Well Intentioned: A Winter Wellness Guide to Surrey

Unwind and destress at a rural retreat in Surrey
Unwind and destress at a rural retreat in Surrey | © Jamie Street / Unsplash.com
Emma Sparks

Uncover wild-swimming spots, then warm up in yoga classes, hot tubs and country-house hotels with this weekend-ready rundown of rural retreats in South East England.

Surrey may cling to the edge of Greater London, but it’s not just a collection of commuter towns. In fact, it’s calm and green, blessed with sprawling vineyards and the undulating Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which rises dramatically at Box Hill – beloved by walkers and cyclists. From country-manor spa breaks to sweaty workouts and icy swims, here’s how to unwind and destress in Surrey this winter.

1. Pennyhill Park

Spa Hotel

A luxurious traditional guest room with four-poster bed and seating area at Pennyhill Park
Courtesy of Pennyhill Park / Expedia.com

From its Michelin-star restaurant to its opulent rooms overlooking acres of greenery, this 19th-century house on the outskirts of Bagshot oozes luxury. The spa is vast and opulent: you could easily spend an indulgent day hopping between heated relaxation beds, hot tubs and hydrotherapy pools. Want to chill out for real? The ice igloo is said to reduce inflammation and calm your nervous system.

2. Denbies Wine Estate

Hotel Restaurant, Wine Bar, Pub Grub, Dessert

Low lying mist floating over autumn grape vines at Denbies Wine Estate
© Helen Dixon / Alamy Stock Photo
Potential hangovers aside, visiting a winery can do wonders for the soul. You know the feeling – deep sigh, deep sip. Explore this 265-acre (105ha) estate on foot, or hop on a miniature train tour, which will take you to the most scenic spots. If the weather’s not playing ball, opt for an indoor tour – they run daily and include four-flight wine tastings. Don’t miss lunch at the Gallery Restaurant, where you can share a charcuterie board and a bottle of bubbly looking out over the North Downs.

3. Nutfield Priory


The grand salon at Nutfield Priory, with ornate decor and stained glass windows inspired by the Palace of Westminster
Courtesy of Nutfield Priory / Expedia.com

The architecture of this Victorian mansion hotel in Redhill was inspired by the Palace of Westminster – but unlike the UK’s Houses of Parliament, you’ll find no tense debates or stressful politics here. Instead, serenity reigns: curl up by the fire with a good book in the cosy panelled library; soak in the epic views of Surrey’s green landscape from your elegant suite; or indulge in an Elemis facial and frangipani-scented body wrap at the spa.

4. Winkworth Arboretum

Natural Feature

People walk through the red autumn leaves at Winkworth Arboretum Lake, United Kingdom
© Ksenia C / Unsplash.com

Surrey is England’s most wooded county, with twice the average tree cover. So, it’s the perfect spot to try forest bathing – a mindful way of walking among the trees. The concept originated in Japan and is known to lower stress levels and increase concentration – the ideal antidote to our tech-heavy lifestyles. And there’s no better place to ponder the passing of the seasons than Winkworth, where you’ll find over 1,000 species of trees and shrubs shimmering with winter frost.

5. Beaverbrook

Spa Hotel

The ornate Art Deco Sir Franks Bar with 350 botanical paintings, parquet floors and velvet barstools at Beaverbrook
Courtesy of Beaverbrook

Want to live like the rich and famous? Check in to the Grade II-listed former home of publisher and politician Lord Beaverbrook, whose guests included Winston Churchill, Elizabeth Taylor and Rudyard Kipling. The 470-acre (190ha) estate provides soothing views, while inside, every wall is adorned with original art. Even if you’re not staying, the open-to-all Coach House Spa is a masterpiece, designed to reflect the healing power of nature with colourful stained glass and floral decor. Swim, cycle, try Tai Chi or get a vitamin IV drip – your wish is Beaverbrook’s command.

6. Mrs Potts' Place


A woman engages in pottery painting at Mrs Potts’ Place in Camberley
© Borodai Andrii / Depositphotos.com

Keeping your hands busy calms the mind and spending time on creative endeavours can unleash a joy many of us haven’t felt since childhood. Learning something new is mood-boosting, too – so what are you waiting for? Try your hand at pottery painting at Mrs Potts’ Place in Camberley. Take your pick of mugs, jugs and Christmas ornaments, add a splash of colour and enjoy your newly glazed creation.

7. Divers Cove

Architectural Landmark

A couple of swimmers survey the water at Divers Cove from a wood platform
Courtesy of Divers Cove

Brave enough to go open-water swimming in the darkest depths of winter? Shiver on over to this crystal-clear, sandy-bottomed reservoir in Godstone. Non-members are welcome to join the Saturday morning swim sessions (which are meticulously lifeguarded) – but you’ll need to prebook and bring (or borrow from the on-site gear hut) a brightly coloured swim hat and wetsuit. Warm up after a rejuvenating dip with a stint in the outdoor Swedish hot tub and lakeside sauna pods.

8. Ebb & Flow Yoga

Yoga Studio

Group of young sporty people in Cow Face exercise
© Fizkes / Depositphotos.com

Yoga under the stars sounds heavenly but could get a bit chilly at this time of year. At Ebb & Flow you can practise your warrior poses in the warmth of a celestial studio, under a ceiling flecked with twinkling lights. As well as hot yoga, gentle pilates and hatha-flow classes, you can enhance your health and wellbeing with reiki treatments, massage therapy and nutrition consultations.

9. Ride Studio Cobham


A group of young women in a spin class
© Pressmaster / Depositphotos.com

Aiming to up your fitness? From core-blasting body sculpt classes to group boxing sessions and high-intensity circuit training, workouts at this boutique sweat studio will push up your heart rate and give you a massive endorphin hit. Surrey’s Box Hill may be one of the county’s most popular rides, but fairweather cyclists can maintain their fitness here instead, with a two-hour indoor endurance spin class.

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