TOP TEN: UK spas

The Pool at The Corinthia

To mark National Spa Week, we round-up the best spas from across the country for you to pamper yourself at as the festive season approaches.

The Pool at The Corinthia
The Pool at The Corinthia

1. Ragdale Hall, Leicestershire

Ticking all the boxes for a luxury, chilled-out spa setting, Ragdale Hall Spa is not only set in a stately home, complete with wood-panelling and grand chandeliers, but also offers plenty of interesting new treatments and fitness activities, from ‘Yoqua’ (aqua + yoga…) to ‘Tai Chi Sword’. All the while being surprisingly fairly priced and run by a friendly and knowledgeable staff.

2. Gleneagles, Perthshire

Another fairly imposing and frightfully grand spa location, this time the French Château-esque building of The Gleneagles Hotel. Classic but not stuffy, the hotel is located in the glorious surrounds of the beautiful Perthshire countryside, on an 850-acre estate. But it’s not just the historic building and natural surroundings that deserve appreciation, the spa itself has won numerous awards for its fresh and modern take on ancient ayurvedic therapies, as well as its popular signature treatments. The team includes osteopaths, physiotherapists, traditional Chinese medicine acupuncturists, herbalists and personal trainers and the overall attention to detail is impeccable.

3. Espa Life at the Corinthia Hotel, London

The marble Cleopatra beds at Espa Life at the Corinthia

Just moments from the traffic-filled Strand, the interior of Espa Life at the Corinthia is in stark contrast to the frenetic world outside. So quiet that the echo of your footsteps along the sleek, modern hallway en route to reception will make you feel like (insert amusing example of something notoriously rowdy). Guests are then led into what are quite possibly the UK’s most stunning spa facilities. With all the mod cons of course (sauna, steam room, vast pool, etc) Espa Life has raised the bar somewhat by offering a holistic luxury beauty experience with its impeccable and glamorous design. Not to mention highly trained service and a wide variety of treatments. It even offers heated marble beds to warm and relax your muscles in front of a flickering fire while listening to classical music – slightly surreal.

4. Aveda Institute, London

Aveda’s stellar reputation certainly precedes it but a trip to this established stalwart of the British spa scene is unlikely to disappoint – it’s certainly not resting on any laurels. Offering a long list of grooming treatments, the flagship salon High Holborn Institute has a significantly large army of experts. Depending on your hair, skin, or body type, Aveda will help you work out what you need (slash crave) in its environmentally friendly interior. The Stress Fix release and the Dual Exfoliation Facial sound fantastic – a great way to re-boot winter skin. And there’s also an organic roof garden for guests to stroll around and enjoy the view (and admire the urban beehives housed there), plus an adjoining Le Pain Quotidien café.

5. Limewood Spa at The Limewood Hotel, Hampshire

The Limewood Hotel and Spa can be found in the New Forest, with many of its treatments inspired by nature and taking advantage of its locality – several treatments use ingredients from the rooftop herb garden and the grounds of the hotel. Hence known as the Herb House spa, its wellness facilities span three storeys and an impressive 22,000 square foot and have a natural, or at least simple, feel about them; no elaborate decor but a chic modern aesthetic, with plant pots placed around every corner. A gorgeous pool and huge sauna look out onto forest views and there’s also a brilliant cafe, with an appropriately healthy – but no less tasty – menu of salads, smoothies, fish, and meat (and the odd homemade baked treat too).

6. Chuan Spa at The Langham Hotel, London

As the only luxury London hotel spa that specialises in traditional Chinese medicine, Chuan Spa really is a trailblazer. Combining the indulgence and luxury of your typical swanky London hotel, with the therapeutic and forward-thinking premise of Eastern practices, it genuinely is one of a kind. Sumptuous decor is complemented with calming colour schemes, and dim lighting creates an other-worldly but thoroughly serene atmosphere. All the treatments on offer are carefully curated to not only relax but also re-balance both the body and the mind. These range from those designed to relieve deep muscular tension, and acupuncture, to sensual experiences harnessing the power of minerals and using chakra energy points, and candle-wax poured over the body (naturally more relaxing than that may sound). And be sure you try out the exemplary facilities too, including a herbal steam room, salt sauna, Jacuzzi, and sparkling basement swimming pool.

7. K West Hotel & Spa at The K West Hotel, London

The Sauna Sanarium at K Spa

With a range of truly varied treatments, from the intensely soothing Baniya De-stress (a blissfully long treatment using beautifully scented aromatherapy oils specifically chosen for their relaxing properties) for spa-goers with a busy or active lifestyle, and candlelit hot wax massages, to advanced facials, the subterranean K Spa is a spa to suit all moods and requirements. Hidden below the luxury K West Hotel just off Shepherd’s Bush Green, the spa incorporates multiple worldly techniques into their ethos, offering Venik Massage involving Russian Birch branches soaked in therapeutic oils, the Mohom Indigo Art of Healing treatment derived from the ancient beliefs of the Hmong Shamans, and the indulgent Oriental Exotic Massage, using Silk Foulard and the spa’s interesting-sounding ‘exclusive stick’. And fusing their ethos seamlessly with the design, the spa boasts lots of impressive features – a glass panelled Hydroptherapy pool with stainless steel recliners to take your weight as the bubbles gently pulsate your body, enclosed sociable cubbyholes with foot baths facing eachother, and – the icing on the cake – a ceiling of twinkling lights to gaze up at while lying back in the warm, restful pool. And the hotel also offers a stylish food bar for anyone who fancies a bite to eat post-treatment.

8. Cowshed Spa at Babington House, Somerset

Known for their popular natural product range, Cow Shed also have spas dotted around the world from New York and Miami, to Berlin. Though you’ll find several in London, the Babington House outpost in Somerset is the most blissful of all. A real escape from everyday life, the beautiful Babington Hotel and Member’s Club’s grounds make for a unique and memorable spa break. While away hours flitting between the pool and scented steam room, treat yourself to a mud room and soak, or try their signature Cowshed wrap.

9. Beauty Works West, London

Just off Westbourne grove in a pretty little mews side street, beauty works west is a popular west London haunt with a loyal following. This is no doubt largely thanks to their extremely friendly staff. Be sure to try their just launched black chicken range facial – a carefully developed treatment using completely natural products, from oil cleansers and rice exfoliators to serums and moisturisers. It consists of a deep cleansing extraction process and plenty of sleep-inducing massage, leaving skin feeling fantastically fresh, soft and scented – no chemicals needed.

10. Cowley Manor, The Cotswolds

Another period setting, Cowley Manor is an acclaimed and well-known British spa insitution. Their signature treatment involves the perfect blend of acupressure, aromatherapy and relexology, and the facilities include all the luxury trimmings – a 17m indoor and 15m outdoor pool, steam room, and sauna. Whether you’re after a day trip or an overnight stay, the accommodating staff at Cowley Manor will provide you with all you need.

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