SHARPHAM HOUSE, DEVON

The Daily Telegraph - Travel - - FRONT PAGE -

You can choose sec­u­lar mind­ful­ness re­treats in a gor­geous Pal­la­dian-style man­sion, na­ture med­i­ta­tion re­treats un­der can­vas in the wood­land or Bud­dhist re­treats at The Barn at this in­spi­ra­tional 550-acre es­tate along­side a three-mile stretch of the river Dart near Totnes in Devon. Chunks of time, in­clud­ing some meals, are spent in si­lence on most re­treats to deepen mind­ful aware­ness, and all re­treats move into si­lence af­ter 9pm.

Three nights’ full board from £325 (sin­gle room): 01803 732542; sharphamtrust. org the five-day well-be­ing re­treats that run be­tween April and Oc­to­ber at this bo­hemian chateau in the foothills of the Pyre­nees. You can also stay here pri­vately be­tween group re­treats, when you will rise in si­lence and re­main silent un­til break­fast at 10am. The re­treats pivot on de­li­cious raw food meals and “em­bod­ied med­i­ta­tion”, a prac­tice which teaches you to fo­cus on the sadhu who used to live here, Faraz tells me, when the palace was a ruin.

Sup­pers af­ter the ses­sions are by can­dle­light at a ta­ble for one on the ter­race. Like the ac­tiv­i­ties, meals here can be as in­dul­gent or as cleans­ing as you choose. While I eat mainly off the well­ness menu with dishes such as lemon co­rian­der veg­etable soup, char­grilled zuc­chini and broc­coli with gar­lic-in­fused spiced tomato salsa, I also en­joy one glass of fan­tas­tic red wine each night and on the last evening I treat my­self to a sen­sa­tional choco­late fon­dant pud­ding. Why not? No one’s telling.

I barely reg­is­ter the pres­ence of other guests and don’t feel lonely or un­usual when I dine or sit by the pool alone. This wouldn’t be the case at ev­ery ho­tel, but Raas De­vi­garh feels dis­creet enough, with enough solo guests, for it not to be an is­sue.

There’s a gi­ant, hand-painted swing in one of the court­yards, and most nights af­ter sup­per I take my­self there to swing like a child un­der the stars with no one about, the heady scent of queen of the night flow­ers in my nose. I have a rose petal bath in my room one evening, and I of­ten re­turn from sup­per to find po­ems (such as “Mu­sic power of mind­ful breath and use yo­gic move­ment to re­ju­ve­nate body and mind.

All-in­clu­sive four-night re­treat from £875pp, based on two shar­ing a dou­ble room: 0033 647 23 49 66; yob­a­balounge. com

NAT­U­RAL HAVEN

Caro­line, left, en­joys the idyl­lic sur­round­ings

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