Relax in a sea of English Lavender
JANET BRICE discovers a burgeoning spa business in the heart of the Cotswolds where visitors are now swapping their traditional afternoon teas for the herbal variety
The Cotswolds conjures up images of picture-postcard villages dotted with dipped-in-syrup cottages and rolling English countryside swathed in yellow rape seed and red poppies and lavender.
So, you may be surprised to hear that this part of the UK is a hot spot for some of the world’s best spas.
Taking advantage of the peace and tranquility and proximity to London (which is only 90 minutes away) these spas are attracting city types with a penchant for the country, couples looking for a romantic break, singles looking for a little luxury and yummy mummies looking for a family break.
Top of the pecking order when it comes to spas is relative newcomer on the block The House Spa at Dormy House along with the effortlessly elegant C-Side Spa at Cowley Manor with their new exciting restaurant, Malt, which delivers food wholesome food directly to the spa.
Ellenborough Park, with its enviable race course views, and child-friendly Calcot Manor along with couples’ haven, Barnsley House, The Greenway, a leading spa wedding venue and Aquarius Spa at Whatley Manor complete our guide to the best of the Cotswold spas.
The House Spa at Dormy House
Languishing in a field of English lavender is how you feel when relaxing in the sauna at the exquisite new spa at Dormy House in The Cotswolds.
As the name suggests, The House Spa at Dormy, aptly nestles on the boundary of a golf club on the top Snowshill not far from the picturesque village of Broadway.
For those spa-goers not familiar with golf, the name Dormy means a player ahead by a specific number of holes with same number of holes due to be played – and this equilibrium is the ideal parallel to how spa-goers feel when they leave.
In the spring, the honey-stoned thatched cottages make way for the lavender and poppy fields as you venture to the spa hotel which has now been opened for more than a year and has quickly established its position as one of the best in the Cotswolds.
And it’s not hard to see why, when you arrive at the light, airy reception area and are shown to The Greenhouse with its inviting log burner and healthy array of food.
For those lucky enough to be indulging in a full spa day (which are available from Monday to Thursday’s) one of the most popular choices is the signature Silent Night Lavender Sleep Treatment using Temple Spa products.
What better place than succumb to the soothing and relaxing effects of lavender than in the tranquil surroundings of Dormy House?
This spa is cleverly carved into the hillside and is barely visible from the hotel. Once you have located the glass-fronted spa (just passed the renovated stable block) the final decision to be made is which treatment?Cloud 9 is C-Side’s signature treatment which is a mix of aromatherapy, Qi energy balancing, reflexology and acupressure in an all-over 90 minute massage (including face and head) performed to your choice of music.C-Side offers the unique product range, Green & Spring, which was only launched in 2008 and is now served by new restaurant, Malt.The spa features two swimming pools (large indoor lined with dark grey slate and a small outdoor one surrounded by a sun terrace), sauna, steam room and ice-cold plunge shower.
If you’re seeking a spa with a view for next year’s Gold Cup the pinnacle race at Cheltenham’s National Hunt Festival (March 15-18, 2016) look no further than the rather grand Ellenborough Park.
This is a spa designed for either the ladies-that-lunch or the punters that race. After an extensive period of refurbishment the hotel re-opened and nestling in this historic country house is their luxury Indian-themed spa. A welcoming hot tub immediately relaxes guests who enter.
A wow factor has to be the private couples’ treatment room hidden away in a Rapunzel-type tower with has panoramic views over the racecourse. The hotel spa with its oak paneling, spiral staircases and modern twists is a contradiction of old meets new.
The spa features a sauna, steam room, sensation showers, hydrotherapy pool, seven individual treatment rooms and a twin treatment room for couples. Spa suites 16-19 offer direct access to the spa through a secret door.
Signature treatments feature five ila body treatments including the Ila Experience. These treatments go beyond the usual conventions of massage and incorporate products and techniques that address mind, body and spirit.
The organic spa products are blended nearby in peaceful, consciously converted barns in the Cotswolds using only the finest plant and mineral ingredients.
This is the perfect pampering spa before, or after, a day at the races.
The relaxing atmosphere of this country house retreat is completed with the presence of the Elan Spa which is an oasis of tranquility and relaxation. The Elan Spa Bridal Collection of treatments which are perfect for the bride-to-be and her bridesmaids.
Facilities include; stylish treatment rooms, stunning hydrotherapy pool, a state-of-the-art fitness suite, studio for classes, sauna, steam room & samarium, experience showers, a Kubel Dusche, an al fresco hot-tub.
And if you’ve had a lucky day at the races, why not celebrate your success in The Champagne Nail Bar.
Calcot Spa, Calcot Manor
Calcot Manor is housed in a Cotswold stone building near Tetbury (just opposite the hotel’s pub) is the Calcot Spa. It’s big and airy, comforting and cosy which is why you must book in advance as it’s very popular with the locals.The spa is a magnificent private leisure complex, with outstanding facilities for health, beauty, fitness and relaxation.
Imaginatively designed around a central courtyard, Calcot Spa blends sympathetically with its Cotswold surroundings and features a 16-metre pool, sauna, steam room, outdoor spa pool, exercise studio, tennis and no fewer than seven treatment rooms.
One of the highlights is a sexy outdoor hot tub (the size of a small swimming pool) that steams away like a geyser and where you can indulge in the ultimate luxury of ordering champagne.
The actual spa menu is long and comprehensive with everything from hot-stone massages to Reiki. The ambience and treatments hit all the right buttons and this spa is well worth the wait if you have to book ahead.
Spa 6 and Leisure Club
The spa is the perfect retreat for body and mind and is set among lakes, woodland and 55 acres of parkland in the Gloucestershire countryside, near Cirencester which has easy access to London.The 11-metre hydrotherapy pool, which relaxes muscles and stimulates blood flow, is ideal for a post-workout dip, while you can truly unwind in the sauna or steam room.The spa offers the chance to treat yourself to a reviving beauty therapy, with the Decléor treatments spanning anti-aging facials, hot stone massages and detoxifying wraps, along with everyday essentials such as waxing, tinting, and Jessica manicures and pedicures.Those looking to enjoy top-to-toe indulgence can take advantage of the many spa days which offer the chance to combine a range of treatments, while the overnight breaks provide a serene escape in the Cotswolds.
The holistic treatments adapted to personal needs have all been devised to soothe, rebalance and refresh the senses to leave you feeling totally relaxed and rejuvenated in body and soul.The light, airy, spa, which is a new addition to the hotel, is located in the shade of the trees. Although there is no swimming pool there is a good-size outside hydrotherapy pool that offers a steamy refuge from which to admire the rural view.Barnsley House uses the product Aromatherapy Associates and offers the Garden Spa Signature Treatment which is a top-to-toe massage including a full body polish, aromatherapy massage, and facial with scalp massage. Also on the menu is the Holistic Time Out which is purely holistic and combines at least two of the following: reflexology, massage, Reiki or Indian head massage.
Aquarius Spa at Whatley Manor Hotel and Spa
Set in 12-acres of English country gardens, Whatley Manor is a place to restore and revive and the spa, which boasts five treatment rooms, offers products from La Prairie, with its skincare technology and “beyond organic” ila brand.
The award-winning spa also offers multi-sensory jets if you swim outside, a tepidarium with heated stone recliners, salt scrub showers and thermal cabins including the calidarium, steam grotto, laconium and sauna.
Couples may want to try the serail mud chamber which is a nourishing, detoxifying and cleansing ritual for two.
Don’t leave without retreating for a healthy afternoon tea in the spa lounge which overlooks the hydrotherapy pool with views out onto the spa meadow.