Pavilions teetering above the Indian Ocean? Forest views from your treatment room? Hand-picked oils, seductive steam rooms, the best four-hand massage this side of Thailand? Whatever your spa style, our indulgent boutique retreats know a thing or two about delivering tension-busting, limb-smoothing, complexion-lifting afternoons of bliss. The public’s vote has helped us draw up a shortlist for the Smith Hotel Awards 2014 – here are the top 10 spa hotels we’ve fallen for this year.
Favourite facilities Outdoor hydrotherapy pool • Mood-lit infinity pool • Personal-training studio • Tropical rain shower • Champagne nail bar
All honey-hued stone on the outside and clean-lined Scandi-chic on the inside, this newly opened retreat has placed Dormy House firmly on the Cotswolds spa map. The candlelit infinity pool may be its centrepiece, but the rhassoul-mud room, fragrant thermal suite, Veuve Clicquot nail bar and host of Temple Spa treatments are equally tempting.
BABINGTON HOUSE – Somerset, UK
Favourite facilities Mud room • Detoxifying drench showers • Vast soaking baths • Indoor and outdoor swimming pools • TV-equipped manicure stations
Having relinquished its bovine occupants, Babington House’s Cowshed Spa is now a cosseting space decked out in country-cool exposed brick and chintz. Don’t be fooled by the cheekily named products – infused with botanical essential oils and herbs handpicked from the garden, the treatments here pack a serious pampering punch.
Favourite facilities Treetop treatment pavilions • Outdoor hydrotherapy pools with canopy views • Jungle gyms • Yoga studios
Renowned for its back-to-nature approach, this cosseting, revivifying spa retreat flagship stole the show (and first prize) at last year’s awards with its outdoor balés and floating treatment rooms. Meditation classes by the river, heavenly scented products and east-meet-west therapies complement the totally tropical, thatched-pavilion, wall-to-wall luxury.
Favourite facilities Double treatment room with steam room • Garden and outdoor bath • Outdoor steaming hot pool • Mud house • Rooftop herb garden for yoga and meditation
Hidden away in the heart of the New Forest, this sprawling spa was a runner up in last year’s awards. Natural materials bring the outside in; spread over three floors, Herb House has all the hydropool, therapeutic mud and forest-sauna bells and whistles to satisfy the most dedicated of pamperers.
Favourite facilities Ocean-facing couples’ treatment rooms • Yoga on the beach • Glass-fronted cabins
Perched above the canopy, this rustic-chic spa’s treehouse cabins overlook a sparkling rock-fringed bay. Locally-inspired treatments are indulgent and expertly delivered: choose from honey-rich facials, cleansing tamarind wraps and traditional Nuad Thai massages, best taken alfresco on the breeze-kissed private salas.
Favourite facilities Portico-sheltered hydrotherapy pool • Aromatic steam room • Hill-view gym
Surrounded by greenery, this castle retreat’s whisper-quiet treatment rooms are a cool haven in wood, glass and stone. Outside, soothe tired limbs in the bubbling hydrotherapy pool, which overlooks verdant vineyards and olive groves, before snuggling up in the relaxation room with views of the rolling Tuscan hills.
Favourite facilities Glass-floor treatment rooms • Yoga and meditation champa • Steam room and sauna • Ocean-view relaxation room
Meera Spa’s overwater treatment rooms are the stuff of Maldivian fantasies: perched over crystalline waters, six thatch-roofed cabins offer knot-kneading massages, gentle facials and seaweed-based body treatments. Ask for a massage table with a glass floor, so you can spy on the fish darting around beneath you, or opt for the private, open-air double treatment room on the beach, shielded by greenery.
Favourite facilities Underwater treatment rooms • Saltwater flotation pool • Onsen shower • Yoga pavilion
Miraculously clear lagoons, pristine house reefs and overwater pavilions are a given in the Maldives, but, with its unique underwater treatment rooms, Per Aquum Huvafen Fushi’s Lime Spa manages to impress even the most jaded of jet-setters. After a tension-busting, sigh-inducing massage, float away in the glass-walled relaxation pods to a ballet of clownfish and stingrays.
Favourite facilities Steam room • Chill-out lounge • Glass showers with ocean views
Perched on a secluded cliff and reached by a long boardwalk winding through a patch of unspoilt Kangaroo Island wilderness, this luxurious retreat takes care to tread lightly. Fragrant facials, mud wraps and massages are inspired by the Aboriginal Dreamtime – a living tradition with a deep holistic connection to the earth.
Favourite facilities Private Jacuzzis • Beauty salons • Yoga studio
Set in a lush tropical garden with a soothing waterfall, Fusion Maia’s day spa is the largest in Central Vietnam, with steam rooms, saunas and 16 treatment rooms. Irresistibly, all spa services are included in the room rate, from manicures and massages to all-out pampering sessions, including a seven-day holistic program.