1. Best for: time away from the kids
Post Ranch Inn, California, USA
This adults-only spa in Big Sur is breathtakingly romantic, with infinity pools, ocean views and treatments for two in its couple’s treatment rooms – one with a woodburning stove and another with a walk-in couple’s shower. Take a massage lesson, have a yoga class for two or go on a private guided hike in the Redwood canyons.
It’s about romance, but there’s nothing cheesy about it; the view does most of the work, and many guests are there for the daily yoga and the nature-based treatments – think wildflower facials and resonance ritual massages.
The spa offers packages suited to couples, such as the Romance at the Ranch and the Hideaway package.
Hideaway package $2,093+tax pp for two nights, low season
2. Best for: reversing the effects of business lunches
Les Prés d’Eugénie, Eugénie-les-Bains, France
If your waistline is feeling the effects of your lifestyle but you don’t want to settle for limp lettuce, this spa, on a grand estate in the south-west of France (where else?) is for you. The restaurant, which has three Michelin stars, has a slimming menu that changes daily and manages to cram a mouth-watering starter, main course and dessert into a startlingly low 600 calories.
The spa itself offers a seven-night “Ligne Impériale” package that includes a mix of slimming treatments including Decléor slimming rituals, kaolin baths and hydro-massage as well as a dietetic consultation and use of the fitness suite.
Six-night, full-board “Ligne Impériale” package from €2,920pp
3. Best for: stress relief
Nirvana, Berkshire, UK
When stress levels rise, you need to chill – and few places are better for this than the Nirvana Spa. Its best-known offering is the celestial flotation in spring-fed, Dead Sea salt water beneath a starry night sky. The weightlessness promotes the production of endorphins and helps reduce muscle tension, blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen consumption; the mineralised warm water (21 minerals in total) calms nerves and helps conditions such as eczema.
More traditional spa treatments – including some designed for men – are available, and day packages include lunch or supper in the Chef’s Grill and Salad Bar, which offers prettily-presented light food.
Day package, including 30-minute celestial flotation, from £105
4. Best for: escaping from difficult clients
Rosewood Mayakoba, Playa del Carmen, Mexico
When the phone won’t stop ringing and the nightmare client is on your back, you need to find a spa where there’s no chance they’ll track you down. The Rosewood Mayakoba is that place. Not only is it in faraway Mexico, the spa itself is on a private island, so nobody’s going to bother you.
The beachfront spa is on a mile-long stretch of sand, north of Playa del Carmen, and has a championship golf course in case you’re missing the greens. The spa itself – a retreat within a retreat – opens onto the jungle and has therapeutic plunge pools, steam grottos, saunas, a meditation platform, pool and relaxation deck.
Low season prices from £1,193pp per week
5. Best for: screen-stiff shoulders
Grand Resort, Bad Ragaz, Switzerland
Long days hunched over a desk and screen can leave you full of knots. If your body needs as much attention as your mind, you need to head for this thermal bath resort, with its own medical centre.
The treatments range from check-ups to rheumatology and orthopaedics and the resort is as gleamingly efficient as you would expect from a Swiss clinic without being spartan. The restaurant has a Michelin star, the rooms range from ultra-modern and hip to the regally traditional and the thermal baths are dreamily therapeutic.
Rooms from CHF345pp per night; seven-night health week with wellbeing package, half-board, six medical body massages, and daily fitness and relaxation sessions from CHF335pp per night
6. Best for: getting out of a rut
Per Aquum, Huvafen Fushi, Maldives
If life feels humdrum, a visit to Per Aquum in the North Malé Atoll could be what you need. If the clear, turquoise waters and super-luxe surroundings aren’t enough to put a spring in your step, the underwater Lime Spa should startle you back to life. The 180-minute Lime light ritual massage, in an underwater treatment room, could take the most jaded soul to another realm.
There are plenty of unusual activities to get you out of your routine, too. Take an expedition with a marine biologist to photograph manta rays, go on a dolphin cruise or dine at Vinum, the resort’s wine cellar.
Per Aquum Huvafen Fushi Signature Escape (minimum two nights): from $1,155 per room per night
7. Best for: the year there’s no pay rise
York Hall Day Spa, London, UK
Not every year is a bumper one, but even if you are tightening your belt, you can try this not-for-profit spa in Bethnal Green. Tower Hamlets residents’ concession prices are as low as £9 for a three-hour session, and non-residents pay a maximum of £25. This isn’t a shabby council facility: it’s magazine-fabulous all the way.
The thermal spa is set in one of London’s oldest Turkish baths and includes two aroma steam rooms, a tepidarium, caldarium, laconium, sauna, ice fountain, monsoon shower, hammam, plunge pool, bucket shower and relaxation lounge. Guests can book beauty and relaxation treatments, and spa packages.
Three-hour thermal spa session: £25 non-residents, £20 non-resident spa LONDON card-holders
8. Best for: the city-weary
Park House Hotel and Spa, Sussex, UK
If your office overlooks a car park or you’re sick of the city then this retreat in Midhurst is what you need. On the edge of the Sussex Downs, the spa has a pastoral atmosphere and a hotel with country house style. In the grounds there are facilities for tennis, croquet and bowls, golf and outdoor swimming. Fly-fishing is available nearby and, in the winter months, it hosts shooting parties.
However, there’s nothing old-fashioned about the spa, with treatments from a spirulina body wrap to a chocolate sensation body treatment – some aimed purely at men.
Midweek spa break (Monday to Thursday): £190pp per night, including use of spa and leisure facilities (based on two people sharing a room)
9. Best for: the time-stretched business traveller
Plaza Premium Lounge, London, UK
Going to a spa is all very well, but what if your holiday allowance doesn’t stretch to time away? This spa allows you to relax and have a treatment without taking precious time out from your schedule. In the surroundings of Terminal 2A at Heathrow – already home to a Heston Blumenthal cafè – this is a cocoon of calm, with Asian-chic styling and soothing surroundings.
Located in international arrivals, the spa offers massages (with or without a shower) and you can opt to use the spa’s lounge or book a private resting lounge for a set number of hours.
Massages start at £25 for 15 minutes and up to £90 for an hour. A shower is £15 and a room for three hours is £60
10. Best for: respite from 18-hour days
Shreyas, Bangalore, India
Long hours and modern life can leave you burned out and exhausted. Shreyas is the answer. Although billed principally as a yoga retreat – which it does brilliantly – it has one of the most peaceful spas in the world. You will find yourself being massaged in a tent, with just the sound of an Indian crow cawing and the rustle of wind in the coconut fronds.
For a challenging escape from the pressures of life, you could opt for a seven-night silent retreat, where you remain in silence for four days and receive a wellness consultation both at the beginning of the stay and at the end of the silent period.
Silent package: $2,540 full board, including four massages, several relaxation and yoga sessions and twice-daily group yoga
Health in a pill?
When you’re frazzled, working long hours and juggling 1,001 commitments, it’s tempting to resort to supplements if you don’t have time to cook from scratch. But they lack many benefits of “real” food, particularly fibre and phytonutrients that protect against life-threatening illness. So, use supplements as a bonus, remember that herbal doesn’t mean the same as safe, and avoid potentially harmful mega-doses by sticking to 100% of the RDA.