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
The long, winding driveway sets the scene for Champneys Forest Mere, a lakeside manor house straddling the Hampshire/Sussex border. Surrounded by National Trust-managed forest (part of which is a members' golf course not run by Champneys), you can get back to nature by walking or cycling in extensive grounds or swimming in the outdoor pool.
What's on offer?
Automatic double doors open to reveal a large lobby flooded with light via a glass roof. Staff offered us a refreshing aloe vera, peach and watermelon juice, and handed us a black bag containing a Champneys-branded robe and flip-flops, both immaculate in white.
There are two changing rooms, the larger of the two containing half-height lockers which are a little small, particularly if you haven't yet managed to check in. Use one of two padded benches to change or make use of a private cubicle. Your toilets, of which there are two, are around the corner, together with five showers containing Champneys shampoo, conditioner and shower gel.
At the vanity bar, Champneys cleanser and moisturiser sit beside large mirrors and powerful hairdryers. There is a small sauna and steam room in the changing rooms, too, which were both suitably hot on our visit.
In the thermal poolside suite, make a beeline for the stylish, glass-roofed 25-metre pool and start your visit with a refreshing swim. Then allow powerful jets to pummel away any tension in your shoulders in the hydro-pool.
Warm up afterwards in the Jacuzzi or dry off in the gently-heated laconium or hotter steam room, with forest scenes printed on its walls.
Too hot? Cool down in the wooden snow cabin. Grab handfuls of snow and rub them over your hot skin for an instant temperature change. You can cool down in one of two experience showers, too, complete with coloured lights and rainforest or tropical-storm soundtrack.
Available at an extra cost is a Rasul mud chamber and a Thalasso salt water pool where five jets target different parts of the body.
When it's time to relax, head poolside and bag a lounger or seek out one of the relaxation areas. Here, you can choose your chair of choice: hanging egg, beanbag, lounger or heated water bed. A rectangular feature fireplace adds a cosy feel.
Up to 20 fitness classes take place each day in the exercise studio, gym, the 15-metre outdoor pool or in the surrounding grounds. Or why not hire a bicycle, play tennis, or simply borrow a pair of wellies and go for a wander?
Tell us about the treatments
We enjoyed an Elemis Freestyle Deep Tissue Massage (50 minutes, £89).
The treatment area occupies the whole of the first floor with seating arranged in alphabetical order -- take a seat according to the first letter of your surname. VIP guests have their own area complete with fresh fruit and juices.
Fiona, my therapist, met me in this area, introduced herself and led me down a corridor to a small treatment room. While standing, we discussed areas of tension; I then chose an Elemis relaxing oil containing lavender and chamomile.
Fiona left the room so that I could get comfortable on the treatment bed, lying face up. The treatment began with a bear walk over the towel: a welcoming first touch.
Fiona used her forearms to work out the knots and tight muscles in my upper and lower back. Although it felt slightly uncomfortable, the strong pressure was exactly what I needed. Fiona applied a cream containing arnica to really tight areas to help soothe and heal.
Fiona asked me to turn over so that she could work on the back of my legs, which she did using stretching and joint rotations to free areas of tension (I do a lot of running and often have tight calf muscles). The massage finished with a thorough shoulder massage which was deeply relaxing.
Fiona left the room so that I could re-robe and gather my thoughts. Outside, she handed me a glass of water and led me to the waiting area. I felt warm and like I'd had a really good stretch.
You can choose from a comprehensive range of facials and massages, body wraps and scrubs with Elemis, Clarins or Champneys own products. Forest Mere offers a full menu of beauty treatments (think waxes, threading and lash tints), make-up applications and treatments for mums-to-be. A hair salon will do everything from highlights to blow dries, while alternative therapies include reflexology, Reiki and Shiatsu.
You can lunch in your robe, either in the main spa restaurant or the more intimate Mere Restaurant where three courses are served on Champneys portion-control plates.
We opted for the main restaurant and arrived at our pre-agreed time. Still or sparkling water is brought to your table; help yourself to the fresh-salad bar and cooked-to-order stir-fry station. We loved our tofu stir fry and coconut rice pudding.
We returned to the Mere Restaurant that evening for dinner where we tucked into scallops followed by an aubergine wrap. Our cheese board to finish was an extra £5 but well worth the added expense.
If you are staying overnight, don't miss breakfast, which you can eat in your robe. Our bircher muesli with fruit followed by avocado on toast with boiled eggs was a great start to the day. Cooked breakfasts and eggs are extra.
If you get hungry during the day, or want a snack on arrival, you can order from the café menu. It offers a selection of fresh smoothies, juices, protein snacks, cakes, salads and sandwiches.
We loved / we didn't love
The new additions: Shepherd huts you can stay in overnight, avocados at breakfast, and hula-hoop classes… Champneys is constantly looking to improve.
The range of treatments: There really is something for everyone at Champneys Forest Mere, whether you want a gentle stroll in the open air or a high-intensity spinning class followed by an afternoon of pampering.
We didn't love
Not being able to walk around the lake: The lake is stunning at Champneys Forest Mere but there isn't a path for you to walk around it.
The lunchtime scrum: Fellow diners were keen to be the first in the queue for the fresh buffet, making for a busy lunch.
Who do you think would like it?
Solo spa goers: Champneys pioneered the concept of a sharing table; if you'd like to join one, let staff know when booking lunch or dinner.
We saw lots of couples, friends and families with older children on our visit, all happily catching up in the pool or over lunch.
Fitness kick-starters: If you are serious about losing weight or starting a new exercise regime, Champneys Forest Mere is great place to get motivated.
What bubble rating did you give this spa?
We awarded Champneys Forest Mere a Good Spa Guide Bubble Rating of 5 bubbles. This particular Champneys property is professionally run by experienced and highly trained staff, many of whom have worked there for years (or, in some cases, decades). The grounds are a delight, as is the range of nutritious food and treatments on offer.
Breakfast, dinner and cafe menus available with nutritious gourmet cuisine.