This large Aqua Sana spa is deep within a Center Parcs complex in a beautiful Suffolk forest. Two floors offer a fabulous thermal journey set around a 15-metre hydropool in the spa courtyard. There are a variety of themed steam rooms, saunas and meditation rooms, and a lovely zen garden with a four-poster day bed. After your Decléor treatment and lunch in the café, have a snooze on one of the waterbeds on a balcony high in the trees and drift away, listening to the birdsong.
- XXL robes available
- 21 air-conditioned treatment rooms
- Aqua meditation room
- Balinese multi-steam bath
- Greek herbal bath
- Ice fountain
- Indian Blossom steam room
- Indoor and outdoor pools
- Japanese salt steam bath
- Multi-sensory steam room
- Reflexology footbaths
- Turkish hammam
- Tyrolean garden
- Tyrolean sauna
- Water beds
- Zen Garden
- CND Nails
- Bare Minerals
- Lava Shells
Our Spa Spy review
In the depths of a Suffolk pine forest, Aqua Sana Spa forms part of Center Parcs Elveden Forest village. In keeping with nature, the spa's modern eco-building is carved out of wood panels sourced from its surrounds. The feeling of being outside continues once you're through the main doors: think large windows, plenty of plants, and pale stone floors. Aqua Sana has benefitted from a makeover in 2018 with a fresh coat of paint, and a new palette of fawns, marine blues and deep purples.
What's on offer?
The spacious spa reception has high ceilings, large white globe lights, and a long, curved welcome desk. There's a Bare Minerals make-up station, and glass cabinets filled with Elemis and Decléor products, which are available to buy.
The large changing rooms are well stocked with fresh white robes and fluffy towels; you operate the wooden lockers with a wristband. Change beside one of several contemporary sofas or duck into the private changing room. The two vanity bars each have funky lights above and hairdryers on the counter. Two separate shower areas each have four cubicles; close the glass door and try out Aqua Sana's own-brand of body wash, shampoo and conditioner. Just outside the changing area is a cleansing station with cleansers and toners.
The spa facilities are down a few steps; there is a lift if you need one. The thermal area is undoubtedly the star of the show with various water and thermal experiences to try. The outdoor hydro-pool sits at the centre of the facilities with Jacuzzi-style seats and three swan-neck fountains. It's enclosed on all four sides by the glass walls of the spa, but open to the elements above so you can enjoy cool, crisp air contrasting with the warmth of the pool. Plants hanging down from a balcony above make you feel at one with nature.
The 15 thermal experiences are set over two floors. You can literally spend all day flitting between the Turkish hammam, Japanese salt bath, Indian blossom steam room, multi-sensory showers, Tyrolean sauna and laconium, to name but a few. We loved the super-hot Indian Blossom steam room and the pretty outdoor Zen garden, with its bamboo plants and wicker loungers.
Aqua Sana Elveden Forest has lots of relaxation spaces dotted around the spa where you can help yourself to cold water, magazines and crunchy green apples. There are formal relaxation rooms (one light and one dark) with comfortable seats and loungers, as well as more informal spaces to sit and chill out. Try the hanging rattan seats, double waterbeds or orb-like sofas. The post-treatment relaxation room is blissfully dark. Wriggle under a blanket and listen to the soft music while you regroup post treatment.
The treatment area, with 21 individual treatment rooms, is downstairs beyond the spa café; a small waiting area has chairs, sofas and consultation forms to complete.
Tell us about the treatments
We tried the Made for Life Hand on Heart treatment (55 minutes, £79).
My therapist, Lauren, met me in the treatment waiting area and led me to a small treatment room decked out in earthy tones.
Lauren talked me through the treatment which, while designed by Made for Life for patients living beyond cancer, is a gentle treatment designed to encourage deep relaxation. Lauren left the room so that I could lie face down on the treatment bed.
The treatment began with a back and shoulder massage using a Made for Life oil which Lauren also drizzled onto my hair. When asked if the pressure was OK, I was surprised to find myself asking for more (a first): Lauren's touch was so light, it was almost ticklish.
I soon got used to her touch, though; when Lauren asked me to turn over for my facial, I was fast asleep (another first).
The facial began with a double cleanse using a Made for Life Skin Solve Balm containing calendula, olive oil and rose to help nourish dry or dehydrated skin. Lauren wiped off each layer with hot mitts before using a scrub to exfoliate. The mask that came next was so light it felt more like a cream; while it worked away, Lauren treated me to a relaxing head massage.
Lauren ended the facial with Made for Life products: Age Well Intensive Moisture Balm, some Daily Rejuvenating Facial Oil, and a slick of Soothe and Nourish Lip Balm. One look in the mirror and I could see the difference: my skin looked nourished, while my cheeks felt silky soft.
Despite being extremely gentle, the back and shoulder massage was surprisingly relaxing; I challenge anyone not to fall asleep.
Lauren led me to the relaxation room and offered cold strawberries coated in chocolate: a nice pick-me-up after the treatment.
The treatment menu at Aqua Sana Elveden Forest offers a range of facials, wraps, scrubs, massages, Lava Shells, hot stone treatments and serail mud treatments using Elemis and Decléor products. There are also treatments for men and mums-to-be, while Made for Life treatments include Catch the Breath, Soothe and Nurture, and Hand on Heart.
Aqua Sana has a dedicated spa café, Vitalé, serving a range of colourful, fresh dishes such as salads, paninis and desserts, as well as hot dishes including fish or lasagne. Sunny day? Head to the outside terrace and watch the butterflies while you eat.
We ordered a chicken, spinach and harissa flatbread with a side of Mediterranean beans served with a mint dressing; we washed it down with a glass of bubbles. The flatbread was fresh and well-seasoned but large and difficult to eat; the side salad was such a delight we could have eaten a whole plate of it.
You can also order afternoon tea, desserts, hot and cold drinks, and Prosecco, wines and cocktails.
We loved / we didn't love
Bubbling away in the open-air hydro-pool while staring up at the hanging plants and blue sky.
The sheer size of Aqua Sana and the number of experience rooms: You could easily spend a whole day in the spa.
The spa hosts work hard to ensure you are well looked after; we were offered a shot of peach juice; an iced, lavender-scented towel; a fresh robe; cold grapes; squares of nutty flapjack; and chocolate-covered strawberries on our visit alone.
We didn't love
The lack of amenities at the vanity bar: Some body moisturiser and a pair of straighteners would improve the post-spa preening experience at Aqua Sana Elveden Forest.
Having to pay £2.50 for flip flops: Although we believe that the floor is both heated and anti-slip, if you want to wear flip flops, you'll either need to pay up or bring your own.
The lack of pockets in the robes: In a wet, warm environment, it's good to have somewhere to store your glasses and/or book.
Who do you think would like it?
Couples: Aqua Sana is a good introduction to spa-ing if your other half is a spa newbie. Working your way around the thermal experiences is great fun, too.
Male spa-goers: We counted 14 male spa-goers during our visit: solo spa goers, couples and members of groups.
What bubble rating did you give this spa?
We awarded Aqua Sana Elveden Forest a Good Spa Guide Bubble Rating of 5 bubbles. The Aqua Sana spas are hugely popular and we can see why: they offer good value for money and plenty of experiences to try. The spa hosts make sure your visit is enjoyable and the Vitalé café is well worth a visit.
Vitalé Café Bar – Mediterranean restaurant to delight your senses, with a mouth-watering selection of lighter meals, designed to be both nutritious and irresistible.
Executive Apartments available for spa breaks; Luxury Spa Suites available for luxury spa breaks.
9am - 9pm every day