OK, so to hope for a kind of easyJet of the spa world, complete with garish orange massage towels, say, and spotty teenage masseuses, might be a wish too far. But we are in a post-Christmas penny-pinching mode in which any kind of spa bargain looks all the more appealing.
Not that spas need be a luxury item. In countries with a more enduring spa history than Britain’s, such as Hungary or Sweden, you’re as likely to find a plumber as a plutocrat in the steam room.
Either one of them should appreciate these cut-price spa offers around the UK.
It may be in the capital but you wouldn’t know it from some of the prices at this pampering, but nonetheless masculine, enclave tucked away in one of London’s most exclusive areas.
Express massages starting from a nifty £43 will get the juices flowing again.
31a Bruton Place, Mayfair, London W1J 6NN; 0207 297 4343; gentlemenstonic.com
Macdonald Old England Hotel & Spa
This venerable four-star hotel on the shores of Lake Windermere has beautiful, placid views and an also quite attractive New Year detox package for £99 until February 28.
It bundles up a half-board stay, 45-minute body scrub, power booster facial and, of course, use of the spa. What’s not to lake?
23 Church Street, Windermere, Cumbria LA23 3DF; 0844 879 9144; macdonaldhotels.co.uk
The Magdalen Chapter
A silver winner in the regional large hotel of the year category last year, this grand Exeter establishment has a number of tempting offers at the moment, including one particularly suited to the darker evenings.
For £75 per person, the Twilight Affair Package includes a soak in the indoor-outdoor pool – heated to 29C-31C – a soak in the spa with a glass of Elderflower fizz, a 60-minute treatment of your choice and then a three-course dinner, assuming you don’t doze off over the hors d’oeuvres after that relaxation Blitzkrieg.
Magdalen Street, Exeter, EX2 4HY; 01392 288171; themagdalenchapter.comHAMPSHIRE
Chewton Glen Hotel & Spa
“One of the grandes dames of country hotel spas,” according to a fan, this elegant New Forest retreat may be dripping with awards but its prices feel pretty accessible to hoi polloi.
Men: de-shame your feet with a £39 moisturising pedicure. And either sex can knock a few years off – temporarily – with a £40 express facial.
New Milton, New Forest, Hampshire, BH25 6QS; 01425 275 341; chewtonglen.com
The Spa Hotel at Ribby Hall
Self-catering holiday parks don’t sound the obvious venue for an indulgent spa break but the good value on offer at this “adults-only” establishment (steamy high jinks not assured; it just means no kids) makes it worth a visit.
One £129pp package includes overnight stay, full English breakfast (not sure where that fits in with the overall health vibe, but I’m sure it tastes good), unlimited time in enough different kinds of heat rooms to keep Nero happy, two-course dinner and a facial, manicure, pedicure or massage.
Ribby Hall Village, Ribby Road, Wrea Green, near Blackpool, Lancashire; 01772 671 111; ribbyhall.co.uk
Ragdale Hall Health Hydro
This retreat, successfully combining elegant Victorian architecture with cutting-edge gizmos that the spa-mad Victorians could only have dreamed about, keeps its prices pretty keen.
A Twilight Taster spa day is £77 from Monday to Thursday, including a body treatment or facial, light supper and use of Ragdale’s impressive range of heat rooms, pools and more.
Ragdale Village, Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire, LE14 3PB; 01664 433043; ragdalehall.co.uk
Thermae Bath Spa
Image courtesy of VisitBath
No UK spa roundup could reasonably spurn a dip in the ancient spa town of Bath.
Not that its world-renowned thermal establishments are known for their budget offerings, but it seems the mid-winter belt-tightening mood has been felt even here.
Until February 13, the city’s tourism outfit is offering exclusive packages at the salubrious Thermae Bath Spa, including an overnight stay and four hours’ treatment starting from £75 – you even get a robe, towel and slippers thrown in.
The Hetling Pump Room, Hot Bath Street, Bath BA1 1SJ; 01225 331234; visitbath.co.uk/detox
Northern hospitality extends to the treatment rooms in this impressive Victorian Huddersfield house, where they serve yummy cake alongside Eve Taylor aromatherapy products.
The staff’s friendliness is renowned, and a 90 minute Marine Full Body Detox treatment costs just £72. For this, expect a full body exfoliation with sea salt infused with essential oils, a sumptuous mud mask with seaweed extracts, followed by a full body massage. The perfect way to energise for the New Year and buff away any dull, dry skin cells still hanging on from Christmas.
128 Halifax Old Road, Birkby, Huddersfield, HD2 2RL; 01484 303786; alexandrahouse.org.uk
Stobo Castle Health Spa, Scottish Borders
Feel like a king – or at least a beleaguered Scottish laird – as you soak castle-side in this impressive setting.
Not that the prices require a royal budget. Days at “Scotland’s only destination spa” (self-proclaimed), including two treatments, lunch and prosecco, start from £99.
Stobo, Peeblesshire, Scotland, EH45 8NY; 01721 725 300; stobocastle.co.uk
Wales’s largest spa appears to be targeting men, in particular, with keenly priced treatments including an aroma massage or hot towel shaving treatment for £55. (There are plenty of golf offers, too, should you be so inclined. Personally, golf makes me tense.)
The Sunday or Monday spa breaks have unisex appeal, costing from £99pp, and include a four-star stay, dinner, full Welsh breakfast, half-day in the spa and a 25-minute massage or facial.
Hensol Park, Hensol Vale of Glamorgan CF72 8JY; 01443 667800; vale-hotel.com