Donnington Valley is a large, modern hotel just near the M4. The surrounding Berkshire countryside makes it a quiet but accessible retreat. There's an 18-metre pool, steam room, sauna and aroma room downstairs, where the modern white design complements the bold artwork on the walls. Upstairs is a much more relaxed spa area decked out in cool, earthy tones. The good service, decadent treatments, incredibly peaceful upstairs area, and lovely terrace make for a very enjoyable spa day.
- Single sex facilities
- XXL robes available
- Family swim times
- Treatment room for 2 with hydrotherm
- 18m swimming pool
- Steam room
- Aromatherapy room
- Monsoon shower
- Poolside lounge
- Relaxation area
- Spray tan room
- Manicure/Pedicure suite
- Golf course
- Vita Liberata
Our Spa Spy review
Turn off the M4 and drive into the hilly parkland landscape of Donnington Valley, so beautifully kept and green, it is almost hyper-real. The hotel is a two-storey red-brick modern building with a faux country-manor wood-panelled interior.
The spa and health club are at the end of the west wing of the hotel. The open plan, minimalist all-white reception has windows letting in lots of natural daylight. To the front is a café overlooking the bright and stylish pool. Striking modern artwork adorns the walls, while lemon trees in the pool area and a cactus in the café hint at the owner's Californian connections.
What's on offer?
The spa is set over two levels. The first floor, your entry point, holds the facilities, which are shared with health-club members. Upstairs is the quieter treatment area.
The changing rooms are large, with large wooden lockers and benches, plus three private changing cubicles. They feel functional rather than luxurious (and could probably do with a refresh) but there is Aromatherapy Associates shampoo, body wash and conditioner in the showers, and body lotion on the vanity station, lending an upmarket spa touch.
A curved mosaic wall takes you to the pool area, which is large, bright and modern with floor-to-ceiling windows letting in lots of natural light. The 18-metre swimming pool is tiled in deep-blue mosaics and lit with underwater spotlights. Above it, spotlights shine on a cantilevered ceiling from theatrical rigging, creating a stylish glowing effect. Walls are white with three colourful modern art canvases. There are plenty of loungers to relax on and order drinks from the café. Doors lead to a small outdoor terrace with chairs and tables, while banks of cypress and fir trees provide all round privacy and greenery.
A circular Jacuzzi juts into one side of the pool, with steps either side. It is deep and bubbly with room for four. Behind it are three heat rooms and an experience shower. The large wooden sauna has three benches to seat twelve and a clear glass door overlooking the pool. It was only 70 degrees when we were there. The aromatherapy room has a turquoise mosaic bench that could seat ten; warm yourself gently on the low heat, inhaling gentle eucalyptus scents and gazing at the glittery star-studded ceiling. The steam room is large and dark, hot and steamy, a similar size to the aromatherapy room.
Go up the stairs by reception, or take a lift, for treatments and the nail bar. The spacious, bright relaxation room has eight soft cream loungers and photos of Sonoma valley in California, where Donnington Valley's owner Sir Peter Michael has a vineyard. Snuggle up under a fleece blanket and help yourself to drinks and magazines. On sunny days, doors open onto a delightful private terrace with high-backed wooden chairs and tables overlooking undulating lawns and trees.
Tell us about the treatments
We had the Sonoma Revive (80 minutes; from £96). Our friendly therapist Orla met us in the spacious treatment reception, with windows overlooking the terrace and parkland. She took us through to one of five treatment rooms, decorated in creams and browns with lit candles and gentle spa music.
Orla scrubbed and washed my feet in a copper bowl of warm water as she explained the treatment. She began by vigorously massaging in a scrub that smelled of lemon and herbs; first my back, then my front. She left me to shower off the grains; my skin felt fresh, tingly and smooth.
I lay back on the bed, and Orla returned, making sure I was comfortable. She massaged my back interspersing deeper and very effective work on my shoulder knots, spine and lower back, with relaxing, flowing strokes. She used warmed herbal poultices to melt away any further tension, with circular movements to revive my circulation.
I turned over, and Orla massaged my legs, arms and décolletage, finishing with my feet and wrapping me in blankets. At the end, she raised the bed and brought me gently back into the room with a cup of water and some after-care advice. My skin looked golden and glinting, and felt soft and richly oiled. I felt calm but also balanced and awake.
Donnington Valley Spa offers a range of Decléor facial, massage and body treatments including scrubs and wraps. It has menus for men, mums to be and new mums. It also has an Aqua Sun room, a massage jet-bath under a low-level UV canopy.
The bright spa café with its outdoor terrace for warmer weather is a pleasant, sociable place to sit in your robe and have a sandwich, coffee or cream tea, with vegetarian and gluten-free options. We ordered a bento box from a choice of earth (vegetarian), water (pescatarian) and air (chicken) menus. The box sections had a mozzarella and tomato salad, a leafy salad, olives, and a naughty brownie and ice-cream.
In the evening, we ate in the 2AA Rosette Wine Press restaurant, which -- as the name suggests -- has a wine list the size of War and Peace, ranging from by-the-glass to magnums, affordable to astronomical. It's a friendly, informal space, with a delicious seasonal menu; we loved our Allotment Salad starter and Coalfish main, both fresh and not too heavy. Hence, we managed to squeeze in a divine gluten-free brownie with fresh blackberries and cream, too.
We loved / we didn't love
Who would like it?
Sporty types: The pool is a good length for swimming, plus there is a gym, a dance studio, an 18-hole golf course and nearby Newbury racecourse.
Mothers and daughters: Donnington Valley offers a "teen spa day" for accompanied under-18s.
Vinophiles: There are over 350 wines to choose from, including those from the Peter Michael Winery.
Who do you think would like it?
Our treatment: The Sonoma Revive had a lovely flow, with deeper more effective work, too, that made a long-term difference.
Relaxing by the pool, gazing at the light glinting on the water, with a spa butler serving us a delicious fresh smoothie. Almost California -- by way of Newbury
The sense of space and light, and the impressive collection of modern art and sculptures throughout the spa and hotel.
We didn't love
The heat rooms and changing rooms could do with a bit of a facelift.
What bubble rating did you give this spa?
We gave Donnington Valley Spa a Good Spa Guide Bubble Rating of 5 bubbles. It's a stylish and spacious modern spa and health club offering bespoke treatments to a high standard. There is a focus on health and well-being, but also scope to relax and unwind.
A healthy spa lunch is included in full spa day packages. The WinePress Restaurant offers superb food and wines in an intimate, yet informal atmosphere. A lighter ‘Bar + Mezz’ Menu is also available.
Classic Double, Executive Double and Suites available in the hotel.
Leisure Club -- Monday to Friday: 6.30am to 10pm; Saturday and Sunday: 7am to 8pm
Spa Treatments -- Monday to Wednesday: 9am to 7pm; Thursday: 9am to 9pm; Friday and Saturday: 11am to 7pm; Sunday: 9am to 5pm