured gardens are all well and good but for something totally different, how about a spa located in a former moat? That's exactly where you'll find this unique set-up, which offers a range of facials, scrubs and wraps. There are plenty of hidden surprises too, including a sauna tent and a cocoon seat hanging from the trees outside the spa.

    Signature treatment: Rasul Experience (£85 for two). Spa breaks are much more fun with two, so pick this treatment and enjoy with your BFF or other half. The mud bath opens up your pores while the tropical shower and Welsh sea salt scrub exfoliates your skin until it’s polished to perfection. 

    ruthincastle.co.uk

  • Tor Spa Retreat, Canterbury, Kent

    The Tor Spa Retreat is a small, Ayurvedic health haven in the rolling hills outside of Canterbury, Kent. Treatments are incredibly well-priced, with salt brushing sessions starting from £15 and facials starting from £30. There's a hydro-therapy pool and construction of a yoga island will be completed in early 2014.

    Signature treatment: Alepam Fresh Fruit Facial (£55). Apple, carrot, grape and avocado are combined in a cooling and refreshing mask to make this facial a true sensory experience.

    torsparetreat.com

  • Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa, Edinburgh

    A visit to the One Spa at the Sheraton Grand Hotel and Spa in Edinburgh is worth it just for a dip in the rooftop hydro-therapy pool. Afterwards, warm up with a visit to the spa's cocoon-like thermal suite, where you'll find a fragrant bio sauna, a laconium, a tepidarium and steam-infused "aroma grotto." There are 17 treatment rooms at the One spa, which is one of the more spectacular places to get a massage thanks to vast expanse of mosaic tiles.

    Signature treatment: Ayurvedic Body Wrap with Hot Stones (£155) will leave you blissfully relaxed and your skin silky soft.

    sheratonedinburgh.co.uk/one-spa

  • The Royal Crescent Hotel, Bath

    Housed within a former coach house, the Royal Crescent Hotel's spa treatments are inspired by the natural elements of earth, air, fire and water. The spa menu is diverse and includes cryotherapie facials from Anne Semonin alongside Watsu water-based treatments and detoxifying mud wraps from Comfort Zone.

    Signature treatment: Elemental Herbology Five Element Facial  (from £90). Incorporating deep cleansing, exfoliation, a luxurious facial massage and nourishment, this treatment replenishes the skin giving you immediate and long lasting results.

    royalcrescent.co.uk

  • Four Seasons Park Lane, London

    The spa at the Four Seasons Park Lane is located on the hotel's 10th floor, and the nine treatment rooms all have floor-to-ceiling windows. The range of treatments on offer includes facials from Omorovicza, ESPA and Vaishaly and body treatments designed to detoxify, re-sculpt and de-stress. The Green Coffee and Chilli Re-sculpting Treatment is a fabulous winter warmer.

    Signature treatment: Four Hands at Four Seasons (£245). Why have two hands when you can have four? For eighty blissful minutes, two therapists will carry out a synchronised massage designed to soothe aching muscles and restore energy levels.

    fourseasons.com

  • Cotswold House Hotel and Spa, Chipping Campden, Gloucestershire

    Small is beautiful when it comes to this gorgeously tranquil spa at the end of this hotel's charming Cotswolds garden.

    Set in an Orangery-style building, it comprises a quiet pool surrounded by wicker chairs and loungers, with a mix of traditional and contemporary treatments from La Sultane de Saba Spa brand.

    Signature treatment: Ultimate Vitamin Glow (from £70). This internationally renowned, multi-award winning facial is power-packed with vitamins and anti-oxidants to cleanse and replenish skin. 

    cotswoldhouse.com

  • The Gilpin Hotel and Lake House, Lake Windermere, the Lake District

    Treatment rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows and roaring log fires await at The Gilpin's newly-opened spa, where treatments use combinations of oils which have been hand-blended by staff.

    Signature treatment: The Jetty Spa Trail (£140). This three hour pampering extravaganza includes an aroma consultation, a swim in the lakeside pool, homemade slush puppies in the spa's snug, an invigorating salt scrub shower, an aromatherapy massage and a glass of champagne.

    thegilpin.co.uk

  • The Scarlet Hotel, Mawgan Porth, Cornwall

    The fact that the Scarlet Hotel feels more like a luxurious family home than a hotel shouldn't come as a surprise - the three sisters who founded it were keen to create a homely sanctuary where guests could escape everyday life.

    The treatments offer traditional Ayurvedic wisdom with a Cornish twist, and the changing rooms, with their cocoon-like pods hanging from the ceiling, are the perfect place to relax post-treatment.

    Signature treatment: True, a Scarlet Facial Therapy (£110). A delectable mix of citrus, pomegranate, rosemary and basil will encourage you to breathe new life into your skin and to deeply restore. 

    scarlethotel.co.uk

  • The Garage, Barnard Castle, County Durham

    If you're in need of an MOT head to this quirky spa in County Durham. The spa's Body Shop menu offers a wide range of facials and massage treatments including the Formula One, the Refuel and the Classic MOT. The Paint Shop menu, meanwhile, offers a spectacular range of manicures, pedicures, eyelash and eyebrow tinting.

    Signature treatment: Rose Skin Zen Calming Facial (£60). A delectable mix of citrus, pomegranate, rosemary and basil will encourage you to breathe new life into your skin and to deeply restore. 

    thegaragespa.co.uk

  • Old Course Hotel, St Andrews, Fife

    If you thought "taking the waters" was just something they did in Victorian times, think again. The spa at the Old Course Hotel is based around the healing benefits of the local spring water. There's an enormous indoor waterfall, a Japanese steam room, a hydrotherapy pool and a plunge pool. Treatment-wise, expect a generous clutch of facials and massage therapies alongside water-based treatments such as the lavender rain massage and Polynesian water facials.

    Signature treatment: Aromatic Infusion (£103). This is one of the hotel's newest treatments and comprises a pressure point massage performed under a warm Vichy shower.

    oldcoursehotel.kohler.com

  • St Ives Harbour Hotel and Spa, Cornwall

    Everything about this spa hotel promotes relaxation - whether it's the sound of waves crashing to the shore just metres from the hotel or the large, airy spa with its outdoor sun terrace. The hotel's Harbour Spa is regarded as one of the best in Cornwall, offering a range of bespoke treatments by brands such as ESPA.

    Signature treatment: The Ocean Spa Ritual (£185). This two-and-a-half hour pampering treatment comprises a toxin-removing massage, drainage techniques before ending the treatment with a personalised facial incorporates exfoliation, deep cleansing, facial and scalp massage and a detoxifying mask.

    stives-harbour-hotel.co.uk

  • Blythswood Square, Glasgow

    Visitors to Blythswood Square's spa will find nine spacious treatment rooms plus a tepidarium, rhassoul mud chamber, laconium heat room and an ice fountain. Although many of the treatments have a distinctly Scottish feel (Scottish seaweed bath anyone?), there's a wide range of facials and body treatments from Ila, Elemis and Anne Semonin.

    Signature treatment: The Turus Seaweed Bath (£30). The seaweed used in this treatment comes from the Scottish islands and is rich in minerals and nutrients. Soaking in a bath of this seaweed will help to soften skin.

    townhousecompany.com

  • The Chester Grosvenor, Chester

    This Chester spa's thermal suite is seriously impressive - there's a herb sauna, ice fountain, crystal steam room, salt grotto and foot baths.

    The themed shower is designed to replicate a rainforest downpour, while the adjustable lighting and seasonal fragrances make it one of the more memorable spa experiences.

    Signature treatment: Elemis Sensitive Skin Soother (£70). The soothing properties of Moroccan rose, chamomile and apricot are combined to gently cleanse and exfoliate, whilst the deeply nourishing neroli mask leaves skin nurtured and comforted. 

    chestergrosvenor.com

  • Chewton Glen Hotel and Spa, New Forest

    You can't fault this award-winning spa.

    It's joined forces with Chelsea's uber posh Balance Clinic and organic skincare brand Ila to offer a seriously impressive range of services, whether it's the chakra wellbeing treatments, lymphatic drainage or - for the brave - colonic hydrotherapy.

    Signature treatment: The Collagen Facial (£127) restores elasticity and helps to brighten, re-hydrate, tone and revive.

    chewtonglen.com

  • Pennyhill Park, Bagshot

    The spa at Pennyhill Park boasts eight indoor and outdoor pools (one even has underwater music) along with an ice cave, laconium, tepidarium and steam rooms.

    There are 21 treatment rooms and a huge menu of treatments, including some seriously hi-tech facials from Elemental Herbology. And, if you've got cash to splash, head for the brand new Acacia or Silver Birch suites, both of which have enormous bathrooms with under floor heating and state-of-the-art bath tubs with horizontal shower settings.

    Signature treatment: Oxygen Facial by Natura Bisse (from £100). Ideal facial for congested and stressed skin, this facial uses the Natura Bissé Oxygen range, which releases molecules of pure oxygen deep into the skin to help remove toxins and deliver hydration.

    pennyhillpark.co.uk

  • Lake Vyrnwy Hotel & Spa, Powys, Wales

    Lovers of the great outdoors should head to this Welsh spa hotel, where they'll find 24,000 acres of woodland, fields and mountains - much of which is an RSPB nature reserve. The 52 bedrooms are designed for relaxation and many have four-poster beds and balconies, while the spa's thermal suite, with its mud therapy chamber and salt inhalation room, is equally impressive.

    Signature treatment: Re - Hydrator Facial (£60). An intensive and regenerating facial for dehydrated skin leaving it supple and nourished.

    lakevyrnwy.com

  • The Grove, Chandler's Cross, Hertfordshire

    The 227 room Grove hotel is the perfect place for a weekend spa break - many of the hotel rooms have enormous private balconies and fireplaces. The piece de resistance is the Sequoia spa with its 13 treatment rooms and cavern-like saline water vitality pool.

    The hi-tech beds in the relaxation rooms are an attraction in their own right, thanks to integrated reading lights and personal sound systems.

    Signature treatment: The English Rose Reviver (£175) is inspired by the Grove's beautiful walled garden and starts with a rosehip seed-infused body scrub before a full body massage using Rose Geranium and Palmer Rosa essential oils. We're dozing off just thinking about it.

    thegrove.co.uk

  • Rockliffe Hall, Darlington, County Durham

    This country house hotel has an interesting past - it was once the home of the founders of Barclay's Bank before being purchased by Middlesbrough Football Club, who train within the grounds. The 50,000 square feet spa offers treatments by Murad and Comfort Zone, and there's an army of spa butlers on hand to cater to guests' every need.

    Signature treatment: Tibetan Sound Massage by Comfort Zone (£120). Inspired by traditional Tibetan medicine, it uses resonating bowls and massage techniques to relieve stress and increase vitality.

    rockliffehall.com

  • The Culloden Estate and Spa, Belfast, Northern Ireland

    We don't know what we love most about the Culloden Estate's spa; the funky Zest Juice Bar, the enormous range of treatments (if you opt for a wrap, for example, you can choose from algae, mud or clay), or the enormous, Grecian-style pool.

    Signature treatment: Be Nurtured Facial (£90). This facial expertly combines the most suitable selection of cleansing, massage, mask, serum
    and moisturiser according to your needs.

    hastingshotels.com

  • Titanic Spa, Huddersfield

    Widely regarded as the UK's first eco-spa (the Titanic has its own water source and electric car charging points), this is a spa with accommodation - 30 apartments - rather than a hotel with a spa.

    There are 20 treatment rooms and the extensive menu doesn't disappoint, with treatments from Elemis, Decleor and Carita alongside reflexology, Reiki, Hopi ear candling and fish pedicures.

    Signature treatment: Elemis Moisture Dew Facial (£65). Following a specialist facial massage, the skin is fed with thirst-quenching actives that will bring back that healthy, dewy look to the skin.

    titanicspa.com

  • Thorpe Park Hotel and Spa, Leeds

    There's a huge range of Elemis treatments available at this Leeds spa hotel, but the treats by lesser-known spa brand Ytsrara are equally tempting - there's a Samunprai Thai Herbal Heat Energiser, a Maphrao Warm Coconut Soother and a YTSARA Lawan Facial.

    Signature treatment: The Traditional Full Body Massage (£65) will quickly banish any aches and pains.

    spa-and-fitness.co.uk

  • Headland Hotel, Newquay, Cornwall

    This cliff top hotel has recently undergone a huge renovation, and the spa is sparkingly new. There are just two treatment rooms at the moment but three more will soon be added. We recommend making the Cornish salt steam room your first port of call, but the aromatherapy showers are pretty cool, too.

    Signature treatment: Dynamic Resurfacing Precision Peel (£80). Clinically proven to target the signs of ageing and uneven skin tone, this pioneering precision treatment uses layers of enzymes for powerful exfoliation and renewal.

    headlandhotel.co.uk

  • InterContinental London, Park Lane, London

    This chic spa offers an enormous range of Elemis treatments alongside reflexology, hot stone massages and beauty treatments. The Dry Flotation Therapy Bed is a must for those hoping to recharge their batteries - 20 minutes spent in the bed is equivalent to three hours of sleep.

    The spa also uses chromatherapy, a form of colour therapy. Treatment rooms can illuminated using a range of coloured lighting - for example, blue light is used to create a calming effect and green is used to promote healing.

    Signature treatment: The Lime and Ginger Salt Glow by Elemis (£45) will leave skin super soft and glowing with health.

    ihg.com

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Alessia Armenise

Alessia Armenise is picture editor of Stylist and Stylist.co.uk. In her free time you'll find her tasting vegan street food around east London and sharing her (many) opinions on London Fields Radio.

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