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Our little black book of enchanting places

Relax: it's National Spa Week

Posted in HEALTH + WELLBEING By Maggie O' Sullivan

National Spa Week starts today, with more than 150 spas across the country taking part. The week is designed to highlight the fact that a spa is much more than just a place to go for beauty treatments. Many also offer substantial health benefits, such as improved sleep quality, treatments for sports injuries or therapies that can help those going through chemotherapy. To locate a specialist spa, check out the National Spa Week website. On the other hand, if you just fancy a bit of luxurious pampering here’s where we suggest.The Little Bothy is the hot new spa at hot new Heckfield Place, Gerald Chan’s eclectic luxury country house hotel in Hampshire. Spa partners are Wildsmith Skin, with treatments inspired by the hotel’s arboretum created by William Wildsmith in the 18th century, and Bodyism, which offers bespoke fitness, from Pilates and yoga to training sessions. The spa has just three therapy rooms at present but will be expanded next year but go now for the kudos of visiting the hotel of the moment. Herb House  at Lime Wood in the New Forest is Travelwrap Company founder Niamh’s favourite spa. Set over three floors plus a roof garden, it’s certainly impressive, with a huge sauna and indoor hydro pool, mud house, outdoor hot pool and indoor lap pool, state-of-the-art gym and raw food café plus 10 treatment rooms offering treatments by some of our favourite brands including Bamford, Voya, Pai, Aromatherapy Associates and Sarah Chapman facials. For the ultimate in pampering, go for an ‘It’s all about you’ spa day in which you can tailor make your own programme.One of my own favourites is Sequoia Spa at The Grove in Hertfordshire. Set over several floors in a former stable block, its size means it can feel slightly impersonal but against that, it has some of the best facilities in the country, with 18 therapy rooms, a gym, 22m indoor pool (and a 25m outdoor pool), and a treatment list as long as your arm from top brands ESPA and Natura Bissé. This month The Grove is offering overnight retreats, which include an ESPA treatment, woodland meditation and yoga plus a night in the hotel.The spa at Dormy House in the Cotswolds comprises a ‘Bathing Room’ with a 16m pool, six tranquil treatment rooms, rasul mud room, personal training suite and a spa terrace with hot tub, but what makes it a bit different is that it has a light, modern feel rather than channelling the usual Southeast Asian vibe. Indeed, the Thermal Suite is inspired by therapeutic techniques from Scandinavia, with a lavender-infused sauna, juniper-laced Finnish cabin, a salt steam room and the choice of a drench shower or an ice experience. There’s also a spa café with its own sun terrace for post-treatment drinks or a light lunch.The spa at Ashford Castle in County Mayo was voted Ireland’s Best Hotel Spa in last year’s World Spa Awards and we can see why. Housed in a bronze conservatory with views out across Lough Corrib, it has a serene Celtic-mythology-meets-Roman-baths feel, with seashell chandeliers and a Tree of Life mural stretching the length of the relaxation pool. There are five treatment rooms, a hammam and a gym with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the lough.

BY MAGGIE OSULLIVAN

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