Contrary to cultural stereotypes, recharging your batteries can be an enjoyable affair, free from weights and restrictive diets. And a little R&R can do a lot – a day of body and mind work can do wonders for your cortisol levels and overall well-being – especially when it’s closer to home, without the airline lottery or dastardly highway wandering.
From Zen yoga retreats in the idyllic grounds of stately piles to oriental-inspired spas and spiritual programs in central London with the promise of healing, here are mini wellness breaks to help you get off to a happier, healthier start to 2023.
It’s a £2,200 five-day program, but Yeotown’s enlightened approach to traditional detox is effective, challenging, yet immensely rewarding. Situated in the idyllic rolling countryside of North Devon, Yeotown replaces deprivation and restriction with nutritional, health food, massage and rebalancing walks along Devonshire’s rugged coastline. It’s about equipping dazed souls with the tools they need to make and maintain healthier choices and reconnect them with nature in a peaceful, rural setting. Days spent outdoors can include morning yoga or stretching, a three-hour hike along the coast, boxing workouts, cooking classes, a shiatsu massage, and a relaxing stay with a book by the fireplace. There’s a reason spa writers have been lyrical about this West Country retreat for years.
Price: from £2,200
Somercecil, Badminton Estate and Deer Park
Taking advantage of the whimsical beauty and seclusion of the Badminton Estate in South Gloucestershire, a one-day yoga retreat in Somercecil combines vinyasa classes with hikes in the wonderful (and manicured) outdoor grounds. After yoga classes, wild foraging takes place on the property; plant-based lunches with wellness discussion for on-the-go tips, and afternoons are dedicated to grounding walks around Deer Park. Think of it as a reboot of a new era in a period drama setting. Founders and friends, Bella Somerset and Gaby Cecil (qualified from a mountain leader to a health coach), share one simple mission – “to help people return to a natural, calm and happy state, and ultimately to well-being.”
When: January 21; January 22; January 23
Price: 140 pounds
Book: Retreat day: movement, nature, connectio, somercecil.com
By popular demand, the wellness wizards at Beaverbrook’s Coach House Spa have added a series of retreats focused on the healing powers of nature to their recalibration calendar. Covering topics and therapies from Celtic Druidism and Wim Hof’s cold water exposure to traditional Chinese massage and gut health, no ritual stone will be left untouched. Led by local naturopath Camilla Dos Santos, Winter Health Reset is the ultimate post-Christmas indulgence option, with a concise program designed to boost your immunity and energy levels while opening the door to party season-induced toxins. This holistic recovery includes a nutritious lunch, a 90-minute naturopathic assessment, and breathing training.
When: different, check website
Price: from £275
Book: Winter Health Reset spa day with naturopathic resident Camilla Dos Santos; beaverbrook
Gaia House, South Devon
Remember the silent meditation scene from Fleabag? As one of the most renowned meditation centers in Europe, Gaia House in Devon promises a similar shtum retreat (from the Buddhist tradition), only without the sibling animosity. For a quick spiritual reboot, choose shorter residential courses with topics including “Return to the Heart” and “Liberation through Loving Consciousness.” This spiritual exploration and extraordinary “pause” from the dizzying pace of our digital world taps into the serene, nourishing soul of the Devonshire countryside.
Price: from £240
Book: Silence and meditation retreat with Buddhist teachings; gaiahouse.co.uk
Cliveden House, Berkshire
Embodying rural idylls of chandeliers, tapestries and Profumo lore, Cliveden is a 17th-century stately retreat that rules over acres of soft countryside. It also has a claim to a great spa with a grand approach to the assault course with indoor and outdoor pools followed by a jacuzzi. The Proverb Spa Day package is a pampering, silly seasonal antidote, with facial “training”, a healthy (yet hearty) spa kitchen lunch, and full use of Cliveden Spa’s first-class facilities. It turns out that, contrary to popular opinion, wellness and hedonism can coexist.
Price: from £330
Lucknam park, Cotswolds
Escape to the countryside (briefly) in 2023 for yoga classes, heavenly spa treatments and a place to whisper horses at Lucknam Park. Surrounded by 500 verdant, rolling acres of parkland, the main Palladian house offers quiet, refined nooks for reading or sipping a gin and tonic, as well as a stellar spa with an outdoor therapeutic pool immersed in the gardens. The hotel’s Reconnect Retreat Getaway goes beyond spa wellness to include pampering stays in lavishly dressed country rooms with a three-course lunch and dinner, and even a trip to the stables for a ‘contact’. Add to that a yoga class and a selected 60-minute spa treatment (using the facilities) and you have a Brideshead Revisited quick retreat.
Price: from £1,392
Book: Reconnection Retreat Escape; luckynampark.co.uk
Mandarin Oriental London Spa
I’ve been reviewing hotels and spas for over a decade now and still dream of getting a full body massage four or five years ago at Mandarin Oriental London’s moody underground spa. As a flagship amid London’s fiercely competitive spa scene, the hotel recently introduced an all-day wellness menu, and the Discover Wellness Retreat is a great way to start 2023 on the front. This urban reboot begins with a healthy breakfast at the art-decorated Rosebery, followed by a nutritional consultation and fitness assessment. Lunch complements the healthy line before afternoon treatments inspired by the Orient, herbal teas, chakra meditation and crystal healing. This refreshing (and informative) day culminates in a gourmet, slightly understated dinner – those wishing to soak up the goodness in the solemn plush interiors of the Mandarin Oriental’s minimalist suites can book an overnight stay.
Price: 1285 pounds
Book: Discover Wellness one day retreat; mandarinoriental.com
Harbor Beach Club, Salcombe
Harbor Beach Club makes the most of its privileged location on Salcombe’s pretty South Sands Beach, offering a series of well-curated wellness escapes hosted by industry big wigs. They range from yoga retreats to build strength and flexibility to wild swimming, with plenty of fresh sea air and beautifully cooked, healthy food. The series is set to begin as accomplished yogi Adrienne Everett leads a two-day zen retreat on the coast. Highlights include sunrise and sunset yoga sessions along the beach, morning meditations, long walks on the soft grass that surrounds the cliffs, spa treatments, and of course, the delicious food that showcases the West Country’s abundance. Yogis can squat in the sea-view rooms after a day spent reacquainting themselves with long-lost muscles and slow breathing.
When: February 3-5
Price: 750 pounds
Book: Movement-inspired yoga retreat led by Adrienne Everett; porthotels.co.uk
Heckfield Place, Hampshire
A baggage country getaway with understated style and a gourmet acclaim, Heckfield Place is famous for “doing everything right” – not getting too close to the zeitgeist while keeping its fine bones well dressed in decidedly modern attire. So it’s no surprise that a dilapidated Hampshire hotel has put together the perfect wellness program for the city’s wacky people, with guests able to put together their own tailor-made R&R stay. Guests are encouraged to channel their “inner farmers” into Farm Fit (a circuit-based training program on a Heckfield farm with milk cans, hay bales, and ropes hooked to a standard set of dumbbells and treadmills. The Forest Bath guides guests through mindful breathing and meditation movements in winter forest scenery, while cold water immersion therapy fits in with the latest craze with an expert to introduce brave souls to the Lower Lake, after a brisk walk and a series of stretching and breathing exercises to fully prepare Add to this a cozy stay and spa treatments in Lower Bothy, and things start to seem rather utopian.
Price: From £450 per night, Farm Fit and Immersion Therapy, £150 for 90 minutes
Book: Forest Bath, Farm Fit and Cold Water Immersion Therapy; porthotels.co.uk
Homefield Grange Retreat
As close as possible to get a full body detox without flying to Switzerland (or Yeotown in Devon). Homefield Grange is a Kettering retreat with professional, holistic treatment programs that give them a medi-spa style advantage (no clinical interiors or white coats). The luxurious interiors of Homefield Grange Hotel, set in a renovated farmhouse, combine with holistic, results-oriented programmes. The Weekend Body Detox is their one and only two-day retreat, where for over 17 years weary souls have been reacquainted with exercise, detoxifying the liver and reducing stress, inflammation (and bloating). It starts at 2:00 PM on Friday and ends at 11:00 AM on Sunday with a light brunch – it’s a detox for industrious bees and includes scalp, hand and foot massages, mud therapy, Nordic walking, food demonstrations and exercise classes (many of which take home and stored for a virtuous day).
Price: From £699
Book: Weekend Body Detox; homefieldgrangerretreat.co.uk