The Big Six: English spa hotels

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Lime Wood, Hampshire

This romantic Regency building re-opened as a luxury hotel in 2009 in the New Forest National Park, with dreamy décor by David Collins, a library and two restaurants. Capping off the five-star experience is the three-storey Herb House Spa, equipped with indoor and outdoor pools, a steam room and sauna with forest views. Treatments range from seaweed wraps to Ayurvedic massages and there's also a herb garden on the roof for yoga.

Lime Wood, Beaulieu Road, Lyndhurst, Hampshire, SO43 7FZ (023-8028 7177; limewoodhotel.co.uk). Doubles from £245, room only. Treatments from £30.

The Swan, Cumbria

This former alehouse overlooks the gentle flow of the River Leven just off Lake Windermere. Following a large-scale refurbishment in 2010, the 17th-century building now flaunts a jaunty, modern interior with Designers Guild furnishings, Chesterfield sofas, and Union Jack cushions scattered throughout its 52 rooms. After a bracing walk amid the wintry lakes, refuel with local produce at The River Room restaurant, then repair to the hotel's VU spa for a hot stone massage or re-balancing facial, both of which use ESPA products.

The Swan, Newby Bridge, Cumbria, LA12 8NB (01539 531 681; swanhotel.com). Doubles from £119, B&B. Treatments from £35.

Lucknam Park, Wiltshire

A mile-long drive snakes towards Lucknam Park on the edge of the historic spa town of Bath. Here, dotted amid the sprawling 500-acre estate, is an on-site equestrian centre – with 35 horses, jumps and an indoor riding school. There's also a kitchen-garden that delivers seasonal herbs, salads and vegetables to the hotel's Michelin-starred restaurant. The spa is set within a private walled garden with nine treatment rooms, pools and thermal cabins on hand to ease the after-effects of Christmas.

Lucknam Park, Bath, Colerne, Chippenham, Wiltshire, SN14 8AZ (01225 742 777; lucknampark.co.uk). Doubles start at £330, room only. Treatments start at £55.

Pennyhill Park, Surrey

An ivy-clad exterior wraps around rooms with grand four-poster beds and a Michelin-starred restaurant. There's also a golf course, tennis courts and a spa. Soothe seasonal strains with the Winter Warmer facial.

Pennyhill Park, London Road, Bagshot, Surrey, GU19 5EU (01276 486 100; exclusivehotels.co.uk). Doubles from £295, room only. Treatments from £95.

Middlethorpe Hall, Yorkshire

This 17th-century manor house was built by a master cutler from Sheffield to bolster his credentials among the English gentry. Today, it cuts it with elegant rooms and a spa housed within a pair of Edwardian cottages.

Middlethorpe Hall, Bishopthorpe Road, York, YO23 2GB (01904 641241; middlethorpe.com). Doubles from £199, B&B. Treatments from £25.

Cowley Manor, Gloucestershire

This Cotswolds hotel combines the setting of a country house hotel, with the sleek style of a Soho members' club. Here, quaint meadows and lakes meet with a curveball mix of Seventies-style retro prints in the bar. Treatments include the Complete Detox.

Cowley Manor, Gloucestershire, GL53 9NL (01242 870900; cowleymanor.com). Doubles from £175, B&B. Treatments start at £45.

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