“It’s grim up north,” goes the phrase – but that description most certainly does not include Harrogate: a rather lovely town that’s somehow ended up in Yorkshire instead of the Home Counties, darling. With an historic spa, elegant dining options and miles of rolling countryside to explore, Harrogate is the perfect spot should you fancy a relaxing weekend break. But forget Yorkshire’s grandest spa – as the old guard has some serious competition – just up the road at Rudding Park. The Georgian manor-turned-hotel itself is pretty unremarkable, but skip past reception and don’t forget your bikini – it’s the hot new spa that should be your destination here.

Named the Best New Spa by the Good Spa Guide – who we imagine know what they’re talking about – Rudding Park’s state-of-the-art spa is a place you could quite happily spend an entire day. Or two. Open to residents and non-residents alike, we suggest booking a couple of days at the spa so you can enjoy all three floors of relaxing, hydrothermic, heat/steam/cold-enhanced delights properly. No need to skimp on things – you’ll want to try a few treatments too. And there’s even a truly sublime contemporary restaurant within the spa itself – you don’t even need to wander further afield. You do need to wear something other than a bathrobe/bikini. But only in the restaurant.

So let’s start on the rooftop, where Rudding Park’s enchanting spa experience begins. The hydrotherapy infinity pool or the panoramic sauna? Or perhaps the gently-bubbling spa bath. Being amidst the hotel’s tranquil landscaped gardens with their graceful, swaying treetops and elegant herbaceous borders gives the spa a magical, otherworldly feel – even the most perpetually stressed, strung-out Londoner can’t fail to be transported here. Designed by award-winning horticulturalist Matthew Wilson, the rooftop gardens have been planted with all manner of ornamental grasses, birch trees and deep purple blooms – to create a space for all seasons. Whether you happen to visit the suntrap come summer or on a typically Northern overcast, cloudy day, the garden setting serves to instantly relax – which is why you’re here, after all!

Ample distinct spaces ensure that the rooftop spa rarely feels crowded, with berobed guests padding about from the herbal steam room, to the sauna cabin, and then back to that infinity pool to laze with a gin and tonic. Staff are on hand should you wish to order a local tipple – Slingsby Gin – served with pink grapefruit and blueberries, and made with local spring water.

The spa really is a space you could choose to spend a day or two, with experience showers, ice fountain, and – should you chance on those elusive rays – even a sun deck. Even if it should rain, there’s another pool indoors where you can practice your backstroke in water sourced from Rudding Park’s very grounds, as well as further steam rooms and saunas. Don’t forget to book in for a treatment – the spa works with brands including Carita, Elemental Herbology and ila. The Flow Wellbeing treatment combines massage and lymphatic drainage, with smooth, flowing movements. Designed to improve sleep, relax muscles and boost circulation, don’t be surprised if you drift off.

Duly relaxed, we’d recommend booking dinner at Horto – the spa’s on-site restaurant. The tasting menu is a delight from beginning to end – with many ingredients sourced from Rudding Park’s very own kitchen garden. Chef Murray Wilson works directly with the hotel’s gardener to create modern, seasonal dishes, most of which will knock your socks off. Diners are recommended to look at the menu to see what’s in each course only once they’ve enjoyed it – certainly a novel way to consider flavours, textures and really experience each dish. A restaurant sommelier often plays understudy to the chef’s star turn, but not so with Horto’s wine expert. After all, if you do sip a drop or two too many, where better to soothe your head than that infinity hydrotherapy pool?

For more information and to book, see Rudding Park’s website.