Places you can com­bine your spa treat­ment with some in­ter­est­ing his­tory.


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The world’s first spa was set up in the Somerset hills, which be­came the fit­tingly-named town of Bath. The for­ti­fy­ing ef­fects of nat­u­ral spring wa­ters found around Bri­tain were dis­cov­ered in the late 1600s, and re­lax­ing in nat­u­ral spring pools soon be­came a fashionable ac­tiv­ity for the elite classes. The legacy is a se­ries of el­e­gant spa towns si­t­u­ated in pic­turesque spots all over the coun­try, where grand Ge­or­gian ar­chi­tec­ture forms an at­mo­spheric back­drop to cut­ting-edge spa treat­ments and lux­ury ho­tels, with a fo­cus on liv­ing well. We hope you en­joy our se­lec­tion where you can even com­bine your spa treat­ment with a spot of his­tory.


The city of Bath flour­ished with the fash­ion for spa wa­ters and the re­sult is an at­trac­tive town set in the green hills of Somerset in south-west Eng­land. Bath's her­itage dates back to the Ro­man in­va­sion of Bri­tain; the Ro­mans built the tem­ple of their bath com­plex in 60-70 AD and the bathing com­plex was grad­u­ally built over the sub­se­quent 300 years. The Ro­man Baths, now a tourist at­trac­tion, are ex­cel­lently pre­served and make a fas­ci­nat­ing visit. If you feel like im­mers­ing in some ther­mal wa­ters your­self, head to Ther­mae Bath Spa, now an at­trac­tion in its own right thanks to its ap­peal­ing rooftop spa pool. Un­wind with views over the el­e­gant, golden-hued ar­chi­tec­ture of Bath while soak­ing in the nat­u­rally warm, min­eral-rich wa­ters. Ther­mae Bath Spa of­fers var­i­ous pack­ages to en­joy its mod­ern fa­cil­i­ties, with whirlpools, state-of-the-art Well­ness Suite and mas­sage treat­ments on of­fer. Thor­oughly re­laxed and in need of a treat? Head to the fa­mous Pump Room Restau­rant next to the Ro­man Baths. Its grand Ge­or­gian ar­chi­tec­ture with colon­nades, glit­ter­ing chan­de­liers and white table­cloths cre­ates an at­mo­spheric set­ting for the restau­rant's fa­mous af­ter­noon tea. You can even sam­ple the nat­u­ral min­eral wa­ter here too, although it's an ac­quired taste! By rail, Bath Spa sta­tion is eleven min­utes from Bris­tol, or just over an hour from Lon­don Padding­ton.


Har­ro­gate is an­other Bri­tish spa town that was de­vel­oped in Vic­to­rian times. Si­t­u­ated in North Yorkshire, the town is pretty and makes for a re­lax­ing break, with the Royal Turk­ish Baths that opened in 1896 still of­fer­ing top-notch treat­ments. The beau­ti­ful build­ing was given a £1mil­lion facelift and re­stored to its full Vic­to­rian glory so you can ex­pe­ri­ence a con­tem­po­rary spa ex­pe­ri­ence amid Moor­ish ar­chi­tec­ture and tiling and Ital­ian ter­razzo floors. Fol­low the rit­ual of heat­ing, cool­ing and cleans­ing be­fore pro­gress­ing through the hot room cham­bers, and end­ing up with the in­vig­o­rat­ing cold plunge pool. Find time to treat your­self at Betty's Tea Room, which first opened in Har­ro­gate in 1919, and went on to ex­pand through­out Yorkshire; you'll feel like you're in a dif­fer­ent era as you are served Betty's fine teas and del­i­ca­cies. Har­ro­gate is a two hour and 45-minute train jour­ney from Lon­don Kings Cross, chang­ing at York.


While vis­it­ing the Cotswolds in south-west Eng­land, be sure to pay a visit to Chel­tenham, one of the big­gest towns in the pic­turesque re­gion. De­vel­oped in the 18th and 19th cen­turies as a plea­sure health re­sort, Chel­tenham re­tains much of its Re­gency ar­chi­tec­ture and spa her­itage. Chapel Spa, si­t­u­ated in the cen­tre of Chel­tenham, of­fers lux­u­ri­ous treat­ments and day spa pack­ages, which you can com­ple­ment with lunch or din­ner in the ad­ja­cent Story Teller Restau­rant. Chel­tenham is in the county of Glouces­ter­shire, around two hours and 20 min­utes by train from Lon­don, chang­ing at ei­ther Swin­don or Bris­tol.

Fur­ther afield

Llan­drindod Wells (Wales) The prac­tice of ‘tak­ing the wa­ters' boomed in Llan­drindod Wells in Vic­to­rian times, with the ar­rival of the rail­way re­sult­ing in it be­com­ing the most fashionable spa town in Wales. The legacy for this town, lo­cated in green and pleas­ant mid Wales, is re­splen­dent with Vic­to­rian ho­tels such as the mag­nif­i­cent, re­cently re­stored Metropole. Orig­i­nally the largest ho­tel in Wales upon com­ple­tion in 1896, it is now still one of the coun­try's premier ho­tels. En­joy con­tem­po­rary four star spa ex­pe­ri­ences at The Rock Spa, amid the sur­round­ings of a Vic­to­rian-style con­ser­va­tory. The ho­tel's award-win­ning Rad­nor & Miles Restau­rant serves up a de­li­cious à la carte menu for lunch and din­ner. Llan­drindod Wells has rail con­nec­tions with Crewe and Swansea, which connect on­wards with Lon­don and Manch­ester.

Cri­eff, Perthshire (Scot­land)

A hy­dro spa opened in the Perthshire mar­ket town of Cri­eff in 1868, mak­ing it a coun­try re­treat for wealthy busi­ness­men from Ed­in­burgh and Glas­gow. To this day, Cri­eff Hy­dro re­mains a re­lax­ing re­treat for vis­i­tors. The four star spa is set amid beau­ti­ful grounds and of­fers an enor­mous range of leisure ac­tiv­i­ties ad­di­tional to the usual body and beauty treat­ments, mak­ing it a fam­ily hol­i­day des­ti­na­tion too. There are six cafés and restau­rants on site to choose be­tween – serv­ing up ev­ery­thing from healthy soups to a sump­tu­ous din­ner. Head to the Vic­to­rian Win­ter Gar­den for the best views to ac­com­pany your af­ter­noon tea. Cri­eff is a 36-minute drive from Perth, which has rail­way con­nec­tions with Ed­in­burgh (one hour and 24 min­utes) and Glas­gow (one hour and 31 min­utes).

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