We're all for using free time to rest and recuperate. But sometimes, watching back-to-back episodes of ‘Queer Eye’ should be swapped for something a bit more life-changing. Feeling stuck, low or drained? Take full advantage of your weekend on one of these transformative trips. Next step: returning to the city feeling legit refreshed and ready to take on 2020.
RECOMMENDED: The best weekend breaks from London
The best wellbeing weekends near London
If feeling tense and frazzled has become the norm, this outdoorsy stress management course in Cornwall might be the antidote. Taking place in a secluded spot, only accessible by foot or boat, Thera-Sea’s three-day escape gives you tools to manage stress in your daily life. Learn about the biology of stress, coping techniques and lifestyle as medicine via educational workshops, and cultivate a sense of calm with sea swimming, canoeing and feasts round a campfire.
St Just-in-Roseland, Cornwall. From £495
There’s no way you’ve never tried meditation. More likely, you’re yet to master it (or even manage five minutes without thinking about work, your dinner or the rapidly multiplying dust bunnies under your bed). If you feel like you’d benefit from regular practice, though, Sharpham Trust’s mindfulness for beginners course should help you crack it, with guided sitting sessions, mindful walking and periods of silence. You’ll be totally (or at least a bit more) zen in no time.
Sharpham House. Totnes, Devon. From £335
A night in one of Daylesford’s plush Cotswolds cottages is pure relaxation. They are surrounded by lush countryside – ideal for healthy walks – while blankets, baths and organic food from Daylesford farm make hiding inside just as appealing. Venture out to the spa for free yoga, sound healing or pilates.
Daylesford. Kingham, Gloucestershire. From £275 a night
Need a new perspective? Try gazing between your knees in downward dog. At Elmley Nature Reserve you might even spy a salty seascape or a rare coastal bird. Set in the Kent wilderness, it feels otherworldly, despite being just outside London. Retreats differ, but most feature multiple yoga classes so you can release any built-up tension, meditation, breath work, reiki and guided walks through the 3,300-acre nature reserve. Then your nights will be spent snoozing in one of Elmley’s sweet shepherd’s huts. See you in Savasana.
Elmley Nature Reserve. Isle of Sheppey, Kent. Prices vary.
There are relaxing spa breaks and then there’s running full pelt into the North Sea in winter. We know which is more invigorating. Sustainable skincare champion Haeckels has made the experience suitably hip, installing a chic, wood-burning sauna on the beach in Margate. It’s in a Victorian-style sea-bathing machine and aims to promote the health benefits of sea swimming all year round. Get steamy inside the sauna before skipping down the sand and into those icy cold waves.
Haeckels Community Sauna. Margate, Kent. Free, donations encouraged