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.
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Il Ciocco Resort & Spa
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.
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.
Ellenborough Park is a sprawling fifteenth-century stone manor house you’ll discover at the end of a winding gravel path, the hotel is situated a stone’s throw away from Cheltenham racecourse and surrounded by extensive grounds and beautiful countryside. There is something warm, luxurious and quintessentially British about this beautifully refurbished hotel, from the well-stocked boot and umbrella room to the fireplaces you can walk into, the stone floors and the aroma of wood smoke. The hotel is home to 61 rooms, some of which are situated in the main house with roll top baths, four poster beds and views of the racecourse, there are also some more modern and more economical rooms which are positioned a short and pretty walk away from the main house but with direct access to the outside pool.
There are two restaurants within the hotel, the low-key, cosy Horse Box which specialises in classic but good-quality pub food as well as a stylish and well-stocked bar, try the hotel’s own gin which includes hints of cardamom, cumin and clove. If you fancy something really special for dinner then head to the main restaurant which is set in a grand wood-panelled room and focuses on fine dining with a daily-changing menu and a combination of British and classical French dishes, the decadent à la carte breakfast is served in the same imposing surroundings, discover a hearty and locally-sourced full English breakfast, home-made granolas and perfectly poached eggs Royale.
Whether you are visiting in the depths of winter or on a balmy summer weekend the outdoor heated pool is a real highlight, on cold days the generously hot water means you’ll be swimming through clouds of steam and in the summer the walled garden is teeming with butterflies and you can enjoy drinks, sandwiches and snacks delivered straight to your sun lounger. There is also an indoor spa with a hot tub, steam room and a sauna as well as a variety of treatment rooms where there’s a wealth of relaxation and beauty treatments to choose from.
- How to do it
Ellenborough Park has spa breaks from £135 per person, including breakfast.
Les Sources de Caudalie
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.
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.
Borgo Santo Pietro
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.
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.
Seaside Palm Beach & Cordial Mogan Playa
Gran Canaria has long been a popular summer holiday hotspot for its beaches and family-friendly resorts, and the destination makes for an affordable spa getaway, too. Ideally located next to the Maspalomas sand dunes (which can be explored on marked trails) is the vibrant seventies-style Seaside Palm Beach hotel, with its colourful rooms, bold artworks and retro furniture. You don’t need to venture far for good food – there are three popular restaurants on-site, including La Bodega for tapas, and Esencia, serving modern Mediterranean dishes. But it’s worth a stay for the spa facilities alone, with a biosauna, salt cave (said to help skin conditions) and stone bath, all complimentary to hotel guests, as well as an extensive list of restorative treatments. The spa’s herbal stamp massage is particularly soothing for sore muscles, using warmed cotton bags of aromatic, medicinal herbs and oils to massage the body. Or, opt for one of the mud wraps or facials, before relaxing at one of the hotel’s three outdoor pools.
Cordial Mogan Playa in Las Palmas will attract parents looking for a little tranquillity; the giant chessboard, bowling alley, kids’ pool and a mini club all welcome distractions for older children while you head to Spa Inagua. The outdoor area of the spa is a peaceful setting of Balinese beds, tall cacti and the saltwater pool, while inside is a large swimming pool, jacuzzi and sauna. Reflexology, aromatherapy and a volcanic lava exfoliation treatment are available if you book ahead. Conveniently, housed within the hotel is the Michelin-starred Los Guayres restaurant, described as one of the best restaurants in Spain for fine dining. The picture-perfect 10-course classic tasting menu includes marinated red tuna, goat cannelloni, and Tahiti vanilla cream for dessert, with a drinks pairing option that includes cocktails and local wines from the island (tasting menus from £80).
- How to do it
Stay at Palm Beach in Las Palomas (rooms from £106 a night, spa treatments from £40), or the Cordial Mogan Playa (double rooms from £281, spa treatments from £30. Use of the facilities is £25 of £16 for hotel guests). Thanks to grancanariawellness.com for assistance with the piece.
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 English Rose 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.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Travellers are advised to read the FCO travel advice for the country they are travelling to.
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.