Contrary to cultural tropes, recharging batteries can be a pleasurable affair, free of kettlebells and restricted diets. And a little R&R can go a long way – a day of body and mind work can work wonders on cortisol levels and general wellbeing – especially when closer to home, without the airline lottery or or dastardly motorway trek.
From zen yoga retreats in the bucolic grounds of stately piles to oriental-inspired spa and spiritual programmes in central London with remedial promise, here are the wellness minibreaks to check into for a happier, healthier start to 2023.
It is a five-day programme to the tune of £2,200, but Yeotown’s enlightened spin on the traditional detox is an effective, challenging but immensely satisfying one. Based in the bucolic rolling countryside of North Devon, Yeotown substitutes deprivation and restriction for nourishing, healthy food, massages and rebalancing walks along the rugged Devonshire coast. It’s all about equipping frazzled souls with the tools they need to make and maintain healthier choices and reconnecting them with nature in a peaceful, rural setting. Outdoorsy focused days can include morning yoga or stretching, a three hour coastal hike, boxing workouts, nutritional cooking classes, a Shiatsu massage and a relaxing stint with a book by the fire. Spa writers have been waxing lyrical about this West Country retreat for years, for good reason.
Price: from £2,200
Somercecil, Badminton Estate and Deer Park
Leveraging the whimsical beauty and seclusion of Badminton Estate in South Gloucestershire, Somercecil’s one day yoga retreats combine vinyasa classes with the recentering rambles through the great (and groomed) outdoors. Yoga classes are followed up with wild foraging on the estate; plant-based lunches with a wellbeing discussion for take-home tips and afternoons are for grounding walks through the Deer Park. Consider it a new-age reboot in a period drama setting. Founders and friends Bella Somerset and Gaby Cecil (with qualifications spanning Mountain leader to Health Coach), profess one simple mission – ‘to help people return to a naturally restful and happy state, and ultimately to feel well.’
When: January 21; January 22; January 23
Book: Retreat day: movement, nature, connectio, somercecil.com
By popular demand, the wellness wizards at Beaverbrook’s Coach House Spa have added to their recalibration calendar with a series of retreats centred on the healing powers of nature. Covering topics and therapies from Celtic Druidism and Wim Hof cold water exposure through to traditional Chinese massage and gut health, no ritualistic stone will be left unturned. Hosted by resident naturopath, Camilla Dos Santos, the Winter Health Reset is the ultimate post-festive-indulgence option, with a pithy programme designed to boost immunity and energy levels, while showing those party season-induced toxins the door. This holistic return to good health features a nourishing lunch, 90-minute naturopathic assessment and breathwork training.
When: various, check website
Price: from £275
Book: Winter Health Reset spa day with resident naturopath Camilla Dos Santos; beaverbrook
Gaia House, South Devon
Remember the silent meditation scene from Fleabag? As one of Europe’s most renowned meditation centres, Gaia House in Devon promises a similar shtum retreat (of the Buddhist tradition), just without the sibling animosity. For a snappy spiritual reboot, opt for the shorter residential courses whose themes include ‘Returning to the Heart’ and ‘Liberation through Loving Awareness.’ This spiritual exploration and extraordinary ‘pause’ from the breakneck speed of our digital world leverages the peaceful, soul-nourishing Devonshire countryside.
Price: from £240
Book: Silence and Meditation Retreats with Buddhist teaching; gaiahouse.co.uk
Cliveden House, Berkshire
Embodying country pile idylls of chandeliers, tapestries and Profumo lore, Cliveden is a 17th century stately retreat that lords over acres and acres of soft countryside. It also lays claim to a superb spa with a grand take on the indoor-outdoor-pool-then-hot-tub assault course. The Proverb Spa Day package is a pampering silly season antidote, with a skin ‘workout’ facial, healthy (but hearty) lunch in the spa kitchen and full use of the Cliveden Spa’s top-notch facilities. Turns out, wellness and hedonism can coexist, contrary to popular opinion.
Price: from £330
Lucknam Park, Cotswolds
Escape to the country (briefly) in 2023 for yoga classes, heavenly spa treatments and a spot of horse whispering at Lucknam Park. Surrounded by 500 green, rolling acres of parkland, the main palladian house offers quiet, refined corners for reading or nursing a gin and tonic, as well as a stellar spa with an outdoor therapy pool immersed in the gardens. The hotel’s Reconnect Retreat Getaway transcends the wellness virtues of the spa, incorporating a spoiling stay in the sumptuously dressed Country Rooms with a three course lunch and dinner, and even heading to the stables for some ‘equine connect.’ Add in the yoga class and 60-minute spa treatment of choice (with use of the facilities) and this is the speedy retreat of Brideshead Revisited reverie.
Price: from £1,392
Book: Reconnect Retreat Getaway; lucknampark.co.uk
The Mandarin Oriental London Spa
I have been reviewing hotels and spas for well over a decade, and still dream about a full body massage from four, maybe five years ago in the Mandarin Oriental London’s moody, subterranean spa. As standard-bearers amid London’s fiercely competitive spa scene, the hotel has recently launched a day-long wellness retreat menu, with the Discover Wellness Retreat a great way of starting 2023 on the front foot. This city-based reboot begins with a healthy breakfast in the modern art-clad Rosebery followed by a nutritional consultation and fitness assessment. Lunch tows the healthy line before an afternoon of oriental-inspired treatments, herbal teas, chakra meditation and crystal healing. This reinvigorating (and informative) day is rounded off with an exquisite, marginally restrained dinner – those wanting to soak up the goodness in the serious plush confines of Mandarin Oriental’s minimalist suites can book in for an overnight stay.
Book: Discover Wellness One Day Retreat; mandarinoriental.com
Harbour Beach Club, Salcombe
Harbour Beach Club is making the most of its privileged location on Salcombe’s pretty South Sands beach with a series of well-curated wellness escapes, all hosted by industry big-wigs. These range from strength and flexibility building yoga retreats to wild swimming, with bucket loads of fresh sea air and beautifully cooked, healthy food. The series is set to launch with illustrious yogi Adrienne Everett leading a two-night zen coastal retreat. Highlights include sunrise and sunset yoga sessions along the beach, morning meditations, long ambles through the soft-grasses lining the cliffs, spa treatments and, of course, delicious food showing off the West Country’s bounty. Yogis can hunker down in sea facing rooms after a day spent reacquainting themselves with long lost muscles and slow breathing.
When: February 3-5
Book: A Movement Inspired Yoga Retreat, hosted by Adrienne Everett; harbourhotels.co.uk
Heckfield Place, Hampshire
A country escape with bags of restrained style and foodie kudos, Heckfield Place is known for ‘getting it right’ – not veering too close to the zeitgeist while keeping its noble bones well dressed in decidedly modern garbs. It’s therefore no surprise that the Hampshire pile-turned-hotel has curated a pitch perfect wellness programme for overspun urbanites, with guests able to piece together their own bespoke R&R stay. Guests are encouraged to channel their ‘inner farmers’ at Farm Fit (a circuit-based training programme on Heckfield’s farm with milk churns, hay bales and ropes subbed in for the standard dumbbells-and-treadmill set up. The Forest Bathing experience leads guests through the motions of mindful breathing and meditation amid a wintery woodland scene, while the Cold Water Immersion Therapy taps into the latest craze with an expert easing brave souls into the Lower Lake, following a brisk walk and string of stretching and breathing exercises to fully prepare them. Add in a cosy stay and spa treatment in the Lower Bothy, and it’s all beginning to feel rather utopian.
Price: From £450 per night, Farm Fit and Immersion Therapy, £150 for 90 minutes
Book: Forest Bathing, Farm Fit and Cold Water Immersion Therapy; harbourhotels.co.uk
Homefield Grange Retreat
As close as you’ll get to a full body detox without jetting to Switzerland (or Yeotown in Devon). Homefield Grange is a retreat in Kettering with expert, holistic treatment programmes that give them a medi-spa edge (without the clinical interiors or white coats). Located on a refurbished farmhouse, Homefield Grange’s luxxy hotel-style interiors combine with holistic, results-driven programmes. The Weekend Body Detox is their only two-day retreat which, over 17 years, has seen weary souls reacquaint themselves with exercise, cleanse their liver and reduce stress, inflammation, (and bloating). Starting at 2pm on a Friday and finishing up at 11am on a Sunday with a light brunch – it’s the busy bee detox and includes scalp, hand and foot massages, mud therapy, Nordic walks, food demonstrations and exercise classes, (many of which can be taken home and stored for a virtuous day).
Price: From £699
Book: The Weekend Body Detox; homefieldgrangeretreat.co.uk