Spa and beauty weekend breaks
Relax and unwind, with spa treatments, retreats and pampering getaways
Get away from it all with Time Out's guide to spa breaks and beauty weekends including holistic yoga in Bournemouth, detoxing in West Sussex and five-star luxury in Hertfordshire.
Bournemouth: yoga on the beach
Where to go: Bournemouth.
How to get there: 1 hour 50 minutes by train, Waterloo to Bournemouth.
What to do: It’s thanks to the sea-loving Victorians that Bournemouth was transformed from a quiet residential town to the popular holiday resort of today. During the summer Bournemouth and neighbouring Poole (which has a busy harbour and quayside) are alive with groups of friends, families and daytrippers, and no wonder – there are some seven miles of sandy beaches, gardens, a pier, surfing and sea kayaking (not to mention street entertainers and plenty of cafés and restaurants). But it would be a mistake to think Bournemouth is solely for partygoers. During the summer months Bournemouth’s beach is the alfresco venue for early-morning, lunchtime and evening holistic yoga sessions run by qualified yoga teacher Frank Markham, who also teaches self-defence and martial arts. Frank’s Hatha yoga classes take place in a reserved section on the beach 300 metres from Boscombe Pier in all weathers from May until the end of September. Equipment is provided; booking is advised.
Where to eat and drink: In addition to sensational sea views, fully licensed Bistro on the Beach sells lunches and dinners that might include pot-roasted plaice or rack of lamb (two-courses for around £24); for trad fish and chips try Chez Fred in town; and the Goat and Tricycle is a fabulous Victorian pub with an impressive selection of real ales and serves homemade food all day throughout the week.
Where to stay: Boutique hotel Urban Beach is five minutes’ walk from Bournemouth beach and has 12 individually decorated rooms, including a double with a modern four-poster, and good-value singles. Rooms include breakfast, wi-fi, DVDs and access to an off-site pool, sauna and gym. Doubles start from £110 including breakfast. Urban Beach Hotel 23 Argyll Rd, Bournemouth, BH5 1E (01202 301509).
East Wittering: detox retreats
Where to go: East Wittering, West Sussex.
How to get there: 1 hour 32 minutes by train from Victoria to Chichester, then arrange a pick-up through Mandy or Jem.
What to do: Mandy Elliott and Jem Friar run detox retreats regularly throughout the year in West Sussex that promise to leave you energised and feeling healthier. Choose the four-day juice fast or the seven-day deep-tissue cleanse (that’s cleansing your intestines, not your skin). The idea is that you consume only juices, which clear your system of accumulated toxins. As well as plenty of time to sleep, there are meditation and yoga sessions and a range of included treatments, such as colonic irrigation and reflexology. Four-day retreat from £400 per person; seven days from £900. Stay at Iona Beach House, 16 Marine Close, East Wittering, West Sussex, PO20 8HG (01243 514995).
Ascot: Coworth Park
Where to go: Ascot, Berkshire.
How to get there: 50 minutes by train, Waterloo to Sunningdale, then a five minute taxi ride.
What to do: Coworth Park in Royal Berkshire is a top spot for an upper-class pampering break: the 70-room hotel is set in a vast 240-acre estate and has a first-rate spa, excellent restaurants including one overseen by John Campbell and an equestrian centre. But the spa’s the main draw for many guests. The building has been designed to be both sustainable and to have minimal environmental impact and as well as being partly sunken into the ground, its been constructed from wood with lime hemp walls and even has herbs growing on its ‘living’ roof. As much care has been taken for the interior activities and luxe treatments include pregnancy packages, treatments for men and Thai massage. Doubles start from £276. Coworth Park, Blacknest Rd, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7SE (01344 876600).
Where to go: Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex.
How to get there: 1 hour 20 minutes by train, Liverpool Street to Thorpe-le-Soken, then take a complimentary transfer to spa (or a five minute taxi ride).
What to do: Lifehouse, a purpose-built residential health spa, opened in December 2010 with a philosophy of ‘offering a unique, life-enriching experience, tailor made for every guest’. Experts provide a range of therapies including spa treatments, life coaching, fitness sessions and nutrition, and weight-loss advice. Rooms, graded ‘good’, ‘great’ and ‘best’, all include cosy robes and slippers, flatscreen TV and tea- and coffee-making facilities; four rooms are fully adapted for guests with disabilities, including those in a wheelchair. There’s also a swimming pool, gym and 12 acres of lovely landscaped gardens. A ‘classic stay’ one-night package including 50-min body massage, full board, full use of spa, gym and garden from £175 per person based on two sharing one room. Lifehouse, Frinton Rd, Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex, CO16 0JD (01255 860050).
Hertfordshire: The Grove
Where to go: The Grove, Hertfordshire.
How to get there: 20 minutes by train, Euston to Watford Junction, then a five minute taxi ride.
What to do: The Grove is known for its luxurious spa facilities which help attract people to this huge, elegant country pile just ten minutes off the M1 in Hertfordshire. There's the Vitality Pool with hydrotherapy jets, the huge indoor pool and extensive spa menu. But during the summer months a lot of the action (or should we say, blissful inaction) takes place outside with the fantastic pool and beach in the hotels walled garden. That's not all – this summer the hotel has installed more than 80 pieces of sculpture around the place, created variously by Royal Academicians, international artists and up-and-coming names. So you can feel pampered and indulge your art-loving side too.
Where to stay: Prices start from £310 including breakfast and VAT per room per night. The exhibition is free and open to all from 10am to 5pm daily until August 31 2011. Afterwards, guests can retreat for a spot of Sculpture Afternoon Tea, which includes a selection of savoury and sweet masterpieces inspired by the works in the exhibition.
The Grove, Chandler's Cross, Hertfordshire, WD3 4TG (01923 807807).