It might sound clichéd, but January is the perfect time for a reset — and where better to reset than at a relaxing spa? Whether you’re looking for a solo escape from the city this month or planning a full-blown family holiday for later in the year, we’ve got your guide to the very best resorts and treatments.
Best for This A-list wellness playground is a one-stop shop for the beauty industry elite. In a single visit you can have acupuncture with Ross J Barr, Meghan Markle and Alexa Chung’s go-to pro; a quick blow-dry refresh with Josh Wood, Gwendoline Christie’s hairstylist; and a manicure with Instagram’s hottest nail artist, Harriet Westmoreland, who offers a French mani with tips in Claridge’s signature jade green. (Would you expect anything less?)
The lowdown Hard to believe but Claridge’s has never had a spa before. Seven years in the making and 12m below ground, this long-awaited, Japanese-inspired sanctuary perfectly marries the holistic with the high-tech. By that we mean there’s the right amount of woo-woo wellness (energy-cleansing music for example) mixed with hardcore facials, infrared saunas and sculpting body sessions. With its hush-hush celeb clientele — don’t be surprised if you see Joan Collins wafting around — privacy is Claridge’s priority. Forget chairs around the pool: it’s private cabanas and individual changing rooms with Dyson hairdryers, heated loo seats and chic peach kimonos. (Just make sure there is a kimono in your locker. Rumour has it that guests keep swiping them “by mistake, on purpose”.)
A treatment room at Claridge’s spa
What to try The Bamboo & Silk Ritual is the crème de la crème of offerings. The head-to-toe, unapologetically luxurious experience begins with a silk facial. A what? Put simply, your therapist pummels, taps and tickles your face wearing spun silk thimbles on their fingertips. (Can you imagine?) And next it’s a deeply relaxing body massage with warmed bamboo sticks. Clinical and white decor? Quite the contrary. Your pro will invite you to snuggle into a jumbo, blush-pink bed with a duvet covered in 300-thread-count cotton. In your changing room you’ve also got a rain shower and a vanity area should you be heading straight upstairs to the champagne bar for post-spa cocktails.
Insider tip As you walk in you’ll be entranced by the smoky, sexy aroma and ask the receptionist what candle they’re burning. Here’s the secret: it is Vryao Witchy incense sticks (£35), which you can buy at the spa, along with Emilia Wickstead swimsuits and Z Lab silk sleep masks.
Book it Bamboo & Silk Ritual, £295. Double rooms from £750 a night; claridges.co.uk
Ockenden Manor’s steam room
2. Ockenden Manor, West Sussex
The cosmic retreat
Best for Fans of all things Goop — moonlight meditation, anyone?
The lowdown Ockenden Manor is in a grand old building, parts of which date back to the 16th century. But the spa is bang up to date with indoor and outdoor swimming pools, hot tub, a gym and an Isopod. A what? It’s a spaceship-like flotation device filled with warm salt water that you lie in for 30-60 minutes. It promises to help circulation and aid good sleep. The two-night Full Moon & Fabulous package includes yoga sessions (outside unless the weather is treacherous, in the spa’s gym otherwise) and “Polestar meditation”, which is where you might find yourself, at 9pm, sitting cross-legged on the roof of the spa, under the stars, eyes closed. It’s rather nice to have a 45-minute meditation session before bed, with blankets provided to keep you toasty. A three-course dinner at the hotel’s dining room is also included — the sourdough bread baked on site and smoked butter are heavenly.
Ockenden Manor’s indoor-outdoor pool
What to try The 60-minute full-body massage, which is based around the five elements in Chinese medicine (wood, fire, earth, water and metal) and according to one of the therapists, Zoe, is “half-science, half-holistic”. She may, for example, tell you that your “element is water”, meaning you want to feel relaxed rather than, say, rejuvenated, which is where a full-body massage comes in. The 30-minute facial is worth squeezing in too, if you have time.
Insider tip Your room might not be ready until early afternoon, but you can arrive as early as you like and staff will take care of your bags while you hang out at the spa sipping complimentary tea and coffee — or even order a glass of wine by the pool. Bliss.
Book it The Full Moon & Fabulous retreat starts from £883 for two nights, next date May 4-6; hshotels.co.uk
The sauna at the Tschuggen Grand Hotel
3. Tschuggen Grand Hotel, Arosa, Switzerland
Mindfulness in the mountains
Best for Slowing down. Whether you’re a skier, a snowboarder or strictly après only, everything from the spa treatments to the alpine activities is designed to help you unwind and reconnect with nature.
The lowdown Wake up to panoramic views of snow-capped mountains before taking the hotel’s private mountain railway, the Tschuggen Express — a swish private ski bubble exclusively for guests. Once you’ve conquered the pistes, a private driver will return you to the hotel, where you can plonk yourself fireside and admire the Hermès interiors.
Hungry? Eat at one of the four restaurants, from the tasting menu at the Michelin-starred La Brezza to a casual mountain munch on the sun terrace, while Thursday is fondue day in the Basement, a chalet-style underground haunt complete with a tenpin bowling alley. The Grand Restaurant is a formal dining affair including a plant-based Moving Mountains menu, using locally sourced ingredients. Beyond the hotel, as part of the new Moving Mountains programme, you can submerge yourself in a frozen lake (guided, of course) or earn your supper with a torchlit stomp up the mountains ending with a Swiss cheese and wine tasting.
From left: the spa’s sail-like skylights at the Tschuggen Grand Hotel; and the Tschuggen Express mountain railway
What to try The spa is the largest in the Swiss Alps; 5,000 sq ft of holistic heaven carved into the mountains and flooded with light thanks to the sail-shaped skylights. Take a twilight swim in the outdoor pool or enjoy the daily sauna ceremony, an incense ritual that fills the space with medicinal herbs. The treatment menu is extensive, with everything from the T3 Skin Rejuvenator facial (a must for wind-whipped faces) to a sports massage using Swiss skincare packed with mountain ingredients. Book one of the private spa suites: couples or groups of friends can enjoy a private sauna, steam room and hot tub, as well as treatments. Plus, you’ll be fed and watered by a private spa server.
Insider tip It’s a zero swimwear policy in the saunas. The plus side is that Wills and Kate have stayed here so you might be sweating next to a nude royal; the downside is that you might be sweating next to a nude royal.
Book it T3 Skin Rejuvenator facial, £350, and sports massage, £165. Double rooms from £620 a night, B&B; access to the spa and use of the Tschuggen Express is included; tschuggencollection.ch
From left: the sleek interior of Heckfield Place’s Little Bothy spa; and Heckfield can provide a picnic feast
4. Heckfield Place, Hampshire
The fashion favourite
Best for Showing off — it’s not easy to get a booking at this much-hyped hotel.
The lowdown Once a Georgian family house, in 2018 Heckfield was restored and is now one of the country’s most lusted-after minibreak spots. It stands in 400 acres of Hampshire countryside, so grab a pair of Hunter wellies from the boot room and walk down to the farm, or — for the brave — go for a spot of wild swimming in the lake before heading back to the house to do a jigsaw in front of the fire. Sounds like bliss? It gets better — the food is fantastic. The super-chef Skye Gyngell is in charge of the menus at Hearth, one of the hotel’s restaurants. Pop for a drink at the cute Moon Bar, where a glitterball takes centre stage, beforehand — order a coffee negroni (better than it sounds!) and see if you can spot an A-lister (Kate Hudson and Harry and Meghan are fans).
What to try The Little Bothy spa is chic and discreet. Using its own products, made from local ingredients, this spa doesn’t bamboozle with wellness or medical guff; treatments are luxurious, simple and soothing (what else are you looking for?). Go for the Wildsmith facial or massage, and add on reflexology to leave feeling well rested.
Insider tip Heckfield is an interiors fan’s dream. Ben Thompson, a British designer who trained under Ilse Crawford, has stuffed the rooms with goodies from the likes of Pinch and Rose Uniacke alongside hand-picked antiques, while details such as corn dollies instead of a “Do not disturb” sign will make you smile. Book one of the main house suites and you may never leave your room.
Book it Wildsmith Radical Botany Facial, £220, and reflexology, £160. Rooms from £350 a night, including breakfast and afternoon tea; heckfieldplace.com
The medieval château at Domaine des Etangs
5. Domaine des Etangs, Massignac, France
For the spa averse
Best for Couples who love the great outdoors (including a massage en plein air — yes, with your clothes on).
The lowdown Set in the Charente countryside of southwest France, the Domaine des Etangs is the French equivalent of the British country house hotel: think 11th-century fairytale château beautifully renovated but completely welcoming. The 2,500-acre estate, home to a picturesque herd of Limousin cattle and a collection of outdoor art, is easy to explore on the Domaine’s bikes or by foot. And with two swimming pools and a tennis court that floats on one of the lakes there’s plenty to do outside. If the weather lets you down, the wellness centre and spa will keep you occupied, while the attic of the main building has been turned into a vast playroom, with dressing-up boxes, chests of board games and DVDs and table football.
The Venus suite in Domaine des Etangs
What to try The focus here is on keeping harmony with the natural world and the changing seasons, and from May to September they offer the outdoor Corps et l’Espirit (Body and Spirit) treatment. This gentle massage takes place in the trees between one of the Domaine’s many lakes and a waterfall. The wind in the leaves and the sound of the water make the experience more soothing than sport massage. Don’t expect knuckles in your muscle knots; instead the targeted movements and smooth pressure coax you into a deeply relaxed state. If you like to unwind to the odd ASMR video you’ll love this. As this is France, you can top off the experience with a picnic basket, including crisp baguette sandwiches and very unspa-like patisseries.
Insider tip As you’d expect, the food is plentiful and delicious. Breakfast is a particularly relaxing, leisurely affair. No stumbling down at 8.30am to get the best of the buffet — breakfast is served until a civilised noon.
Book it Corps et l’Espirit treatment, £150, and massages from £80. Scott Dunn offers a four-night stay from £4,500 for two people sharing, B&B, including return flights from the UK and transfers; scottdunn.com
The lagoon pool at the Rosewood Baha Mar
6. The Rosewood Baha Mar, Nassau, Bahamas
The do-it-all family resort
Best for Parents who have winced at the idea of a family-friendly resort. Disclaimer: with a water park, bells-and-whistles kids’ club, free dining for under-fives, complimentary ice cream and more, this isn’t your average child-friendly hotel.
The lowdown A mere 12 minutes from the airport awaits a home from home, decked out in wafty white linens and contemporary furniture. It’s as relaxed as they come and with an army of warm and welcoming staff, so there’s no need to shush kids — though with everything on offer they’ll be speechless anyway. At the Rosewood Explorers kids’ club they can try their hand — foot? — at flamingo yoga, while a short stroll past Flamingo Cay, where the actual flamingos hang out, is Baha Bay, the chicest of waterparks (if such a thing exists). A feast of slides, fountains and splash pools, flanked by cabanas and loungers submerged in the water, and of course a lazy river. Lying supine on the private, white sand beach or by one of the two picture-perfect pools is hungry work, so head to Café Boulud, a European-influenced eatery with a standout local Bahamian art collection to boot. Or if Mexican is more your thing, try Costa, on stilts in the water.
From left: a treatment room and bedroom at the Rosewood Baha Mar
What to try In the spa there are classic mani and pedis, as well as more exciting and traditional Bahamian treatments such as the Arawak Body-Balance body wrap, which draws on the ancient healing practices of the Arawak Indians, some of the first inhabitants of the islands. When the poolside Tata Harper pop-up is around, try the Sun Relief Facial, which is designed to balance and hydrate a sunburnt face. The depuffing with a jade gua sha spoon was a highlight.
Insider tip Family suites come with a fleet of butlers who are on hand (via text, how very modern) for your every want and need. Don’t be shy when pestering them for a cocktail or three.
Book it Arawak Body-Balance, £225, and Tata Harper Sun Relief facial, £65. Rooms from £700 a night; rosewoodhotels.com
A Treehouse at Chewton Glen
7. Chewton Glen, Hampshire
A menopause makeover
Best for Burnt-out midlife women in need of a restorative, stress-free weekend. (NB: leave the family at home.)
The lowdown One of England’s first country house hotels, Chewton Glen, on the edge of the New Forest and a 15-minute walk from the coast, has form at spoiling guests with its five-star service. The decor is traditional meets contemporary, as are the locally sourced meals in the Dining Room (roast loin of pork versus Thai lobster curry — though spicy food can make those pesky hot flushes worse). Stay in a spacious suite or a trendy Treehouse with hot tub on the balcony. Then head to the spa for a Balance and Restore day to ease those menopausal symptoms: soothe aching joints in the hydrotherapy pool, calm anxiety with a swim/sauna/steam, and boost your mood with a gym session or yoga class.
The indoor pool with views over the grounds
What to try The OTO Body Ritual is a full-body massage with CBD oil to improve sleep and reduce anxiety, ideal for helping midlife women to chill TF out. After completing a questionnaire on menopause concerns, crystals are placed on your chakras and *woo alert* tuning forks provide sound healing (they resonate at the same frequency as the body: who knew?). A stomach massage aids digestion.
Insider tip Get ready to celeb-spot: Kate Moss and Gwyneth Paltrow are fans and, ahem, Danny Dyer got married here.
Book it OTO Balance & Restore day, from £270 per person. Rooms from £375 a night; chewtonglen.com
From left: go wild swimming in a private loch; and a Farmer room at the Fife Arms
8. The Fife Arms Hotel, Aberdeenshire
Sketch ’n’ spa
Best for A blissful getaway with your closest friends or partner.
The lowdown Nestled deep in Aberdeenshire, the Fife Arms is a luxurious 46-bedroom boutique hotel that gives Scottish tradition a modern spin — the bar is inspired by Elsa Schiaparelli (the late fashion powerhouse was a regular at the local village, Braemar) , while the Drawing Room includes a ceiling mural inspired by Scottish agate and there’s taxidermy at every turn. The hotel offers wild sketching and walking by Annie Armstrong, a local guide who creates bespoke nature walks, and her knowledge and humorous flair for local history and wildlife will keep you intrigued (the area has links with the royal family, for instance). She also believes that wild sketching is a great way to de-stress — comfortingly, the purpose of sketching is not to test your artistic abilities but to practise mindfulness.
What to try A breathing workshop, led by Lisa Krause. The first hour is spent learning the importance of inhaling and exhaling properly, something we often don’t do properly, as we take in anxiety-inducing shallow breaths. The next 40 minutes entails a deep meditation breathwork guide. The candlelit room, aroma of pine needle tea and Lisa’s calming expertise are guaranteed to leave you in a state of tranquillity.
Insider tip This year Annie will also be offering a luxurious wild swimming package in a private loch, followed by a picnic in a tent with a wood-burning stove.
Book it Breathwork treatment, from £180; package deals such as wild sketching and walking, from £270. Rooms from £434 a night B&B; thefifearms.com
Chilling, Harbour Beach Club style
9. The Harbour Beach Club, Devon
Something for all the family
Best for Families looking for some good old-fashioned seaside fun (with a spanking new spa on the side).
The lowdown Ever since it officially opened last year, the Harbour Beach Club has been jam-packed with families thanks to its relaxed style, super-friendly staff — oh, and drop-dead-gorgeous location moments from Salcombe’s South Sands beach. Families very much come first here — you can book interconnecting hotel rooms, there’s an on-site babysitting service, and the fantastic seafood restaurant goes out of its way to make everyone feel welcome. There are also activities galore, posted daily on the board in reception, with everything from beach yoga to paddleboarding, plus a stash of board games for rainy days. Families can pick up a picnic and explore the area — kids will love beachcombing in the Enid Blytonesque coves before being rewarded with a trip to Cranch’s, the town’s famous sweet shop (where sugary treats are sold in proper pink and white paper bags). Their grown-ups, meanwhile, can indulge in the Beach Club’s spa, which opened last March and includes a 12-metre indoor pool with glorious views across the countryside, sauna and steam rooms and a juice bar. And when all that sea air finally knocks the kids out, there’s lashings and lashings of complimentary Salcombe Gin found in every room (with a daily ice and slice top-up).
Have a go at paddleboarding
What to try The Soul Soother from the Sea is one of the spa’s most popular treatments as it includes a bit of everything — a back massage using Wave Stones (hot and cold jade stones), a face mask and a leg and foot exfoliation with a sea salt and sugar scrub. The Temple Spa Most Revealing Skin Oxygen Peel used in the treatment deserves a shout-out — the oxygenating sensation feels like having popping candy on the skin (which is surprisingly pleasing), while the end result really does brighten up the complexion. Ask for Tahra, a wonderful therapist who is local to the area.
Insider tip You can borrow buckets, spades, bodyboards and even wellies — including very smart pairs by the local brand Rudds — which makes the family suitcase a whole lot lighter.
Book it The Soul Soother from the Sea, from £100 for 60 minutes. A Sea View Family Room (two double rooms with interconnecting doors, and balconies and bathrooms) is £390 per night, B&B, for two adults and one child, and £402 for two adults and two children; harbourhotels.com
Yoga on the sundeck at Eden Rock — St Barths
10. Eden Rock hotel and spa, St Barths
The celeb- spotting spa
Best for Anyone who loves a bit of fun, dressing up at night and parading along the slim but perfectly formed stretch of St Jean beach.
The lowdown Eden Rock — St Barths has been around for more than half a century, but it owes its heart and soul to the Brits David and Jane Matthews (parents of Spencer and James, in-laws of Vogue and Pippa), who bought it in 1995 and crafted its laid-back chic. No two rooms are the same and the common parts were redone (following Hurricane Irma’s devastation in 2017) by the interiors grandee Martin Brudnizki. Celebrities love it, regulars include the Hadid sisters, Leonardo DiCaprio, Rihanna, P Diddy and Martha Stewart. The general manager, Fabrice…
Read Nore:The 17 best luxury spas to book for 2023 — in the UK and beyond