Ready for a little pampering? We know exactly how you feel… That’s why we’ve set out to find the most sumptuous spa retreats across the globe. Those in touch with their Earth Mother side should find plenty to purr over at La Donaira, an eco-friendly mountain spa in Andalucia. Also catering to lovers of the rustic life is Bamford Haybarn Spa in the Cotswolds, part of the ever-growing Daylesford group. If communing with the great outdoors isn’t your cup of detoxifying tea, check out the glam surroundings of Capri Palace, where treatment tables overlook the Med. Hopping over to the Italian mainland, San Luis in the South Tyrol offers limb-soothing hydro massage in a lake and a rough-luxe aesthetic guaranteed to relax the mind. Finally, Villa Stéphanie at Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa in Germany’s Baden-Baden teams five-star hospitality with everything from facials to physio. All of these holistic havens are designed to help you get ready to take 2018 in your stride…
The lowdown A bijou retreat chock full of home-grown charm.
Best for Back-to-nature types into herbals and horse riding.
With divinely dressed suites and 620 acres of farmland, a paddock filled with handsome Lusitano horses and a spa so rustically authentic, it seems to have been hewn entirely in one piece of the local stone, La Donaira could be mistaken for a Glastonbury-meets-Ibiza after-gig party pad for a superstar DJ and his entourage. Instead, the atmosphere here is anything but hedonistic.
Beehives buzz, the scent of medicinal herbs fills the air and the barefoot vibe entices you to kick back. The eight timber-roofed and rough-plastered rooms and one yurt feature embracing leather furniture and canopied beds made to sprawl on, and each has spectacular views of the Grazalema National Park. Indulge in hamman treatments, body wraps and massages. And don’t miss the super-fresh and healthy pasture to plate fare, washed down with a crisp glass of wine from the farm’s vineyard.
After a dip in the indoor pool, be sure to saddle up for a leisurely hack. The experience will work muscles you hardly knew existed... Who needs Uber!
AVALENGO, SOUTH TYROL, ITALY
The lowdown A cosy retreat set around a crystal-clear lake.
Best for Hydrotherapy enthusiasts enjoying a romantic getaway.
A 20-minute drive from the picturesque spa town of Merano, San Luis Hotel is an idyllic retreat hidden away among the peaks and forests of Italy’s South Tyrol. Each of the 22 chalets and 16 treehouses come with their own hot tub and sauna, so a degree of life-refreshing therapy can start from almost the moment you arrive.
Making the most of the natural waters is a key theme here, with the hotel’s clubhouse containing a heated indoor/outdoor pool and there’s even a hot tub sunk into the jetty that juts out into the lake. Six elegant treatment rooms are housed within the barn-sized spa. A hydrotherapist conducts sessions out in the lake, focusing on controlled movements and subtle relaxation techniques.
From breakfast through to dinner, the menus (which change every day) delivered by head chef Arturo Spicocchi are fortifying and fabulously flavoured, ranging from full-on Tyrolean classics such as smoked pork and sauerkraut to light, modern takes on Mediterranean staples. The hotel’s knowledgeable staff are more than happy to give you directions on navigating the myriad hiking trails that criss-cross the local mountains – as fine a way of working off those post-Christmas blues as we could imagine.
The lowdown A Neapolitan palace overlooking the Island of Ischia.
Best for Culture vultures who care about their body and their mind.
Sneak a peek at the guest book and you’ll quickly learn what you’re in store for here: Mariah Carey, Leonardo DiCaprio and Gwyneth Paltrow are among the luminaries that have enjoyed this five-star accommodation. Hollywood glam meets Mediterranean cool in the bedrooms and suites, with many having their own private gardens.
There’s a tongue-in-cheek feel to much of the decor, so if you find Warhol’s Mao silk-screen print recreated in tiles at the bottom of your plunge pool, or a giant version of Magritte’s famous bowler hat hanging over your bed, don’t say you weren’t warned.
Once you’ve picked your jaw off the floor, hotfoot it over to the spa for massages and mani-pedis, or book in for some more life-altering therapies. Another must-visit is the spa’s pioneering Leg School, where a combo of volcanic mud, icy wraps and a circuit around hot and cold pools increases blood circulation and improves skin tone.
Having pumped up your body, give your digestion a boost by enjoying the sublime seafood at the two-Michelin-starred L’Olivo restaurant, or wander down to the Il Riccio beach club and order fresh fish caught out of the bay.
VILLA STEPHANIE AT BRENNERS PARK-HOTEL & SPA
The lowdown Stately splendour set in the Black Forest.
Best for Holistic-health lovers who like to be shut off from the world.
Sitting adjacent to Brenners, which has catered to spa enthusiasts since the late 19th century, Villa Stéphanie has taken well-being to new heights of luxury. Once a royal residence, the spa comprises 5,000sq m of floor space spread over five floors, with a vast sauna area, plunge pool, gym, hammam and thermal suite.
Just as enticing are the 15 bedrooms, all dressed in modern classic style – think brass four-posters, button-backed headboards and velvet-covered chaises. One thing you won’t find in your local boutique hotel, however, is the unique ‘digital detox’ installed in each room, where, at the flick of a switch, you can shut yourself off from Wi-Fi or any other electrical output.
Villa Stéphanie is also connected to Haus Julius, a space-age clinic marrying holistic health with state-of-the-art medical care from some of the country’s top practitioners. The post-Christmas slimming regime is well-catered for too, with tailor-made programmes and menus that still pack a flavoursome punch.
Book itRooms from approx £440
BAMFORD HAYBARN SPA, DAYLESFORD
The lowdown A nurturing wellness retreat with an artisanal feel.
Best for City dwellers in search of an ultra-relaxing weekend detox.
Having grown over the past 35 years from an organic farmer to a retail and hotel specialist, it’s no surprise that Daylesford Organics’ decision to build a sumptuous spa was greeted with wild applause from its many fans, Livingetc included.
Stocked with Carole Bamford’s range of body and skincare products, as well as the company’s luxe home scents and candles, everything here takes its cue from nature, from the raw-timber frames to the bare-brick aesthetic of the spa’s relaxation areas. The treatments available – ranging from deep-tissue massage and full-body exfoliation to reflexology – offer a fusion of ancient and modern techniques to create a healing environment, while the rejuvenating atmosphere continues at the adjoining Daylesford cottages.
The Potting Shed is particularly popular, with its heart-warming mix of sumptuous linens, timber panelling and Cotswold-stone walls. The bunk bed for the kids is another major attraction, as is the nearby Seedlings crèche, where little ones have fun on the ride-on tractors. Food, of course, is all organic – the Caesar salad is a major hit, with the blueberry cheesecake a fitting finale.