Spas in luxury hotels are big business and over the last few years owners have been making multi-million pound investments in providing the latest in pampering experiences.
But like hotel bedrooms, hotel spas come in all shapes and sizes and if you’re expecting a proper swimming pool then a hot tub and a massage table just really isn’t going to cut it. So here are some of the best luxury hotel spas I’ve been to – proper swimming pool guaranteed!
The owners invested millions in the spa at Lucknam Park and it shows. There’s a 20 metre indoor pool which leads to an outside hydrotherapy pool and sunbathing terrace, while back indoors alongside the pool are a whole variety of little cabins housing the sauna, steam room, tepidarium and even a Japanese salt room and an amythest room. There’s a restaurant and bar next door where you can pad about in your fluffy robes.
Constantly making the ‘best spas in the UK’ lists, the hotel’s leisure facility boasts a 17 metre indoor swimming pool, one of the largest hydrotherapy pools in Europe, a steam room, sauna and jacuzzi and various treatment rooms offering anything from reiki and hot stone massages to oxygen facials and Manipura body treatments. I had an extremely pleasant full body massage (one hour, £96) and what made it memorable was the womb-like warm and dark treatment rooms which were incredibly relaxing.
On beautiful summer’s days you can sunbathe on the vast lawns at Danesfield House, on more typical British weather days you can lounge by its vast indoor pool, with jacuzzi, steam room, sauna and bar. There are treatment rooms, smart changing rooms and G&Ts just a few minutes away. A spa break the weather really can’t spoil.
Unusually for a hotel spa which is actually part of the main building, rather than in a far-off extension, the spa at Dormy House is a decent size, with a sleek 16-metre indoor infinity pool, outdoor terrace and hot tub, salt steam room, tropical shower, glass-fronted Finnish sauna and outdoor hot tub.
The smart, ultra-modern spa provides a luxurious contrast to the older hotel building, and you can even choose to stay in suites just above the spa instead. Purpose-built inside a 19th century walled garden, the spa has eight treatment rooms, a heated indoor swimming pool with swim-through to the outdoor pool, a gym and a lot of loungers for simply doing nothing.
It’s no surprise that Ockenden Manor’s sister hotel Bailiffscourt boasts a similarly luxurious spa, again in a separate, purpose-built spa complex, this time with an impressive beamed roof over the indoor pool and with an equally large heated outdoor pool. There are hot tubs indoors and out, plus treatment rooms and an abundance of magazines to read while you relax.
It isn’t often you arrive at a hotel spa and find top British actors enjoying the facilities, but my stay at luxury country hotel Hartwell House was certainly made more memorable by finding Imelda Staunton and husband Jim Carter in the jacuzzi. However it would have been memorable anyway with a beautiful indoor pool, hot tub plus outside sun-bathing space.
It’s often hard for London hotels to compete in the spa sector as there are many more restrictions on space, but One Aldwych is a surprising exception. The luxury central London hotel has an 18-metre swimming pool with mood lighting, video screens and even underwater music (which made me feel as if I was a Harry Potter mermaid) as well as a sauna, steam room and treatment rooms.
Next to the hotel’s championshipe golf course and clubhouse, the spa at Luton Hoo hotel contains everything you need for a relaxing or energetic day, depending on how you feel, with a vast indoor swimming pool, jacuzzi, steam room, sauna, treatment rooms, outside loungers, tennis courts and a gym.
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The spa offering is in the process of being refurbished and updated and so it might soon have the various steam rooms, saunas, treatment areas expected by regular luxury spa-attendees, but even so, the famous outdoor swimming pool in the walled garden could hardly be left off the list. Even without the air of history it is a beautiful pool and whiling away the day here in the sun will certainly make you feel like you’ve hit the big time.
Not a convential hotel stay, hence not making it onto the main list, but the Aqua Sana spa at England’s newest Center Parcs at Woburn Forest is seriously impressive. As well as several pools, hot tubs, hydrotherapy pools and jacuzzis, there are six differennt ‘worlds’ including ‘fire and ice’ steam rooms and saunas, herbal spas, ice-showers, tropical rainfalls and basically a whole day’s worth of exploration and indulgence.