Overdue some time out?You don’t have to travel to India for a meditation retreat – there are plenty of opportunities for uninterrupted zen here in the UK. From luxury farmhouse getaways to walking weekends in Devon, these are the best meditation retreats in the UK.
West Sussex: Forest Bathing at The Spread Eagle
In the medieval market town of Midhurst, idyllic hotel The Spread Eagle is offering a wellness retreat centred around one of this year’s biggest wellness trends: forest bathing. A Japanese practice, forest bathing simply means to slow down and immerse yourself in the forest atmosphere. The Spread Eagle’s retreat is led by Swedish-born Helena Skoog – who has spent the past four years living off-grid in ancient forestry in Sussex. She will guide guests through a series of sensory experiences, encouraging them to connect with the natural surroundings and reap the therapeutic benefits.
Go off-grid at EcoYoga, a wellness retreat in the Scottish Highlands surrounded by forests, lochs and rolling hills. From here founders Nick and Rachel run a variety of yoga retreats, including beginners, Ashtanga and Iyengar, with classes taking place to the sound of waterfalls in the lovely glazed studio overlooking the gorge of the River Liever. Inspired by the Japanese tradition of ‘Sento’ (public bath houses), there are also a number of bathing areas dotted around, including natural wooden hot tubs under a dome. Hence the name, the space is an eco-hub, powered by a hydro turbine and large bank of solar panels.
Norfolk: Mindfulness for Wellbeing Weekend
Unlike some wellness retreats, at Norfolk’s Mindfulness for Wellbeing Weekend guests can choose to do as much or as little as they want. Activities include gentle yoga classes, mindful movement, and breathwork, accompanied by lots of wholesome vegetarian food. Retreaters are encouraged to turn off their mobile phones and technology during their stay, and there are limited periods of silence, designed to create space in the mind.
If you’re looking to reduce the noise in your mind, Gaia House is your best bet. One of the largest meditation centers in Europe, it offers silent meditation retreats in the Buddhist tradition, but all faiths are welcome. Set in the peaceful South Devon countryside, retreats range in length from two to seven nights, with different names such as Pathways to Happiness and The Heart of Wisdom and Kindness. Though guests are asked to refrain from engaging in all forms of verbal and written communication throughout the retreat, you can speak with the teachers when appropriate. During your stay you can enjoy picturesque strolls around the grounds, and vegan/vegetarian meals throughout.
Glass House Retreat, Essex
Glass House Retreat, is a purpose-built spa, detox and weight-loss centre set in the heart of the luscious Essex countryside. Packages range from two to seven days long, all offering spa and gym access, plant-based cuisine and various different wellness treatments. A typical day here involves a morning walk, two fitness classes and a raw food lunch, followed by a cookery demonstration from Head Chef Miguel Gouveia. Afternoons, meanwhile, are spent exploring the retreat’s spa facilities – which include a salt block sauna, cryotherapy chamber and heated pool – and enjoying relaxing treatments. Less than an hour’s drive from London, it’s perfectly located for city dwellers looking to escape from the city and invest in a little R&R.