Absolutely Mama discovers the spa destinations to bookmark this year
Words by Helen Baron
Best For Facilities
The Grove is all about facilitating full relaxation, and nowhere is this more apparent than the award-winning spa – definitely one of the best we’ve visited. The styling is sleekly contemporary throughout, and facilities include heat experience and relaxation rooms, a vitality pool and stunning black mosaic-tiled indoor pool. Guests can benefit from a huge range of tailored treatments and packages; my massage made use of a detoxifying scrub and hot-stone therapy and left me feeling beyond rejuvenated.
Home to one of the UK’s most prestigious golf courses and the former seat of the Earls of Clarendon, The Grove offers luxury on a palatial scale. It’s an oasis on London’s northwest fringe, and we mean that literally: at its heart is a beautiful walled garden enclosing lawns, a man-made beach and an exceptionally inviting outdoor pool. There’s also a charming conservatory that runs the width of the garden. Decked out in luxe industrial style, it houses a jungle’s worth of exotic plants, a supervised kids’ play area, an indoor family pool and the newly refurbished Glasshouse restaurant.
Facilities for families
To make full use of the hotel’s amenities, book younger kids into Anoushka’s, the on-site, Ofsted-registered day nursery, which doubles as the hotel’s creche. Our littlest loved the newborn ducklings and soon made friends with the class.
It’s not just babysitting though: fun and inspired touches show that family needs have been given ample consideration throughout the hotel, from complimentary swim nappies in the family pool changing rooms to mini bathrobes and Petit Prince toiletries in the rooms. Speaking of which, the accommodation is excellent for families: the rooms are spacious and you can book adjacent ones so that everyone has enough space while remaining happily connected.
Family dining at The Stables restaurant was another win: our girls were gifted activity packs which saw them happily through until their desserts of jelly, ice cream and cookies, meaning we adults could actually savour our meals. And when morning comes? You can plan your day around a range of activities, from nature trails and hawking to cycling and tennis. Alternatively, you could book the creche again and slip back to the spa.
Rooms at The Grove start at £325 per night; thegrove.co.uk
Best In London
Cloud Twelve is one of a kind. A stylish wellness and lifestyle club set over three extensive floors in the heart of Notting Hill, it’s our new number one place to head for an indulgent spa day without leaving the capital. The wellness clinic, spa treatments and vegan brasserie are open to non-members, while members can make use of the amazingly designed family space, which includes activity classroom and a magic forest-themed playground. Developed in conjunction with an Early Years specialist, the latter is designed to inspire parents and children to play and explore together or independently. Every detail seems to have been considered – and if you want to enjoy a bit of me-time, Ofsted-registered play buddies are on hand to take care of the children.
I booked a massage on the Dolomites quartz treatment bed and it was every bit as luxurious as it sounds – not least because I knew my toddler was having a whale of a time in the family space (In fact, if I’d known just how great a time she was having – I eventually had to physically prise her away in order to leave – I may have spent longer in the sauna, steam and salt rooms). The wellness clinic and spa offer a bountiful range of specialist treatments, from counselling and coaching to colonic hydrotherapy, and there’s a sleek hair and nail salon on site, too, which uses Aveda products and vegan nail brands. A new bar has been set.
Best Indoor Pool
FOUR SEASONS HAMPSHIRE
In easy reach of London, this upscale hotel prides itself on blending old-world elegance with contemporary amenities. Rooms are decorated in a classically English style, many with sweeping views over the surrounding estate, where a host of family-friendly activities await. Spend your days horse-riding, taking canal boat trips, having high-wire adventures among the estate’s treetops or relaxing in the luxurious setting of Wild Carrot restaurant.
The spa at the Four Seasons has you covered, whatever your chosen indulgence. Set in a converted 18th-century stable block, it offers a range of treatments from the classic to the progressive and has a VIP couple’s suite for those enjoying a romantic break. There’s a healthy cafe, sauna and hammam facilities, and two brilliantly designed indoor pools – one for adults and one, Sharkie’s Reef, for families. The latter features water slides and aqua play equipment that’s guaranteed to exhaust the most hyperactive little ones while their parents take a soothing swim nearby.
Rooms at the Four Seasons, Hampshire, start at £325 per room, per night; fourseasons.com/hampshire
Best For A Babymoon
Designed as a ‘village within a village’, Thyme is comprised of a cluster of historic buildings linked by beautiful gardens. The vibe is one of quiet sophistication and rural tranquillity, with no children permitted – so it’s ideal for a babymoon or date break. The hotel offers stylishly appointed accommodation in rooms within the old manorial quarters, and there are two standalone cottages for those who prefer a little more privacy – one on the main site and one a short walk away. The Ox Barn restaurant is nationally renowned, much of its produce supplied by the estate’s own 150-acre working farm and kitchen garden, and for those who want to take some of the culinary magic home with them, there’s a full programme of cookery courses led by Thyme’s own chefs and special guests.
In keeping with the serene ambience of the wider estate, the Meadow Spa offers a mellow atmosphere and services that draw on ‘love of the land’. Treatments use products by Aurelia Probiotic Skincare, emphasising natural ingredients and a scientifically informed approach, while the walled garden beyond the treatment rooms shelters what must be one of the most quietly lovely swimming pools in the country. A balm for the soul as much as a haven for the body, the Meadow Spa at Thyme is peerlessly elegant – and just what you need when you can spare a day or two away from the fam.
Rooms at Thyme start at £325 per night including breakfast; thyme.co.uk
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