10 of the best UK spas and wellbeing holidays

From a recently refurbished London institution to new spas and wilderness weekends in the Hebrides, we pick great retreats and sanctuaries

Forest hideaway, Monmouthshire

Overlooking the Wye Valley, near historic Tintern, Hill Farm is a 15-acre haven of woodland, meadows and streams, and home to Forest Retreats, run by Hayley and Tom Court. Their Wellbeing Weekend in June includes yoga suitable for all levels with Hayley, and forest bathing with Tom, who takes guests out for a sensory woodland experience. There’s plenty of time to relax in the eco-spa with its wood-fired hot tub; massages are also on offer; and meals (cooked by Tom) are vegetarian and wholesome. The Courts tailor wellbeing breaks and run day yoga retreats too, as well as yoga, dinner and spa evenings (see website for dates).
• Wellbeing Weekend 12-14 June, £200 for campers (bring your own tent), £225 in a bell tent, £275 in a room, forestretreats.co.uk

City sanctuary, west London

Reburbished pool at Porchester Spa

For a quick urban wellbeing fix, Porchester Spa in Bayswater, near Paddington, offers an escape from the frantic pace of the capital. The Grade II-listed building was completed as Porchester Hall in 1923, with Turkish baths added in 1929. It has recently been refurbished to the tune of £800,000, with new tiles, glazed doors and 1920s-inspired showers – all in keeping with the art deco feel. There are steam rooms, a sauna, plunge pool and relaxation lounge, as well as access to the leisure centre’s swimming pool – and treatments range from Swedish massages to reiki (energy healing) and facials. Check the timetable for men- or women-only sessions.
£85 for the Time Out Spa Experience with body scrub, massage and use of all facilities, everyoneactive.com

Spring cleanse, Cotswolds

holycombe centre exterior

Holycombe retreat centre, in a wooded valley near the village of Whichford, has a year-round programme of wellbeing weekends. Seasonal cleanse yoga retreats run four times a year, with breathwork, lots of yoga, silent walks, nutrition and cooking workshops and organic vegan food. In the six-acre grounds of a Norman castle, with a moat, woodland and stream, it makes a great back-to-nature escape.
Spring cleanse retreat, 13-15 March, £295 camping, twin room from £355pp, holycombe.com

Estuary Essex

Glass House pool

The Glass House is a new purpose-built, detox and wellness centre in the Essex countryside. Facilities include an indoor pool, sauna and gym, with a packed programme of classes from yoga and pilates to boxercise and circuit training. There’s a spa and a cryotherapy chamber offering intensive cold treatment, said to aid everything from joint pain to burnout. The 21 bedrooms are modern and bright. Come for a day or choose from packages of up to seven days.
• Day rates from £85 including lunch, glasshouseretreat.co.uk

Wild island, Hebrides

Person on rugged shore Wild Art Scotland  wilderness retreat

Spend a weekend camping in the wilderness on a remote Hebridean island. Inspired by the tradition of the peregrinatio, or “holy voyaging”, where Celtic missionary monks would set themselves adrift on a small boat, trusting the wind and sea to take them to the right place, the retreat offers time for silence and reflection in the heart of nature (otters, dolphins and sea eagles are among wildlife often spotted here), as well as poetry-writing sessions with retreat leader Chris Goan and evenings around the fire. The website warns that there will be no running water or toilets, but it’s a real escape from the world.
22-24 May, £575 including return sea crossing, wildatartscotland.com

Mindfulness or wilderness, Isle of Wight

Shanklin beach on the isle of Wight in England

Stay close to the beach at The Grange by the Sea, a Georgian country house in pretty Shanklin on a wellbeing weekend with Skyros Holidays. There are several new options for 2020. Wilderness Wellbeing Walks (6-8 March), led by Julia Gillick, promises to ignite a deeper connection with nature with guided hikes plus discussions exploring physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing. Or opt for an Art and Mindfulness break with artist Ignacio Lalanne (23-25 October), which delves into the therapeutic qualities of creating art and being in the present moment – no experience required. Shanklin has picturesque thatched pubs and restaurants for meals.
Weekends cost £100 for tuition and a light lunch on Sunday, plus the cost of the B&B (doubles from £85), skyros.com

Wellbeing festival, Ceredigion

Dome tent at Ffrorest

There’s been a surge in the number of wellbeing festivals recently, and Spring Glow 2020, an event for women at Fforest Camp near Cardigan on the beautiful Ceredigion coastline, wins points for its spectacular location. Expect mindful woodland meditation, fireside singing and cedar barrel saunas. Fforest Camp runs a range of retreats – or there’s the option to just come and stay – with the focus on getting people back to nature. With the Wales Coast Path on the doorstep there are plenty of bracing hikes to be had, and the Teifi marshes nature reserve is a short walk away. The site even has its own little pub hidden in the woods. Accommodation ranges from rooms in the main farmhouse, to Hill Shac cabins or bell tents and domes.
5-8 March, from £490, including all meals and workshops, coldatnight.co.uk

Digital disconnect, Somerset

42 Acres Farmhouse, Frome, Somerset, UK.

Unplug from technology and reconnect with nature on a new retreat at the idyllic 42 Acres Farmhouse outside of Frome, Somerset. Founders of social media movement Offline48, Venetia and Max La Manna, will co-host Our Retreat’s tech-free weekend, with daily restorative yoga, wellness workshops and sound healing. There will also be guided walks, a transformational breathwork session and plenty of nutritionally rich, plant-based food. 42 Acres offers a year-round retreat programme with different teachers in a peaceful setting on a working organic farm. Paths lead through ancient woodlands and wild meadows, while stylish accommodation for up to 24 is in the main 19th-century house and three cottages.
• 27-30 March, from £595pp all-inclusive, through ourretreat.co.uk

Recipe for a detox, North York Moors

women doing stretches outdoors at Yoga and Spice

A newly launched mini-retreat catering for up to eight guests, Yoga and Spice offers log cabin accommodation in private woodland, just a stone’s throw from the beach at Whitby on the edge of the North York Moors national park. Run by yoga teacher and cookery book author Lorraine Clissold and environmentalist partner Mark, its seasonal yoga weekends include five hours of yoga, guided walks, foraging and cookery classes, with the focus on homegrown vegan and Ayurvedic fare. Other retreat options include yoga and climbing, yoga and walking, Ayurveda to rebalance and detox, and women’s wellness.
• Spring seasonal yoga and food, 19-21 June, from £325pp, yogaandspice.com

Seaside de-stress, Cornwall

Woman diving into river at Thera-Sea retreat in Cornwall

Thera-Sea offers new, off-grid restorative stress management retreats, held by the sea. Based in the grounds of a 300-year-old cottage on the banks of the River Fal, the site is only accessible by kayak or a long walk through woodland. The weekend consists of forest hikes, wild swimming, yoga, torch-lit canoeing and bushcraft, with feasts shared around the firepit. Stress management and wellness workshops, led by company founderKatie Griffin, provide tools for improved wellbeing that can be incorporated into daily life. Accommodation choices range from a treehouse to a communal barn.
27-29 March and 9-11 June, £575, thera-sea.co.uk

• This article was amended on 24 January 2020 to remove a personal detail.

Looking for a holiday with a difference? Browse Guardian Holidays to see a range of fantastic trips


Jane Dunford

The GuardianTramp

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