Staying well is especially hard for travellers
Now that “wellness” has become the ultimate status symbol, we are all trying to avoid its opposite, illness, right? The idea is to float through winter with a beatific glow and irrepressible bounciness. If you can talk with authority about the latest lurgy-fighting supplement or immune-boosting recipe while commiserating with those who have a cold, so much the better (I jest).
Everyone knows staying well is especially hard for travellers. Anyone who boards a plane on a regular basis understands that the chances of picking up a bug are high. That’s why, as well as swathes of cashmere, chic fliers have their bags stuffed with products to harness the antibacterial action of essential oils. Lavender, tea tree and eucalyptus are famous for fighting off bugs. I rate de Mamiel Altitude Oil, £30, from Space NK. Then, on arrival, take a bath with Espa Resistance Bath Oil, £30.
Another way of staying well? Spa treatments – especially massage. When we are stressed, our bodies are less able to fight off infections. A massage that decreases stress will therefore help us fight off the cold clearly suffered by the man in seat 24B, or the cabin crew’s collective cough. Massages are basically medicinal, and thus guilt-free.
If you’re looking for a spa to decrease stress levels this winter, consider Bovey Castle in Devon. I only went there because it was close to my family’s holiday cottage. It’s not as cool as Lime Wood, as chic as Barnsley House or as beautiful as Cliveden, but it is grand yet friendly and old-school comfortable.
Last year Bovey Castle won five red AA stars for exceptional hospitality and the staff are always superfriendly and accommodating. The hotel has a formal Great Western restaurant with stiff chairs and seriously delicious food, plus a much more relaxed Smith’s Brasserie. The rooms are spacious and well appointed. If we’re being sniffy, they have a slight air of the TV makeover show about them, but that is reflected in the price (see footnote). There are roaring fires, comfort food and plenty of places to curl up and read the papers. Oh, and breakfast is good too.
The spa is a proper one, with an indoor pool (critical in winter, when outside activities are limited), Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. The gym is less impressive, and hidden in the basement – but you do have the grounds to explore and beautiful Dartmoor beyond. Treatments are of the Espa variety and are done well. My Orly pedicure was great.
A cooler, chicer but pricier winter option is Heckfield Place in Hampshire. Recently opened, it reached mass consciousness when it hosted Liv Tyler and Derek Blasberg before Princess Eugenie’s wedding. A grand, imposing Georgian-style house with beautiful grounds, it has rooms that are super-luxe and modern in the manner of Soho House hotel – and the food is ovfighterseen by the acclaimed Skye Gyngell. You could easily spend all weekend in the house and not need to venture out.
The spa, called Little Bothy, is small but perfectly formed, all cosseting smells, low-level lighting and snuggly blankets. It uses
The spa treatment room at Bovey Castle