Going to a spa has changed a bit in the past 12 months, but we’re optimistic spa days without restrictions will soon be a thing again.
While you can still visit a spa in the UK – although some don’t reopen until May 17 – you may not currently get the full spa experience, which is something to be aware of before you book.
Masks will need to be worn in public areas and possibly during some treatments, saunas and steam rooms remain closed, and many spas are offering a revised treatment menu.
As we look to the future, we asked our resident spa expert and founder of Spavellous, Jane Knight, to reveal the best UK spas with outdoor pools and facilities to visit this summer.
Please check the latest guidelines before visiting any of the spas on this list as some facilities and treatments may not be currently available.
Lime Wood Hotel, New Forest, Hampshire
Best for: An indulgent treat
Facilities: Designed over three levels, there is a huge sauna, indoor hydro pool with forest views, mud house, outdoor hot pool, 8 spacious treatment rooms, indoor lap pool, fitness class studio and state-of-the-art rooftop gym
Price: From £270pp for the ultimate spa package
Anything new to know: Spa days will be relaunching in the summer at date to be confirmed. Hotel guests can use the spa facilities from May 17
Jane says: Herb House Spa at Lime Wood Hotel is the perfect place for a luxury spa escape and has been cleverly designed to make the most of its natural forest surroundings.
The emphasis on nature has been reflected in the indulgent treatments, with massages from natural British brand favourites Bamford, Voya and Aromatherapy Associates.
Lime Wood is also great for foodies, whether you fancy a platter from Herb House’s Raw & Cured or locally sourced Italian creations from Hartnett Holder & Co in the main hotel.
Top tip: If staying the night is a bit of a stretch, there is a charming B&B called Daisybank Cottage down the road, which you can combine with one of Herb House’s Spa Days.
Book and find more information on Herb House Spa at limewoodhotel.co.uk
The Scarlet, Cornwall
Best for: Eco luxury
Facilities: Clifftop hot tubs, clifftop barrel cedar wood sauna, outdoor natural swimming pool cleansed by a living reed bed, steam room, indoor swimming pool with sea views, suspended cocoon relaxation pods, complementary yoga and tai chi classes, plus wellbeing talks
Price: From £95pp for their Spend Time Together spa day for 2 package (includes use of facilities, a clifftop hot tub session, shared treatment and lunch)
Anything new to know: Day spa guests can now visit The Scarlet for the first time and a new treatment menu is on the way later in the year
Jane says: The Scarlet is right on the Cornish coast and has a great eco ethos. It’s one of the most sustainable spa hotels in the UK and has won numerous awards.
It’s particularly fun to visit in the summer with it being so close to the beach, but there’s a lovely indoor pool if the weather isn’t so great.
One of Scarlet’s best and most unique features is the clifftop hot tubs, which are bookable by the half hour.
I’ve also heard good things about their new Head Chef, who has created a seven-course menu based on British and Asian flavours I can’t wait to try.
Book and find more information on The Scarlet hotel & spa at scarlethotel.co.uk
Gleneagles Hotel & Spa, Perthshire, Scotland
Best for: Holistic wellness and country pursuits
Facilities: Two indoor pools, outdoor thermal pool, sauna, steam room, Beauty Lodge for hair, nail and lash treatments, state-of-the-art gym
Price: From £185pp for the Daytime Indulgence Package, which includes use of the facilities, 80 minutes of treatments and a two-course lunch. Afternoon tea packages are also available
Anything new to know: A new-look spa will be unveiled later this year, plus a new 360 degree wellness concept
Jane says: Set on a breathtaking 850-acre estate on the edge of the Scottish highlands, five-star spa hotel Gleneagles has lots of space – it’s not nicknamed the ‘Glorious Playground’ for nothing! – so is perfect for fans of outdoor pursuits, golf, and anyone looking to get back to nature.
Gleneagles spa has refurbished during lockdown, the details of which have been kept under wraps, beyond the promise of wellness spaces that invite you to ‘move, recover and restore’, and signature treatments that deliver bespoke wellness benefits using botanical oils inspired by Gleneagles’ Kitchen Garden.
This place has a reputation for taking its spa and wellness offerings very seriously, so I’m expecting something special once it is finally unveiled, probably a more personalised version of the ESPA Life concept, plus experiences that take advantage of its unique rural position.
A ‘wild wellness’ treatment has recently appeared on the hotel website and there seem to be more spa treatments tailored for men, which I think will be a big spa trend post-lockdown and continuing into the future.
Book and find more information on Gleneagles Hotel & Spa at gleneagles.com
St Brides Spa Hotel, Pembrokeshire, Wales
Best for: An infinity pool with a view
Facilities: Infinity hydrotherapy pool, thermal suite (including saunas and steam rooms), relaxation rooms, coastal view treatment rooms, fitness suite
Price: Spa day packages with treatments start from £75pp
Anything new to know: A new menu of treatments has been tailored to reflect the current circumstances
Jane says: If you’re looking for a restorative spa experience with the benefits of sea air and ocean views, I’d recommend St Brides in Wales.
One of the highlights is the infinity pool which looks right out onto the sea and the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park.
The views from the spa, hotel and restaurant are stunning and give a real sense of space. There is also a great couples treatment room where you can enjoy a dual massage with the sound of the sea in the background.
Book and find more information on St Brides Spa Hotel at stbridesspahotel.com
Aqua Sana Spa, Longleat Forest, Wiltshire
Best for: A full spa day
Facilities: Outdoor pool, outdoor hot tubs, reflexology footbath, forest bathing, Alpine steam room, Forest Glade steam room, Nordic sauna, Scandinavian snug, fire pits
Price: Twilight spa days start from £69pp, going up to £105pp for a full spa day
Anything new to know: Bookings are paused for the moment until updated guidelines are issued, but expect new spa packages priced as above
Jane says: A few of the Center Parcs UK resorts have spas, but the recently refurbished Aqua Sana spa at Longleat near Bath is my current favourite.
With an impressive 24 heat experiences and spa stations to choose from, you can easily spend a day going round the spa without getting bored. It’s also great for small groups and you can have lunch or dinner at the Vitalé Café in your spa robe.
The forest location adds to the sense of relaxation, especially in the tropical Forest Cavern and the two new outdoor hot tubs, where you can lie back and enjoy being amongst the trees to the sound of birdsong.
It’s good value too, especially for a shiny new spa of this size.