Home > Spa > Travel > A Beauty Editor’s Honest Opinion on the Best UK Spas

Need a break? But don’t want to book an expensive spa that’s not worth the money?   

Before becoming TMC’s Editor, Lydia House was a Beauty Editor for over 10 years. 

And seeing as she’s been to nearly all of them (we’re not jealous at all!) we’ve asked her to share her honest review of the best spas in the UK.

From the one she can’t fault, to the place you need to book with caution. 

These are her favourite spots to relax and unwind.

Book one today and receive all the pampering you deserve. 

Best Spa for a Solo Stay

Champneys Forest Mere
Champneys Forest Mere

PROS
+ Guests walk around in robes
+ Exceptional treatments
+ State-of-the-art facilities
+ Tons of areas to explore
+ An outside pool
+ Beautiful grounds and scenery
+ Fitness classes, if that’s your thing
+ Great value

CONS
– My room was a bit noisy (but they upgraded me)

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“I booked this as a treat before I had my second baby and loved it. You just can’t beat Champneys when it comes to spa breaks. They have so much experience at getting it right, and the therapists are trained to a t. And like all Champneys resorts, guests happily saunter around in their dressing gowns, making it the perfect place to unwind.
On this stay, I asked to move rooms as mine was next to an air-con unit, and they upgraded me to a much bigger room that overlooked the lake. I was in heaven! I went on my own, and honestly, it was incredible. I didn’t feel weird at all. I also used the spa when most people were at dinner, and there were only 2-3 other people in there. But it never felt crowded, even during the day. I’d say that some of the food is a bit average. It’s not awful, just not out of this world. But for dinner, I ordered room service, and for me, food always tastes better when you’re sitting in a dressing gown, eating it on a plush hotel bed, and watching whatever you want. I was blown away by the areas in the spa. From ice rooms to rainforest showers, there’s tons of places to relax, or even nap. I’d go back in a flash.”

Best Luxury Health Spa

Herb House Spa, Lime Wood Hotel
Herb House Spa, Lime Wood Hotel

PROS
+ Stunning location
+ Beautiful rooms
+ Great outside area

CONS
+ It’s expensive

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“If six-star hotels existed, this would be one. I stayed and used the spa on a work trip and have always wanted to return. Its picturesque setting is in the middle of the New Forest and you see wild horses roaming free on your drive-in. The spa is so lovely and a great one to go to in summer as the outside area makes you feel like you’re abroad. They have a health focus in the Herb House Spa with nutritious juices and healthy meals on offer. And the treatments are by Bamford and Sarah Chapman, so you know you’re in good hands.
The rooms in the hotel are stunning but sadly quite expensive, so you need a large budget. But if you can treat yourself, you won’t regret it. During your stay, you’re made to feel like you live there (if only!). The food is exceptional, and the hotel bar makes for some cool after-dinner drinks.”

Best Spa for Couples

Lucknam Park
Lucknam Park

PROS
+ Stunning pool
+ Incredible food
+ Beautiful grounds
+ Cosy, homely feel
+ Good for couples

CONS
– The spa was crowded at certain times of the day
– It’s pricey

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“Make sure you use the spa at night. My husband and I did this; it was empty and pure heaven. A few people came in while we were there, but not many. They have a fire by the pool, and it’s magical if you manage to get it to yourself. I was pregnant during this stay too. And as pregnancy massages go (if you know, you know), mine was pretty good.
The hotel is stunning too. The long drive up is like something out of Pride and Prejudice, and the staff are so welcoming. It has a lovely, homely feel despite its grandeur. The food is incredible, and they have two options for dinner, one Michelin-star restaurant and a brasserie. We went for the brasserie, which was exceptional, so who knows what the other one is like. They also have their own pastry chef, so if you have a sweet tooth, it’s well worth booking in for an afternoon tea.”

Best Spa for Adventure

Brimstone Spa
Brimstone Spa

PROS
+ Beautiful setting
+ Stunning facilities
+ Great food
+ Modern rooms
+ Lots to do
+ A room with free snacks

CONS
– Not sure there is one

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“It’s hard to fault this spa hotel. They’ve thought of everything. It’s also set in the most beautiful location, just made for relaxing. I went to review it when it first opened, and the fresh scent of the countryside mixed with smokey fires still sticks in my mind. Everything about Brimstone feels heavenly. The hotel even has a reading room filled with complimentary snacks and drinks (including wine!) that makes for a welcome treat if you’ve been adventuring on walks. The spa’s outside area has a gorgeous fire, jacuzzi and sauna that you’ll never want to leave. And inside is just as good, with lots of rooms to unwind in. The food in the restaurant is delicious too. Really, there’s nothing bad I can say about it, and I’d happily go back in a heartbeat.”

Best Spa for Peace & Quiet

Cottonmill Spa at Sopwell House
Cottonmill Spa at Sopwell House

PROS
+ State-of-the-art treatments and facilities
+ Peace and quiet
+ Day spa packages

CONS
– It’s £100 a day extra to use the spa if staying in the hotel
– A bit limited if you’re pregnant

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“My husband and I went here on a mini break before we had our first baby. We booked a costly hotel package with dinner and spa treatments, but when we checked into the Cottonmill Spa, they said we had to pay another £100 per person to use the new facilities, which made no sense. We complained, and they wavered it, but hopefully, they’ve made it more transparent. But double-check before you book.
Anyway, once you’re in, it’s completely worth it. I’ve never been to a spa that’s so quiet. Maybe that’s why they charge so much! The facilities are beautiful inside and out and have some fantastic treatments you can try. Sadly, I was pregnant, so I couldn’t utilise everything, but I still had a great time and spent hours there. Our hotel room was a bit disappointing for the cost, but the food and waiting staff were sublime, which made up for it. If I returned, I’d book a day spa package and maybe stay locally in an Airbnb.”

Best Spa in a Countryside Hotel

Barnsley House
Barnsley House

PROS
+ Beautiful grounds
+ Outside Hydro Pool
+ Homely luxury hotel
+ Stunning rooms
+ Brilliant food

CONS
– Not a big spa

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“It feels a bit rogue to put this on here as the spa isn’t hugely impressive and it’s mainly an outside hydro pool and not much else. But it’s one of the nicest places I’ve ever stayed and the only treatment I’ve ever fallen asleep in.
There’s just something about Barnsley House that makes you feel instantly relaxed the minute you walk through the door.
It’s like going to your parent’s house, but your parents own a beautiful county mansion in the Cotswolds, and they’re incredible cooks that wine and dine you the whole time.
Elemis resided here when I visited, but now the treatments are run by Aromatherapy Associates, and if you haven’t heard of them, well, then you really do need to book in for a spa break, because you’ve been seriously missing out.”

Best Spa for Celeb Spotting

Soho Farmhouse
Soho Farmhouse

PROS
+ Dreamy outside heated pool
+ Cowshed treatments
+ Stunning and cosy spa area
+ Peaceful
+ Beautiful and homely interior

CONS
– You need to be a member (or a guest of one)
– It’s expensive

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“I’ve been here a few times and love it so much. The food is so good, and every little touch has been well thought out. The minute you arrive you feel like you’re on an adventure. You leave your car at the entrance and you’re transported to the resort in a cool, refurbed milk cart.
The resort is quite sizeable, so you’re given bikes to ride around, which is so fun. Or if you don’t fancy the ride, you can call for the cart to pick you up, or you can walk of course. To maintain the privacy of guests (aka the celebs), you’re not allowed to use phones in certain spaces or take photos, which is great, as it means you’re literally forced to switch off from external stresses. The spa itself is pretty small but has beautiful outdoor tubs to sink into. And a stone’s throw away is a dreamy, heated pool that seamlessly blends into the lake. The treatments are by Cowshed, who I think are the best for massages – so be sure to book one. But don’t be late! A lesson I learnt – as they take off the minutes you’re delayed by.
If staying, special treats are available throughout your trip, from home-baked cookies by your bed, to the cocktail and breakfast cart that can muster up delights outside your room.
The only downside is if you want to use this spa, you must have a membership or be a member’s guest. Which is a change from a few years back when they let non-members in at certain times (i.e., me). And as much as I love the place, and I get why they’ve done it, I’m not sure I’d use it enough to give them another £100, as it’s already very pricey.”

Best Spa to Book for Summer

Pennyhill Park
Pennyhill Park

PROS
+ Huge spa area
+ Lots of facilities
+ Outside pool and jacuzzis
+ Delicious, unusual food
+ Good value

Downsides
– Certain areas need a revamp
– It was busy, but we still found our own space
– Our room was warm, but they brought us Dyson fans, which cooled it quickly.
– Our massages were good but not exceptional.

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“A friend and I stayed here for two nights and loved it. From the incredible rain shower in our room to ordering champagne to our sun lounger, it was the break we needed and more. The spa is huge, and there are tons of areas to place yourself. Even the dressing rooms have areas to chill in.
Although I would note that even though there were a lot of places to go, there were a lot of people. It didn’t bother us, it was just busy, and you had to come back to areas if someone was already there.
We both had a back massage and were a bit underwhelmed by them. However, we had just come out of lockdown, and we still had that weird mask on mask off situ, which could have affected our experience.
One of the best things about the spa is the enormous outside pool, and if you’re lucky enough to enjoy some hot weather, it can feel like you’re on holiday.
We loved the food, which was surprising as the menus were quite unusual. Sometimes we weren’t completely sure what we were ordering but everything was delicious.”

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