Relax and unwind with Visit Essex’s Guide to some of the best spas and shopping destinations in the county
Fluffy towels and bathrobes at the ready, it’s time to get pampered. From hen parties to much-needed manicures, Essex’s spa hotels are oases of calm in your hectic life. And now you’re feeling fabulous, it’s time to flash the cash and indulge yourself in a new frock, or maybe some shoes, or a new handbag…
Where has the year gone? Your summer holiday feels like a distant memory, the kids have been back at school for what seems like yonks and the supermarkets are already rolling out their Christmas stock. Before you know it, it’ll be Halloween, Bonfire Night and bosh, too many eggnogs and Auld Lang Syne.
Don’t despair, however, there’s plenty of time for you to indulge yourself with a cheeky spa and shopping break right here in Essex.
Spas in Essex
Positioned as an escape for adults, Lifehouse Spa and Hotel near beautiful Frinton-on-Sea is an award-winning contemporary spa hotel set in 130 acres of grounds. Lifehouse offers a wealth of treatments, with specialists offering tailor-made programmes to suit your needs in key areas such as fitness, life coaching, nutrition, weight loss, medical, alternative and holistic therapy and even horticulture. The spas most popular treatments include Decleor Ultimate Vitamin Glow facials, ishga detoxifying seaweed body wraps, Clarins Chill Out massages and Lifehouse’s own luxury pedicures. For more information and best rate deals.
Just ten minutes’ drive away is the genteel seaside town of Frinton. With a reputation as an exclusive resort, Frinton retains an atmosphere of the 1920/30’s. Tree-lined avenues sweep down to the elegant Esplanade and cliff-top greensward, with its colourful Victorian-style beach huts. The High Street is lined with delightful boutiques and shops and has been described as ‘The Bond Street of East Anglia.’
Popular with opinion-forming travel writers, celebrities and the local smart set, The Roslin Hotel also boasts an excellent spa, the Retreat. Promising relaxation and rejuvenation in Southend-on-Sea’s exclusive Thorpe Bay area, this waterfront spa offers luxury treatments from Elemis, BIOTEC, Thalgo, O.P.I, St Tropez and Lava Shells. Whether it’s a pampered afternoon visit or blow-out weekend away, the Roslin offers a variety packages including the hotel’s superb traditional Afternoon Tea, a two course lunch or even an overnight stay, prices start from just £65 per person. Further information is available on the website www.roslinhotel.com
Naturally, the population of such a large and prosperous town such as Southend likes to enjoy itself. Therefore the place has not one, but two, shopping centres at either end of its lively High Street. Many of the big brands are represented here, while the town centre also offers serious shoppers a number of cool boutiques, cafes, bars and restaurants. Nearby Leigh-on-Sea is famous for its sheer number of one-off shops along its Broadway – not for nothing is it called ‘Notting Hill-on-Sea’!
The best spas in Colchester
From individual days to residential breaks, Stoke-By-Nayland Hotel Golf Spa is the last word in pure indulgence. Whilst the other half unleashes their inner Rory McIlroy on the 18-hole championship course, you can kick back and enjoy all manner of loveliness. The Peake Spa menu revolves around three treatment areas, body maintenance, prescriptive and luxury. All use tried, tested and trusted products from brands such as Decleor, OPI and St. Tropez. For an unforgettable dirty weekend, choose the Rasul Mud Therapy or for the exotic Hammam treatment, which includes traditional Turkish Soap Massage and the Red Island Exfoliating Ritual. For details, including discounted offers go to www.stokebynayland.com/spa
Ideally located in the heart of Colchester you’ll find Aqua Springs, a spa that promises ‘competitive prices for a truly relaxing day’. Not only does it have spas, saunas and even a salt inhalation room, Aqua Springs also boasts a large steam room where you can ease tense muscles and a monsoon shower that boosts blood circulation to your skin. Mums to be can enjoy special treatments to pamper them and bump before the big day. Alternatively, Aqua Springs’ expert therapists can you take to a whole new world of blissful ‘ooh’s and ‘aahs’ via one of their spa packages. Priced from £53 (for the Winter warmer), each one allows you to indulge in your ultimate spa experience at a price that leaves plenty in your wallet to hit the shops afterwards.
Exploring the streets of Britain’s oldest town is a delight in itself, but Colchester also guarantees you’ll discover some amazing stores too. Browse through thousands of collectable books, see if you can bag a bargain antique or try on the latest look in Lion Walk Shopping Centre. The fabulous new Fenwick store is also the perfect place to indulge your favourite retail passions.
Twenty-one years ago, at the height of Britpop, Blur and Oasis released their highly-anticipated singles on the same day. The media went into overdrive as the two bands vied for chart supremacy. Country House won it for Colchester’s Blur and you too can enjoy rock star treatment(s) in a country house.
The Spa at Down Hall, Hatfield Heath
Shopping in Chelmsford
Feel like a city slicker all over again by jumping into the car and motoring down to Britain’s newest city, Chelmsford. The county town of Essex is one of the most popular shopping destinations in the region. The wide High Street is free of cars, allowing you to meander among the vast range of stores in a chilled environment. You’ll find three shopping centres, High Chelmer, the Meadows and the brand new Bond Street development (opening on 29 September), where John Lewis will take centre stage supported by popular, high-end brands such as Oasis, The White Company and L’Occitaine. Restore your energy and review your purchases over lunch in one of the new restaurants, including Ask and Loch Fyne, before hitting the stores in the afternoon. Chelmsford regularly hosts markets, including visiting continental stall holders adding extra choice and appeal, especially for foodies.
Situated between the A13 and A127 you’ll find solitude, seclusion and serenity in Kukana Spa, part of Orsett Hall. There are five principal packages to select from at Kukana, including the Moonlight Dream experience. As the sun goes down, you can enjoy a 25 minute Signature Kukana Treatment, make use all of the facilities including the spa pool, steam room, sauna and Jacuzzi, before taking your seat in Orsett Hall’s charming Garden Brasserie for a 3-course dinner prepared by the hotel’s award-winning chefs.
Of course being so close to Intu Lakeside, one of Europe’s largest shopping centres, it would be rude not to go. All the hottest autumn and winter fashions are now in store to make you look as gorgeous on the outside as you now feel amazing on the inside! For all the latest news www.intu.co.uk/lakeside
For even more ideas about destinations where you can go wild in the country, plus ideas for days out and things to do, go to www.visitessex.com