Take time out or hone a skill at one of these glorious getaways.

However nice a life you create for yourself, there will always be moments when you want a break from it. If that rang true before the pandemic, it is practically gospel now. Which is why retreats to suit every taste are springing up all over the place.

Wellness tourism is having a major moment. In an article for The Guardian, Harriet Sherwood recently wrote: ‘Wellbeing tourism – defined as ‘travel associated with the pursuit of maintaining or enhancing one’s personal wellbeing’ – was estimated to be worth $639bn (£467bn) worldwide in 2018. Pre-Covid, the market was forecast to grow to $919tn – 18 per cent of all global tourism – by 2022.’

Makes sense. Given half a chance, who wouldn’t want to hit pause on the daily grind, have a few days to reflect and polish a new skill while they are at it? We sure would. So, it has been our pleasure to track down for you the most recuperative retreats around.

The Arty One


Curious House


At Curious House, founder Philippa King hosts peaceful and creative retreats that call upon the expertise of a raft of talented tutors. Choose from life drawing, block printing, willow weaving, painting with oil and many more. Course accommodation is in the stunning and award-winning boutique hotel, The Bell, Ticehurst, which Philippa helped do up with arty flair. The cultural gems in the surrounding area – including Charleston Farmhouse, Rye Art Gallery and the De La Warr Pavilion – turn a three-night stay here into an art lover’s dream. Book it here.


The Literary One


Garsdale Retreat


In the remote and beautiful Yorkshire Dales, this creative writing centre offers courses for all abilities. Retreats can be tutored (by professional writers) or untutored (giving you the time and space to develop your work alone). The accommodation is in a pretty, Edwardian house, the truly excellent food is locally sourced and the walks from the doorstep never fail to inspire. Book it here.


The Yoga One


Yoga in the Scottish Highlands


Overseen by top London teacher Jean Hall, this yoga weekend takes place in the wilds of the Cairngorms in Scotland. The accommodation is in five cosy cottages nestled in a peaceful dell. Riverside walks, forest wandering, wild swimming and a guided hike are all on the deeply pleasant menu. As is delicious, healthy, plant-based food, exquisitely fresh air and, of course, plenty of yoga. Book it here.


The Riding One


Free Rein



If riding is your thing, what could be more invigorating than a couple of days spent on horseback in Wales (which is considered to house the UK’s finest trail riding country)? On a riding retreat with Freerein, you can expect healthy and happy horses, experienced staff, varied terrain and stunning scenery. Staying in B&Bs and inns along the route – with your luggage transported separately – you won’t have to consider anything but your pony, your posture and the open country. Choose from a vast range of packages, depending on your ability, the length of time you want to spend away and whether you want a guide or to go it alone. The Times called it: ‘An exhilarating way to spend a few days; physically demanding, eye-opening, satisfying escapism.’ Book it here.


The Cookery One


Dudwell Cookery School


This charming cooking school is the brainchild of Caroline Waldegrave – who set up Leith’s School of Food and Wine with Prue Leith back in the day. Located at Waldegrave’s idyllic family home in Somerset, its main offering is a practical four-day cookery course. Lessons take place in the purpose-built professional kitchen; accommodation is in four beautifully decorated twin bedrooms; and there is buckets to do in your downtime. It all makes for an exquisitely comfortable break. Book it here.


The Wellness One


The Clover Mill


Clover Mill is the UK’s first boutique Ayurvedic spa retreat and as such offers the ultimate wellness package. Its individualised treatments, workshops and nutrition are all founded on the ancient principles of Ayurveda. A stay at Clover Mill, in the warm embrace of its eco-friendly five-star accommodation, will rebalance your mind, body and spirit. They say: ‘Staying at the mill gives you permission to relax, to put yourself first, to contemplate your life and who you are.’ We say: yes please. Book it here.


The Surfing One


The Wave


Head to The Camp at The Wave, located just outside Bristol, to improve your surfing technique, connect with nature and feast on great food. You’ll stay in one of 25 tents (each sleeping up to eight), take part in surf sessions that are perfect for your stage and experience and eat at the Clubhouse Café and pop-up food sites around the grounds. If ‘surf, eat, sleep, repeat’ is your vibe, this is your retreat. Book it here.

By Becky Ladenburg
November 2021

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Becky Ladenburg

Features Editor

As the GWG's features editor, Becky has her discerning finger on the cultural pulse. She's also our go-to expert on the property market.

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