The best indulgent spa breaks

Check out our pick of the very best spa breaks in the UK and Europe with fabulous food and picture-perfect settings.

In need of some downtime? Pick your favourite from our selection of ultra-indulgent spa breaks, where the food is as fine as the backdrop and the treatments are simply delicious. Take a trip to an Italian paradise and try an olive oil massage, or stay closer to home and visit a luxurious Yorkshire spa where comfort food goes hand in hand with the theory of wellness. 

Discover even more foodie travel tips, local restaurant guides and must-try international dishes by visiting our travel hub.
 

Renaissance Tuscany
Il Ciocco Resort & Spa

Panorama of Tuscan hillside and hotel

With its rolling hills, fabulous food and wine (this is the home of chianti, prosciutto and pecorino, among other Italian greats), and slow pace of life, it would be hard to be anything but relaxed in Tuscany. But at Renaissance Tuscany II Ciocco Resort & Spa, relaxation is taken to a new level. Set in the hills above the pretty town of Barga with its impressive duomo and pink and yellow-hued houses, the Renaissance has spectacular views from its huge terrace and sparkling aquamarine pool – the perfect place to sip an Aperol spritz and watch the world go by.

Many of the rooms have generous balconies, as well as marble bathrooms and luxurious feather beds. But the real star is the in-house spa, with a wellness area complete with a sauna, steam room, Turkish bath and heated indoor pool with hydro-massage. The spa menu is extensive with massages, wraps, scrubs and facials, using local ingredients where possible – try the 80-minute pindas massage using Tuscan herbs soaked in olive oil (£115), and feel your stresses melt away.

To sample traditional food, you don’t even need to set foot out of the hotel as the main restaurant, La Veranda, serves a menu of tempting Tuscan classics. Sit out on the terrace and order the outrageously cheesy ricotta & truffle timbale with pecorino fondue to start, followed by a light stuffed mushroom ravioli (both £14). The breakfast buffet is excellent with croissants, fruit, yogurt, eggs, bacon, Tuscan salami, local cheeses and juices. If you want to have a go at making pasta, the hotel’s cooking class is great fun. You’ll go to the local market in Barga to buy ingredients first, and while you’re there you can pick up top-quality produce to take home, including huge slabs of pecorino for £4, chestnut flour and dried pici (the local thick spaghetti). You’ll then head back to the hotel and make a three-course menu (£175 per person, includes market tour, wine, lunch and an apron).

Don’t miss the local wine. At the nearby Podere Còncori vineyard they produce biodynamic wine using traditional methods – grapes are picked by hand and locals still stomp rather than machine-process them. A vineyard tour, tasting and two-course lunch is a steal at £26. If you visit at harvest time in September, you can have a go at stomping the grapes but, as per Tuscan tradition, only women and children are allowed to set foot on them during pressing.

  • How to do it
    The nearest airport is Pisa, an 80-minute drive from the hotel. Double rooms with breakfast from £240 a night. Find out more about Renaissance Tuscany

Careys Manor
Hampshire

Careys Manor pool view

Surrounded by the lush, leafy New Forest, yet conveniently close to the neighbouring village of Brockenhurst, Careys Manor is ideal for a gloriously grown-up getaway. On arrival, the reception feels quintessentially British, from the grand staircase to the cosy fireplaces. In contrast, the hotel’s Thai-themed SenSpa is invitingly exotic – and the flagship venue for the SenSpa brand. Be sure to take up the offer of a guided tour – you’ll need it to navigate your way around the sprawling network of relaxation rooms, fitness suites and yoga studios.

The main swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room are available for all hotel guests, while paying spa guests are issued with a special wristband allowing access to the more extensive spa areas. Unwind in the huge hydrotherapy pool, where each section provides a different experience, with targeted massaging jets, waterfall-style showers and an intense whirlpool. Retreat to relaxing rooms with heated beds, therapeutically-lit showers, and opulent sauna and steam rooms. If you’re feeling brave, head to the ice grotto to shower beneath a bucket of ice water suspended from the ceiling. Have a light breakfast of smoothies, croissants and fruit in the Zen Garden restaurant, or head to the main restaurant, Cambium, where hot dishes can be cooked to order, and there’s an extensive buffet.

Lunch can be enjoyed in the comfort of your robe in the Zen Garden. SenSpa have collaborated with the founder of Spring Green London, Bonnie Stowell, to offer a special menu, full of nourishing ingredients. Mix and match to create a flavour-packed salad (£12), with ingredients such as turmeric, coconut and bee pollen. For a blow-out dinner, Cambium doesn’t disappoint. The menu is focused on seasonal ingredients and lists the local provenance of the meat and fish. Start with a chicken & chorizo bonbon with Romanesco mayonnaise (£14), followed by a Jerusalem artichoke cannelloni (£15). There’s also a tasting menu at £65 a head.

  • How to do it
    Double rooms at Careys Manor start from £199 per night, including breakfast. Spa days start from £99.

Les Sources de Caudalie
Bordeaux

Les Sources de Caudalie hotel

Bordeaux and its surrounding vineyards haven’t always been an obvious choice when booking a spa break. The local vintner’s preoccupation with creating impeccable wines has traditionally surpassed their desire to attract tourists beyond day-tripping tasters. But with the city of Bordeaux lately spruced up to shiny weekend break status, cemented by the opening of the landmark Cité du Vin, a temple-like museum to wine, the region is attracting a broader base of bacchanalian visitors.

A 20-minute drive from the city, surrounded by pleasingly manicured rows of pampered vines belonging to the 600-year-old Château Smith Haut Lafitte winery, Les Sources de Caudalie was an early adopter of all-embracing wine tourism. With a two-starred Michelin restaurant and chic spa, this is the country lodging of Francophile dreams. Rooms and suites are peppered with antiques exuding understated elegance that make you feel both at home and somewhere very, very special. Most rooms come with a balcony or terrace offering uninterrupted views across the vineyards – bar the honeymoon lodge, which looks out over the property’s central lake – plus a generous array of luxurious Caudalie beauty products, which are based on the concept of harnessing the power of the antioxidants found in grape seeds.

Naturally, Caudalie products are used exclusively at the hotel’s Vinothérapie spa, centred around a natural hot spring. We tested out the facial (from £102), which included an in-depth consultation, relaxing treatment and product recommendations. The spa facilities are at your disposal after a treatment, which include a steam room and sauna, or you can step outside to take full advantage of the vineyard-view pool. Also available on site is a fitness centre and indoor pool, which you might want to visit after an indulgent night in the hands of chef Nicolas Masse. 

At La Grand’Vigne chef Nicolas lovingly works with produce available in the immediate vicinity. The meal we experienced put one key ingredient at the heart of every unique dish as we journeyed through the Aquitaine region – from fresh mackerel and pigeon to artichoke. The wine is also put centre stage, considerately paired to each flavour on your plate. Five-course menus £116, or £223 with wine pairing. The estate’s second restaurant La Table du Lavoir and wine bar Rouge are great for lunch and bistro-style dining, complemented with the same fine wine options. If all that eating leaves you needing to stretch your legs beyond the expansive property, borrow a complimentary vintage-framed bike for a ride through the surrounding forests, or head up to Château Smith Haut Lafitte for a guided tour and tasting of the best vintages Bordeaux has to offer.

  • How to do it
    Les Sources de Caudalie has doubles from £217 a night, and is a 20-minute drive from Bordeaux, where there are direct flights to the UK (London Gatwick with British Airways and EasyJet) or take the Eurostar to Paris, which is a two-hour train ride from Bordeaux. 

Costa Navarino
Greece

Costa Navarino hotel

The hotel’s elegant Greek architecture blends into the backdrop of sprawling olive groves and azure waters that characterise the oft-overlooked region of the Peloponnese, in southern Greece. Explore the property, a beach resort formed of two hotels, a spa and countless places to wine, dine and relax. From the stunning pool area to the lush herb gardens, this is a place tailored to luxury-seekers.

Whole days can be whiled away in the award-winning Anazoe spa (facials from £140, massages from £100). Take a dip in the various hydrotherapy pools, salt water pool, steam rooms, saunas, health showers and ice grotto, or book yourself in for some pampering treatments. The spa uses natural and locally sourced products where possible, such as in the signature Messinian salt and honey scrub. With 20 restaurants, bars and cafés on site, you won’t struggle to find somewhere to suit. Tuck into breakfast (included) at Pero, where a seemingly endless selection of delicacies is on offer – from made-to-order omelettes to Greek cheese and spinach pies, pastries and cakes.

At lunch, dine under the fluttering silk roof at beach restaurant Barbouni, serving fresh seafood, Greek salads topped with slabs of feta (£16), and grilled halloumi with flatbread (£12). For an extra-special dinner in luxe surroundings, head to Japanese restaurant Onuki. Sample platters of beautifully prepared sushi, sashimi (£38 for 12 pieces), and, if you’re feeling flush, grilled wagyu with a truffle ponzu sauce (£107). For keen foodies, there are local olive oil and wine tastings, and authentic cooking courses where you can learn to make tiganites (Greek-style pancakes), hylopites (traditional noodles) and galatopita (custard pie) with the expertise of local ladies. And if that’s not enough to work up your appetite, there are plenty of activities to get stuck into: hiking, mountain biking, tennis and various watersports. Golf enthusiasts are spoilt by two courses (and spectators by the exceptional barbecue food on offer at greenside Flame restaurant).

  • How to do it
    Doubles at The Romanos start at £248 per night including breakfast. The adjoining hotel, The Westin, is better equipped for family fun, with play areas, squash courts, basketball courts, indoor climbing and a crèche. Find out more about Costa Navarino

Thyme
Cotswolds

Thyme hotel pool

Follow winding country roads to the Cotswold village of Southrop, and you’ll find the limestone hotel-hamlet of Thyme, a cluster of homely-yet-stylish converted farm buildings, housing a cookery school, lodge hotel and cottages, kitchen gardens and spa. The Meadow Spa is a haven of wellness. Try the 90-minute signature ritual facial and back massage (treatments from £65), using natural, vegan-friendly creams and oils from skincare brand Aurelia, with probiotics to soothe redness and breakouts.

Treatment rooms are set in pretty Meadow Cottage, with the addition of a hot tub, sauna and space for yoga classes expected imminently. For lunch, stroll over to The Swan, a cosy pub and restaurant, sit by the fire and try the chicken, leek & bacon pie with roast potatoes & greens (£33 for two). If you’re lucky enough to stay in the lodge’s Rose Garden room (possibly the most opulent room of all), take advantage of the bathroom’s log fire and take a long soak in the huge freestanding bath.

The attention to detail continues into the communal areas: the hotel’s new Ox Barn restaurant is filled with with marble-style tables, wooden beams, and large standing ‘sheep’ that can be used as seating. Breakfast is taken here, with standouts such as buck rarebit & eggs. In the evening, there are seasonal dishes using garden produce such as cod, onion, leek & anchovy, from £40 for three courses and a glass a wine. Arrive back from dinner to a night cap infused with ingredients from Thyme’s herb garden, and you should be more than ready to sink into bed, pre-warmed with hot water bottles.

  • How to do it
    Double rooms from £285 a night, breakfast included. Discover more about Thyme

Borgo Santo Pietro
Tuscany

Borgo Santo Pietro restaurant

Borgo Santo Pietro is something of a Tuscan fantasy. Hide out here at this bolthole borgo (hamlet), as many holidaying Hollywood actors do, and there’s all the bella vita ingredients you’ll ever need. The on-site cookery school provides classes in Tuscan cuisine led by local food legend Mamma Olga, tailored tutorials in fine dining from chef Andrea Ferrari, and pizza-making for kids.

Borgo’s love of homegrown ingredients extends to the spa. Its new Seed to Skin holistic range have been crafted to aid cell regeneration (and are recently available in Liberty London). Visit the Skincare Lab, a shop-cum-laboratory, to consult Borgo’s skin scientists, and sample products made from 100% raw ingredients, including butter fat and the nectar of 1,000 Tuscan flowers. The signature massage (£195 for 90 minutes) was deeply relaxing, with shea butter leaving skin hydrated days later. The basic Seed to Skin range is found in all guest rooms, along with chandeliers, plump beds, freestanding baths, and open fires.  But don’t stay put. Wander the estate’s vineyard and organic farm. The infinity pool and hot tub are equally as organic-looking, appearing to merge with Tuscan hills.

Dine on expertly crafted cacciucco alla livornese (a rich fish stew) and spaghetti alla vongole – a nod to the nearby Pisa coast – while house-made pastas with wild boar and porcini exemplifies an old-fashioned Tuscan kitchen. Meo Modo, the Michelin-starred domain of Andrea Mattei, has a farmhouse kitchen-style setting that doubles as the breakfast room, where a heaving buffet of home-baked cakes, cured Tuscan meats, fruits and yogurts are complemented by a menu of cooked dishes served against that backdrop of gardens, orchards and vines.

  • How to do it
    A double room costs from £476, including breakfast. Rhinocarhire.com offers a week's car rental from Pisa/Florence airports from £49. Find out more about Borgo Santo Pietro.

Titanic Spa
West Yorkshire

Titanic spa jacuzzi

This spa has it all – green credentials, a cocktail bar, fabulous food and luxurious apartments – in short: everything you need for a blissful break. The first eco spa to be established in the UK, Titanic, near Huddersfield, takes being kind to the planet while pampering yourself very seriously. It has its own natural spring water source, uses renewable energy, biodegradable materials (you won’t find plastic cups here) and serves locally sourced, organic food in its bistro.

Inside the spa, facilities are top-notch. Try the heat and ice experience, which includes a herbal steam room, crystal steam bath, saunas, an ice room and invigorating plunge pool. There’s also an Egyptian mud chamber where you can slather nourishing organic mud onto your skin (maximum four people, £35 per person). Stay on-site in apartments that are just as soothing: light, airy and modern with balconies offering charming countryside views.

Indulge further with a pre-dinner cocktail at the stylish 1911 bar – we loved the kir Titanic (champagne with raspberry liqueur, £8.45). Good food is a priority at Titanic, and it doesn’t disappoint. At lunch, there are inventive salads and hearty mains, while in the evening, pick from a smart three-course menu with options including roast pork belly with burnt apple purée and quince jus, followed by a peanut & caramel torte. In the morning, enjoy a continental breakfast, or brunch on eggs Benedict in the bistro. If you want to walk it off, the Peak District is a 15-minute drive away with beautiful scenery for miles.

  • How to do it
    An overnight break including lunch, two-course dinner, continental breakfast, use of the spa with robe, slippers and towels costs from £149 per person. Discover more about the Titanic Spa.


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Have you been to an amazing spa with incredible food? Leave a comment below...


All recommendations have been reviewed and approved as of December 2018 and will be checked and updated annually. If you think there is any incorrect or out-of-date information in this guide please email us at goodfoodwebsite@bbc.com.

Accommodation & assistance was provided by Les Sources Caudalie, Titanic Spa, Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort & Spa, Carey’s Manor, Costa Navarino, Thyme, Borgo Santo Pietro, and Rhinocarhire.com.

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