Twinkle, twinkle little spa
Can't resist the the lure of a fluffy robe? Here's my pick of Devon's top 12 spa days (and one I couldn't resist in Cornwall). Book in and bliss out.
SOURCE AT SAUNTON SANDS, NORTH DEVON
Just one year-old, the Source & Wellness Spa at the multi-award winning Art Deco hotel Saunton Sands on the North Devon coast is three floors of holistic heaven overlooking the beach. Here you can immerse yourself in a full thermal suite experience, with a salt inhalation room, Finnish aroma sauna and ice fountain, designed to get you relaxed and woke all at the same time, then chill up on the roof terrace. I very much approve of their call to healthy hedonism so when you’re not having a Kirstin Florian preen and prink, you’re encouraged to have a Suzi Atkins-curated drink in their 2 AA rosette restaurant. Muddy review coming shortly.
ILSINGTON SPA, DARTMOOR
A peaceful country house hotel with double AA rosette nosh at one end and a city-worthy Tibetan-style spa at the other. It’s bijou but manages to pack in an 11m heated pool, hydrotherapy pool, a steam room and sauna, and if you’ve got ants in your pants (nope, me neither) a fitness suite next door. Haytor is so close for a stomp you can see its peak from the restaurant, or if you’re feeling lazy, just slouch from lounger to treatment room for a heavenly Caudalie pamper. A 2-night Relax and Recharge package is yours for £285 per person and includes all your meals, a 40 min treatment each and a bottle of prosecco. And you can even bring the dog, though not into the spa (obvs).
AZTEC SPA, TORQUAY
Fancy something a bit different? Aztec Spa at The Carlton Hotel in Torquay, is a subterranean Aztec-themed (in a nice not naff way) spa with Mayan panpipes and a low-lit rainforest feel to soothe your buzzing brain. Their signature treatment is a Biotec facial using indulgent Elemis products or how about a Twilight Treat (Robert Pattinson not included) just £49 for four hours of spa chillin’, including use of the huuuge 25m pool, a fitness suite with Netflix and a 30-minute treatment of your choice with a glass of bubbly and nibbles.
CARY ARMS & SPA, BABBACOMBE
Lush me up, baby! Here is sea, sand and spa, all in one award-winning package of The Cary Arms with its Riviera-style sea views from Lyme Bay to Portland Bill. Book in for world-famous Thalgo treatments, a waterfall hydrotherapy pool, steam room and sauna, and a gym for the bouncy Tiggers among you. Fancy an autumn top-up? How about their Autumn 3-for-2 offer – nab 3 nights in one of their Luxury Rooms, Beach Huts, Suites or Cottages and get one night free on them. Or for £115 you can lounge away the day in the spa, tuck into lunch and a glass of fizz, and two 25-min treatments. The food is fab too, check out my lobster lunch review here.
GAIA BORINGDON, PLYMOUTH
Uber-luxe spa Gaia is winner of TWO Muddy awards and no surprises there, as this 16th century “enchanted house on the hill” is modern and luxurious, with a moorland vibe despite its Plymouth location. Named Hotel Spa of the Year in Western Europe & Scandinavia at the World Spa & Wellness Awards 2019 and Condé Nast Johansen’s Best Destination Spa in the UK & Ireland 2018, here are hot tubs, several heat experiences, a deep relaxation room, 12 treatment rooms and a just for spa-guests Spatisserie for dining. I’m rather drawn to the Winter Warming Spa Break (well the Beast is coming back ya know) – 2 nights B&B with full use of the spa, a 40-min treatment and a trad afternoon tea for £160 per night. See you in the Laconium?
ELAN SPA, BOVEY CASTLE
When I fancy the full five-star Downton Abbey experience, I head to Bovey Castle (a gin please, Carson). Choose from a massooove range of Espa treatments, including massage, scrubs and facials, and pre-and-post natal treatments, have a dip in the Art Deco style pool and jacuzzi, then sweat it out in the steam room or sauna. Lunch – in your fluffy robe if you like – is in the Smiths Brasserie overlooking Dartmoor’s wild greenery and the River Bovey. Then it’s up to you – off to the bar for a tipple or downstairs to the wood-panelled gym to run it off on the cardio. A tipple it is then.
ST MICHAELS SPA, CORNWALL
Had one too many late nights (naughty!). Hop over the border to this contemporary beach-front hotel at Falmouth for a range of on-trend detox treatments, including seaweed gels, reiki, mud and Chinese massage, Elemis facials – more choice than you can shake a nourishing frangipani wrap at. If spa-options paralysis gets too much, let me suggest you dip your toe (quite literally) with their Pure & Simple Spa Break: 2-nights, dinner B&B, a 3-hour relaxation sesh in the largest hydrotherapy facility in the South West and full use of the facilities. A trip to Cornwall has never looked so tempting.
SIRONA WELLBEING & SPA, FINLAKE HOLIDAY RESORT, CHUDLEIGH
This brand-spanking new spa with 8 treatments rooms, indoor pool, steam room and sauna offers everything from Elemis facials, to brows, pregnancy and mini-me treatments for the littlies and has lots of great introductory offers until the end of this month to lure you in. Free Prosecco with your manicure? Er, yes! Or how about a 2-for-1 Spa Experience with a friend for £25? That’s a good value preening if ever there was one.
Sea and spa go together like, well gin and tonic, don’t you think? The Voyage Spa at the family-run Thurlestone Hotel is bijou but brill, with contemporary facilities and signature soul-soothing treatments, and yet the whole vibe is tinged with a groovy sense of nostalgia that harks back to the golden age of ocean travel. After a bracing day walking the coastal path, some R&R with bubbles both in a jacuzzi and a glass is pretty hard to beat.
HARSPA, SALCOMBE HARBOUR HOTEL & SPA
Located right on the estuary at upmarket Salcombe in the South Hams, HarSpa at Salcombe Harbour Hotel have couple of timely back-to-school offers at the mo, including their Mum’s Recharge where you can enjoy a facial, back, neck and shoulder massage for £100, or their Bring a Friend which treats you to a 60-minute HarSPA Facial, complimentary 3-hour facility use and a mocktail or smoothie at £80 for two. Don’t know about you, but I’m off to pack my bag pronto.
HOTEL DU VIN, EXETER
This small REN spa is slap-bang in the centre of Exeter, but tucked away in the sheltered walled garden of a gawgus boutique hotel, you’d never know it. With a small indoor-outdoor pool and treatments rooms, you can don the fluffy robe, sun yourself on a lounger, have a soak in the pool then soak up one of their signature facials or massages. Check out their spa offer of dinner, B&B and a 30-minute treatment of your choice, yours for £110.
DART MARINA SPA, DARTMOUTH
As if you need a reason to dart to Dartmouth, here’s another: a stunning hotel with a small pool, spa bath, steam room and sauna – all right on the edge of the beautiful River Dart. For £59 you can soak in the bubbles, enjoy a sublime Back Massage, an Express Facial or their new Tropical Saltmousse Glow which will leave you ready to face the world, then take afternoon tea with more bubbles of a Prosecco kind. See you on the terrace?