Travelers tired of frenetic city life could learn a thing or two from the slow-as-storm-clouds pace of the Cotswolds. This pretty and polished area – stretching across Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, Wiltshire and Worcestershire – is one of the UK’s most obvious Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, with its honey-stone cottages and creaky country pubs drawing in tourists from all around the globe. Still, things remain remarkably peaceful on these quaint country streets. So where better for a soothing retreat? Here’s our pick of the best spa hotels on offer.
The best spa hotels in the Cotswolds are:
Best for cozy resort living: Thyme
Think of Thyme as a village within a village. Scattered across the 150-acre estate at Southrop Manor, this easy-on-the-eye collection of 17th century cottages, restaurants and pools is as cozy as they come. Guests are free to roam like Cotswold sheep, flitting from the central bar set, aptly, in former lambing sheds, to its restful rooms, dotted throughout the restyled farmhouse buildings. But it’s the superlative Meadow Spa that’s the real draw here. Eight olive-green treatment rooms in seven higgledy-piggledy buildings linked by landscaped gardens make this a comprehensive wellness offering, and the bespoke spa menu is created in collaboration with award-winning natural British brand, Aurelia Probiotic Skincare. Top treatments include the knot-busting deep tissue massage and rejuvenating probiotic facials.
Price: Doubles from £420
With 55 acres of grade II-listed gardens and unusual Italianate architecture, Cowley has history in its halls. There’s been a house, in some form, on the land here for many centuries (Cowley is mentioned in the Doomsday Book) and it has showcased country entertaining – from its grand guest rooms to its Roman, Greek and Turkish steam rooms – for many, many years. Lewis Carroll is known to have visited Cowley regularly, and word has it that he wrote alice in wonderland during his stays in the village, drawing inspiration from the grounds of the manor. The C-Side spa is just as momentous, with indoor and outdoor pools, a dedicated manicure and pedicure area, steam room, sauna and treatments using the hotel’s own Green & Spring signature range.
Price: Doubles from £173
Neighborhood: Chipping Norton
It may be slap bang in the countryside, but you’ll find little in the way of actual mud at Soho Farmhouse. Instead, everything gleams like polished treasure, from the timber-clad cabin rooms to the unblemished Hunter wellies worn by well-heeled guests. Hurricane lamps, untreated floorboards and roll-top baths give each of the 40 cabins a distinctly Alpine feel, while the quiet buzz of electric milk floats whizzing guests around the man-made lakes fills the air outside. The excellent, on-site Cowshed spa offers rustic-luxe interiors, 13 treatment rooms, six mani-pedi chairs and an extensive list of treatments from facials to body therapies. If you’re in the market for a hipster beard trim, you’ll find no better place than the Farmhouse Parlour.
Price: Doubles from £395 for non-members
Dating back to the 1500s, Ellenborough Park is one thing above all else: grand. Its great hall – with its oak beams, stone fireplaces and intricate stained glass – also serves as a guest lounge, and the handsome Beaufort restaurant serves up befittingly swanky dishes such as black pudding with langoustine and ox cheek with truffle cream potato and bordelaise onions. The spa is similarly swish, with a hot-tub pool, experience showers and personalized treatments using Elemis technologies and products. If you’re strafed by aches and pains, opt for the Elemis freestyle deep tissue massage, followed by an intensely cleansing ginger salt scrub. You’ll leave thrumming with energy.
Price: Doubles from £269
Neighbourhood: Farncombe Estate
The spa at Dormy House has won enough awards to fill one of the hotel’s Scandi-inspired rooms to the rafters. The House Spa menu is extensive, and treatments range from detoxifying mud wraps to facials using champagne, silk and black truffles. There’s also a swoosh-worthy thermal suite, a nail parlor and a designated bathing room with a candlelit indoor infinity pool and outdoor hydrotherapy circuit, designed to soothe muscles even on the frostiest evenings. Spa breaks here are, unsurprisingly, restorative and include accommodation, a champagne lunch in The Greenhouse and dinner in the Potting Shed restaurant, which serves up Tamworth pig toad in the hole and divine lemon posset with strawberry and elderflower.
Price: Doubles from £299
Sure, there are 12 rolling acres and a restaurant overseen by a Michelin-star chef at Whatley, but it’s the cutting-edge Aquarius spa that guests really travel far and wide for. With a hydrotherapy pool, aromatic thermal suite, a sauna and salt scrub showers, this is a place to lose hours in. Treatments come courtesy of NaturaBisse, and there are some pretty high-tech options on offer, including facials that take place in a detoxification tent (filled with 99.9 per cent pure air). Once you’ve succumbed to relaxation, the innovative chef’s menu (with wine pairing options) in the dining room is inspired by Niall Keating’s travels around the world, featuring dishes such as tempura-smoked eel and anjou pigeon, with kohlrabi, date and ssamjang .
Price: Doubles from £279
Lucknam is definitely the jock of hotels. There’s very little here that isn’t high-achieving, from its Michelin-star restaurant to the exceptionally glossy horses that trot around its on-site stables. Its spa is no exception, and its raft of Spa treatments – from hot stone massages to refining contour treatments – are some of the best in the business. Accommodation comes in the form of slick suites draped in chinoiserie silk, and all guests have access to tennis courts, croquet lawns, manicured gardens and the hotel’s cookery school. The saddle and spa day package is pretty special, allowing guests the chance to ride through 500 acres of lush parkland before a two-course lunch at The Brasserie and an afternoon chilling in the Espa.
Price: Doubles from £395
Things don’t get much more ‘country chic’ than the spa at Barnsley House. You’ll find it slap bang in the middle of a parsley-fringed dell, in the herb-filled gardens of this pretty hotel. As well as the usual hydrotherapy pool, steam room and sauna, there are plenty of Elemis treatments, and cutting-edge Caci (that’s Computer Aided Cosmetology Instrument) facials. If you want things even more green, there’s a potager, a knot garden and four acres of gardens to explore. Rooms and suites are soothingly neutral – with shades of porridge, coffee and cream – and the elevated pub grub menu at The Village Pub over the road uses traditional butcher’s cuts from nearby Paddock Farm and seasonal veg from the kitchen garden.
Price: Doubles from £399
Hatherley does spa simply and exceedingly well. The new facilities include a swimming pool with leafy garden views, a vitality pool with massage jets, sauna, steam room, relaxation lounge, experience showers and a state-of-the-art-gym. Treatments, such as peaceful pregnancy massages and resurfacing precision peels, use Elemis and Made for Life products. The 17th-century manor house has deluxe double bedrooms with fancy four-posters, and feature bedrooms with original wooden beams and views over the pretty walled garden. Plus, The Dewinton Restaurant offers unfussy, filling food from slow-roasted belly of pork to grilled fillet of trout.
Price: Doubles from £173
Neighborhood: Chipping Campden
Peer out of the windows at Cotswold House Hotel and Spa and you’ll spot herds of grazing cattle out the back and pretty cafes spilling out onto Chipping Campden square out front. More than 200 years old, it’s honeycombed with 28 bedrooms, including garden cottages and suites (some with private gardens, hot tubs and satisfyingly chunky limestone baths). Behind the hotel, you’ll find two acres of bushy mature gardens, leading to a spa set in the former coach house. Inside these old doors there’s a hydrotherapy pool and hammam, as well as seven treatment rooms for ylang ylang hydrating massages and oxygenating facials.
Price: Doubles from £195