Barnsley Spa and Skincare Centre is within the grounds of Barnsley House, a stylish Cotswolds hotel packed with character and countryside charm. The very private and petit spa has indoor thermal facilities, a heated outside hydrotherapy pool and a gorgeous relaxation room designed to bring the tranquillity of the gorgeous Rosemary Verey gardens inside. There's a good range of spa treatments on offer and a clinic which offers non-surgical cosmetic treatments, if you're looking for more dramatic results.
- Five treatment rooms
- Steam room
- Relaxation room
- Heated outdoor hydrotherapy pool
Our Spa Spy review
Barnsley House is a beautiful Queen Anne house in possibly even more beautiful gardens. The hotel mixes the traditional and the contemporary, with cosy lounges, comfortable rooms, and high-quality cuisine.
The modern spa is tucked away in a separate Cotswold-stone building in the gardens. Follow the path that winds through the grounds and down a few steps to the spa in a sheltered corner.
What's on offer?
Barnsley Spa is small but very special. At every turn, they bring the surrounding gardens into the spa, so you feel as if you've truly gone back to Nature. The light and airy reception area sets the tone, with glass walls overlooking the pool and the greenery. Natural materials are used throughout, with stone floors, brick walls, and wicker handrails on the stairs.
The changing rooms are tiny, with just two stone-walled showers and a loo, but they are nicely stocked with Aromatherapy Associates shampoo, shower gel and conditioner, with cleansers and moisturiser at the two vanity basins. The white leather circular seating is comfortable and clean. Each wooden locker contains a soft white robe, towel and a pair of slippers. There is no spinner, but there are plastic bags for your wet swimsuit. Extra towels slippers and robes are in wicker baskets throughout the spa.
The outdoor hydrotherapy pool has strong swan pipes and massage jets. It's warm, so you can bubble away whatever the weather. Further down the garden is a fire-pit with wood seating, and several sun loungers on wooden decking, dotted in and amongst tubs of herbs and banks of flowers.
The thermal facilities are together in one room, which is hung with bunches of herbs. The wooden sauna was nicely hot and the mosaic steam room fiercely hot on our visit. Thankfully, you can cool down in the large experience shower or via the ice fountain.
The spa lounge is large and light with more glass walls overlooking the pool and the garden. You can order drinks and snacks and take them into the garden, if you want to make the most of any good weather. The beige and brown sofas are soft and comfortable, the magazines up to date, the fruit bowl fresh, and the jugs of infused water nicely cold.
Downstairs are five treatment rooms, each neutrally decorated. The post-treatment relaxation room is one of a kind. The walls are lined with wicker and a large screen shows grasses waving in the wind. The dark space feels both rural and relaxing as you snuggle down under the blankets on your comfortable chair.
Tell us about the treatments
We tried the Clear your Mind massage (85 minutes, £95). This was a very grounding treatment, gentle, all-encompassing, and good for both mind and body.
Lucy, my therapist, began with a foot cleanse. She then focused on my back, moving her fingers along my chakras, putting pressure on cranial points, and aligning my spine. Meanwhile, I was gazing down at a shimmering silver bowl on the floor containing essential oils. The pressure-point massage was great, using warmed ginger and rosemary gel. Lucy explained what she was doing, as I had asked, so I knew when she was working on points to clear my kidneys or my lungs, or working on my wrists for relaxation. You could just surrender to the experience, though, and go with the flow.
As Lucy worked, I could feel myself letting go. This isn't a push-me-pull-you massage, but one that is careful and co-ordinated, designed to unwind. Lucy worked on my back, legs, feet, scalp, high up into the areas of tension in my neck, and along my tight jaw. When the massage was over, and I was settling into one of the chairs in the relaxation room with a grapefruit granita, I felt more at one with myself, both soothed and uplifted.
Barnsley Spa also offers a variety of massages, including a hot stones massage and a maternity massage. They also offer some specialised facials, which is why they call themselves a skincare centre. These include CACI facials which use micro-currents to help lift the face muscles, and micro-dermal abrasion. You can also try scrubs, manicures and pedicures, and more holistic treatments such as reflexology.
You can order teas and coffees, sandwiches, salads and home-made cakes in the spa lounge. We had some charcuterie and olives, and a tasty ham sandwich. If you want a spa lunch, you can have this either at the beginning or end of your spa half-day; the spa is so small it doesn't offer full days. You eat your two-course lunch in The Potager restaurant in the hotel.
The Potager restaurant overlooks the garden and serves seasonal, fresh food. Much of the food, in fact, comes from the very gardens that the restaurant overlooks. The staff at Barnsley House grow their own vegetables and also raise chickens for your breakfast eggs. The spa-lunch menu includes a section entitled "Freshly picked from the garden" and might feature courgettes, beetroot, gem lettuce, or peas and mint -- whatever is in season. At dinner, we had the very indulgent house speciality of vincisgrassi (pasta baked with ham and mushrooms). Reader, I found it utterly addictive.
We can't overlook the fact that Barnsley House offers a total of 21 gins to choose from for your pre-dinner drink. We tried the Cotswold gin, which really did smell of lavender; delightful and unusual.
We loved / we didn't love
The sense of privacy and peace in the spa. Numbers are strictly controlled so that a maximum of six people are in the spa at any time.
The setting: In a dip in the garden, surrounded by trees and shrubs, the spa feels hidden away and peaceful. Don't miss the opportunity to wander through the main gardens behind the hotel, too: a tonic for the soul in itself.
The relaxing relaxation rooms: The main lounge is large, light, filled with plants, and has a mirrored alcove with flickering candles and pine cones adding to the atmosphere. The post-treatment room has an unusual comforting feel to it, with those amazing wicker walls.
We didn't love
The spa has no swimming pool or gym so if doing a few laps or some weights is an essential part of your spa day, Barnsley Spa may not be for you.
Who do you think would like it?
Couples: Barnsley Spa feels very intimate and romantic.
Solo spa goers: You'll feel quite comfortable at Barnsley Spa on your own if you need some peace and restoration.
Foodies: The home-grown, home-made food reminds you that English cooking can be a pleasure. The food and spa make a winning combination.
What bubble rating did you give this spa?
We gave Barnsley Spa and Skincare Centre a Good Spa Guide rating of 5 bubbles for its garden setting, impressive treatments, helpful and friendly staff, and sense of peace. Yes, the spa is small and does not have an Olympic swimming pool, but the dramatic relaxation rooms, traditional thermal facilities, and unique gardens offer a spa experience that is unlike any other.
The Potager Restaurant serves lunch, afternoon tea, and dinner. Their menu is inspired by fresh produce from the Barnsley Kitchen Gardens, creating English dishes with an Italian influence. Further dining is also available at The Village Pub.
The rooms at Barnsley House feature beautiful views, traditional stone fireplaces, wooden floors and beams, as well as contemporary furnishings from top London interior designers. Spa guests can also stay at The Village Pub.
See the hotels entry on Pride of Britain Hotels.
Seven days a week, evening treatments available