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Spas

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Time to spa: So Spa at Sofitel St James, London

There’s something pretty special about a beautifully serene spa in the heart of a madly busy city, especially when you’ve travelled on the tube (side note: there were a lot more beards than in my regular commuting day), pounded the pavements and swerved the crowds to get there. Calm, quiet and more than a little Parisian in feel, So SPA at Sofitel St James is pretty awesome when it comes to massages……

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Time to spa: Fletcher’s Cottage, Archerfield House, East Lothian

Take one spa-loving woman, one seriously spa-sceptic husband and the hottest spa north of the border and you have a spa weekend made in err comedy heaven. In the name of research, freelance writer and editor Emily Murray lies back, relaxes and even licks the walls of Archerfield House‘s Sunday Times and Tatler-approved spa……

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Weekend Wishlist

I love spas. I mean I really love spas. Although who doesn’t? My view on it is that people who say they don’t like spas just haven’t been to the right one yet. I’ve had a few dodgy treatments in my time (the less said about the bespectacled, trainer-shod creep who attempted a massage at a luxury hotel in Crete a few years ago, the better – and yes, leaving 1/2 way through a treatment because you don’t like it is perfectly acceptable). But the spas and retreats that get it right? Oh wow. I want to pack my bags and move there for good. If you’re feeling particularly generous this Mother’s Day weekend, then pack her off (or why not join her?) at one of these little beauties. It’s definitely where I’d love to be this weekend (instead of IKEA which is where we are going – my slightly bizarre choice!)…

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Heaven is a place on earth: Barnsley House, Gloucestershire

In a past life (not so long ago, just a little different to this one) I was a Travel Editor. Which, to answer the question everyone asked was, Yes, it was the best job in the world (although don’t shoot me – I never stayed in places for longer than 3 nights, was paid a pittance and jet lag is still jet lag, no matter how beautifully it’s packaged). The downside however, is that it has made me incredibly picky when it comes to hotels. It’s not about cost – nothing thrills me more than discovering a brilliant, gorgeous, thoughtful hotel for under £100 a night – but it is about showing a little imagination, a lot of care and making you, the guest, feel special for staying there. Which is why I fell completely head over in heels in love with Barnsley House in Gloucestershire. So much thought, care and consideration has been poured into this place, that you know the minute you walk in the door that you’re in hotel heaven.…

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Time to Spa: Ockenden Manor, West Sussex

As I’ve got older, more tired and more lined, my love of spas has grown. Hardly surprising is it? Where once a good night’s rest and a few days off the booze would leave me plump of face and glowing of cheek, now it takes a little bit more to get me looking my best. While I would love to be a regular spa-goer, the potent combination of lack of time, money and a job that sends you to them (something I was lucky enough to once have) means that it’s a fairly rare occurrence, but perhaps that just makes the times I do go even more special. Last week I spent a night at Ockenden Manor, a really rather fabulous hotel in Cuckfield, a really rather fabulous village in West Sussex. Children at home, mum as my very willing travel partner, I was free to indulge in the spa, in the restaurant and possibly in the most exciting thing of all, lots and lots of sleep. Now, West Sussex isn’t generally known for its spas. Hampshire – yes (Lime Wood, the Four Seasons and Chewton Glen are the big hitters there), The West Country, (Babington House, The Bath Priory,…