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Take a break where the spa's the star

From taking the waters in Bath and Cheltenham to diamond facials, hot tubs and manicures for men, the art of pampering in the UK has come a long way
  • @lucygillmore

What's the attraction?

British spas have come a long way since "taking the waters" came into fashion in towns such as Bath and Cheltenham. Now every hotel worth its Dead Sea salts has a treatment room, if not a full-blown Roman tepidarium. Many treatments are tailored to our busy lives. Champneys (0843 316 2222; champneys. com) offers a Bamboo Massage for people who slouch at their desk all day (£65), while the Blue Harbour Spa at Wyndham Grand London (020-7823 3000; wyndhamgrandlondon.co.uk) has a VOYA Environmental Defence facial (£75), to combat pollution. Specialist booking agents include Health and Fitness Travel (0845 544 1936; healthandfitnesstravel.com) and spabreaks.com (0800 043 6600).


Who said that?

"To keep the body in good health is a duty... otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear." Buddha

"If the body be feeble, the mind will not be strong." Thomas Jefferson, US President

"Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop." Ovid, Roman Poet


Boot camp

Bovey Castle (0844 474 0077; boveycastle. com), a hotel in Dartmoor National Park, is offering a new five-day Weight Loss and Detox Break starting on 8 July with nutritionist Amanda Hamilton. The cost is £2,050 per person full board and includes a follow-up plan. Champneys (0843 316 2222; champneys.com), meanwhile, has introduced a boot camp taster weekend. The two-night Fit Camp Experience is available at Springs and Henlow and costs from £349.95 per person.


Learn to relax

Cornwall's luxury hotel and spa The Scarlet (01637 861 800; scarlethotel.co.uk) has a number of new wellbeing escapes. The three-night Learning the Art of Ayurvedic Massage break includes a massage lesson and a four-hour Spa Journey designed to suit your dosha type. You can then zone out in the Deep Relax Room's chrysalis-inspired sleeping pods, take a dunk in the outdoor reed-bed pool, or retire to the cliff-top hot tub for a seaweed soak. From £1,580 per couple, half board.


Private pampering

Book The Vean, a Georgian rectory near Gorran Haven in Cornwall, with friends. Three nights' self-catering (min 12 people, max 16) plus a 30-minute treatment per person costs £230 per person through The Big Domain (01237 426777; thebigdomain.com). Shortflatt Tower (01661 881804; shortflatttower.co.uk) in Northumberland has a spa in the former stables and seven bedrooms. Two-night weekend breaks here start at £550 per person. An Indulgence Hammam Ritual costs £85.


Journey to the source

Bath's Thermae Bath Spa (01225 331234; thermaebathspa.com) is the UK's only natural thermal spa. Bathe in the warm waters, relax in the aroma steam rooms or gaze out over Bath's skyline from the open-air rooftop pool. Its Ancient and Modern package costs £63.50 and includes a visit to the Roman baths, a three-course lunch or a champagne afternoon tea in the Georgian Pump Room, rounding off the experience with a two-hour session at Thermae Bath Spa.


Diamonds are a girl's best friend

To mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, the spa at Rudding Park Hotel (01423 871350; ruddingpark.co.uk), an elegant Regency mansion near Harrogate, is introducing a Carita facial that contains diamond dust. The spa, which opened last year, also has a hammam and steam room. Doubles from £144, including breakfast. The 80-minute facial costs £95.

In London, the Balinese-inspired Mandara Spa (020-7620 7300; mandaraspa.com), a day spa that opened last year, has a "Feel Like A Queen" package with a choice of three treatments from a manicure or pedicure, facial, massage and coconut body scrub. The package also includes a glass of champagne for £120; valid weekdays from 1 June-10 July.


King of the castle

A new spa is being launched next month at Ruthin Castle Hotel (01824 702664; ruthincastle.co.uk) in north Wales – based around the moat of the 13th-century castle. The treatment rooms are in the old scullery, with specially designed treatments that include a Welsh salt scrub and Welsh seaweed wraps. There will also be a sauna tent and alfresco hot tub looking out from the moat over the parkland. Doubles from £125, including breakfast.


Keep it in the family

The Como Shambala spa at The Metropolitan hotel in London (020-7447 5752; metropolitan.london.como.bz; doubles from £407) has "The Met Loves My Dad" package that includes a deep tissue massage, facial, hand scrub and nail tidy, for £130.

At the Balmoral Hotel's spa (0131 556 2414; thebalmoralhotel.com; B&B from £285) in Edinburgh expectant and nursing mothers can indulge in a three-hour Maternal Bliss package for £205. A mother and daughter programme at The Ritz (020-7300 2435; theritzlondon.com) in London offers Ritz-level pampering for £225 per couple; while Runnymede Hotel near Windor (01784 220960; runnymedehotel.com), offers teen-tailored treatments for £50 per person.


Insider information

"I launched Recovery Retreats, designed for people suffering from cancer, after one of our customers was unceremoniously turned away from a spa after ticking the cancer box on her consultation form. We send more than 2,000 people on spa days each week and one in three people have cancer at some stage in their lives. That's a lot of people needing well-deserved respite. Our next launch is Spa for All, which highlights venues and packages that cater to people with disabilities." Abi Wright, founder of Spabreaks.com