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Best spa hotels in Yorkshire for a relaxing 2023 escape

From five-star luxury estates to idyllic rural hideaways, here are the best places to relax and recharge

Jenny Elliott
Thursday 15 June 2023 10:56 BST
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<p>The outdoor infinity pool at Coniston Hotel overlooks rolling hills and a tranquil lake </p>

The outdoor infinity pool at Coniston Hotel overlooks rolling hills and a tranquil lake

It should be no surprise that a UK county famed for its pudding, tea and KitKat bars holds a fair few secrets to living well. Although locals may have a down-to-earth, no-fuss reputation, don’t be fooled; Yorkshire folk have pampering down to a fine art, with many of the region’s idiosyncratic country manors and grand stately homes having been transformed into palaces of wellness and relaxation.

What’s more, alongside the cutting-edge hydrotherapy pools, revitalising treatments and all-round hospitality, Yorkshire has plenty more to feed the soul. After all, this is where you can follow in the Brontës’ footsteps over heather-strewn moors, chancing upon pretty waterfalls. And Yorkshire’s vast size means there are also sandy coves, brooding ruins and handsome high streets to explore.

So, if you are looking for an indulgent UK spa break with the possibility of adventure, Yorkshire’s spa hotels need to feature heavily on your wish list. Here are 10 of the best, whether you’re looking to stay in the city, country or by the coast.

Best spa hotel for couples: Rudding Park

Location: Follifoot, near Harrogate

Rudding Park has an outdoor hydrotherapy pool and a 17m indoor pool

Rudding Park’s pioneering spa shows how much has changed since Victorian wellness-seekers flocked to nearby Harrogate to glug its sulphurous spring waters. Following an extension to the main 19th-century manor house, you can now lounge on the stylish rooftop garden, flitting between the hydrotherapy infinity pool, herbal steam rooms, oxygen pod and panoramic sauna. Inside is a 17m pool, plus 11 treatment rooms, including a VIP hideaway with a copper spa bath for two.

Bedrooms are crisp and contemporary; some come with their own private steam room or sauna. Top off a day of relaxation with dinner at the 3-AA-Rosette Horto Restaurant, which serves seasonal ingredients grown in the kitchen garden.

Best spa hotel for foodies: Middlethorpe Hall and Spa

Location: York

Feel like Lord and Lady of the manor in this 31-bedroom country house hotel

There’s not a whiff of a gift shop at this National Trust property. Instead, this country house and gardens – once home to 18th-century diarist Lady Mary Wortley Montagu – is a luxury 31-bedroom hotel where you can waft down grand staircases and nibble your way through afternoon tea, surrounded by antiques and gilt-framed portraits.

The boutique spa sits within two Edwardian cottages and includes a surprisingly generous pool, three treatment rooms, a sauna and steam room. Treat yourself to the seasonal six-course tasting menu at the hotel’s 2 AA Rosette restaurant. Alternatively, York’s cobbled centre is a two-mile stroll away and home to a medley of top-class restaurants. Book well in advance to snag a table at Tommy Bank’s Michelin-starred Roots.

Best spa hotel for walkers: Swinton Park Hotel

Location: Nidderdale, near Masham

Swinton Park Hotel is located on a 20,000 acre estate

This turreted country pile makes a perfect escape if you’re keen to alternate deep-tissue massages with bracing country walks. The 20,000-acre Swinton Estate is furrowed with footpaths – choose between the gentle loops around the gardens and more strenuous strolls, including out to Masham, to weigh up the relative merits of the town’s two breweries. Not that there’s a lack of entertainment back at the digs, with yoga classes, falconry experiences and a fishing school all vying for a spot in your itinerary.

Somewhat in contrast to the pretty florals and plaids in the 42 sizable bedrooms, the spa sits in a separate block and is polished and sleek. Recharge at the 18m indoor pool, smaller hydrotherapy pool and scented steam room. Or, on sunny days, plunge into the wild swimming lake.

Best spa hotel for shopping: The Grand

Location: York

The Grand’s treatment menu includes cutting-edge cryogenic face masks

The Grand pulls off the neat trick of combining five-star glamour with easygoing charm. The high-end spa is cosseted within the vaults of the gorgeous Edwardian building, first constructed as a railway company headquarters. Any traces of tattered timetables have been swept away, though, to make room for a luxe 14m swimming pool, spa whirlpool, Nordic dry sauna and steam room. Treatments include cutting-edge cryogenic face masks and detoxifying mud wraps.

You’re handy here for the station and York’s timeworn centre, where you’ll discover a hurly-burly mix of big brands, indie boutiques, antique stores and open-air markets clustered within medieval city walls. Return for afternoon tea on the terrace.

Best five-star luxury spa hotel: Grantley Hall

Location: Yorkshire Dales, near Ripon

Grantley Hall was named the AA’s 2022 English Hotel of the Year

It seems fitting that Grantley Hall’s Three Graces Spa was named after Canova’s tribute to Zeus’s daughters (those bestowers of elegance, mirth and beauty). After all, this marble-clad sanctuary – concealed within the AA’s 2022 English Hotel of the Year – has plenty to make you feel at your most poised, carefree and radiant, including a collonaded swimming pool, indoor-to-outdoor hydrotherapy pool and sauna and snow rooms.

Not that the five-star pleasures stop there. This 47-bedroom Palladian hotel also has a rather greedy choice of excellent dining options, with Shaun Rankin’s Michelin-starred restaurant leading the five-strong pack. Just make time to roam the grounds; you’re sure to stumble upon a little extra zen in the English Heritage-listed Japanese garden.

Best budget spa hotel: Waterton Park Hotel

Location: Wakefield

Waterton Park Hotel sits on its own dinky island in a nature reserve

Waterton Park Hotel sits at the heart of what is believed to have been the world’s first nature reserve. By wandering down to the lake shore, you can still spot an ensemble of waterfowl, as well as the odd curious stoat. The 63 modern rooms range from cosy to sprawling and are divided between the main lakeside building and the Georgian manor perched on its own dinky island.

Wallow in the indoor pool or hit your stride in the gym while gorging on views over the water towards broadleaf woodlands. The spa offers ESPA facials and whole-body treatments. This is also an ideal base for some invigorating culture: the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and The Hepworth Wakefield are both less than a 15-minute drive away.

Best dog-friendly spa hotel: The Devonshire Arms Hotel & Spa

Location: Bolton Abbey, Skipton

The Devonshire Arms offers luxury for humans and dogs

A major draw of this 40-bedroom country house hotel is its position on the beautiful Bolton Abbey Estate, home to 12th-century ruins and a procession of riverside and woodland paths. And what with the hotel being able to provide doggy treats, a hot outdoor bath and mini four-posters for pooches, it seems sensible to bring waggy-tailed family members along.

You’ll find the spa here in a converted barn, where choices include a splash in the hydrotherapy pool, a session in the gym or an anti-inflammatory CBD skin-booster facial. Come evening, book a table at the 3 AA Rosette Burlington Restaurant to sample the innovative modern British menu alongside local foodies.

Best market-town spa hotel: Feversham Arms Hotel & Verbena Spa

Location: Helmsley

The outdoor pool at The Feversham arms is heated and there’s a hot tub nearby, too

Situated in the North York Moors National Park, Helmsley has everything you’d want from a town: interesting indie shops and top-notch restaurants cluster around its handsome market square. Plus, there’s a community-minded arts centre, some great pubs and the ruins of a 900-year-old castle.

The popular Feversham Arms Hotel sits amid the attractions, and, although you wouldn’t expect it from its traditional sandstone exterior or refined country-style rooms, a showstopping heated pool and accompanying hot tub awaits in the courtyard. Slink over to the spa for a wellness class or thermal experience; signature treatments draw on the healing properties of herbs grown in Helmsley Walled Garden.

Best coastal spa hotel: Raithwaite Sandsend

Location: Sandsend, near Whitby

Enjoy Temple Spa treatments just a 10-minute walk from the sea

If you’re keen to emerge from your wellness bubble to take the sea air, this woodland retreat, a 10-minute walk from the blonde sweep of Sandsend beach, is just the ticket. You’ll find restful taupes and crisp white linens in the bedrooms, many of which have balconies. And the uncluttered airy feel continues in the Brasserie, which serves up elegant plates packed with flavour, often featuring fresh fish from Whitby’s bustling harbour.

Circuit between the steam room, the sauna and the indoor heated pool in the garden-set spa. Treatments range from express facials to longer bespoke experiences using Temple Spa products.

Best spa hotel for countryside views: The Coniston Hotel Country Estate & Spa

Location: Gargrave, near Skipton

Enjoy outdoor baths overlooking the Yorkshire Dales

Wrapped in a rambling 1,400-acre estate, The Coniston Hotel encourages you to relish Yorkshire’s scenic delights. The glut of activities includes cycling through undulating countryside stitched together by dry-stone walls. Meanwhile, at The View restaurant, you can sit back and admire the bucolic landscape while munching on locally sourced dishes, such as venison served with rhubarb chutney and red onion tart.

Having recently undergone a revamp, it’s the spa that really makes the most of the hotel’s position on the edge of the Dales. Inside, you can opt for a range of treatments and ritual experiences, using products by Aromatherapy Associates and Ishga. While outside, the heated infinity pools make ideal sentry spots to witness the sun sink behind the hills.

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