What kind of child-free holiday do mums want, in their hearts? Perhaps you'd like to do a Greta Garbo and go solo, or perhaps organise a girlie getaway with fellow mums. You might not even have relaxation in mind; many women whose children have gone beyond all-consuming toddlerdom want to reclaim part of their lives and learn or improve a skill, whether it’s bread-making at River Cottage or mountain-climbing. Many women want to get fit; others want to experience something exotic and perhaps put something back into local communities or even do some volunteer work. And some have even made a bucket-list of things to do before they die or are looking for a life-altering experience.
If none of the suggestions below float your boat, choose a lovely area for walking, such as the Lake District, and book a self-catering cottage, alone or with friends. Take along pampering goodies, a detox book if you’re on a health kick or some great wine if you're not, a good cookbook, and sturdy walking shoes/boots.
See also our feature on A Parents' Break at the Feversham Arms & Verbena Spa in Yorkshire.
The famous home to the Met Bar and Nobu is a fun, chic place for a mum’s break, offering shopping and spa packages. The spa, COMO Shambhala Urban Escape, offers Asian-inspired treatments to treat mind, body and spirit, including pre-natal massages. Guestrooms come with yoga mats for those who want to stretch (instructors can be hired, as can private trainers). If you do come with children, there’s a Honey, I Brought the Kids package including champagne and spa vouchers for parents.
This country house hotel in the heart of the New Forest runs two- and three-day fitness retreats including personal training, mindfulness, deep-tissue massages, cookery demos and use of The Herb House spa with its pool and herb-planted meditation area. The spa also offers treatments for two in the Mud House, using cleansing clays. The restaurant, Harnett Holder & Co, uses the freshest local produce.
Champneys' longstanding expertise shows in its range of treatment and facilities, both here and at its resorts in Hertfordshire, Hampshire, and Bedfordshire. It’s also a very good-value venue for a mums’ break, with rates including unlimited access to up to 20 fitness and relaxation classes and access to the swimming pool, whirlpool, steam/sauna room, gym, and tennis court, bike loan, and all meals.If you’re pregnant, try a Beautiful Bump massage.
This nurturing, awardwinning spa offers a variety of spa treatment packages for those who need some TLC in order to put the spring back in their step, including De-Stress (2-4 nights). A daily fitness schedule includes yoga, pilates and walks in the grounds and on the surrounding National Trust land, and there are indoor and outdoor pools plus an in-house nutritionist.
The world’s original ‘vinothérapie’ spa is perfect for wine-loving mums, who can follow up a grape-based therapy (merlot wrap, anyone?) with wine- or champagne-tasting in the bar, from a 16,000-strong cellar. Situated in the wine region just outside Bordeaux, Les Sources offers cures and rituals focused on slimming and anti-ageing, including a Young Mother Cure for those who want to get back into shape after pregnancy (there’s a baby-sitting service). That said, with a Michelin-starred restaurant among the dining options, calorie-counting should be far from your mind. Some of the stylish suites are on stilts. There’s a sister spa, Les Etangs de Corot, in Ville d'Avray between Paris and Versailles.
This luxurious hotel is part of a small group of hotels throughout Spain running the Dreams Project, a non-profit social initiative researching the importance of good sleep and ways to achieve it, as well as helping less fortunate young people make their dreams come true through donations. In terms of its hotel guests, it aims to provide full mental and physical revitalisation – at Maricel, some rooms have their own 'zen' soaking pool, and there's tips and advice, nutritional menus, and restful spa treatments.
Fortina Spa Resort, Malta
This pampering and wellness paradise (adult-only most of the year) offers a vast range of treatments and activities plus a 4th Trimester Healing Hour therapy for new mums in need of a little mothering themselves. Its Wellness Rooms are designed to promote a longer-lasting deep relaxation and thus a better night’s sleep, with magnetising beds that relieve aches, pains and stress, energised anti-dustmite mattresses, duvets and pillows, a living water and shower system, and mountain-fresh ionised air purifiers.
REST OF WORLD
This all-inclusive resort in a secluded cove on one of the world’s loveliest islands promises that if you give you its body for a week, it will ‘give you back your mind’. It does his through its famed treatments, therapies and activities, which include scuba-diving, Pilates, ayurvedic treatments and yoga retreats. Mother-to-be massages are among the treatments included in the price; others, including the two-day Sleep Restoration course, cost extra. There's also a regular WellFit Families retreat if you do bring the kids.
The sister hotel to the Metropolitan by COMO (above) on a private island halfway around the world is wonderful for frazzled adults (though some suites and villas accommodate older children in convertible sleeping areas), with a COMO Shambhala Spa Package including daily spa treatments and yoga. The Retreat spa also offers four Wellness Paths: purification, rejuvenation, relaxation and restoration. The best accommodation is the stilted Loft Villas, with sun terraces and steps down into the lagoon, plus full-length windows with views over the Indian Ocean. The suites and villas are all overwater, connected by a wooden boardwalk.
If you feel that your life has been taken over by other people’s schedules, this clifftop resort in Karnataka, with a name that translates as ‘my own rhythm’, may be just the ticket for a minimum 5-day break based around yoga, pranayama, and meditation. Art classes are also included, as are cooking lessons, with guests invited to help pick some of the ingredients for meals based on organic, seasonal ingredients with the emphasis on seafood. There’s also an ayurveda centre on-site offering a variety of massages and other therapies.
Escape Haven, Bali
This luxury women-only surf spa retreat offers a week-long surf, yoga and wellbeing program for all ages and abilities. Peaceful and serene yet within easy reach of Bali’s many fantastic shops, it offers accommodation for a maximum of 12 women within two butler-serviced villas with all mod cons, including iPod docking stations and flatscreen TVs. There’s also two large swimming pools and a rooftop bar perfect for sundowners.
See also our features 15 Unforgettable Mums' Breaks With Kids: UK and 10 Magical Mums' Breaks with Kids: Overseas.