As 2021 nears, a spot of winter wellness could be just the thing to help us look forward to a brighter year. And when it comes to rest and relaxation, there’s plenty to inspire you in Britain. From frosty festive walks in towering forests to cosy stays at luxury spa hotels, our round up of relaxing wellness activities is just a taste of what’s on offer this season and beyond, when we’re all able to travel again.
Dreaming of a five-star winter spa break in Britain? Look forward to a stay in the newly opened Buxton Crescent Health Spa Hotel in Derbyshire – an area renowned for its thermal spring waters since Roman times. First built by the Duke of Devonshire in the 1780s, this Grade-I listed wellness hotel has been revived after a deluxe £70 million refurbishment and reopened its doors in October 2020. Offering modern spa treatments and opulently styled rooms and suites, this countryside spa hotel allows you to unwind in its saunas, steam rooms, naturally heated pool and even an anti-bacterial salt cave.
From the Romans to the Georgians and now modern-day spa lovers, the historic city of Bath’s natural thermal waters have been attracting visitors for more than 2,000 years. You can plan to retrace ancient footsteps at The Roman Baths one day, before indulging in your very own modern spa day experience at Thermae Bath Spa the next. Here, you can look forward to enjoying a stress-busting selections of steam rooms, two naturally fed thermal baths and a rooftop pool with stunning views across the city – there’s also a treatment Thermae Revive package on offer.
With a history steeped in relaxation, the North Yorkshire town of Harrogate continues to be treasured by spa fans to this day. Its natural, ‘medicinal’ waters have been enjoyed since the 1500s, and were popular with the most fashionable circles of Georgian and Victorian Britain. The modern Harrogate Spa adheres to this historic serenity, with treatments, luxury pools, a salt sauna and an ice fountain. Harrogate is also known for its Victorian streets, still lined with independent shops, as well as the famous tearoom, Bettys – offering one of the most traditional afternoon teas in the country.
Home to more than 125 miles of waterways set in picturesque countryside, the Broads National Park offers a relaxed pace of life and is a delightful backdrop for a laid-back boating holiday. Enjoy this uniquely peaceful way to see the sights of Norfolk aboard a luxurious cruiser or a quaint canal boat, with the experience made even cosier by crisp, winter air and a warming stove below deck!
Moving up north to the Lake District, those dreaming of life on the open water can book a tranquil boat trip on Lake Windermere with Windermere Lake Cruises. Reopened with allocated pre-booked seating, you can hop aboard boats departing from Ambleside, Lakeside or Bowness piers. The relaxed journey takes in the stunning winter woodland and misty mountains that surround the lake, allowing you to embrace the scenery at a meditative pace - there’s even the option for private circular cruises for smaller groups. Another arrival on the serene waters of Windermere is the new 300-seat MV Swift, set to be the largest new boat to grace England’s biggest lake in more than 80 years, while those wanting a sneak peek of the lake when deciding which option to choose can use the Windermere webcam.
From grand boat trips to vintage rail journeys, slow travel in Britain is never cosier than aboard a restored heritage train. Highlights include the Settle - Carlisle Railway, which passes the stunning Yorkshire Three Peaks of Ingleborough, Pen-y-Ghent and Whernside, while also crossing the iconic Ribblehead Viaduct. More of the North’s breathtaking scenery can be enjoyed in vintage splendour along the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. Travel back in time as you board the restored steam locomotives and carriages dating back to the 1890s, passing through highlights such as Whitby, Goathland and Levisham, with beautiful Yorkshire views throughout.
Alternatively, grab a flask of hot cocoa and a woolly hat before embarking on a walk through some of Britain’s most beautiful woodland – made even more stunning by the crisp tranquillity of winter. Nature lovers can dream of mindful strolls through lush evergreen forests, with pine needles crunching underfoot and frost-dusted trees above. Located under three hours’ drive from Edinburgh in the heart of the Cairngorms National Park, Rothiemurchus Forest is one of the largest natural forests in Britain and is bursting with wild Scots pine, birch, rowan and juniper. Home to an abundance of native wildlife, if you’re an eagle-eyed animal lover you might even spot mountain hares, red deer or Scottish wildcats during a stroll through the woodlands.
From the sprawling forests of Scotland to London’s famous landmarks, imagine the scent of mulled wine and chestnuts in the air as you wander beneath the twinkling lights of the South Bank’s annual Christmas market, or glide out of town to Hampton Court Palace’s festive ice rink. Adorned with twinkling lights and decorated Christmas trees, these seasonal delights offer an exhilarating winter experience with a fairy-tale backdrop.
You are encouraged to always check individual attraction websites for the latest information, as events and details are subject to change.