Standing in romantic walled gardens, Headlam Hall is a 17th century Jacobean mansion. Headlam Spa is a place to relax and enjoy the therapeutic benefits of water. There are five treatment rooms, a 14 metre deck-level swimming pool, Swedish pine sauna, steam room, outdoor hydrotherapy pool, and a spa lounge and brasserie serving informal food and drinks.
- XXL robes available
- Family swim times
- Treatment rooms
- Experience showers
- Outdoor hot tub
- Hydrotherapy pool
- Relaxation room
- Spa shop
- Ariane Poole
- Aromatherapy Associates
- Jessica & Kissed by Mi
Our Spa Spy review
Headlam Hall is a seventeenth-century country house set in four acres of serene walled gardens. The Hall itself is grey stone, with leaves covering the walls and elegant floral arrangements and welcoming log fires inside.
The spa is in a separate, modern building with the spa itself to the left-hand side and The Brasserie to the right. The spa entrance is through a small garden with a fountain at its centre. Through the door, a welcome desk awaits, along with some soft seating, chairs and tables. This is a small "spa lounge" where health-club members can have a hot drink after their workout, and is very cosy with a log-burning stove.
What's on offer?
The changing rooms have tiled floors, banks of wooden lockers, two sinks, two loos, and one private changing cubicle. All were clean and tidy on our visit. The four showers with frosted glass doors have Aromatherapy Associates body wash, shampoo and conditioner. There is a spinner for your damp swimsuit and you can ask for a plastic bag to take it home in at the reception desk. Body lotion is in brackets on the walls.
The spa at Headlam Hall has a 15-metre swimming pool that's a good temperature for swimming. Outside of children's swim times -- in the early morning and late afternoon -- the atmosphere is both peaceful and relaxing. Around the pool are some loungers; not many, as the spa is small, but enough for the numbers of guests. More loungers outside on a sun terrace invite you to lounge on warmer days.
The wooden sauna -- large enough for about six people -- was beguilingly hot on our visit. The steam room, with mosaic tiles and twinkly ceiling lights, was fiercely hot for our tastes. Invigorating, but we were soon in the drench shower to cool down.
The outdoor hydrotherapy spa pool is steamy on the coldest of days. Two buttons invite you to sample either "jets", which do exactly as described and soothe your back quite gently, or "volcano". Thankfully, this is not an actual volcano, but the water in the centre of the pool does churn up an impressive set of bubbles.
You reach the five treatment rooms -- which include one dual treatment room -- through a glass door, which asks for "Quiet Please". Beyond is a small waiting area with a couple of chairs with plaid cushions, magazines and a jug of water.
Upstairs is a small but well equipped gym with cardio and resistance machines and free weights, and an exercise studio.
Tell us about the treatments
We tried the Headlam Bespoke Ritual (90 minutes, £72) which involves an Elemental Herbology massage and facial tailored to your element: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal or Water.
My therapist, Katharine, took me through to a small, dimly lit treatment room with a wooden floor, brown walls, and beige-blanketed bed. While I soaked my feet in a bowl, Katharine explained the treatment, and chose the products she would use to suit my needs.
I lay on the heated treatment bed and Katharine began with a brisk body brush to stimulate blood flow, then massaged my back, neck and shoulders with warm oil. She was a very intuitive therapist, seeking out the knots in my shoulders and teasing out the pressure in my lower back. I felt very trusting of her touch and relaxed almost immediately.
The facial that followed was just as delightful. It involved a cleanse, then exfoliation with the wonderfully gentle Facial Glow product, which contains natural ingredients including manuka honey, papaya and jojoba beads. I felt the products were intensively moisturising (watermelon and cucumber) and soothing (Tree of Life multi-purpose balm) for my dry skin, and had very natural scents and rich textures. I loved the foot massage. (I always love a foot massage but this one left me walking on air.)
I also loved the fact that Katharine gave me a dry robe to put on after the treatment, in case my original one was a little damp after a hard morning in the hot tub.
The spa at Headlam Hall offers face and body treatments by Elemental Herbology and Thalgo, including facials, microdermabrasion, hyaluronic fillers, massages, wraps, scrubs and peels. You can also try hand and foot rituals, complementary therapies such as reflexology, and treatments specifically for men and for mums to be. Beauty finishing touches include Jessica manicures and pedicures, waxing, eye treatments and make-up by Mii.
If you visit for a spa day, you can eat lunch in the Brasserie cafè, a small but light and bright space with views over the golf course and a terrace with outside seating. Some of the ingredients come from the hotel's own fruit and vegetable gardens and feel extra fresh as a result. Some spa days include a two-course lunch.
Not everyone in the Brasserie was eating in spa robes, but the atmosphere was laid-back enough for this not to matter.
We felt the options were nigh-on perfect for a spa day, with choices ranging from light salads to pasta to lamb koftas. Vegetarians are well catered-for and the blackboard includes that day's specials. Our smoked mackerel nicoise was both light and a delight.
We were staying overnight and thoroughly enjoyed our dinner in the hotel's main restaurant -- an award-winning AA 4 star with 2 rosettes -- which focuses on local and seasonal produce. From the fresh broccoli soup to the local lamb to the palate-cleansing sorbet, we couldn't have been happier.
We loved / we didn't love
The spa at Headlam Hall limits the numbers of day-spa guests: This keeps the spa atmosphere peaceful and means that you're never jostling for a lounger.
The walled garden: It's worth taking a little time at the start and end of your spa day to breathe the fresh air, admire the lawns, the colourful herbaceous borders and the yew and beech hedges, and listen to the birdsong.
We didn't love
The changing rooms lack any luxury touches and can be a bit crowded with a sudden influx of heath-club members before or after a class.
There's no dedicated post-treatment relaxation room. After our dreamy Elemental Herbology treatment, we'd have liked to disappear into a dark room alone and savour the experience.
Who do you think would like it?
Headlam Hall would appeal to couples and friends who want to spend some peaceful time together.
What bubble rating did you give this spa?
We gave the spa at Headlam Hall a Good Spa Guide rating of 4 bubbles. The tranquil spa offers a countryside experience with a relaxing ambience. The treatments are good value, the customer service friendly and the spa lunches fresh and imaginative. The spa is small, but still allows you to unwind and take time out from real life.
Lunch is served in either the spa brasserie or in the restaurant at Headlam Hall. Dinner is also served daily in either the stylish Orangery or more informally in the Bar.
There are 38 suites and bedrooms at Headlam Hall with 7 of these directly above the spa.
Facilities are open Monday to Saturday: 7am-9pm; Sunday: 8am-9pm. Treatments are available Monday to Saturday: 9.30am-8pm; Sunday 10am-6pm.
Travel and Parking
Headlam is 8 miles west of Darlington. There is ample free car parking.
Headlam Spa is fully accessible.