Whether it’s a quick facial in a glitzy London hotel or a pain-relieving treatment in the wilds of Scotland, the latest spa trends continue to influence the way we move, soothing the stresses of everyday life life wherever we choose to do it.
Some come and go, while others stick around for the long haul – buzzwords like Ayurveda, holistic and naturopathy are firmly entrenched in the minds of wellness enthusiasts around the world today. As we head into the new year, the UK’s leading spas and hotels are revamping their offerings with the latest technology and practices – these are the game changers to keep a close eye on.
The Spa at Gleneagles
Established in 1924 with its own railway station in Glendevon and Perthshire’s Ochil Hills, Gleneagles is Scotland living at its best. It’s not just a hotel, but a destination where interesting pleasures and people collide (as well as great bars, restaurants and 232 rooms and suites). Since Ennismore took over in 2015, Glorious Playground has worked: piecemeal, but smooth. The latest revelation, in 2021, was the spa. A wonder of 20 treatment rooms with an army of therapists, it exudes the spirit of Gleneagles in general: festive, confident and full of bonbon. A charming waiting area with beautifully upholstered sofas features a water feature adorned with plants. The relaxation room with its parting curtains and squished beds looks a bit like a luxury girls’ dormitory.
Deliriously contented women gossiping by the vitality pool and heated sunbeds. The Nutrition at Spa Café, led by naturopath-nutritionist Rosemary Ferguson, takes a sharp turn from Martinis at the American Bar to buckwheat risotto, pumpkin salads and herbal teas. Ferguson has made retreats here with mountainside yoga, silent hikes and wild swimming. I had a Long Exhale treatment, Gleneagles’ signature treatment, which begins with stretching, followed by a massage with linseed, borage and sea buckthorn oils infused with neroli, rose essence and sandalwood balm. I finished with a face and scalp massage with a jade comb, which was very good. Tata Harper’s Sensorial Reset three green beauty rituals incorporate color therapy, breathing, singing bowls and lymphatic drainage. This is also the first UK home outside of London for Dr Barbara Sturm, the brand known for its anti-inflammatory treatments. Other spa options include personalized wellness treatments, while Beauty Lodge, the former gatehouse now run by Bob and Cloche, offers top-to-toe beauty makeovers. Then there’s prosperity in general, of course. There are over 50 outdoor activities on offer, from misty heather pits to tree climbing and ax throwing: I’ll save the latter for my next visit. Lydia Bell
Address: The Gleneagles Hotel, Gleneagles Hotel, The, Auchterarder PH3 1NF
Price: Retreats and treatments from £135
Espa Life in Corinthia
A fixture on the London spa scene, Espa Life in Corinth has long offered an eclectic menu of treatments in the cocoon of a spa, a place where curves and hidden doors create a barrier from everyday stress. Now, in an effort to promote mental health rather than mere pampering, she’s turned left with a new trio of Modern Alchemy treatments inspired by the lunar cycle and promoting peace, strength and balance. The rituals contain elements from Ayurvedic healing, Chinese medicine and shamanic practices. “People have been through a stressful time,” says spa manager Kirsty McLellan. “They’re looking for a more holistic experience with emotional support.” Lovers of powerful massages should book the Harmonizing treatment, which uses a Kansa wand – a tool with a polished metal dome to ease knotted muscles – or the Empowering option, with its jade roller. I settle into the Tranquility experience, which begins with a crystal foot bath ceremony and then continues with a two-hour ritual that includes a scrub with orange peel, jasmine and peppermint oils, which perfume the womb-like treatment room. A foot massage using a small Kansa bowl—a technique borrowed from Ayurveda that’s supposed to alkalize the body—is pleasantly rough and grounding. This is followed by a traditional massage around the neck and shoulders, working on the jaw and scalp, which prepares me for a soothing Shirodhara treatment in which a steady stream of warm oil flows over my forehead. Lucille Howe