In a world of information overload and constant connectivity, sometimes the only way to ensure workplace wellness is to escape entirely. Here are PA Life’s pick of spas to replenish and refresh
Champneys Tring, Buckinghamshire This is a magnificent stately home that combines the older structure with a modern gym, swimming pool and new accommodation. I’m lucky enough to be staying in one of the original bedrooms, with a slanting roof and gorgeous view over the well-tended grounds.
Reluctantly leaving the comfort of my colossal bed, I find a huge variety of things to do. Fitness, health, diet and beauty are all addressed by a vast number of treatments and daily classes. I manage to get to two talks, one on posture and another on nutrition, as well as two fitness sessions and an unusual massage that ironed out my muscles using rods of bamboo. It left me feeling profoundly relaxed.
This was alongside enjoying the sauna, steam room, outdoor Jacuzzi and swimming pool, on top of visiting the sunlit lounge and the soothing Music Room. After indulging in a final Decléor beauty talk, I return to London feeling cleansed, relaxed and renewed: the full Champneys effect.
Hartwell House & Spa, near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire Located just an hour from London, Hartwell House & Spa is one of the UK’s leading stately homes. Set within 90 acres of parkland, it is a blissful setting for a business retreat to enhance both body and mind.
If walls could talk Hartwell House would keep you busy listening for years; the exiled King Louis XVIII of France lived here for five years with his queen. Today, Hartwell House is home to 46 bedrooms, all with their own historic design, including antique furniture and paintings combined with contemporary comfort and free wifi.
The spa at Hartwell House recently welcomed treatments by Aromatherapy Associates and boasts a swimming pool, steam room, saunas and a well-equipped gym. After all that relaxing you can dine like royalty in one of the three dining rooms.
Aylesbury Duck was on the menu when we visited and this is apparently one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes. For corporate meetings, all rooms look out over stunning parkland and the event organiser is offered a complimentary back, neck and shoulder massage.
Whittlebury Hall, near Towcester, Northamptonshire Nestled among rolling acres of green parkland, Whittlebury Hall’s contemporary facilities belie its soothing pastoral surroundings. The spacious property offers a state-of-the-art conferencing space, as evidenced by its recent win in Condé Nast Johansens’ Most Excellent MICE Awards for meetings venues. The hotel also beat off the competition to become the recipient of the Good Spa Award for the Midlands region in 2012.
Hence the reason for my visit, as I stroll across to the award-winning Day Spa, feeling virtuous after a light lunch of soup and salad at Astons, one of the on-site dining outlets. Heat and ice is a long-established combination at most spas, but here it is a complete experience with a caldarium, (that’s what the Ancient Romans called a hot bath) a sanarium (like a sauna but with less heat), steam baths with salt and crystal, a sauna and even an ice cave.
Spas are often poetically referred to as “oases of tranquillity”, but the Day Spa has quite a buzzy, upbeat atmosphere to it and this would be a great place to come for a girlie weekend away. The numerous treatment rooms mean that the waiting time is kept to a minimum and if you’ve come with a group you can easily all be pampered simultaneously.
My treatment is the Espa Body Polish, which involves being scrubbed down thoroughly from head to foot and then spritzed with a sweet-smelling spray. Despite the rather vigorous nature of the session, this is definitely a relaxing way to spend an afternoon and I find myself nodding off, to be gently awakened after half an hour by my therapist, Emma.
Even if you return more than once you’ll never tire of the options on offer here, as there’s a whole host of therapies to try. These range from time-honoured bathing rituals such as the Hammam Chamber to various types of massage – including ones to rectify aching backs and relieve stress – deep-cleansing facials and pampering beauty sessions. The word spa is thought to derive from the Latin for health through water – trust those wily old Romans to know a thing or two.