It takes a real trooper to comb the UK in search of its 12 best spas. But I did it, and here's my verdict.
Adults–only hotel The Scarlet boasts a holistic spa with beach views that makes for a truly relaxing getaway. The hanging pods and tented spa look really unique, and the hot tubs overlooking the surf aren’t too shoddy either.
Treatments from £55
Ragdale Hall, Leicestershire
More Waitrose than Harrods, this destination spa offers great quality with a reasonable price tag and exceptional customer service delivered by friendly, down-to-earth staff. Set among rolling hills, the red-brick country house boasts a mammoth thermal spa, an outstanding restaurant and tonnes of chill-out areas, both inside and out. Unpretentious, casual and utterly relaxing.
Treatments from £28
Chewton Glen, New Forest
The hydropool steals the show at Chewton Glen – it’s seriously huge and utterly fabulous. The rest of this sumptuous spa isn’t short on space either and includes a large indoor swimming pool, aromatherapy saunas, steam room, outdoor whirlpool and a great pool bar with buffet. Stay the night if you can – the spa is just one part of this luxurious country house retreat.
Treatments from £28
Grayshott Health Spa, Surrey
One of the few remaining old-school health farms, this should not be top of your list if you want a relaxing day of massage, finished off by champagne at the bar. Instead, this independently owned spa focuses on health, wellness and recuperation programmes, aiming to send you away properly cleansed and detoxed – in other words, a proper physical MOT.
Treatments from £35
Serenity Spa at Seaham Hall, County Durham
Forget the usual generic global brands – this spa (one of the biggest in the North-east) focuses on natural, organic and high quality beauty products including Sundara Holistic, Ytsara and Ishga. The spa offers pool with massage stations, hammam and Jacuzzi, outdoor hot tubs and sanarium, just to name a few. We like the informal service too.
Treatments from £65
Centerparcs Aqua Sana, Bedfordshire
Centerparcs might not be top of your list for a spa break but this one should be, especially if you’re after value for money. Each of its six spas – Fire & Ice, Mineral & Gemstone, Blossom, Herbal, Sensory and Salt – has multi-sensory experience rooms that are just as good, if not better, than those in many five-star spas. There’s also an infinity pool, zen garden, café bar and some imaginative treatments, all set within a forest location.
Treatments from £29
Stoke Park, Buckinghamshire
You’ve probably seen this hotel’s striking white mansion house in the movies (Bridget Jones and Goldfinger, among others) and although the Pavilion Spa building is less imposing it’s no less luxurious, making for an indulgent experience with treatments from highly experienced therapists. Plus, there’s a gorgeous new spa garden and the food in the café is memorable: think grilled sea bream and goat’s cheese, fig and red onion marmalade salad.
Treatments from £45
One Spa, Edinburgh
The wow factor from this four-level spa (part of the Sheraton Grand Hotel) comes from both the rooftop hydropool and the seven different heat and water experiences. Give yourself at least a couple of hours to try them out and if you’ve still got time, squeeze in an ESPA treatment.
Treatments from £40
Stobo Castle, Peebleshire
Nestled in the Scottish Borders, this arguably boasts the most magical and picturesque spot of all the spas in our roundup and is frequently named "Best Spa in Scotland." The bedrooms are beautifully decorated and there’s a whopping 80 treatments to choose from. Facilities include three outdoor hot tubs, steam rooms and an “infinity ozone pool” (free from chemicals including chlorine) with glass walls.
Treatments from £15
The Forum Spa, Celtic Manor, Wales
A surprisingly serene spa in spite of the vastness of the hotel it sits in, this one boasts constantly updated treatments – the latest of which is the fabulous couples candlelit massage. Staff are friendly, facilities are impressive and given the hotel’s 330 rooms, several restaurants, award-winning golf course and seemingly infinite activity programme, it’s easy to make a weekend of it.
Treatments from £46
Four Seasons Hotel, Hampshire
Located in the hotel’s converted 18th century stable block, this spa has magnificent facilities and we particularly like the quaint outside area including vitality pool – perfect on a warm day. Even the changing rooms are lavish (beautifully finished with oak and every need catered for). We tried their new signature treatment, the Hampshire Herbal Massage, which cleverly incorporates local herbs into the therapy.
Treatments from £60
Pennyhill Park, Surrey
There’s a long and impressive list of top spa awards for this 45,000 square foot retreat, which is set in 123 acres of Surrey parkland. No wonder: the spa includes a heated ceramic relaxation beds, massage chairs, ‘experience showers’, herbal saunas, steam room, ice cave, laconium, indoor and outdoor pools, and hot tubs. We recommend treatments too: the new ‘gold’ facial is incredible.
Treatments from £55