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Health & Fitness: The best UK spas for your long-term health and wellbeing

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There’s never been a more important time to put wellbeing at the top of your list and, while we understand that most people are trying to be frugal with their money, a spa day might be just what’s needed.

You might be thinking that this is one luxury you just can’t justify at the moment, however, regular spa attendance can be a good investment for long-term wellbeing.

In fact, the UK Spa Association says that while spa destinations tend to be viewed as a ‘once in a blue moon’ treat, they are in fact a health and wellbeing essential and regular attendance and treatments are as important to your physical and mental health as regular gym sessions.

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The British Beauty Council is trying to make these health benefits more widely known through its report, The Effects of Personal Care Services on Mental Health and Wellbeing.

‘The National Health Service (NHS) is clear that individual wellbeing has a significant impact on life expectancy, recovery from illness and is associated with positive health behaviours,’ says Millie Kendall, CEO of British Beauty Council. ‘Mental illness is a growing health crisis and poor mental health is also associated with physical health problems.

However, there is significant evidence that touch therapy (a therapeutic treatment in which the therapist physically touches the subject in a specific way), as well as massage, can help reduce mental health problems.

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There is also evidence that it can address fatigue, compromised immune issues, pre and post-menopausal problems and improve cancer therapy.’

Based on the report’s findings, touch and massage therapy could reduce mental health problems by ten per cent and sick days by 1.76 million.

However, spas also provide a sanctuary invoking peace and tranquillity and the facilities including steam, sauna, jacuzzi, and thermal suites all offer added health and wellbeing benefits for users, too.

With this is mind, here’s some of the best spas in the UK for you to peruse in the hope that you are able to invest in your long-term health.

Aqua Sana, Woburn Forest

The sensory spa is an award winner this year (Picture: Aqua Sana) © Provided by Metro The sensory spa is an award winner this year (Picture: Aqua Sana)

Having won the Best Spa For Wellness in the Good Spa Awards 2022, Aqua Sana Woburn Forest is a super-modern, glass and timber building set over 7,600 square metres.

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The 25 multi-sensory spa experiences are inspired by the natural world and split across six spa zones – Fire and Ice, Blossom, Herbal, Sensory, Mineral and Gemstone and Salt, with each zone offering relaxation areas, saunas and steam rooms.

On site there’s also a Japanese Zen Garden with reflexology stones to reduce tension and lower blood pressure, a sensory spa experience which uses a combination of atmospheric colours, lights, sensations, sounds, scents for ultimate relaxation, an intensely hot Lava Volcano Sauna, plus a heated outdoor spa pool with a massage jets.

Treatments use own brand products and Elemis and VOYA and there are wellness sessions, including Spa Discovery Sessions with skincare experts and Sleep Sessions for guided relaxation rituals.

Spa break accommodation is in a Luxury Spa Suite, which has direct access to the spa, a private balcony, hydrobath and views of the forest.

Luxury Spa Break (access to the spa on both days, lunch in Vitalé Café Bar on one day, £50 voucher for an evening meal, 55-minute VOYA Calm Seas Massage each, overnight stay and breakfast) from £290 per person

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Moddershall Oaks, Stoke-on-Trent

The ambience of a former farmhouse setting brings pure relaxation (Picture: Moddershall Oaks) © Provided by Metro The ambience of a former farmhouse setting brings pure relaxation (Picture: Moddershall Oaks)

This former farmhouse is surrounded by 72 acres of private land and its jewel is a 25sqm-outdoor heated vitality pool nestled in the spa’s courtyard surrounded by a bio ethanol fireplace and Kelo sauna (made from Kelo pine).

Inside you can do laps in the ten-metre crystal blue swimming pool, or relax in the steam room, which is infused with eucalyptus milk.

The hydrotherapy pool has two airbed loungers, heated tiled loungers, two water cannons and a volcano air pad, and there’s reflexology footbaths, experience showers and a Sleep Lounge if you need a quick power nap.

Spend the night in one of the boutique suites and you’ll get a private deck area and access to the outdoor hot tub.

On site, the Oak House offers lakeside dining, while the Balcony Bar overlooks the lake and woodlands for pre and post dinner aperitifs.

You can also opt for a game of tennis on the courts, time in the boutique gym, or a bike ride exploring the surroundings.

Tranquillity Spa Break (includes welcome drink, access to the spa on both days, 50-minute treatment each, two-course dinner, overnight accommodation and breakfast), from £450 (based on two sharing)

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The Spa at Pennyhill Park, Surrey

A pool with underwater music and a large jacuzzi – sign us up (Picture: Pennyhill Park) © Provided by Metro A pool with underwater music and a large jacuzzi – sign us up (Picture: Pennyhill Park)

The Spa at Pennyhill Park is set within 120 acres of parkland and is a 45,000 sq ft state-of-the-art facility. Inside, there’s the Ballroom pool, a 25m pool with underwater music and fibre optic lighting and a large jacuzzi.

There’s herbal saunas and an intense dry heat sauna, plus steam rooms and several laconiums, some large enough to do hot yoga inside. Foot spas and ceramic heated beds offer a moment of peace.

For ice therapy enthusiasts, there’s a plunge pool, ice igloo and drench bucket. Outside, there’s an 18m heated open-air pool and an indoor/outdoor hydrotherapy pool and three open-air Canadian Hot Tubs.

There are also 23 treatment rooms. The hotel is split over two parts with some rooms located in the original 19th century house. You can opt for a cosy modern room, suites with a four-poster bed, a self-catering cottage or even a room with an eight-man jacuzzi.

There’s the Michelin-starred Latymer restaurant, The Brasserie and the spa’s Themis Restaurant and you can book tennis, pistol shooting and archery.

Spa Escape (includes access to the spa, 60-minute treatment per person, £42 food voucher each for Hillfield restaurant, overnight stay and breakfast), from £719 (based on two guests sharing)

The Spa at The Headland Hotel, Cornwall

Clifftop views enhance the effect (Picture: Headland Spa) © Provided by Metro Clifftop views enhance the effect (Picture: Headland Spa)

Perched high on the edge of a cliff with coastal views across the Atlantic Ocean, the majestic Headland Hotel is a sight to behold.

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At The Headland Spa, facilities are surrounded by tumbled pebbles creating a soothing effect, and there’s a hydrotherapy pool with bubble seats and jets, plus a hot tub, Cornish salt steam room and Swedish sauna.

The Spa offers ELEMIS and VOYA treatments.

Next door to the hotel, The Aqua Club is an oasis of sleek curves and Cornish stonework. It has a 25-metre training pool, a children’s pool with water fountains and a mushroom shower, and a hydrotherapy pool to soothe aching muscles.

Outside you’ll find a Sunset Spa Pool overlooking the Atlantic, wrapped around by the Edge Pool – the perfect spot for a sunset cocktail.

The Vitality Pool with granite menhir centre, is surrounded by the sun terrace and the Mediterranean-inspired restaurant.

The main hotel offers 88 varieties of places to lay your head (it’s where Nicolas Roeg’s adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book, The Witches, was filmed by in 1990) and there are 39 self-catering cottages on-site, some with private hot tubs.

Spa-cation Break (includes access to the Aqua Club, glass of fizz, 55-minute treatment, two-course dinner in The Samphire Restaurant on your first night and a two-course lunch in The Terrace Restaurant on your second day, two night’s stay and breakfast on both mornings), from £800. Available until December 22

The Spa at Carden Park Hotel, Cheshire

1000 acres of relaxation (Picture: Carden Park Hotel) © Provided by Metro 1000 acres of relaxation (Picture: Carden Park Hotel)

Set on a 1,000-acre estate, The Spa at Carden cost £10m to build in 2020 and boasts one of the largest spa gardens in the UK. Awarded ‘Best New Spa’ in the Good Spa Guide 2020, it has won numerous awards since, and got a 5-bubble luxury rating in 2022.

Inside the 4,500sq m facility and garden you can drift between a vitality pool, heated relaxation beds, a Finnish sauna, a bio sauna (an exceptionally humid sauna), experience showers, tepidarium, salt steam and aroma steam rooms.

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The Spa Garden is the pièce-de-resistance with its panoramic sauna, outdoor hot tubs, thermal garden pods, outdoor vitality pool and fire pits.

A Bollinger bar offers manicures and pedicures, facials and make-up. In the hotel, there’s 197 bedrooms, two restaurants (one fine dining), and on site there’s two Championship golf courses and a three-acre vineyard where wine tastings and tours are available.

Gourmet Spa Stay (includes access to the spa, a 50-minute treatment, dinner in the gourmet restaurant, overnight stay and breakfast), from £355

The Spa at Bedford Lodge Hotel, Suffolk

Combining country and luxury – best of both worlds (Picture: Bedford Lodge Hotel) © Provided by Metro Combining country and luxury – best of both worlds (Picture: Bedford Lodge Hotel)

Housed in a Victorian property, this combines the charm of a country lodge with modern luxury.

It is surrounded by lavender fields and inside you’ll find a hydrotherapy pool with five water experiences, a rooftop hot tub overlooking the estate’s stables, a private Rasul steam room for mud treatments, experience showers, steam, sauna, hammam and an ice fountain.

There’s also a beauty room, with spa treatments inspired by ancient Ayurvedic healing, Chinese medicine and shamanic practices.

There’s also a gym and dance studio. The hotel, once a Georgian Hunting Lodge, has 80 bedrooms and the Squires Restaurant and Roxana Bar offer artistic décor and eclectic menus.

Modern Alchemy Break (access to the spa on both days, one course lunch in the Spa Lodge, 90-minute ESPA Modern Alchemy Ritual treatment each, ESPA gift set, bag and slippers to take home, dinner voucher for £35 per person. Overnight stay and breakfast), from £660 per couple

Titanic Spa, Sheffield

A carbon neutral building boasts renewable energy and solar panel roof panels (Picture: Titanic Spa) © Provided by Metro A carbon neutral building boasts renewable energy and solar panel roof panels (Picture: Titanic Spa)

If you’re looking for something with eco-creds, this restored 20th-century textile mill had £1.5m investment in 2005 to make it a carbon-neutral building.

It boasts renewable energy through solar roof panels, plus energy-efficient lighting and appliances and its own borehole providing Yorkshire water to the spa and apartments. In the spa, a 15m salt-regulated swimming pool takes centre stage, alongside a poolside sauna and steam room.

There’s also a Heat and Ice experience where guests can immerse themselves in the ritual of heating and cooling the body with herbal infusion rooms and a crystal steam bath, an ice room and plunge pools.

The Relaxation Lounge has large bean bags and beds next to a crackling fire, while outside there’s a sunken hot tub. The building’s apartment-style accommodation is typically split over two levels with 1-2 bedrooms, lounge area, TV, kitchen, dining area, bathroom and balcony.

It’s Simply Spa Break (includes access to the spa facilities, one course light lunch, two course dinner and overnight stay and breakfast), from £179 p/p

Still don’t think a spa day is worth it?

Here’s more about the mental and physical benefits

Mental

Gillian McMichael founded Full Circle Global (Picture: Supplied) © Provided by Metro Gillian McMichael founded Full Circle Global (Picture: Supplied)

‘Taking time-out to top up your tank is essential to your emotional and mental wellbeing,’ says Gillian McMichael, founder of Full Circle Global.

‘Most feel a day at the spa is a luxury treat and a special occasion but with more and more facing burnout, fatigue and general anxiety – we should be putting more R&R time in our diaries.

Life is about thriving, not just merely surviving and to do this well you need to learn that self-care Is NOT selfish.

When we are fatigued and stressed our body accumulates that stress and this can cause inflammation in the body.

Prolonged inflammation in the body can cause heart disease, diabetes, heart conditions and much more serious illnesses. I

nvesting in your self-care will allow your body to heal itself, reduce stress and increase relaxation. It can also improve your energy and alertness.’

Physical

Jenya Di Pierro founded Cloud Twelve (Picture: Supplied) © Provided by Metro Jenya Di Pierro founded Cloud Twelve (Picture: Supplied)

‘Chronic stress is responsible for over 1,400 chemical reactions in our body,’ says Jenya Di Pierro, founder of wellness club Cloud Twelve.

‘It increases blood pressure, causes weight gain, raises inflammation, creates free radicals and accelerates ageing.

Touch treatments like massage invigorate the parasympathetic nervous system, the “rest and digest mode,” crucial for vitality of the central nervous system, and facilitate motion in the lymphatic system so are great for cleansing your body of toxins, pathogens and other harmful substances.

Spa facilities offer a deeper level of detoxification, while infrared therapy can enhance production of collagen and elastin and salt therapy and thermal zones can aid in relieving respiratory ailments such as asthma and clearing skin conditions like eczema and acne.’

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The road to wellness: Predictions of which health trends will be hot in 2023 .
Experts give their forecasts of what we will be doing next year.From ice baths and body tracking to nootropic stacking and treadmill inclines, there is something that everyone could reap the benefits from.

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