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1. Jiva Healing
Life in the fast lane
‘Detox’ is something of a devalued term these days, appropriated by marketing men to sell everything from tea to ten thousand dollar-a-week packages to Thailand, so you need to choose carefully should you want a dose of the real deal.
is a very credible operation, founded by a massage therapist and nutritionist, which offers reasonably-priced detox and healthy eating breaks in India, Spain, Turkey and Britain. Choose between an intensive juice fast accompanied by yoga, nutrition classes and massage, or go wild and add a little vegan food and circuit training into the mix. Either way, sluggishness will be a distant memory by the time you leave.
2. The Penn Club
Find inner peace in the city
We think of retreats being in remote rural locations, but it’s possible to find solitude and space to think in the city, too.
The Penn Club
in London’s Bloomsbury is a Quaker-run organisation that offers rooms in a calm environment designed for cogitation, with neither TVs nor pressure to chat to staff and fellow guests. It’s also just around the corner from the British Museum, so you can spend days floating around in contemplation of awesome ancient treasures. Furthermore, your city-based spiritual boost need not cost you dearly: single rooms start at a mere GBP 65, almost unheard of for central London.
3. Mount Athos
Get thee to a monastery
Women, this one isn’t for you: even female animals are prohibited from
in Macedonia, the oldest monastic republic in existence. The self-governed ‘Holy Mountain’ has been occupied for a millennium and is now home to 20 Eastern Orthodox monasteries, who live quite literally out of step with the rest of the world, following the Julian calendar and Byzantine time and with almost no communication with the outside. The procedure for those who wish to stay with the monks is rather laborious – only a limited number of visas are granted, subject to arcane rules – but the experience can be profound, so we hear. Prince Charles is a big fan.
4. Sinai Desert Retreat
Expand your mind in Egypt
If you shiver at the word ‘pamper’ and find the idea of focusing exclusively inwards self-indulgent, then don’t dismiss retreats: they need not involve rose petal-strewn baths or endless navel-gazing. You can combine reflection, adventure and charity with a trek into the Sinai Desert run by the
, a laudable organisation dedicated to sustaining the desert environment and the heritage of those who live there. After flying to Sharm el-Sheikh, a small group trek by foot and camel into the wilderness, where they camp under the stars with Bedouin nomads before a few days’ solitary retreat. At least 60% of the cost of the journey goes to support the local community.
5. Trasierra Hotel
Take it slow in Seville
Many hotels claim to offer a relaxing experience, but few do it really, really well. Located in the idyllic countryside outside Seville,
feels less like lodgings and more as if you’ve lucked out with an invite to the home of a friend with excellent taste. The rambling medieval farmhouse is beautifully decorated in an artsy fashion, the delicious food made with local ingredients, the beds comfy and the service non-fussy. All that’s asked of you is to eat well and sleep well; you can also take a dip in the pool and wander for miles in the surrounding countryside without seeing another soul. Yoga retreats and massage are available.
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