The Best Spa Retreats in Devon

Boringdon Hall Hotel and Spa
Boringdon Hall Hotel and Spa | Courtesy of Boringdon Hall Hotel and Spa / Expedia
Photo of Mischa Smith
14 December 2020

Since Victorians started flocking to the coast of England to convalesce, the West Country has been a popular spot for soaking up some restorative vitamin sea. Latterly, cold-water swimming has been touted as healing a range of ailments and preventing diseases like Alzheimer’s. But the Atlantic Coast is a pretty bracing spot for wild swimming outside the summer months, so we’ve rounded up the best spa retreats for warm and cosy pampering in Devon.

Gara Rock

Spa Hotel, Hotel
Gara rock, Salcombe, Devon
Courtesy of Gara Rock / Expedia
The deluxe Wild Rock Spa, a wood-lined retreat reminiscent of a Swedish sauna house – with white robes and a pared-back aesthetic to match – offsets the rugged beauty of the heather-strewn moors that lace around Gara Rock. Organic remedies such as orange- and lavender-infused oils for reinvigorating and relaxing guests, are sourced from Apothespa in nearby Totnes. Hikers should opt for one of the post-travel treatments: Walker’s Foot Reviver, with a saltwater foot soak and pressure-point work, will have you bounding back up the dramatic South West Coast Path in no time.
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Bovey Castle

Bovey Castle, Newton
Courtesy of Bovey Castle / Expedia
In keeping with a grand granite castle that has its own helipad and serves up old-school indulgence by the champagne bucketload, Bovey Castle doesn’t scrimp on the indulgence. The sweeping Elan Spa echoes the tranquil flow of the River Bowey and uses ESPA products for treatments that range from body wraps to hot stone massage; the menu also includes manicures, makeovers and barbershop services. Dip into the art-deco pool, which, to tie into the period glamour, is thronged with palms and sun loungers overlooking the stately pile.
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Sidmouth Harbour Hotel

Boutique Hotel, Spa Hotel
Sidmouth Harbour Hotel
Courtesy of Sidmouth Harbour Hotel / Expedia
Water therapy is at the heart of all Harbour Hotels – and at the Sidmouth outpost, you’ll be spoilt for choice, with rooms overlooking Lyme Bay, the beach at the foot of the estate, and indoor and outdoor pools. A hydrotherapy pool can be found inside the HarSpa, where you could easily lose a day wafting between the sauna and steam room. Try to squeeze in at least one treatment: the holistic Marine, Mind & Body is a head-to-toe pamper that’ll feel extra rewarding after a day of watersports arranged by the hotel, or a workout in the adjacent gym.
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Ilsington Country House Hotel & Spa

Spa Hotel
Ilsington Country House Hotel & Spa_0c7b3977
Courtesy of Ilsington Country House Hotel and Spa / Expedia
Drawing inspiration from Tibet, the warmly lit spa at Ilsington Country House Hotel goes against the grain of typical health-farm furnishings. Colourful tiles cover the steam room and poolside showers – the latter is speckled with hot pink spotlights for a sensory experience. Before you get too relaxed there’s the “kubel dusche”, a luxe take on the ice bucket challenge that’ll come as a welcome – and invigorating – wake-up after a stay in the sauna.
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Saunton Sands Hotel

Spa Hotel
Saunton Sands
Courtesy of Saunton Sands Hotel / Expedia
Offering unbroken views of sweeping Saunton Sands, this four-star hotel is a local’s favourite for celebrating milestone occasions. The recently renovated Source Spa and Wellness is a go-to for such events, thanks to its array of treatments and an ocean-facing Marine Vitality Pool, which appears to drift right out into the ocean. Some of the six clifftop treatment rooms offer beach views and facilities read like a Hollywood star’s Oscars prep regime. The thermal suite includes a salt inhalation steam room, Finnish aroma sauna and an ice fountain. There’s also a gym and fitness centre, tennis court, exercise classes, post-treatment chill-out rooms and a lounger-strewn sundeck. If you’re visiting for the day, you’ll want to prep ahead to save missing out on this extensive offering.
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  • Salcombe Harbour Hotel & Spa

    Spa Hotel, Hotel
    Courtesy of Salcombe Harbour and Spa / Expedia
    Soak up the restorative sea air and views at Salcombe’s beachfront Harbour Hotel. Striped bed linen, nautical adornments and wood decking create a fresh and preppy stay that’s echoed in the HarSpa. Porthole mirrors and a blue mosaic pool nod to South Devon’s sailing credentials without teetering into gimmick territory. The hydrotherapy pool, eucalyptus-scented steam room, sauna and sea salt treatments are fine examples of the waterside abode’s brand of coastal cool.
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    Thurlestone Hotel

    Spa Hotel, Golf Hotel, Hotel
    Thurlestone Hotel, South Devon, Thurlestone
    Courtesy of Thurlestone Hotel /
    Inspired by the golden age of ocean travel, Thurlestone Hotel’s Voyage Spa piles on the nostalgia with a giant mural of a 1940s-era seascape, replete with Titanic-style ocean liner and waving children. The rest of the spa follows a more muted aesthetic of coffee tones and coppery lighting, which, along with a range of massages, wraps, body and seaweed treatments, creates a calming atmosphere. The hydrotherapy pool is another tranquil spot – though you might want to arrange yourself away from the imposing giant fish that peer out from the wall.
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    Cary Arms

    Luxury, Spa Hotel
    Map View
    Cary Arms, Torquay
    Courtesy of Cary Arms / Expedia
    Perched above pebbly Babbacombe Beach, Cary Arms is a nautical New England-style hotel and spa with sea views in every room. The glassy sea-facing spa is a prime spot for spotting seals and dolphins while sipping prosecco. Sticking with the aquatic theme, there’s a waterfall hydrotherapy pool, steam room and “exotic experience shower” – which means tropical birdsong will score your rinse – while treatments come courtesy of French beauty brand Thalgo, a pioneer of marine treatments. In the summer, you can bask on the sun terrace, which has a sprawling ocean vista; in winter, you’ll want to warm up in the Swedish-style sauna.

    Boringdon Hall Hotel

    Map View
    Boringdon Hall Hotel
    Courtesy of Boringdon Hall Hotel / Expedia
    In contrast to the ornate period features of The Great Hall, Boringdon’s Gaia Spa is a glassy Frank Lloyd Wright-style wing that leads to a California-esque terrace with rattan sun pods and hot tubs. The clean lines create a serene environment, with a sheltered tree-lined exterior. The fuss-free aesthetic extends to the range of signature Gaia products, named after the Greek Earth goddess, and inspired by the nature that surrounds the grand country house. Inspired by the elements, facilities include a Finnish sauna, salt and traditional steam rooms, and Laconium herbal sauna, as well as an extensive range of beauty treatments.
    These recommendations were updated on December 14, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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