Urban or rural, or overseas?


A health spa in a rural location makes it easy to feel you have escaped. There will be the added luxury of space, and lush countryside suggesting a greater sense of freedom and abandonment. In addition to the usual beauty and relaxation treatments, rural health spas, such as the Cowshed at Babington House, can offer outdoor activities – swimming, tennis, football, croquet and cycling, putting a greater emphasis on fitness. The Cowshed can also provide treatments in a yurt (Mongolian tent) in the grounds, and the Serenity Spa at Seaham Hall in County Durham boasts an outdoor hot tub.


The advantage of an urban health spa is the accessibility and opportunity for a ‘quick-fix’. It is amazing how removed one can feel from city lifer atwhen cocooned in the calmness of a health spa like the Balmoral in Edinburgh,where guests can enjoy Brazilian toe therapy; or at the Sanctuary in central London that can offer Shirodhra – warm oil poured over your forehead and allowed to dribble through your hair, followed by Marma point massage on your face, neck and upper chest.

Half and half

Some health spas straddle the two, such as the Sequoia health spa at The Grove, Hertfordshire, nestling in 300 acres of woodland – in the middle of Watford. Day-trippers can follow a running route through the grounds then swim in the indoor saline filled ‘Vitality Pool’ followed by a Balinese massage.

Or overseas?

The Blue Lagoon, in Iceland offers the real deal – a reviving waterfall to follow half an hour of languishing in the geothermal seawater spa or steam bath in a larva cave or white silica mud bath. Most health spas try to simulate what nature provides here.

The Banyan Tree Spa in Phuket has won accolades for its high level of service, but frankly any kind of therapy administered on the balmy palm tree-lined sands of gently lapping seashores will win anyone’s vote for the ultimate in pampering.

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