When we set out to find the world’s best spa hotel, we had no idea it would be such back-breaking work. No no no, don’t give us that look: scouring reef-fringed bays, pristine rainforests and, yes, Britain’s leafy countryside for splendidly tiled hammams, state-of-the-art spa suites and fairy-fingered therapists is no easy task. We weren’t looking for a run-of-the-mill scrub-and-a-dip day spa, but rather the sort of artfully serene, fluffy-bathrobe-toting, forest-view-flaunting temples of indulgence that hold the secret to unfurrowed brows and unknotted muscles. With the help of our hotel-loving voters and our expert judges – beauty beacon Newby Hands, indulgence pro Susan Kurosawa and aopthecary gurus Malin + Goetz – we celebrated 10 of the most life-enhancing, mood-improving, radiance-boosting spas in our inaugural Smith Hotel Awards…
SMITH AWARD WINNER
COMO SHAMBHALA ESTATE – BALI, INDONESIA
Why this spa’s a star Tucked in a verdant pocket of peaceful paddy fields and gently swaying palm-trees near Ubud, Como’s flagship spa is renowned for its back-to-nature approach. The wellness ethos extends across the whole resort, which takes a holistic approach in its structured wellbeing programmes: there’s fresh, organic produce in the restaurants and guests can stay in one-bedroom Retreat Villas with private couples’ therapy rooms and alfresco showers.
Favourite facilities Treetop treatment pavilions, outdoor hydrotherapy pools with canopy views, jungle gyms, yoga studios.
LIME WOOD – HAMPSHIRE, UNITED KINGDOM
Why this spa’s a star Hidden in the heart of the New Forest, this sprawling spa’s treatments are a collection of all-natural holistic indulgences, from wild-herb facials and seaweed wraps to steam-and-mud therapies for two. Upstairs, the fragrant rooftop herbary is just the spot for a moment of pre- or post-treatment contemplation; downstairs, the fantastic food bar offers delicious treats of the raw, cured and, yes, bubbly variety.
Favourite facilities Double treatment room with steam room, garden and outdoor bath, outdoor steaming hot pool, rooftop herb garden for yoga and meditation.
SECOND RUNNER UP
BORA BORA PEARL BEACH RESORT & SPA – BORA BORA, FRENCH POLYNESIA
Why this spa’s a star Seductive Manea Spa – one of the biggest in Polynesia – embraces the gardens, with serene, pond-peppered treatment rooms and exclusive therapies such as open-air Vichy showers or massages with ‘dancing feet’. It even boasts its own in-house tattoo artist: beautiful, abstract, personal and symbolic, Tuhei’s Polynesian tattoos represent everything from family to power, protection or nature.
Favourite facilities Watsu pool, Vichy shower, hammam, Jacuzzi, aqua aerobics and stretching classes.
Why this spa’s a star The therapies here are steeped in local lore, but deliver the stress-busting skin-pampering results the Lion City’s sophisticated urbanites demand. Signature treatments are designed around the cycles of the moon; Javanese massages, peony and plum-blossom scrubs, Neem-oil hair treatments and crystal lymphatic facials are highlights of the extensive spa menu.
Favourite facilities Sound wave loungers, herbal steam room, ice fountain, treatment rooms with private outdoor garden, scented showers.
Why this spa’s a star Cocooned within walled gardens, this spa spoils idle indulgers, with heated ceramic beds in the tepidarium, an open-air saltwater plunge pool, and thermal cabins that run the gamut from steam to sauna via Japanese salt and amethyst rooms. Luxurious treatments from Anne S+emonin and Carita complete the head-to-toe experience.
Favourite facilities Indoor-outdoor hydrotherapy pool, a double treatment room, experience showers, yoga and Pilates studio, sunlight therapy, dry flotation programme.
Why this spa’s a star Helmed by Professor Canonaco, the approach here is medical and scientific. The ‘leg school’ – a series of whirlpools, water walkways, medicated mud treatments and lymphatic massages – is favoured by film stars in search of picture-perfect pins. With postural check-ups and cooking classes, the spa promotes a complete lifestyle overhaul, tempered by soothing rose facials and essential-oil massages.
Favourite facilities Vascular therapy suite, postural exams, endermology treatments, Power Plate and Fitbox private lessons.
Why this spa’s a star Perched on the edge of a beryl lagoon, this swim-up hillside spa offers a pared-down programme of meditation, gentle body conditioning and pampering treatments. Healing flowers and aromatic herbs are grown at the family farm, producing tonics and essential oils for muscle-soothing baths, aloe wraps, and sugarcane and mango facials.
Favourite facilities Outdoors deep-soak bush bath, swimming lagoon, over-water meditation deck, yoga and core training.
Why this spa’s a star A few minutes away from iconic Wineglass Bay, this jaw-dropping stingray-shaped sanctuary embraces the landscape, encouraging you to chill out in style. Physical and spiritual needs are catered for, with meditation classes, personalised healthy menus, cocooning body wraps and radiance-boosting facials.
Favourite facilities Dual treatment suite, hammocks, in-suite yoga mats, beach runs, revitalising tea menu.
Why this spa’s a star Take your pick from two hammams, nine treatment rooms, six outdoor massage cabins, an indoor pool, and a hair salon headed up by Jean-Michel Faretra. Shiseido products complement the traditional steam-room experience, which will leave you buffed, fragrant and utterly relaxed to explore La Mamounia’s legendary palm-tree gardens.
Favourite facilities Large indoor heated pool, candlelit chambers, laconium, Pilates and yoga classes.
Why this spa’s a star As well as indulging in the blend of Thai, Indonesian, Ayurvedic, and hot-stone massages and treatments, you can also book sessions with the spa’s team of empathetic therapists; an ‘intuitive counsellor’ is at hand to give you semi-psychic guidance. Restored, empowered and refreshed, explore the mile of unspoilt, uninhabited and unforgettable beach.
Favourite facilities Breeze-kissed yoga room, outdoor Jacuzzi garden, double massage rooms, Japanese baths, Pilates studio.
Looking for the world’s hottest hotel bar, sexiest bedroom, or funkiest budget boutique hotel? Take a sneaky peak at our Smith Hotel Awards winners – you never know, you might just get some inspiration for a show-stopping Valentine’s Day getaway.