This impressive red-bricked hotel with stunning views of Fistral Bay was the star of the film The Witches. The spa is below the first-floor reception, spilling out onto the pretty café lined with silver birch trees which is virtually on the beach. There is an attractive thermal space with a heated pool, hot tub, spacious sauna and steam room with striped deckchairs for relaxing. You can enjoy Elemis, Natura Bissé, Thalgo and Natural Spa Factory treatments after a day by the seaside, or get muddy in the lovely rasul.
- Family swim times
- Six treatment rooms (two double)
- Experience showers
- Private Jacuzzi suite
- Indoor hot tub
- Indoor swimming pool
- Outdoor swimming pool
- Steam room
- Spa cafe
- VIP suite
- Brow bar
- Make up stand
- Natura Bisse
- Natural Spa Factory
Our Spa Spy review
The Headland Hotel sits imposingly on a headland (where else?) between Fistral Beach and the Newquay Bay on the north Cornwall shore. The hotel itself is old-fashioned charm with parts dating back to 1900, when the hotel was opened. The spa on the lower levels-- a new addition since 2013 -- is super-modern and light, and a sharp contrast to the panelled wood above. If you take the lift or stairs down from reception, you journey from a classic hotel to a twenty-first-century spa.
What's on offer?
The spa reception is mirrored and bright, and sits next to a small seating area where you fill in your consultation form on a whizzy Samsung tablet. Beyond is the spa lounge where white tables with crisp napkins are set up for teas, snacks and lunches. The décor is pale wood, with white birch trees evoking a small sense of being in a forest. Beyond the lounge is, of course, the sea.
From this central space, the spa divides right and left into two halves.
On the left is the wet area. The small pool has bubbly loungers and swan pipes that work on a timer. The hot tub was nicely hot on our visit, as was the wooden-benched sauna and the pebble-lined Cornish salt steam room. Experience showers deliver a blitz of iciness if you need to cool down between heat treatments. The thermal suite has pebbled and mosaic walls, tiled floors, and there are banks of extra towels to help yourself to. Stripy deckchairs add some jauntiness at the side of the pool.
The wet area has its own changing rooms; these may be used by hotel guests but you could also come straight down from your room in the lift in your robe. These changing rooms are functional rather than luxurious, but kitted out with all the Elemis products you need in the shower, as well as a spinner for drying your swimsuit, and plastic bags to take it home in. The pool is a hotel pool as well as a spa pool, so there are children's swim times. If you want a bit of peaceful floating about, check these out, as noise does echo in the small space.
To the right of the spa reception is the "dry" area of the spa, a more luxurious and soothing offering. The gym is on this side, as well as the treatment rooms, rasul, VIP suite -- essential when you fancy some private lounging with champagne -- and the relaxation lounge.
This side of the spa also has its own changing space, divided into five individual changing rooms, each with its own shower. These are like your own little room, with shocking pink shelves and seating. You have everything you need from facial cleanser to hair straighteners, shower caps to cotton-wool pads, to get you ready for the world in private. In practice, the layout means the room contains some awkward communal spaces; my locker seemed to be in everybody's way. The large lockers are operated by a key code with your white towelling robe inside, as well as flip-flops and towels. You can help yourself to copious soft brown towels from a store in the corridor.
The relaxation lounge (only available to those having treatments) is dimly lit with loungers and chairs, throws and blankets to drift away in. The tree of lights in the centre continues the magical forest theme. Help yourself to teas, water, fresh fruit, snacks and magazines.
Tell us about the treatments
We had the Spa Gerys-Da (Cornish for "Renowned Spa"; 90 minutes, £125). This signature treatment involves a reflexology foot massage, a body scrub followed by a Balinese massage, a facial, and a scalp massage: you are literally looked after from toe to top.
My therapist, Jo, took me to a large, softly lit treatment room with a dramatic silver mirror on the wall. As she washed my feet in a foot bath laced with golden bathing nectar, Jo talked through my consultation form and asked how I was feeling. She asked me to inhale some AromaWorks Soulful essential oil before she began. Between the scents of the frankincense and juniper berry, the wide and comfortable heated treatment bed, and the focused reflexology, I could feel myself relaxing already.
Jo used a lemongrass mix for the scrub; refreshing and aromatic. Jo's hands had a nice rhythm as she smoothed on the scrub: not too light, not too harsh. While I showered off the salt in privacy in a cunningly placed shower at one end of the treatment room, Jo re-set the bed for the massage and facial.
The massage was as rhythmic as the scrub, and muscle-meltingly de-stressing. The facial involved a very cold seaweed algae mask. While this was working, Jo gave me a scalp massage with welcome attention to my pressure-points.
Jo finished by misting a little of the Soulful spray onto my robe so that I could carry the scent around with me the rest of the day. One of the lovely things about the Spa Gerys-Da is that it includes a taste of many of the longer experiences on The Headland Spa menu. Liked the reflexology? Loved the scrub? Come back for more.
We also tried the rasul (look for rhassoul on The Headland's treatment menu) with scrubs and muds from the Natural Spa Factory. The products were beautifully laid out on slates explaining what's what, and they change with the seasons. You scrub yourself -- or each other -- slather on the mud, then sit in the steam-filled and twinkly mosaic room. The steam was intense and nicely hot, so much that we did have to splash on some cold water from time to time. The VIP suite opens up into the rasul, so this treatment is a good choice for couples: you can drift from your private sofa then return with skin as soft as the throws you snuggle up in.
Other signature treatments at The Headland Spa include Thalgo marine experiences such as the Polynesian Body ritual, which involves a coconut and vanilla body scrub and lomi-lomi massage. You can also try a range of massages from head (Indian head massage) to foot (reflexology), as well as Elemis and Natura Bissé facials and body treatments. The spa menu includes treatments specifically for men and mums-to-be, alongside finishing touches such as OPI manicures and pedicures, delilah make-up and a brow bar.
The Headland Spa menu offers snacks, sandwiches and smoothies, more substantial offerings such as a burger or fish and chips, as well as salads and vegetarian options. If you have an allergy or food intolerance, let the spa know beforehand so they can cater for you. I had a huge falafel plate with salad that I couldn't finish, despite its deliciousness. I also tried a sliver of the chef's chocolate and avocado cake (bright green, delectable, only 100 calories). The cafe is a delightful place to eat, with its winning combination of fresh food and sea views.
If you're staying into the evening, The Headland has an elegant and formal restaurant with windows facing westwards to catch the dramatic sunsets, and a more laid-back terrace bar with locally caught fish as the focus. Both offer vegetarian options; the seasonal asparagus salad is a must-have.
We loved / we didn't love
The seasonal muds: We drifted home in the spring in a small cloud of chocolate and vanilla, but in the summer that cloud might consist of strawberries and cream. The spa treatment menu is varied and offers something for every need.
The bright and stylish café that opens out onto a sun terrace and... yes! While we were there, the sun shone. (We can't promise this.) We also loved Fay, the spa "butler" who offered drinks, snacks, and -- when we were a little pinkly flustered after the heat in the steam room -- recommended a cooling and refreshing watermelon slushie. Just what we needed, Fay, although we didn't know it.
We didn't love:
We weren't so keen on the kids in the pool. Under-16s aren't allowed in the heat experiences or the hot tub (and large notices remind guests of this rule), but staff had to police them out of there anyway. Shame.
Who do you think would like it?
Hotel guests should make a visit to The Headland Spa an obligatory part of their stay. Forget the pitch and putt! Go downstairs because another world awaits!
Anyone looking for top-notch treatments; you don't have to be staying or be a member to enjoy the therapies The Headland Spa has to offer. Going by yourself? No matter. I did. I felt comfortable and had a perfect me-time.
Couples: The Headland Spa has two treatment rooms for couples, including a Jacuzzi suite, plus the steam room, and the setting is impossibly romantic.
Friends: You can enjoy the VIP suite with its own bar and TV if you want to settle in for a long chat after your treatments.
What bubble rating did you give this spa?
The Headland Spa retains its 5 bubbles. The hotel is family-owned and this shows throughout in the friendly and helpful attitude of every member of the team; the customer service is superb. The beautiful spa allows to you move from the bright cafe and terrace to darker and soothing spaces with imaginative treatments along the way. So many things are spot right: the iced jugs of water, the fresh flowers on the tables, even the belt pre-threaded through your spa robe. These careful touches make The Headland Spa a destination in its own right.
Choose from casual beach-view dining in The Terrace, fine dining with sea views in The Restaurant or dine alfresco on The Terrace.
There are 96 rooms and suites in the hotel or opt for a five star self-catering Headland Cottage with one, two or three bedrooms.
See the hotels entry on Pride of Britain Hotels.
Treatments: 10am to 7pm everyday; Leisure facilities: 7am to 10pm everyday