Aqua Sana Elveden Forest is a warm haven of a spa in a popular holiday village, nestled in the Suffolk countryside. The spa offers stunningly good value for money, a wide range of thermal experiences and treatments, and spot-on customer care. Aqua Sana captures the essence of traditional Roman baths where people would go to socialise and gossip. There’s enough at Aqua Sana to keep you busy all day long, and it’s the perfect place for friends and couples to spend some quality time together in a laid-back atmosphere.
21 air-conditioned treatment rooms
Aqua meditation room
Balinese multi-steam bath
Greek herbal bath
Indian Blossom steam room
Indoor and outdoor pools
Japanese salt steam bath
Multi-sensory steam room
Our Spa Spy review
Hidden 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 wood columns, faux hessian walls and pale stone floors.
What's on offer?
The spacious spa reception has tall 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 used in treatments, which are also available to buy.
The large changing rooms are well stocked with fresh white robes and fluffy towels. Stripy, dark wood wall lockers contrast beautifully with a light slate floor, and circular sofas add a contemporary twist. There is one private changing room and a communal vanity area with six hairdryers and a machine for drying swimsuits. The two separate shower areas each have four cubicles. Close the wooden door and try out the Aqua Sana own-brand body wash, shampoo and conditioner. Just outside the changing area is a cleansing station with cleansers, toners and facial oils to try.
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.
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 Balinese steam bath, with four tiled annexes leading off from a Buddha statue and the meditation room, where you can gaze at three giant, coloured lava lamps.
Aqua Sana Elveden Forest has lots of relaxation spaces dotted around the spa. There are formal relaxation rooms (one light and one dark) with comfortable seats and loungers and more informal spaces to sit and chill out. Try the hanging rattan seats, outside 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; a small waiting room has chairs and sofas.
Tell us about the treatments
We had the Decléor City Detox Face and Body Ritual (55 minutes, £79).
My therapist, Nele, met me in the waiting area and ushered me into a treatment room decorated in forest greens and natural woods to create a sense of calm.
Nele invited me to lie face down on the treatment bed. She applied pressure to different areas of my back in a bid to gauge my areas of tension, then massaged my back using quite firm pressure. The pressure of the massage and detox oil are designed to release unwanted toxins. She used hot cloths and cooling gels to encourage blood flow and improve circulation. Although I was very relaxed, the temperature changes stopped me falling into a deep state of calm.
Nele asked me to turn over and moved onto the facial element of the treatment. She cleansed and exfoliated my skin before massaging in a thick, moisturising Decléor face cream to act as a protective barrier. I have rarely experienced so many different products and smells in one treatment. If I wasn't sensing a waft of tea, it was aniseed. The final product -- used across my shoulders and top of my chest -- was a cooling gel that smelled like mint.
Nele then massaged the top half of my chest, arms, leg and hands, using different strokes to work out knots and re-awaken my skin. It worked. Despite feeling somewhat sticky, I left feeling completely invigorated.
The spa café is very informal and everyone dines in their robes. Floor-to-ceiling windows offer lovely forest views while you eat. Choose from soups, sandwiches and salads or heavier options such as pasta and fish dishes. Our Moroccan chicken and butternut squash salad was filling but not too heavy; perfect spa-day food.
You can also order afternoon tea, desserts, hot and cold drinks, and Prosecco, wines and cocktails.
We loved / we didn't love
The sheer size of Aqua Sana and the number of experience rooms. We left feeling we hadn't enough time to do it all justice.
The woodland setting: It adds to the getting-away-from-it-all vibe.
Being able to grab another robe and towel from the changing rooms without having to ask.
We didn't love
That there's only one private changing area; not everyone is comfortable stripping off in front of strangers.
The lack of flip-flops. Luckily I'd taken my own.
Who do you think would like it?
Hen parties: Aqua Sana Elveden Forest is so large, it could easily cater for groups. There's enough space to be sociable in some areas and quieter in others.
Couples: Aqua Sana is a good introduction to spa-ing if you other half is a spa newbie. Working your way around the thermal experiences is great fun.
What bubble rating did you give this spa?
We awarded Aqua Sana Elveden Forest a Good Spa Guide rating of 4 bubbles. The Aqua Sana spas are hugely popular and you can see why: They offer good value for money and plenty of experiences to enjoy. But they do get busy. Book in with a small group of friends and it will be a spectacular spa treat.
visited in February 2017 and awarded it .
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.