Six of the best: British spas


Situated on more than 15 hectares of landscaped gardens in a striking clifftop location with views out over Durham's coast line; Seaham Hall has attracted the famous and fashionable since the 18th century. Case in point, Lord Byron, who chose the hall as the venue for his wedding back in 1815. Since then, this stately Georgian pile has continued to impress, most recently with its multi-awarded Serenity Spa.  This contemporary Thai-influenced complex includes a 20-metre pool, sauna, solarium, steam room, 17 treatment rooms, plunge pools, a hamman and outdoor hot tubs; all guaranteed to satisfy even the most demanding of spa-hounds. Eating options span the casual pan-Asian spa lunch spot, Ozone, alongside fine dining restaurant, Byron's, in the main hotel. For overnighters, there are 23 chic suites to choose from, the newest of which is also the most grand. Named after Byron's daughter, Ada Lovelace, the split-level suite features an elevated sleeping mezzanine and a sizeable bathing deck perfect for two. A double room starts at $370 a night.



You can't put together a spa hotel round-up and not include a property in Britain's  most famous spa town of Bath. Paying homage to the Romans who constructed a collection of buildings surrounding the thermal springs back in 43AD, the Gainsborough Bath Spa has reproduced a luxurious spa complex that wouldn't look out of place in ancient Rome. Utilising the famed mineral-infused springs – making it the only hotel in the country to use thermal waters in its spa – guests are able to "take the waters" through an array of thermal baths, saunas and steam rooms. Spread over two levels, the in-house Spa Village also features exclusive spa rooms, which offer guests in-bathroom access to the healing waters, a beauty salon and 11 treatment rooms, where rituals such as the two hour-long Malaysian Experience – a hybrid of Malay massage, Indian scalp massage and Chinese acupressure point massage – are guaranteed to relax even the most knotted of customers. Double rooms start at $440 a night including breakfast and access to the spa facilities.



Though one of the newer kids on the London hotel block – at least among the city's large five-star properties – the five-year-old Corinthia Hotel is already packing one hell of a punch. In one of the capital's grandest Victorian buildings with an enviable location steps away from Embankment tube station and directly opposite from the London Eye, it already has a lot going for it. However, it's the hotel's in-house spa that really makes this place stand out from the crowd. Spread over a jaw-dropping four floors and encompassing 3300 square metres of total indulgence, the ESPA Life spa takes city hotel pampering to new heights. A labyrinthine collection of wavy, futuristic, black marble corridors – as cool as any nightclub – connect a large hydrotherapy pool, crystal steam room, stainless steel pool, hammam and striking flame-lined sauna. Unsurprisingly, the Corinthia has become something of a go-to for visiting A-listers, with the likes of Johnny Depp, George Clooney and Beyonce passing through its marbled halls, with many taking advantage of the spa's beauty salon overseen by society coiffeur, Daniel Galvin. Doubles start at $764 a night.



 In a quiet village on the North Yorkshire border, the Victorian Gothic red brick stately hall of Rockliffe is the perfect jumping-off point for exploring the rugged beauty of the North Yorkshire moors. Formerly a private residence, the hall was converted into its present guise of five-star golf and spa resort seven years ago. Containing the country's largest hydrotherapy pool, this mammoth spa needs to be seen to be believed.  Drift away on sound-wave therapy beds, be pampered in one of 13 treatment rooms, laze in a heated 20-metre-long pool and soothe aches and paints in the lavish thermal bathing suite with its eucalyptus-scented steam rooms, tepidarium, caldarium, saunas and tropicarium. Spa-time aside, the hotel's championship 18-hole golf course is the longest in Britain and its fine-dining restaurant, the Orangery, led by Michelin -starred head chef, Kenny Atkinson, offers more opportunities to indulge. Double rooms from $340 a night, including breakfast.



An hour's drive from Edinburgh and surrounded by 1200 hectares of Scottish countryside, Stobo Castle is Scotland's only destination spa. Housed in a modern extension adjoining the old castle, its  first-class facilities include a large glass-fronted sauna and steam room, multi-station hydrotherapy pool and three outdoor hot tubs. Reiki, reflexology, and kinesiology are just a few of the specialised treatments available. The main 25-metre pool is flanked by loungers and has floor-to-ceiling windows – the perfect place to watch the surrounding hills change colour as the sun dips below the horizon. A set breakfast, lunch and dinner are usually incisive depending on your room package and a cafe in the spa atrium also serves salads and fresh juices and smoothies. Doubles from $250 with all meals included.




A handy 45 minutes from central London, Pennyhill Park Hotel has  one of the largest spas in the country – more than 4000 square metres  in fact. Eight indoor and outdoor pools, including a heated 18-metre pool and even a pool with underwater music, offer hours of aquatic fun. There are also several hot tubs and jacuzzis, but the real jewel in the spa's crown is the Thermal Heaven area. Comprising of tepidarium, ice cave, schnapps (steam) room, laconium, experience showers. and cold plunge pool; the collection of rooms is the perfect preamble to one of Pennyhill's organic treatments. A convenient post-treatment sensory room comes complete with proper beds, so you can have a quick nap afterwards. Double rooms from $500 a night.