U.S. markets open in 2 hours 5 minutes
  • S&P Futures

    4,440.25
    -5.50 (-0.12%)
     
  • Dow Futures

    34,725.00
    +51.00 (+0.15%)
     
  • Nasdaq Futures

    15,229.25
    -89.50 (-0.58%)
     
  • Russell 2000 Futures

    2,248.40
    +4.40 (+0.20%)
     
  • Crude Oil

    75.00
    +1.02 (+1.38%)
     
  • Gold

    1,748.20
    -3.50 (-0.20%)
     
  • Silver

    22.59
    +0.17 (+0.74%)
     
  • EUR/USD

    1.1705
    -0.0012 (-0.11%)
     
  • 10-Yr Bond

    1.4600
    0.0000 (0.00%)
     
  • Vix

    18.82
    +0.19 (+1.02%)
     
  • GBP/USD

    1.3708
    +0.0027 (+0.20%)
     
  • USD/JPY

    110.9830
    +0.2980 (+0.27%)
     
  • BTC-USD

    43,718.11
    +543.63 (+1.26%)
     
  • CMC Crypto 200

    1,090.16
    -12.90 (-1.17%)
     
  • FTSE 100

    7,049.43
    -2.05 (-0.03%)
     
  • Nikkei 225

    30,240.06
    -8.75 (-0.03%)
     

How to create a spa holiday in your own back garden

·7 min read
Samantha Kennell decided to revamp her pool – previously home to frogspawn – in lockdown - Luke White
Samantha Kennell decided to revamp her pool – previously home to frogspawn – in lockdown - Luke White

Luxury spas might be open again, but it can still be hard to get a booking – unless, of course, that hot tub or sauna is at the bottom of your garden. Those who used lockdown to add wellness elements to their outdoor space are reaping the rewards. For the rest of us, it’s a growing trend. ‘Increasingly, I am seeing clients looking for ways to extend the use of their gardens, and adding in spa-like elements such as wood-fired hot tubs or outdoor showers,’ says garden designer Tom Massey (tommassey.co.uk).

John Lewis & Partners reported hot-tub sales were up 47 per cent month-on-month in June, while luxury sauna company Heartwood Saunas says sales have increased by 115 per cent on last year. Swimming pool and pond companies have also reported spikes in demand.

‘As fun as these “accessories” can be,’ says Matt Keightley of Rosebank Landscaping, ‘they are not always the most forgiving visually, so the key is to carefully consider how to integrate into the surrounding garden.’ His advice? ‘Planting is always the best place to start; adding height, depth and texture at the edge or around these features is the perfect way to help them blend in.’

Think too about sociable seating options around them, and yours might be your friends’ new staycation spot.

A POOL REFURB

Price: The average cost to build a new outdoor swimming pool is £85,000, according to checkatrade.com

Running cost: About £5 per day

When interior designer Samantha Kennell moved into her Surrey home in 2018, part of the attraction was a large, rundown pool in the garden, which she dreamt of renovating. ‘It looked like a swamp; there were broken tiles, leaks and stagnant water that had been sitting there for years,’ she says. ‘We even had frogspawn.’

The pool before the redesign - Luke White
The pool before the redesign - Luke White

After being quoted £50,000 to £60,000 to restore it, she shelved her plans. ‘It was unaffordable, especially as we were concentrating on extending and remodelling the main house.’ But during the first lockdown – and the heatwave – she began dreaming about her pool again. After tracking down the company that installed it 30 years ago (signetpoolservices.co.uk), she found that the repairs were not as pricey as she had been told.

This spring, she had it drained and jet-washed, installing a cover and an air-source heat pump (which absorbs heat from the air to warm the water) to replace the expensive gas heater. She estimates the total cost at £5,000.

Now the pool’s in working order, ‘everyone wants to come and visit; it’s so sociable. Our holiday abroad got cancelled this year but just having the pool has made me relax about not going away. I’m beyond grateful for it.’

Kennell has bigger plans come September, including replacing the stones around the edge, repairing the mosaic tiling and transforming an outbuilding into a fairy-lit pool house.

AN AL FRESCO SHOWER

Price including installation: Just under £1,000

Running cost: About 11p for an eight-minute shower, according to the Energy Saving Trust

Asked by his clients to include an outdoor shower in the design of the extension at the rear of their south London home – so that they could rinse off after going in their new hot tub – James Webster of Alexander Owen Architecture decided to go deluxe, with white marble tiles and black hardware.

‘We wanted the outdoor shower to be a feature in itself, with a sense of indulgence, but also we wanted to make sure it didn’t feel overly exposed,’ he explains.

Fancy taking a shower beneath the stars? - Luke White
Fancy taking a shower beneath the stars? - Luke White

An outside shower requires plumbing and draining, and the closer it is installed to the main house, the easier the plumbing is. This one was placed on the side of the extension, near a door, and is hidden from the neighbours but has views back down the rest of the garden.

‘It really is very Zen-like,’ concludes Webster.

A NATURAL POND

Price including installation: A pond of up to 100 square metres costs about £115,000

Running cost: There’s no need for heating or filtration; depending on size, a pond will need up to three hours a month of maintenance (brushing out sediment and removing blanket weed)

Even before Hugo and Fran Warner moved into their new home in Kent, they had decided that they needed somewhere to swim. They had originally thought they would build a pool, but came to the conclusion it didn’t suit the historic house and country-style garden, so instead they built a giant swimming pond, complete with naturalistic planting.

Hugo, Fran and the children use their pond regularly, so it's been a real success family-wise - Luke White
Hugo, Fran and the children use their pond regularly, so it's been a real success family-wise - Luke White

Swimming ponds like theirs have been hugely in demand throughout lockdown, according to Tim Evans, managing director of Gartenart Swimming Ponds (gartenart.co.uk), which built the Warners’. ‘A swimming pond is an attractive landscape feature,’ he says. ‘Swimming in clear, fresh water is an immersive experience and people find it washes away their daily thoughts and activities. People find, often unexpectedly, it can be transformational.’

Hugo, Fran and their two children use their pond every day. ‘It’s just changed life for us,’ says Fran.

A SPA ANNEXE

Price including installation: To build a similar design, allow about £3,000 to £4,000 per square metre

When the new owners of a Victorian house in Cambridge set about refurbishing it, one of their requirements was a garden suite dedicated to wellness. ‘Their brief was to have a quiet, secluded building where they could go to unwind, exercise and relax,’ says architect Neil Dusheiko.

A spa annexe - Luke White
A spa annexe - Luke White

The resulting timber-clad building has a relaxation room, sauna, shower, Japanese soaking tub and changing facilities, plus a guest room. As well as planning regulations, Dusheiko says others keen to instal something similar would have to check trees that might affect the foundations, and think about insulation and heating.

A STYLISH HOT TUB

Price including installation: From about £4,800 at Rustic Tubs

Running cost: From 75p a day

Lucy Russell is evangelical about the benefits of wellness at home. Along with an infrared sauna in the garage, which her husband uses to help ease the symptoms of an auto-immune disease, the couple installed a hot tub in their Cotswolds garden last summer. Russell, who recently founded a wellness app, Lucie, uses the hot tub straight after swimming in their cold-water pool.

Russel says the hot tub was ‘the best money we’ve ever spent’ - Luke White
Russel says the hot tub was ‘the best money we’ve ever spent’ - Luke White

‘The mental and physical benefits of swimming are amazing,’ she says, ‘but it’s also so nice to be able to heat yourself up properly afterwards.’

Her husband uses it to relax in, and their three children, aged four to 11, also like to splash about in it after playing in the swimming pool.

The cedar hot tub, by Rustic Tubs, replaced a trampoline, making the whole back garden feel like a more serene, spa-like space. So much so that when the family actually went to a spa hotel recently, she says, ‘we realised that we loved our set-up at home even more’.

The hot tub, as far as Russell is concerned, is ‘the best money we’ve ever spent’.

A SLEEK SAUNA


Price: An entry-level, Finnish cabin DIY kit costs £7,000 to £8,000 from Finnmark

Running cost: Less than £4 for up to three hours

While looking into having a sauna installed in his garden in south-east London, medic Alex Alstadt found that many of those available in the UK were of a lesser standard than traditional Finnish saunas, so he researched custom-built Finnish-style options, sourced the same materials, and decided to build it himself.

A builder assembled the frame, then showed him how to construct the walls using cedar. He estimates that by doing it this way he has got a sauna that would normally cost £20,000 for less than £5,000.

In winter, he uses the wood-fired sauna every day; in summer, three times a week. ‘I pinch myself that I have this at the bottom of my garden,’ he says.

Alex Alstadt, the owner of this sauna, built it himself for less than £5,000 - Luke White
Alex Alstadt, the owner of this sauna, built it himself for less than £5,000 - Luke White

Garden spa buys to try

Josephine sun lounger, £2,015, Sika-Design; rimba inflatable hot tub, £949.99, MSpa; ledbury white-tipped jug, £29, Daylesford; organic-cotton bath towel, £60, Tekla; organic-cotton bathrobe, £149, Tekla
Josephine sun lounger, £2,015, Sika-Design; rimba inflatable hot tub, £949.99, MSpa; ledbury white-tipped jug, £29, Daylesford; organic-cotton bath towel, £60, Tekla; organic-cotton bathrobe, £149, Tekla

Josephine sun lounger, £2,015, Sika-Design; rimba inflatable hot tub, £949.99, MSpa; ledbury white-tipped jug, £29, Daylesford; organic-cotton bath towel, £60, Tekla; organic-cotton bathrobe, £149, Tekla