Beat the January Blues At These UK Countryside Escapes
Try as we might, sometimes January comes with a side sprinkling of seasonal blues. Thankfully, there are ways to mitigate this. For some this might mean eating well while for others, taking walks in the sunshine or making time for an indulgent massage will do the trick. One way that we’ve found to perk up our energy levels at this time of year is a quick escape to the countryside. These countryside hotels - with their combination of thoughtful interior design, sumptuous spas, wholesome food and drink, and outdoor activities will allow you time out to refresh and readdress, hopefully leaving you with a new-found vigour for the year ahead.
The Newt in Somerset
Brainchild of South African husband and wife duo, Koos Becker and Karen Roos - and with interior design by Roos, and garden landscaping by Patrice Taravella - it’s no surprise that The Newt in Somerset is a masterpiece of a hotel; from the luxe yet no-fuss interiors, to the seasonal food and drink and the wide ranging activities on offer. Here, within Hadspen House and its surrounding estate, complete with lakes, forests and orchards (the latter producing home-made cider), is a true get-away-from-it-all retreat. We could wax-lyrical about everything this property has to offer, from wild swimming to countryside hikes, exploring the on-site gardening museum to taste-testing the farm shop, but really it’s about the feeling of ease it gives you as soon as you check in. Visit for a not-so-quintessential weekend in the Somerset countryside, as you explore the allure of this modernised 17th Century, Grade II listed building and its surrounds.
Foxhill Manor, The Cotswolds
As you drive through the Somerset countryside - more specifically the 400 acres of Farncombe Estate, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty - with its fields of green stretching as far as the eye can see, it’s almost impossible not to feel at least some of the pent up stress leaving your body. The inside is a no-stress zone, too, thanks to the relaxed approach to service - this is a five star hotel that feels more like a stylish home. There’s no formal dining room or restaurant here, meaning you’re free to eat what you want, where you want. Formalities be gone. Each of the five rooms and three suites take inspiration from the great outdoors; Birch, Chestnut and Oak for example. Book Oak for its dual, windowside baths overlooking the great outdoors, or take a dip in the property’s outdoor hot tub. Either way, you’ll blow all those metaphorical winter cobwebs away.
Dormy House, The Cotswolds
Located in the same stunning estate as Foxhill Manor (above), sister hotel Dormy House is the sibling to book if your idea of a countryside getaway just isn’t complete without downtime in a spa, and a treatment - or three. At Dormy House, the state-of-the-art spa, The Temple Spa, is one of the highlights of any stay, thanks to its unique range of treatments: we love the CBD facial, the hand-free massage conducted using warm water jets, and The Float Tank filled with 1000 litres of water and 500 kilograms of epsom salts. Neutral, calming decor throughout the property is designed to make sure you feel at home and, as such, you can’t really go wrong when it comes to room choice. Though, for or a weekend of complete indulgence, book a stay at one of the Hot Tub Suites which come with private heated outdoor tubs. Did somebody say relax?
The Winter Lodge at this hotel might just be the best place in all of Scotland to spend time this month, thanks to their seasonal ‘Winter Escape Pass’ which gives access to their warming Winter Lodge serving fresh coffee from the moment it opens (midday), homemade cakes in the early afternoon and live music as late afternoon turns into evening. In between times, the pass affords you access to a whole host of activities and experiences such as axe throwing, a bird of prey display and guided walks of the estate. Even without these added extras this is the place to be in Scotland right now; the 850 acre estate and 1920s building opened to wide acclaim as a hotel in mid-2022 and has been crowd-pleasing ever since. And it’s no wonder; its 232 rooms, three golf courses, eight bars and restaurants, and spa with treatments using natural botanicals from the surrounding countryside are a five star combination, offering the ultimate in outdoor escapism.
Aller Dorset, Dorset
A quadruple of shepherd huts overlooking a farmyard lake in Dorset, Aller Dorset is one of the more adventurous places you can stay in the UK, while maintaining a level of comfort and luxury. This is glamping, yes, but perhaps even better than you know it. Inside, these unique huts feature bold design choices - think By Alice glassware, Christopher Farr fabrics, and Pooky lamps. No surprise when you learn that co-owner, Cat, once worked in fashion PR. Outside you’re surrounded by farmland, and free to explore the great outdoors; go for a morning hike, take part in yoga, or jumpstart your senses with a swim in the lake. Huts are self-catered (though you can ask owners Cat and Ant for anything you might need) and come fully equipped with an indoor kitchen to whip up a few of your favourite dishes, and an outdoor fire pit for long nights over good food and conversation.
Soho Farmhouse, Cotswolds
As part of the Soho House group, this property likely needs no introduction. The countryside counterpart to the mainly city-based global member's club, Soho Farmhouse brings much of the same, fun-loving ethos to its 100 acres in the Oxfordshire fields. Yes, you can come here for the fresh country air and wholesome walks, but it's more likely you'll find yourself part of a hedonistic crowd. Especially at the weekends. If that's what you're after, you're in the right place. If it's not, but you still fancy checking the place out, book one of the stand-alone cabins: they overlook the water and come with a balcony-bath offering a more private stay that evades much of the crowd. The Cowshed spa is another wonderful way to take time out, offering all the usual treatments plus GUAM® body therapies, maternity massage and hair removal treatments. Don't miss the Lazy Lake hydrotherapy circuit where you can make your way around various hot tubs and saunas. If we have one tip for you when it comes to Soho Farmhouse it's this: book your stay - and any activities you wish to try - in advance. This is a hot property and notoriously hard to get into.
Beaverbrook, The Surrey Hills
This 1860s estate - and former home of politician and newspaper publisher, Lord Beaverbrook - opened its doors as a hotel in 2007 and quickly became the place to be, its whimsical feel of a bygone era striking a nostalgic chord in guests. History is felt throughout the property; partly in the antiques, the original wood panelling and the staff who play the part by dressing in 1920s waistcoats, but also in the very essence of the house itself. This is, after all, where Lord Beaverbrook entertained Winston Churchill during the Second World War, and where a Rudyard Kipling poem still gracefully hangs. Thankfully for guests today, times have a changed, and you can expect all the modern comforts of five star accommodation: six restaurants serving everything from sashimi and nigiri (at The Dining Room) to roasted pheasant and apple tart (at The Garden House). Marry this with a spa area, a private cinema, racket sports, wine tastings and much, much, more - and you can see why this might be the perfect place for a January reset.
Low Wood Bay, The Lake District
As far as picturesque English countryside goes, it doesn’t get much better than the Lake District. If you’re tempted by the region's clean, fresh air, natural beauty and magnificent fells then Low Wood Bay is the place to stay. One of the main reasons to visit is its lakeside location with views over Lake Windermere, and the other is its spa. With both indoor and outdoor jacuzzis, a mud room, pregnancy treatments, plus ESPA facials and massages, this is a place to sink into. Rooms are neutral and soothing in tone, but not all overlook the lake - be sure to ask for one that does. The hotel’s remote location means there’s not much to do nearby but, between the spa by day and a lakeside-view room for late afternoons, we’re not sure much else is needed. Come evening, we suggest curling up with a good book: William Wordsworth’s poems or some Beatrix Potter are great choices - both authors drew much of their inspiration from this very region.
Galgorm, Northern Ireland
A wonderful option for those in Northern Ireland, is at Ballymena’s Galgorm hotel. Just a 40 minute drive from Belfast, this is somewhere worth the visit whether you choose to check in overnight, or not. For daytrippers, we recommend booking the Galgorm Detox Therapy which offers access to their Thermal Spa Village complete with saunas, steam rooms, hot tubs, swimming pools and a snow cabin; lunch at on-site restaurant, Elements; and a glass of prosecco. But the main event here is the detox treatment using far infrared tech with plasma and light, courtesy of the MLX i3 Dome. The treatment is said to get rid of toxins, rejuvenate cellular regulation and improve circulation with lasting benefits including relaxation, reduced anxiety, plus increased endorphins and metabolism. Not bad for a day’s work.
Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Centre, London
We appreciate that not everyone has the time to hop in the car and getaway to the country for a few days but, no matter where you are in the UK, there will be a nearby day spa for you. London based and looking for a local escape without spending days on the road? Consider this a bonus suggestion. The day spa at Akasha Spa and Fitness, located within London’s Hotel Café Royal, is a place to leave the city and all its tension behind. Indulge in a myriad of treatments deep within the hotel’s warren-esqe basement; they include massage and facials but also flotation therapy, nutrition or meditation sessions, and even aquatic dance, should the mood take you. Akasha is Sanskrit for space, and here, wedged in between London’s bustling Soho, Mayfair and Piccadilly, you’ll find plenty of it. And breathe.