Soothe away January blues with a relaxing weekend break.


CHEWTON GLEN, HAMPSHIRE There’s nothing like a mini spa break to offset the stress and excess of Christmas, and reset for the year ahead.

In fact, in the plush tranquillity of a treatment room at Chewton Glen, as my skin soaks up the delicate pure rose damascena oil being gently massaged into my face, the tensions of the past frantic few months simultaneously drift away.

My cold, weather-parched face is refreshed and gleaming after this relaxing and moisturising treatment. But the 60-minute Ananda Facial is far more than a treat for the complexion; the feet, scalp, face and neck Ayurvedic marma points are also massaged, while my skin is thoroughly cleansed and scrubbed, making this a complete, healing and reviving therapy. I feel utterly weightless after mere minutes.

Unsurprisingly, the spa at this award-winning luxury Hampshire hotel is always busy, especially during the New Year period. The treatments are arguably among the best you’ll find and despite the five-star rating, the spa – and indeed the whole hotel – always feels welcoming and relaxed. Friends, mums and daughters, couples and solo relaxation junkies flock from near and far to enjoy it.

There’s a decent-sized swimming pool and gym, dance studios, cold-drench showers, single-sex saunas and steam rooms, a fantastic lunch buffet and – my personal favourite – an amazing hydrotherapy room. If those powerful jets can’t pound the tension from your shoulders, nothing will.

Guests staying for weekends can make use of the golf course and array of scenic walking and jogging trails too.

There are plenty of packages for those who want a day or weekend of pampering. For a New Forest “jungle” experience, book one of the hotel’s famous tree house suites, where private hot tubs and in-room spa treatments can be enjoyed. Can you imagine anything more indulgent and enchanting than a massage, with a cool breeze and the soothing sway of branches and leaves for company?

• Book at or call 0330 100 3180 DORMY HOUSE, WORCESTERSHIRE I’m no stranger to massage but I’m gently stirred from my Revitalising Face Pure Massage at Dormy House spa, feeling like I’ve been floating outside my own body.

“How was it?” my therapist asks. “It felt more like an experience than a facial,” I answer, dazed but incredibly revitalised. “Just what I wanted to hear,” she replies knowingly.

The power of touch is integral to the House Spa’s ethos and this signature treatment, created by leading massage expert Beata Aleksandrowicz. Therapists have been intensively trained by Beata, who stresses massage therapy is one of the most simple and profound ways to look after your health. She tells me regular massage improves blood circulation, removes blockages, improves sleep and releases the happy hormone. Who knew?

Despite the facial focus, tensions in my body feel instantly looser. That’s because, as Beata explains, we have 600 nerve points on the face and each is related to a different part of the body.

Massage techniques offered at the spa are bespoke to each client, and in my post-treatment analysis, my therapist tells me that I can be “quite sensitive and sometimes take on too much”. I half wonder if she’s a mind reader, but this is all part of the spa’s vision for therapists to be in tune with clients throughout the massage.

The personal touch continues with the relaxation spaces in the House Spa, which feel light and airy, yet comforting and homely. Outside, we brace the cold for 0.5 seconds to remove our fluffy white robes and immerse ourselves into the warm bubbles of the hydro pool. You can almost inhale the local Cotswold lavender pots surrounding the pool as their scent drifts with the light breeze.

Another form of deep relaxation is the boutique hotel itself. The 17th century Cotswold farmhouse is relaxed country glamour personified, with roaring fires, oak beams, flagstone floors and plenty of plush sofas. I reluctantly leave the wellie-clad doorway with my batteries fully recharged.

. • Visit or call 01386 852 711.

VIDAGO PALACE, PORTUGAL It’s the middle of winter and I’m feeling smug lounging in a palace swimming pool in my bikini. And then the Jet Blitz happens... I’m summoned to Vidago Palace’s slick Thermal Spa to embark on my water therapy treatment. I’m told the traditional water therapies have healing and medical benefits.

Treatments on offer here include the Simple Immersion Bath, Jet Blitz, Vichy Shower and Hydromassage, with programmes from single use to a personalised 14-day course. But back to that Jet Blitz. The thought of being blasted by cold water doesn’t seem appealing in the UK but in mild Northern Portugal, it’s exhilarating.

I stand at the end of the room in my bikini doing a gradual 360 degree turn while the therapist blasts me with a tepid “hose”. I note she spends extra time targeting the back of my thighs. It’s over in minutes and, after drying off, I’m rewarded with a Vichy Shower. Lying face down on a big bed, a warm shower head travels up and down my body and, with tensions relaxed by the water, a therapist massages knots in my back, arms and legs.

After a final detox massage, the H20 theme continues in the spa’s slick relaxation room. I’m shown nine glass jars of herbal teas, and told to choose a detox concoction.

It’s a contrast to the opulence of Vidago Palace itself. Built in 1910, at the end of the Belle Epoque, the restored hotel’s architecture and interior is breathtakingly classical and decadent, making it feel like you’re staying in an aristocratic house.

• Visit vidagopalace. com/en or call +351 276 990 920.