As I sit in The Bothy’s Sauna, eyes closed, tuned into the music as warm air wafts over me, I feel better than I have for a long time. After months of stress and anxiety (due largely to parenting challenges), it had not only taken its toll on my mind but it had begun showing up in my body too. Eczema around my eyes and mouth, gray hairs accelerating at the rate of knots, and unexplained back and shoulder pains – these were signs I knew I had to start looking after myself again. Having heard about The Bothy by Wildsmith at Heckfield Place I was drawn to go there as soon as it opened its doors. Additionally I had completely fallen in love with its resident skincare brand Wildsmith – which is helping treat the skin ailments I’m battling. After speaking with their experienced team (more on them later) it was settled that I was to experience two things whilst at The Bothy; the Sauna Medicine and Cold Water Immersion plus the Wildsmith ‘Time’ treatment – two hours and 15 minutes of what can only be described as pure heaven. And whilst, the massage treatment was undeniably brilliant, and helped soothe a lot of those aches and pains that had taken residence in my body, it was the Sauna Medicine that seemed to get deep within my soul and shift something surmountable both mentally and physically. Wellness is at the very core of what The Bothy offers – and everyone from the receptionist to the highly trained wellbeing practitioners and masseuses embodies an incredible dedication to ensuring that Bothy goers are ensconced in a cocoon of barefooted relaxation from the moment you enter the doors. So much so, that when it was my time to leave I felt as though they had somehow changed the landscape of what wellness was to me and how I could maintain my learnings into my daily life. After spending time with Kim, their Head of Education for Wildsmith, Reka, their hugely knowledgeable and spiritual Director of Spa, Emma, the Wellbeing Curator and Katherine, General Manager, Wildsmith Skin – their combined wellbeing experience could match that of some of the greatest wellness gurus and the lessons I took away were invaluable…


Do not underestimate the importance of time. The Bothy places huge importance on time as a healer and yet in the real world we often look at it as one of our biggest limiters. With no clocks anywhere in the spa, guests can relax fully, letting time pass as it should. If you need to be made aware of an appointment one of the staff will subtly give you notice. Reka believes that taking time to connect with yourself in this busy, fast-paced, digital world is essential for overall well-being. As is sitting with things that feel uncomfortable and really working through them – that also takes time – and if we rush this process and try and move on then it is going to come back in one way or another. 


Reka talked alot about her experience with tribes in Africa and also learning about rituals from Latvia – both of which have been incorporated into the Sauna Medicine. Saying this doesn’t actually do justice to the incredible way that Reka has weaved those experiences into The Bothy – but suffice to say that you simply have to try it for yourself to realise how powerful it is. What is undeniable is that we have shut ourselves off in the Western world and operate much more individually when it comes to everything from parenting to work life (work-from-home has further isolated us all). Community is a powerful and effective way to feel better – after all a problem shared is a problem halved. The Sauna Medicine encompassed a body scrub in the steam room from one of the wellbeing practitioners taking us through the ritual and this simple act of care and service made me feel so supported and taken care of – when it is usually me that is doing the serving at home. This shift in perspective was a game-changer. We all need supporting – especially the caregivers in this world. 


I have spent the last two years incorporating cold water into my life. And whilst that still has its place – I forgot about how healing heat can be too. I am a lover of all things hot – hot yoga, hot holidays, hot baths… Saunas – I had forgotten about entirely and I am delighted to be re-introduced to them. Having been used for thousands of years (The Mayans used sweat lodges 3000 years ago) and still a very popular wellbeing practice amongst Finns, Latvians and Swedes (amongst others), I am excited to incorporate hot therapies into my life again. Health benefits include detoxification, increased metabolism, increased blood circulation, pain reduction, antiaging, skin rejuvenation, improved cardiovascular function, improved immune function, improved sleep, stress management, and relaxation. Let’s embrace heat again.


Something that struck me about the way The Bothy is run is the amount that the leading staff members put into looking after their own team. They go to great lengths to ensure that their staff experience their own personal growth journeys and are fully immersed in the rituals that they then take their guests through – this translates into an unbelievable guest experience. It is almost the part that you can’t quite put your finger on whilst you are there. You feel transported to another world, it feels like the wellness game has gone up a level because the Bothy team are the real deal and this authenticity allows you to fully relax and hand yourself over to them.


We’ve all heard the studies. It is conclusive – being around nature is healing to humans. According to TIME magazine, “in one early study, Yoshifumi Miyazaki, a forest-therapy expert and researcher at Chiba University in Japan, found that people who spent 40 minutes walking in a cedar forest had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol, which is involved in blood pressure and immune-system function, compared with when they spent 40 minutes walking in a lab”. There are thousands of other studies out there that deliver the same conclusion. The Bothy does an excellent job of weaving natural elements from the Heckfield Estate into its treatments, from the ingredients in the oils to the berries and teas that are given as part of the rituals. It connects you to the place you are in and makes you feel grounded and calm and human. Nature somehow knows what we need more than we do and will go to that part of you to fix it so it’s time to start letting nature in – not in small ways, but big ones.

words by Sadie Reid