Relax in an ecodome, Lincolnshire
I’ve just returned from the most relaxing weekend at Purusha Retreats, south of Lincoln. From the moment we headed up the grassy, tree-lined driveway we knew we’d arrived in relaxation heaven. Set in a countryside location, we slept in private ecodomes, each with hammocks, a wood-fired hot tub, a private shower and compost loo. Eco-friendly toiletries are provided. Each dome is set apart from the others for complete privacy. The communal spaces are equally beautiful, set around a small lake. Walks are marked around the site. Mornings are a joy of birdsong and evenings are delightful under the stars.
Mud and waters, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Sometimes the best travel discoveries are found by chance and the wellness retreat at Salsomaggiore Spa was a case in point for me. While vainly attempting to follow the Tour of Italy cycle route on my own two-wheeler, I pulled up in the verdant hills of Emilia-Romagna with back strain. A local waitress pointed me to the elegant town of Salsomaggiore Terme. “The waters cure your everything,” she said. How right she was. A day later I was in a lovely, naturally heated pool surrounded by Italian housewives enchanted by my English accent, waiting for some mud to be caked on my dodgy back. Three days later I was back in the saddle. Daily entry from just €40.
Yoga and the beach, Ibiza
Wendy at the Lotus Pad runs regular retreats in the finca she shares with her rescue cats and partner Neil, who provides a fabulous brunch. Ten minutes away from Santa Eulalia and Santa Gertrudis, it’s set within a smallholding. Rooms are basic but the yoga is first class. Four nights’ B&B and yoga costs £350 in a shared room, but there are also seven- and 10-night packages. Really fond memories of coming here, as a solo traveller, enjoying the yoga then zooming around the island with fellow classmates, off to the best beaches, hitting Las Dalias market or heading out to eat. Highly recommend.
Meditation and mindfulness, Devon
A week on retreat at the Barn Retreat, part of the fantastic Sharpham Estate near Totnes, is a gift I give myself every year. Walk a couple of miles from Totnes, along a gorgeous footpath to the Barn, leaving behind the stresses of everyday life. Learn to meditate and do Qigong each morning as the sun rises above the river valley. Do mindful gardening. Help prepare and eat healthy, delicious food. Or just rest. Spend time napping or walking in the glorious Devon countryside, or sit and watch the River Dart flow past. Simply beautiful in all seasons, always inclusive and welcoming, with retreats from £375.
Sleep and sun, Venice
My best ever solo spa retreat was to the Almar Jesolo resort at Lido di Jesolo, right on the beach and about an hour by bus and boat to Venice. The hotel offered a healthy dining menu in a relaxed, informal setting. I took a sleep package which included yoga, massages, and heavenly facials. The saunas, spa, pools and steam rooms were beautifully luxurious and my stunning room had beach views. I took a day out to explore Venice and loved the beachside location to top up my tan too.
Yoga and forest bathing, Norfolk
Set amid verdant Bradmoor Woods, the People Plants Wellbeing retreat near King’s Lynn offers the chance to really switch off. Enjoy plant-based food in between yoga, forest bathing and macrame classes. Go for the day or for the weekend – but whatever your timeframe, you’ll come away feeling relaxed and more deeply connected to nature. And don’t forget to take a dip in the outdoor bath. From £495pp for two nights, or £145 for a day pass.
DJ retreat, Ibiza
I recently attended a wellness and learn-to-DJ retreat hosted by SPN (Soul Power Nutrition) and London Sound Academy. We learned how to DJ with men and women in a villa in Ibiza with a private chef, yoga, pilates, acupuncture, cupping, bionic breath work and of course lounging by the pool or in the sauna. Next retreat 1-5 October.
Winning tip: Retreat and relax, Andalucía, Spain
Finca el Moro is a family-run retreat centre and farm in Andalucía. The yoga space is on the old threshing circle, built in 1917, and during the classes we were surrounded by trees and lulled into deep relaxation by the sound of the sheep bells and birdsong. The food was amazing; delicious Mediterranean-style dishes, straight from the finca’s vegetable garden. We stayed in charming stone cottages and sat by the pool, enjoying the company of dogs, cats, a donkey and three horses. It’s a unique place and a well-kept secret in the Sierra de Aracena, just an hour from Seville. Our seven-day retreat cost €980pp, including food, accommodation, tuition and airport transfer.