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Good Spa Guide 2021: the winners roadtested

An expert guide to the UK's award-winning spas…

Sally Morgan

After a whirlwind year in and out of lockdown restrictions, it's safe to say we're all in desperate need of some serious R&R. With weeks to go before the end of the year, why not escape the crisp autumn days and chilly winter nights with a pampering daycation at these award-winning spas?

READ: 13 best things to do in autumnal London this October

HELLO! writers have roadtested the Winners of the Good Spa Guide Awards 2021, an exclusive roundup of the UK's favourite spas and award-winning treatments to see if they live up to the hype.

Discover our expert guide and fuel your spa retreat inspiration…

 

Aqua Sana Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire 

Aqua-Sana-Sherwood-Forest-Treetop

It’s no surprise that this impressive, newly-refurbished woodland-inspired spa in the heart of Sherwood Forest was voted winner of the Best Day Spa by the 2021 Good Spa Guide Awards.

Striking a fine balance between spacious and cosy, with two floors and six zones - including Treetop Escape, Treetop Nesting and Forest Immersion on the first floor, to Volcanic Forest, Nordic Forest and Hot Springs on the ground floor – it offers hot and cold experiences ranging from a heated outdoor pool and soothing relaxation areas

There is no shortage of relaxing experiences to try, including the delightful treehouse sauna, which offers a stunning view of untouched nature outside.

As well as foot spas and steam rooms, you can also tip-toe to one of the outdoor hot tubs which are perfect to sink into on a chilly day. The spa's dedication to rest and relaxation also comes in the form of many snug pods which are laden with cushions and blankets so that guests can settle down undisturbed with a book or take a nap. 

Treatments take place in another section of the spa, where therapists offer anything from a Swedish Body Massage to an Elemis Pro-Collagen Age Defy Facial that will leave you feeling calm and revitalised.

To satisfy your hunger pangs, head to the Vitale Café Bar and sample tempting Mediterranean dishes such as pasta, flatbreads, salad and paninis, washed down with a chilled glass of Prosecco. 

If one day in this delightful ambience is not enough, experience the ultimate in relaxation by booking a Spa Break in one of Aqua Sana’s five comfortable apartments.

To book your spa stay. visit www.aquasana.co.uk

MORE: Not thought about your Christmas staycation yet? This hotel has you covered

The Spa at Pennyhill Park, Surrey

Pennyhill

Nestled in 120 acres of parkland just outside London but a world away from the bustle of the city, Pennyhill Park is an oasis of calm and the perfect spot for a relaxing spa day or staycation.

Voted Best Hotel Spa by the 2021 Good Spa Guide Awards, this five-star country house hotel has a heated outdoor pool surrounded by comfy loungers and black marble hot tubs, while inside there’s another luxurious 25-metre ballroom pool featuring underwater music, thermal cabins, saunas, herbal steam rooms and a hydrotherapy pool, as well as a cold plunge pool and an ice igloo for those wanting to feel invigorated. 

Treatments include detoxifying scrubs and mud wraps; luxury facials enriched with gold, caviar and pearl; anti-ageing treatments; hot stone and essential oil massages; and a range of hand, foot and beauty treatments. 

There are various spa break packages on offer, with a variety of stylish rooms and suites and top-notch restaurants to choose from. Each of the 124 rooms is individually designed and furnished, from the traditional period styles in the main house to The Granary, a two-storey stand-alone suite that overlooks the pool area showcases exposed beams and a lovely free-standing copper bath in the bedroom. 

Meanwhile, dining can be as fancy or as casual you like. Lily Pond Terrace is lovely for an alfresco lunch, while you can enjoy afternoon tea at the bar or a healthy breakfast or lunch inside the spa without changing out of your bathrobe. The new bistro-style Hillfield restaurant serves local produce such as Surrey spring shoulder of lamb hotpot as well as Cornish crab and lobster, while Latymer, tucked away in one of the oldest corners of Pennyhill Park’s original house, offers award-winning Michelin starred fine dining that includes a six-course tasting menu with paired wines.

To book your spa stay, visit www.exclusive.co.uk/pennyhill-park/

The Spa at Carden, Cheshire

Autumn-Spa-Garden

Situated amongst 1,000 acres of the glorious Cheshire countryside, Carden Park Hotel offers everything from two championship golf courses, its own three-acre vineyard, four restaurants and bars, and most importantly, luxurious spa facilities.

The multi award-winning Spa at Carden has proven itself to be a blissful relaxation retreat, complete with panoramic views across the stunning Cheshire landscape and an all-weather Bollinger bar, so you can sip cocktails while you unwind in the hot tub – what's not to love? 

The multisensory garden also offers a large swimming pool and enclosed warming pods and saunas, while those who prefer to stay indoors can slip into relaxation in one of the saunas, steam rooms, or during one of the luxurious spa treatments. For the ultimate escape from a busy lifestyle, indulge in a revitalising Head and Heart massage and facial. Soothing rhythmic movements on the upper back, neck, shoulders and head are combined with a calming facial to form a sense of deep relaxation.

Most notable is Carden Park Hotel's latest dining addition, The Vines. Led by Executive Chef Graham Tinsley MBE, former manager of the Welsh Culinary Team, this exquisite dining experience is truly unforgettable. With a menu formulated from the very best local ingredients and perfectly paired wines, cocktails and after-dinner drinks, The Vines promises to be: "an elegant space that elevates your dining experience".

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To book your spa stay, visit www.cardenpark.co.uk

Seaham Hall, Durham

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Set on a cliff above the dramatic Durham coast, this striking white Georgian hote is home to the award-winning Serenity Spa, a luxurious wellness retreat inspired by healing rituals from the Far East.

Whether your aim is to energise or calm your senses, the facilities and treatments in this Feng Shui designed spa have been specially created to nurture and harmonise mind, body and soul. 

Bask in the heat of the Indian steam room, the Asian herbal saunarium and the hammam, then immerse yourself in the warm bubbles of the jacuzzi. You can cool down in between with a swim in the 20-metre pool, or by sampling the refreshing ice fountain and braving one of the cold plunge pools – an experience that’s sure to make you tingle from top to toe.

Even in the cooler months you can venture outside to the Zen Garden to experience the bubbly hot tubs or the infinity hydrotherapy pool, and cosy up in a fluffy white robe next to the firepit.

You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to treating yourself to a treatment or two. A tempting spa menu includes holistic therapies, reflexology, personalised hypnotherapy, and sublime massages and facials, such as the delicious Temple Spa Champagne and Truffles Deluxe facial.  

After you’ve been well and truly pampered, chill out with a cool glass of fruit-infused water or grab forty winks in one of the three relaxation areas. Recline on one of the waterbeds, doze off in the Zen Lounge or slumber on a bed under the caring gaze of Shanti, the life-size elephant sculpture that stands at the end of a tunnel linking the spa to the main hotel.

There are 21 exquisite spacious suites featuring high ceilings, luxury bathrooms, pillow menus and king size beds for overnight guests, while the swanky dining room offers a North Sea inspired menu, and the Ozone restaurant continues the spa’s Eastern theme with spicy Pan-Asian cuisine.

To book your spa stay, visit www.seaham-hall.co.uk

Rockliffe Hall, Darlington

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Rockliffe Hall is an elegant five-star hotel retreat exhibits one of the largest, most luxurious award-winning spas in the UK. Set in 365 acres, the spa commands stunning views of the vast country estate where enjoyment, rejuvenation and relaxation are of the essence.

Subtly combining inside with outside, the sumptuous Spa Garden has a heated infinity-edge outdoor pool where you can experience a hydrotherapy massage before stretching out on the heated contoured tepidarium beds alongside it.

There’s also an outdoor hot tub to invigorate the senses and a glass-fronted sauna to bask in the heat while gazing out at the greenery that surrounds you.

With its penetrating dry heat, the indoor Roman sauna in a wood-lined cabin is the perfect place to soothe aching muscles, and to deep-cleanse the skin, immerse yourself in the moist heat of the tropicarium or the aromatic oils of the caldarium.

For an exhilarating boost to the circulation, grab a handful of ice flakes from the igloo and gently massage them over your hot skin. Signature treatments and experiences include holistic spa rituals, bespoke massages and facials, and the exquisite Rockliffe Hall ‘Body Bliss’ – a top to toe treatment that comprises an Indian head massage, a chakra balancing back massage using hot poultices, and a blissful foot ritual.

Overnight spa seekers stay in spacious, stylish rooms designed to bring tranquillity and the ultimate in comfort, set in rural surroundings. Sporty guests can also try tennis, cycling, croquet and the 18-hole golf course, while food and wine lovers will experience a gastronomic sensation in the 4 AA Rosette Orangery restaurant and tailored tasting sessions in the underground wine cellars.

To book your spa stay, visit www.rockliffehall.com

The Lanesborough Club and Spa, London

Lanesborough-Club-Spa-Room-Hydro-Pool

Winner of The Best Urban Spa in the 2021 Good Spa Guide Awards, the spa at The Lanesborough provides the perfect escape from the pressures of city life. Set within the Regency splendour of one of London’s grandest hotels, its glossy Art-deco interiors, marble floors, gold mirrors and dark-panelled wood exude opulence and give it the wow factor.

Soft lighting in the spa lounge, which features a flickering fire and comfy armchairs, helps you instantly relax away from the hubbub of the busy streets only feet away, and you can summon a spa butler for refreshments at the press of a button. 

Luxuriate in the hydro pool, which offers water pressure points you can control, and relax on one of the large loungers next to it. There is a steam room and sauna, and the spacious women’s changing room boasts dressing tables with beauty products and private shower cubicles.

Treatments are carried out in palatial Grecian-style rooms and include an array of experiences such as amethyst wraps, pearl and jasmine scrubs and specialist designed brand massages and facials with an emphasis on organic and natural ingredients.

To book your spa stay, visit www.lanesboroughclubandspa.com

To discover more about the UK's favourite spas, visit The Good Spa Guide.

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