By Rose Shepherd
Christmas looms so large at this time, it can be hard to see beyond it, but we know that, by the New Year, we all feel in need of a boost to our wellbeing, and a hotel break with spa treatments or country or seaside walks could be just the thing to revive us. Here are some Guide favourites for a restorative stay, from the Devon coast to the Scottish Highlands, from the Cotswolds to Snowdonia.
Historic and dog friendly, this hotel offers top-to-toe treatments in its oasis spa, with pool, sauna, steam room, drench showers and state-of-the-art techno gym. You might opt for a salad lunch in the spa bar before climbing Beacon Hill and ascending to the roof platform of the eccentric Georgian folly that is Broadway Tower, the highest point in the Cotswolds. If that’s too taxing, simply roam the surrounding deer park. Return for a dinner of locally sourced dishes, including tempting vegetarian options.
Standing on a bluff above the Thames, in glorious National Trust gardens and parkland, this Italianate ducal stately home is perfect for a spa break, just a short drive from Central London. It isn’t cheap but it’s splendid, its opulent public spaces filled with antiques and artworks. In the former drawing room, now the dining room, overlooking an 18th-century parterre, creative menus are 30 percent plant based, so they are perfect for Veganuary.
Winter is a great time to visit the New Forest, for a bracing walk or bike ride through ancient woodland, with less traffic and fewer visitors than in high season, while a spa day or stay at this classy hotel is a fantastic tonic. There are forest views from the techno gym, personal trainers, fitness classes, yoga, cardio, Pilates, mindful meditation… Check the timetable to see what appeals. You can lunch super-healthily in Raw and Cured; dine on locally sourced Italian-inspired dishes in Hartnett & Holder.
Fell walks or Lakeland rambles, and Michelin-starred dining courtesy of talented chef Hrishikesh Desai, await at this luxury hotel. The dilemma is whether to dine tapas style on pan-Asian dishes in Gilpin Spice, more formally on locally sourced modern British dishes in HRiSHi, or on classics in the new Gilpin Grill. There is a wide choice of spa treatments, 22 rooms have their own private hot tub, and some have a private ensuite spa.
For a breath of North Sea air on Durham’s Heritage Coast, this Georgian mansion-turned-hotel is just ten minutes from the beach. Facilities in the exceptional Serenity Spa include an Asian herbal sanarium, hydrotherapy pool, ice fountain, plunge pools and eucalyptus steam room, while, in the fitness studio, there is a choice of classes, with personal trainers on hand. Light dining in Ozone includes curries, stir fries and tapas, or opt for fine dining on locally, ethically sourced dishes in the Dining Room.
A hotel with a Pudding Bar and dessert taster menu might not sound like the obvious place to launch yourself into the New Year, but maybe you’ve resolved to give yourself some treats in 2023, so start as you mean to go on! You can always take a walk on the beach or South West Coast Path, or swim laps of the pool to burn the calories. A relaxed ambience, smart bedrooms, spa treatments and sea views lift the spirit. The menu includes vegetarian and gluten-free options, and a hotel that styles its breakfast the ‘rise and shine menu’ invites you to start the day on an upbeat.
Blow the cobwebs away with a stroll along the loch shore from this Victorian hunting lodge on a wooded estate. Some bedrooms have a loch view, perfect for seal watching; three are dog friendly, so you don’t need to leave your best friend at home. Walkers and hikers are in their element. The dinner menu is short (three courses, three choices), with produce from the walled garden, estate and loch. If you’re committed to a dry January, look away now, while we mention the 250 whiskies in the Liberator Bar.
Set on Pydew Mountain, in 200 acres of landscaped gardens and wooded parkland, with stirring views to Snowdonia, this Elizabethan mansion is run by the National Trust as a first-rate hotel. A short walk away, the spa has an indoor pool with spa bath and steam room, a gym and treatment rooms. Bedrooms are presented in traditional country house style. There is fine dining in the restaurant from Wednesday to Sunday, with simpler fare on Monday and Tuesday night; vegan and vegetarian menus are available on request.
See more of our favourite hotels with spas