The dreamiest spa hotels in the UK to check in to for a truly indulgent retreat
When it comes to total rest and relaxation, nothing compares to checking into a luxurious spa hotel for a spoiling weekend away. From a private island on the Thames to a horticultural haven in Somerset, there’s a plethora of options to choose from to suit every whim, with everything from rejuvenating treatments and out-of-this-world swimming pools to spine-tingling hammams and botanical remedies on offer. Here’s our edit of the best spa hotels in the UK to book into this summer.
If you’re looking to take in Bath’s legendary healing waters but aren’t keen on sharing your soak with hordes of tourists, you’ll need to book a room at The Gainsborough Bath Spa, the only hotel to have exclusive access to the world famous, mineral-rich thermal waters.
Originally built in the 1800s and spread across two Grade II-listed buildings with sophisticated Georgian and Victorian façades, the hotel itself is one of the most elegant in Bath, with a grand marble-clad foyer and majestic sweeping staircase greeting you as you arrive. The rooms are smartly appointed and celebrate the property’s period features, with enormous windows overlooking the city’s main square below.
To make the most of those magical springs book one of the Bath Spa rooms, which come with direct access to the thermal waters straight from the indulgent roll-top bathtub, as well as scented candles and bath salts for the ultimate soak. Just off the lobby is the Dan Moon at The Gainsborough restaurant, where seasonal, locally sourced produce is used to create delicate, beautifully presented dishes. The neighbouring Canvas Room, with its Art Deco-inspired mirrored walls and sumptuous sofas, is the ideal spot for afternoon tea.
While the hotel, right in the centre of town, is enough of a draw in itself, the award-winning Spa Village is its crowning glory. Bathed in natural light from the glass atrium perched above the Bath House, the serene space is split across two levels, with impressive stone columns leading into the main thermal bath, which has soothing Jacuzzi jets and waterfalls to pummel tight shoulders.
The bathing circuit also incorporates two smaller pools, each heated at slightly different temperatures, as well as two saunas, an ice alcove and a steam room. It’s easy to lose entire afternoons meandering around before heading off to one of the 11 treatments rooms for an hour of bliss. Afterwards, it’s up to the relaxation terrace to settle in with a pot of herbal tea and gaze out over the waters – the perfect antidote to Bath’s hustle and bustle.
The spa treatment to book: The Ginger Renewal. Starting off with an invigorating full body exfoliation, this treatment makes the most of ginger’s healing properties, with a pampering back, neck and shoulder massage using organic ginger oil and warm healing stones. Finish off by relaxing in a cocoon wrap as a foot and pressure point scalp massage completes this tranquil 90-minute treatment.
It took six years and a multi-million-pound budget, but the renovation of The Langley, the former country estate of the third Duke of Marlborough in the heart of Buckinghamshire which reopened to much fanfare in summer 2019, was more than worth the wait. The sweeping driveway, grand stone façade and double staircase leading up to the front door all make for a majestic arrival. Inside, the entrance hall’s mosaic floor, gleaming chandeliers and plush wingback armchairs set the tone for modern country glamour.
The hotel’s bedrooms are split between the Duke’s former hunting lodge and adjacent 18th-century Brew House. Rooms in the latter have a more rustic aesthetic, while the ones in the main house offer contemporary cosiness. All reference the richness of the property’s past, with specially-designed furniture and elegant touches such as Hermès toiletries in the indulgent bathrooms. Not to mention glorious views of the lake or park, especially from the most opulent room, The Duke of Marlborough Suite.
While the setting is enough of a lure, the spectacular subterranean spa – featuring a next-level treatment menu by Sisley and other pioneering brands – steals the show. Combining striking design with first-class facilities, hours can be lost in this 1,600 square meter wellness hub with its marble-lined 16-metre pool, extensive thermal area, five treatment rooms, private VIP suite and state-of-the-art gym with Matt Roberts personal training facility.
Upstairs in the Cedar restaurant, food is seasonally driven and meticulously presented, fusing influences including Italian, Peruvian and Japanese, and the neighbouring Drawing Room is the ideal setting for afternoon tea. Then, of course, there’s the Churchill Bar, which is made for winter nightcaps – and Instagram.
The spa treatment to book: The Langley Signature Hammam Ritual. From the full-body exfoliation and skin-nourishing rassoul honey wrap to the spine-tingling hair wash and top-to-toe massage using the spa’s signature blend of shea butter and organic oils, it’s 150 minutes of pure bliss.
The only way to reach Monkey Island is by walking over a little pedestrian bridge, while staff – who appear as if by magic – look after your luggage. This tiny private island, perched on a sleepy stretch of the Thames in Bray, started life as a fishing retreat for the Duke of Marlborough in the early 18th century and has long been the playground of a cosmopolitan crowd. Some 300 years later, and after extensive refurbishment by hotel titans YTL, the two Grade I-listed pavilions have reopened as a boutique bolthole.
Monkey Island’s restaurant, in a gleaming white Palladian building, is overseen by Will Hemming, formerly of The Savoy and Simpson’s in the Strand, who eschews tasting menus for a concise list of dishes incorporating island-grown and Berkshire produce, while the solid wine list takes the new world as seriously as the old world. Afterwards, take your digestif in The Monkey Room and marvel at the playful primate-inspired 17th-century frescoes.
The well-appointed rooms are a stroll away, either attached to the Temple or in a converted barn, surrounded by manicured gardens overlooking the river. The star of the show is the Wedgewood Suite, with its intricate blue and white hand-plastered ceiling, a dressing room and a window seat with its own whisky stash (Monkey Shoulder, naturally).
Pleasingly, you can’t escape the water here and it’s been used to full advantage at the island’s spa, which is housed on a barge bobbing on the shoreline. Inspired by the Apothecaries’ Barge, which was moored on the Thames in Chelsea in the 17th century, the treatments incorporate herbal remedies, botanical liqueurs and elixirs – and many use new British skincare brand Moss of the Isles. You’ll leave feeling very reluctant to walk back over the bridge and into the real world.
The spa treatment to book: The Monk’s Elixir is a 90-minute treatment which taps into the island’s monastic past (the island was once known as “Monk’s Eyot”). Begin with a tasting flight of botanical elixirs, before the deep tissue massage using house-made oils from herbs grown in the hotel’s Experimental Teahouse.
South African hoteliers Koos Bekker and Karen Roos spent six years transforming honey-coloured Hadspen House (the seat of the Hobhouse family since the late 18th century) into a hotel. The result is a suitable marriage of Georgian scale and contemporary finish and, while rooms are individually designed, the general feel is of Austen-era romance: four-poster beds, roll-top baths and low-slung beams. The Garden View Rooms are lovely, with idyllic vistas, fireplaces and complimentary mini larders; but our favourite has to be the Granary, a self-contained suite in the stable yard with exposed brick walls, a wood-burning stove and dove-coloured throws (perfect once the dark nights draw in).
The spa is done out in the same rustic register, with timber and brick massage rooms and an indoor/outdoor pool. It’s all so comfortable you might be tempted to stay inside, but if you do, you’ll miss out on 300 acres of formal gardens – complete with an apple tree maze – and gentle Somerset countryside, as well as clean-living country diversions like croquet, fishing, falconry and riding.
The estate is a working farm, so much of the produce is local and sourced on site. The Garden Cafe, a glass-fronted Grand Designs-esque structure that overlooks the orchards, uses ingredients from the eight-acre kitchen garden and aims for zero waste, while the Cyder Bar serves cider made with apples from the 3,000 trees onsite, alongside sausage rolls and pastries from the hotel’s bakery. You can even top your breakfast porridge with a helix of honey from its very own bees.
The spa treatment to book: The 60-minute Apothecary Facial uses a blend of botanical oils on your skin to nourish and hydrate; it’s like falling asleep in a garden full of flowers.