Ok, so spa aficionados who are done with treatment rooms, day spas and hotel spas and are looking for something completely immersive – this is for you. A spa retreat offers the pure spa experience – the only reason to be there is to relax and unwind. And everyone wanders around in robes! Everybody’s there for the same reason and dietary requirements will be more of a focus - there may be a resident nutritionist there who caters for the clientele with healthy-yet-tasty food (there’s ‘naughty’ food if you want it, but most retreats will be very conscious of providing a healthy menu). People might just be there to relax or detox or try a new treatment – there will be a wide variety of treatments on offer. A retreat is more of a complete spa experience – you feel totally pampered from the moment you walk in and feel rejuvenated when you leave. There’s a nice feeling knowing everyone’s there for the same reason. The main difference between a hotel spa such as the Bailiffscourt Hotel and Spa and a spa retreat like Brooklands is that the former is a chic boutique hotel that just happens to have a fab spa attached, while at the latter the focus is most definitely on the spa experience. Brooklands Country Retreat and Health Spa, to give it its full name, has been leading the field as a spa retreat for a quarter of a century. Surrounded by five acres of landscaped gardens, the heart of the retreat is a 19th country house, positioned on the edge of the Forest of Bowland, just north of Preston. Everything you could possibly wish for in an immersive spa experience is on hand, from an indoor heated pool, sanarium, gym and hydrotherapy pool, to trained staff who can provide each guest with whatever they need, whether that’s a completely personalised facial, life coaching, Buddhist meditation or weight loss! Heck, you could even have a spa wedding (yes, really) if you fancied it. The spectacular grand master suite has a two-person walk-in steam shower plus a free standing roll top bath and a terrace with views of the garden which you access through French doors, sigh... And an outdoor hot tub will be arriving soon! Also utterly fabulous is the legendary Champneys spa retreat at Tring in Hertfordshire, which is centred around the beautiful Rothschild Mansion and set in 170 acres of parkland. A favourite with the A-list, a health farm was first opened there in 1925 by the celebrated natropath and holistic pioneer Stanley Lief. Champneys have just completed a £14million refurbishment so now’s the perfect time to check out the state-of-the-art gym, 25m pool, Laconium, Herbal Steam Chamber and the new Thalassotherapy pool. phoebe frangoul is the beauty editor at cultbeauty.co.uk THE BEST SPA RETREATS: Grayshott, Champneys Tring, Clarice House, Brooklands and check out lastminute.com Spa Fortnight for more amazing spas in your area.