Choosing the right spa can be irksome. There’s nothing worse than looking forward to a serene and luxurious pamper and preen, only to arrive to find a sweaty old gym, packed Jacuzzi and a lowly treatment room stuck behind a curtain. Beware: there are lots of spa-lartans out there; common sports clubs in a spa-guise. The good news is state-of-the-art luxe spas are now abundant in the UK - you just have to know where to find them. Here are our favourites to ensure a perfect pampering experience...
The Ned Club Spa, Bank, London
The Ned is a renowned Bank hotspot, spa or no spa. Most associate the City location with its exclusive rooftop and pool, vast ground floor and restaurant offerings, at the centre of which a band often sits and plays along to the happy buzz of evening out-ers. If you're in-the-know though, you'll be all too aware of the haven that exists below ground too. Welcome to the Ned Club Spa.
Home to Ned's Parlour, Ned's Barbershop, a labyrinth of impeccably decorated treatment rooms and one of the most beautiful indoor pool areas London has to offer, the Ned's spa offering is impressive and then some. Walk from lift to reception and - instead of the usual white marble and glass-fronted cabinets loaded with all manner of beauty products you're unlikely ever to buy - you're bet with a drawing room style environment and fridges full of refreshments to perk you up after your treatment or a virtuous session at the gym.
Head to the changing rooms and prepare to nest. The square footage of these things rivals that of a Chelsea flat, meaning guests have plenty of space to walk around and change without having to bump shoulders. The showers play home to Soho House's in-house brand Cowshed, whose shower gels, body lotions, shampoos and conditioners are brimming with feel-good essential oils.
Facilities wise you've got the aforementioned 20 meter pool surrounded by loungers that were made for a nap, a wooden sauna, a marble steam room, a traditional Moroccan Hammam and eight treatment rooms. As for the treatment menu, choose from advanced iS Clinical facials (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is a huge fan of this brand), Dermalux light therapy (Kate Moss was pictured with her Dermalux LED face mask a few fashion weeks ago), de Mamiel facials and signature treatments that encompass lymphatic drainage massages, salt scrubs and beyond. The Ned Club Spa also offers one of the most extensive maternity treatment menus in London. Maternity massages come complete with pregnancy pillow and pregnancy-safe oils.
It's a spa that screams 'they think of everything' and elevates you're average day spa experience no end.
Cloud Twelve, Notting Hill, London
Hidden on a cobbled street away from the bustling streets of Notting Hill, Cloud Twelve is the ultimate oasis for escapism in London. Known for their wellness-focused lifestyle club, the new luxury spa on the second floor of this modern building is open to all. Ascending the stairs into Cloud Twelve's beautiful spa reception, you can already feel a sense of calm before any treatments even begin. Their brasserie - which is 100% vegan - features a creative menu of locally sourced, seasonal produce with an emphasis on sustainability, quality and service. Recently taken over by the UK’s largest vegan restaurant Erpingham House, I can personally recommend the chickpea taco (and Prosecco of course) - a delectable lunch before an afternoon of spiritual healing and relaxation.
I tried out the Treat Yourself Spa Day Package - which you can find the details of here - and found myself forgetting London even existed. Founded by professional naturopath Jenya Di Pierro, everything about Cloud Twelve's spa was created to emulate the perfect holiday escape. Walking through the romantically-lit hallway, you feel it even as you enter the luxurious changing rooms.
It's the relaxation area you feel most at peace though, featuring a steam room, sauna and Himalayan salt room - where salt particles are released into the atmosphere to cleanse the lungs, absorbing irritants allergens and toxins from the respiratory system. Then comes the treatments, where I'll admit I received full-body relaxation to the point of falling asleep.
A full body massage like no other, the treatment began with a foot scrub, followed by a sound healing. Laying on Cloud Twelve's new crystal massage bed, the sand moulds to your body and heats throughout the treatment (Can you blame me for nodding off?). Then, 60 minutes of pure bliss. As someone who regularly treats myself to a massage, I can safely say this was the best I've had - those stubborn shoulder knots of mine were gone within minutes.
Now, facials make me nervous. I have hormonal acne that can often look irritated by any slight inflammation. Under the watchful eye of Cloud Twelves expert staff? Those fears dissipated immediately. After the relaxing treatment - that included a much needed head massage - my skin looked rejuvenated, even and felt soft as ever.
Ultimately, I finished my spa day at Cloud Twelve wishing I could return every month for a 'fakeaway' of sorts - except by my definition, thats a fake getaway. Just a few short hours and every work worry, social stress and slight sign of London-living had left my mind and body. If you ever deserved a treat like this for Valentines Day, it's now.
Of course, I'm single and treated myself to a singles spa day - as we all should! - but if you'd prefer to attend with a loved one Cloud Twelve also offer a Valentine's Couple Spa Day Package , which you can find details of here.
Whether you're celebrating with your person or by yourself, you need to head down to Cloud Twelve this month!
Top Treatments: Full-body massage and The Katie Brindle facial
Spa products: Comfort Zone, Gaia and Hayo'u
Wildwood Spa, Ravendere Retreats, Devon
An award-winning retreat that boasts the title of 'possibly the UK’s smallest luxury spa', the Wildwood Spa may be small, but it's luxe levels are mighty.
Surrounded by 12 acres of private woodland with amazing valley views and set in an area of outstanding natural beauty on the North Devon coast, this secluded adult-only spa is everything you need to rest, relax and recharge from modern life.
Not a traditional spa in the sense of 'big hotel with lots of treatment rooms' the minimalist Nordic-inspired Wildwood spa, though, is a complete balm for the soul. Two luxury pods of a living room/kitchen (complete with cosy fire) and bedroom/bathroom (complete with projector screen, huge bath and indoor and outdoor showers) are connected by a private spa infinity pool, and above and behind a huge outside deck which boasts a cooking area, open fire, loungers, outdoor eating area and a private sauna.
If your hell is other people, then Wildwood is for you - aside from the duck couple in the stream on the other side of the valley, we need not have seen a soul for the entirety of our incredible, restful stay. We couldn't, however, resist a trip into a nearby town to grab some burgers for the outdoor grill - and another to spy the sea, just minutes from the cabin.
And if reading in peace, lying in beds watching films, playing board games and enjoying completely peaceful luxury isn't enough of a balm, you can also max things out by adding a private chef to the mix.
Spa treatments using Neal's Yard Remedies products are available to be ordered to come to your door, as well as reflexology and aromatherapy treatments.
And if the Wildwood Spa isn't available, there's a second retreat on site (though completely out of view) - The Treehouse is a hidden haven, nestled into four beech trees.
A trip to the Wildwood Spa is a trip to find your shoulders dropped several inches - complete rest, relaxation and luxury. A proper grown up treat. It's the perfect stay for anyone in need of a break from the real world and wants to re-enter it calmer and recharged.
Carden Park, Chester
Stepping onto the grounds of Carden Park feels like you have been transported to another world. I felt like I was on holiday - without the stress of baggage and departures. Walking up the winding staircase to Elements for a light lunch and morning refreshments, overlooking the grounds instantly put me at ease. I then maneuvered to the spa which was breathtaking. The rarity of sunshine on a crisp November day certainly helped. From the sprawling 1,000 acres of countryside, outdoor hot tubs, Finnish sauna and Aroma steam rooms means there is something for everyone. The freedom of both outdoor and indoor facilities created a unique interactive experience. The Spa Garden and Thermal Experiencesare truly one of a kind.
My spa day came to a close with an unforgettable treatment. I selected the Shimmering Body Ritual. The ritual opens with a nourishing scrub to exfoliate and feed the skin using a powerhouse of nutrients. After bringing new life to the skin and senses, the ritual ends with a back massage that focuses on releasing underlying stress in tight muscles. After the treatment I was free to unwind in a relaxation room. Any stress I walked in with on that day was left at the door. I walked out of Carden Park Spa feeling like a brand new woman.
However, just because the spa day came to an end - my magical experience with Carden Park was not over. For dinner, I was whisked a stones-throw away to gourmet restaurant, The Vines. The Vines is a truly elegant dining experience, headed by Executive Chef, Graham Tinsley MBE. I indulged in three spectacular courses with standout dishes; Quail Raviolo and Chateaubriand.
Top Treatments: Shimmering Body Ritual and
Spa products: Elemental Herbology and ESPA
Lucknam Park, Bath
The Lucknam Spa is set in a pretty, walled rose garden at the back of the Manor House. Its piece de resistance is an impressive indoor and outdoor saltwater hydro-pool with a hypnotic flickering fire-feature wall! Other facilities include thermal cabins, an aroma steam room a modern gym, nine treatment rooms and an outdoor Jacuzzi.
Top Treatments: Made-to-Measure Massage and Pro Lifting Facial.
Spa Products: Carita and Anne Semonin.
Bovey Castle, Dartmoor
The Elan at Bovey is housed in a beautiful Orangery. A glass surround swimming pool overlooks the magnificent views and rolling hills of Dartmoor National Park. Facilities include steam and sauna rooms, a Jacuzzi and seven treatment rooms.
Top Treatments: Optimal Skin Health Facial.
Spa Products: ESPA.
The Scarlet, Cornwall
The Scarlet is a stunning state-of-the-art eco-spa has a clifftop outdoor pool and hot tubs with panoramic views across the ocean. Facilities include indoor and outdoor pools, a serene tented treatment zone, a meditation room, Hammam and a Rhassoul for mineral mud treatments!
Top Treatments: Ayurvedic Therapy Massage and The Journey (a three hour super-treatment, including a bathing ritual, body scrub and massage).
Spa Products: Tri Dosha, Voya and The Scarlet Range.
The Scotsman, Edinburgh
Located in the city centre on the North Bridge between the new and old town, and housed in a beautiful old newspaper building, The Scotsman is renowned one the the most luxurious boutique hotels in Scotland. The uber-cool Scotsman Spa is situated just around the corner from the main hotel, facilities include a stunning stainless steel swimming pool, hydro-pool, steam room, seven treatment rooms and a relaxation area.
Top Treatments: An Oxygen Blast, A purifying oxygenating facial to protect against pollution and harmful free radicals. Marine Prelude, a detoxifying mud and marine body scrub and wrap to invigorate and improve circulation.
Spa products: Thalgo
Ockenden Manor Hotel & Spa, West Sussex
Set in an impressive wood and glass eco-building with woodland inspired interiors that bring the outside in is Ockenden Manor Hotel & Spa. Facilities include a spring water indoor and outdoor swim-through pool, rain showers, an outdoor hot-tub, manicure suite and yoga studio.
Top Treatments: Elemental Rebalancing Ritual.
Spa Products: Elemental Herbology.
Calcot Manor, Gloucestershire
Surrounded by lavender, rosemary bushes and the sprawling Cotswolds countryside, The Calcot Spa circles a bubbling outdoor hydro-pool and real fire for cosy winter spa-ing. Facilities include an indoor and outdoor pools, sauna and steam rooms, a manicure suite and indoor and outdoor relaxation areas.
Top Treatments: The Aromatherapy Associates Rose Indulgence Facial and Volcanic Hot Stone Massage.
Spa Products: Aromatherapy Associates and The Calcot Spa Brand.
Lime Wood, New Forest, Hampshire
Favourited by the rock royalty, and it’s easy to see why. Set on the edge of the New Forest the scenery at Lime Wood is simply breathtaking. The Herb House Spa is inspired by its forest surroundings. Facilities include an indoor and outdoor hydrotherapy pools. A swimming pool, aroma-steam room, mud treatment room and large sauna with woodland views.
Top Treatments: Forest Escape, an Ayuverdic herbal massage and Tri-Dosha Holistic Glow.
Spa Products: Bamford, Voya, Tri-Dosha and Aromatherapy Associates.
The Lowry, Manchester
An urban-chic, buzzing city spa overlooking the river Irwell. At The Lowry, the aroma of scented candles hits you as soon as you walk through the door, creating an air of calm to banish away the stress of the bussling city life outside. Facilities includetwo sauna rooms, a manicure suite, six candlelit treatment rooms, and two relaxation rooms with snugly beanbags.
Top Treatments: Elemis Skin Specific Facial and Lowry Signature Total Body Care.
Spa Products: Elemis, Ren.
Armathwaite Hall, Cumbria
A contemporary state-of-the-arte spa set in a 400 acre deer park overlooking the breathtaking Bassenthwaite Lake. At Armathwaite Hall, facilities include an outdoor hot-tub, thermal suite, hydrotherapy pool, wallow pool, aroma steam room, sauna, a manicure suite and ten treatment rooms.
Top Treatments: Thermae Ritual an all over body and facial hydrating therapy. Tranquil Lakes Signature Ritual, a whirlpool bath session followed by a full body and scalp massage.
Spa Products: Comfort Zone, Just Be.
The Grove, Hertfordshire
Known as ‘London’s Country Estate” and a favourite with The England football team, the Sequoia Spa is set in a tranquil walled garden within the estate. Facilities include a dimly-lit black mosaic swimming pool, a Jacuzzi, steam and sauna rooms and a saline vitality jet pool. Twelve Asian-inspired treatment rooms and indoor and outdoor relaxation rooms.
Top Treatments: Rose Ritual, a rejuvenating rosehip scrub followed by a warm rose and geranium oil massage. Cellular Renewal Enzyme Facial.
Spa Products: Espa.