Set within enchanting grounds, Champneys Forest Mere is a large destination spa with good quality facilities, including a swimming pool and whirlpool, and an alternative health clinic where you can experience healing therapies such as Reiki. The spa menu has over 90 treatments featuring Elemis, Decleor and Champneys products. Don't miss bathing in the thalassotherapy pool, rejuvenating mud treatments in the rasul, or stepping outside for a bubble in the Cedarwood hot tub.
- XXL robes available
- 25 metre pool
- Unisex sauna
- Male and female sauna and steam room
- Male and female plunge pool
- Male and female relaxation room
- Thalassotherapy pool
- Rasul mud chamber
- Floatation beds
- 15 metre outdoor pool
- Tennis court
- 2 fitness studios
Our Spa Spy review
Not quite as glam as its sister spa at Champneys Tring, Champneys Forest Mere is more relaxed and laid back. The setting certainly gets you in the spa mood; drive through a forest and around a lake -- the Mere of the name. The building stretches out along the edge of the lake, so many of the rooms and outdoor seating areas overlook the water. The surrounding 160 acres of woodlands and lawns keep this area very tranquil.
The reception has a glass roof and a central seating area, surrounded by soft drapes; a metal tree sculpture reflects the forest setting.
What's on offer?
Champneys Forest Mere has a huge amount on offer. The 25-metre pool is iconic in the spa world: the soaring cathedral ceiling and large windows are very dramatic, and the hue of the room depends on the time of day. Just next door, a recently-added thermal area has a sauna and whirlpool; the area is very Alps-inspired, with wooden walls, large windows, and plenty of fresh towels.
There are also separate thermal facilities for men and women, with a sauna, steam room and plunge pool in each. There's also a thalassotherapy pool. If you visit in sunnier weather, make the most of the 15-metre outdoor pool which has comfortable loungers and sunshades around its edge.
Plenty of relaxation areas -- both inside and outside -- invite guests to just slow down and chill. The snooze zone has low lighting and half a dozen beds. Next to the pool is a fire-lit room with soft seating and hanging chairs. The lighting is low, the "fire" crackles gently and it's easy to slip into a gentle doze, despite being beside the quite noisy pool area. If you prefer, use the water beds by the pool. Upstairs are several pre-treatment waiting areas so you can sit in comfort in your designated area and your therapist will know where to find you.
If you're staying, you can check in and change into your robe before heading down to the facilities. There are changing rooms for day guests. The lockers are quite small, but there's ample seating space, showers with shampoo and conditioner, and vanity stations with well-lit mirrors, hairdryers, tissues, and cotton pads.
The energetic can try the gym, tennis courts, and two fitness studios, or pick up bikes and wellies for woodland rides and walks.
Champneys Forest Mere has 43 treatment rooms, over 90 therapies on offer, and up to 20 classes a day. That should make the spa feel busy, but some careful planning, and clever design mean you never feel rushed or crowded.
Tell us about the treatments
We began with a session in the thalassotherapy pool (which is a paid for experience). A dozen of us entered the pool under the watchful eye of Laine who guided us around the various water-jets. The water is high in minerals and feels silky on the skin. Each set of jets massages and pummels a different area of the body. After a shower to remove the minerals, my skin felt very soft and smooth.
Next was the Spa Heaven Cocoon (55 minutes, £60) which includes an exfoliation and a wrap.
My therapist, Amy Lou, applied a vigorous exfoliation to my skin, then I had a quick shower to rinse it off. She then coated me in a rich cream and wrapped me up on a heated bed. Amy Lou treated my feet and did a scalp massage. My feet are, at best, neglected; to feel a thick layer of foot butter being massaged into my poor overworked feet was heavenly. By the time I was "cooked" and unwrapped, my skin felt wonderfully smooth. I was so relaxed that I simply had to lie down for a while. Relaxation exactly as ordered.
After a rest and a light lunch, I was back in the spa treatment area for the Elemis Biotech facial (60 minutes, £100). Emily, my therapist, had a good look at my skin and fine-tuned the three elements of this machine-led facial: first, an electric current to help tighten up muscles and skin (vital for those crow's feet around my eyes); next, red and blue light to help get rid of blemishes (good for the blocked milia on my forehead); finally, the machine pushes oxygen into the skin to freshen and plump it up.
Emily applied an activator cream and began work on my chin and jawline. I have had machine facials before and usually find them a bit tingling, but this was painless. Emily held the machine firmly on my skin and moved it gradually around my chin and jaw. She then covered my eyes and shone the blue then red lights all over my face. Emily tested the oxygen on my shoulder so I knew what to expect in terms of a puffing sound and tapping feeling; neither were a problem, but I was glad to be forewarned. Emily applied the oxygen all over my face, then gently massaged in a moisturiser. She sat me up and handed me a mirror. Result! Those crow's feet were reduced by around half, the milia much less noticeable, and my skin was brighter and plumper.
The spa menu at Champneys Forest Mere offers a huge amount of treatments featuring Elemis, Decléor and Champneys products. Whatever therapy you fancy, there is sure to be something suitable. Try facials, massages and body treatments or get more adventurous with Reiki, shiatsu or reflexology. There are options for men and mums-to-be, too.
Champneys Forest Mere has two restaurants. Lunch in the main restaurant is a three-course buffet with a selection of original and interesting salads. Even my "meat and two veg" spa partner found plenty of salads to enjoy.
We ate in the grander Mere restaurant in the evening. We tried a rib-eye steak (perfectly cooked) and a rich tortellini dish. Although the food tasted indulgent, all the food at Champneys Forest Mere is healthy, so you can relax, knowing someone else has worked out the calorie count for you.
Tea, coffee, smoothies and cakes are also available all day in the Orangery lounge.
We loved / we didn't love
The restful lakeside setting and welcoming atmosphere created by the excellent staff.
The wide range of facilities and activities on offer.
The redecorated areas, which look smart, modern and fresh.
The Champneys's own brand products in the changing areas. The product range is wide and it is fun to try them all out.
We didn't love
The areas that have not yet been renovated. The changing rooms look tired and the thalassotherapy pool building needs some work as tiles are falling off in places (though the pool itself was clean).
Who do you think would like it?
Active people: All those classes, the gym, the pools, plus the bikes and the forest walks, mean that you can get out and burn off extra energy.
Solo spa goers: Champneys Forest Mere has a friendly atmosphere and plenty of space to just chill out and read a book.
Day spa guests are well looked after with a light breakfast in the Orangery on arrival, a three-course lunch, and use of all the spa facilities.
Breakfast, dinner and cafe menus available with nutritious gourmet cuisine.