Beat the January blues
As the glittering reds, greens and golds of Christmas threaten to fade to blue, take action by planning a New Year treat to get 2013 off to a good start. Here, VisitEngland outlines some of the country’s best pick-me-ups, from indulgent spa sessions to soul-southing weekend breaks, that’ll leave you ready to take the new year by the horns
Cleanse and revitalise at Bath Thermae Spa
Once enjoyed by the Ancient Celts and Romans, Bath Thermae Spa continues to offer visitors an indulgent experience with 2,000 years of history. Make the most of Bath’s natural thermal waters with the Spa’s Ancient and Modern package, which includes an exploration of the great Roman temple within the world famous Roman Baths museum, lunch in the classical Pump Room with the chance to sample water drawn straight from the spa fountain, and a 2 hour spa session at Thermae Bath Spa. If history’s not your thing, choose instead to relax in the aromatic steam rooms and soak up the natural thermal waters of the Minerva Bath – an open-air rooftop pool, overlooking the magnificent skyline of the World Heritage City of Bath.
Find your zen at a weekend yoga retreat in Gloucestershire
Waking up to views of the Malvern Hills from your guestroom at Elmore Court in Gloucestershire is guaranteed to invigorate and inspire you. Start your day with silent walks across rolling fields, crisp with January frost, to still the mind and to prepare for four hours of calming yoga in the great hall. A beautiful stately home, gifted by the Queen to the Guise family in the 13th century, Elmore Court remains an intrinsic part British history and a unique destination for a country yoga retreat – perfect for recharging your batteries after the overindulgence of Christmas and New Year. Combining yoga sessions with delicious detoxifying vegetarian foods that leave you feeling lighter in body and mind, this weekend getaway is sure to revitalise and reinvigorate, replacing that spring in your step ready for the year ahead.
Detox the indulgent way at Allibaster House
A million miles away from the strains of daily life, Allibaster House is a beautiful 18th century country house set in nine acres of lush West Sussex countryside, offering personalised detox retreats. Its Simply Healing Retreats programmes are engineered so that a combination of fresh juices, herbal supplements and specialised treatments, including body wraps and massages, specifically target the toxins that slow down your metabolism and create that feeling of lethargy – perfect for this time of year.
Channel your creativity with a David Hockney experience in Yorkshire
The White Swan Inn in Pickering, North Yorkshire, has launched a new mid-week break for art lovers. Renowned for its excellent Yorkshire food and hospitality, the hotel is offering guests the chance to walk in the footsteps of David Hockney and explore the countryside that so inspired the famous artist. The David Hockney experience includes a two night mid-week stay at The White Swan Inn, set amidst the very countryside that inspired the work featured in this year’s ‘David Hockney: A Bigger Picture’ exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts. Guests at The White Swan Inn can explore this unspoilt slice of England first hand, wandering around the sights of the Hockney Trail or browsing the local art galleries and antiques shops. After a day spent exploring the local area, return to the warmth and comfort of the old 16th century coaching inn and can unwind in an elegant Vintage Nest.
Pottery courses by the sea
Combine complete relaxation with a brand new skill on a pottery workshop in the beautiful and secluded coastal village of Welcombe in North Devon. During the morning’s formal tuition, explore the art of raku pottery and learn hand-building techniques including slab building, coiling and moulding. Punctuate your pottery sessions with some bracing coastal air: the sea is less than half a mile away and the long stretches of coastal path offer spectacular views across the vast Atlantic Ocean. Residential courses include a stay at Home Farm, a 200 year old stone build Georgian farmhouse in the pretty farm hamlet of Mead. Famous visitors have included the singer Kathleen Ferrier and the revered composer Benjamin Britten, who would have celebrated his centenary in 2013. Beginners’ courses are being held on the 26-27 January, 23-24 February and 9-10 March 2013 and will cost from £225 per person for the residential packages. Prices include two days’ tuition, accommodation, breakfast and lunch. Please call 01288 331416 for more information and to book. Book before 31 December and quote ‘VisitEngland’ for a 10% discount*
Find treetop tranquillity in the New Forest
Appearing to ‘float’ across a wooded canopy with full picturesque views of the surrounding New Forest, Chewton Glen’s six new Tree House Suites offer a spa bath and fire pit on their decks. Choose from a trio of luxurious treatments: Cocooned in Nature, a decadent and deeply nourishing fragrant body massage using rosehip and mint essential oils; New Forest Flow, which draws upon the energy of the surrounding forest to release tensions and toxins, and Tree Top Tranquillity, which uses unique sensual hot oil candle infused with rose to comfort skin in need of nourishment. Beyond the award winning Chewton Glen resort, the New Forest offers a whole range of activities from horse riding guided walks. An overnight stay in one of Chewton Glen’s Tree House Suites starts at £600, with treatments ranging from £135 to £195 each.
Knead out the stress with Atelier des Chefs
Ah, a tea party. What could be more English? Learn to prepare the finest tea in town with an Atelier Afternoon Tea course. In a two-hour class you’ll make four different recipes: savoury recipes include bruschetta with grilled vegetables, while the sweet treats include macaroons, butter scones and flavoured chocolate truffles. De-stress through vigorous kneading, folding and whisking and, after the class, relax in the private dining area with a cup of tea or glass of Champagne. Classes run every Wednesday afternoon in January from 3pm to 5pm and cost £72 per person.