5 Bubble Spa 2017

Lifehouse Spa and Hotel

Lifehouse is a contemporary spa set in English Heritage-Listed Thorpe Hall Gardens close to the pretty Essex town of Frinton-on-Sea. The spa has a large, dramatic pool area with grey, almost industrial, pillars, and huge twisted ropes decorating the walls. If you’re looking for cocooning quiet, try The Hidden Sanctuary for a more private experience. As well as traditional spa treatments, Lifehouse offers health and wellbeing consultations from resident specialists including fitness, life coaching, nutrition, weight loss and holistic therapies.


  • XXL robes available
  • 18.5m indoor swimming pool
  • Hydrotherapy pool
  • Salt inhalation room
  • Steam room
  • Sauna
  • Plunge pool
  • Sleep pods
  • Light and dark relaxation rooms
  • Resident Naturopath, Healer, Reiki Master, Life coach and Physiotherapist
  • Summer houses and suntrap patios
  • Couples massage rooms
  • Spa Boutique

Our Spa Spy review

First impressions

First Impressions

Lifehouse Hotel and Spa is a modern retreat; as you drive into the grounds, you're welcomed to this "escape for adults". The building itself looks like a solid white cube, but it's set in listed gardens with links to Churchill, JM Barrie and Rudyard Kipling. You can peek out over, or wander in, the gardens during your spa time.

When you arrive at the main reception, someone will take you through to the spa where you can check in for your day, stay or tailored retreat. You can detox, lose weight, recover and recuperate, or just use the time as a break from the outside world.

On offer

What's on offer?

Lifehouse Spa is in the right half of the building; the hotel rooms are to the left. A glass walkway leads from the hotel to the spa. The reception opens out to a multi-storey space with a ring of windows high up in the ceiling, letting in the light. A circular reception desk sits in the middle, alongside a spa boutique, and manicure and pedicure lounges decorated with hundreds of colourful varnishes.

A spiral staircase leads up to a mezzanine which houses the pre-treatment waiting lounge, treatment rooms and relaxation room. The spa takes its design cues from modern Scandinavia with straight lines, greys and whites, and splashes of colour in soft furnishings and stripy carpets.

The changing rooms aren't particularly luxurious, but they're well designed and well stocked. The four changing areas are cleverly broken down by lockers and showers so you're never exposed in a wide open space. Your wrist fob opens your half-sized locker. The rooms have bench-style seating, private changing cubicles, showers with shampoo and conditioner, and vanity areas with hairdryers, straighteners and skincare products. There's only one loo, but there are more in the spa.

The pool and thermal facilities are dark and moody, even on the sunniest day. The grey slate floor, grey-tiled walls and two industrial-size pillars are accented by full-height windows with views over greenery and trees. The 18.5-metre pool is free-form with a straight edge to swim lengths and a bulging end which makes it perfect for drifting in. Brown loungers surround the pool.

The thermal facilities are separated by a glass wall. The large hydro-pool could accommodate 10-12 people and has swan jets, airbeds and bubbly seating. The traditional wooden sauna would comfortably seat ten, as would the relatively moderate steam room with twinkling blue lights and grey-tiled seats. The salt inhalation room better matches the large, almost industrial feeling with an orange and white salt wall, high ceiling, and beautifully scented citrus steam. When you're ready to cool down, try the chilly plunge pool and two experience showers. Driftwood and heavy ropes decorate the otherwise minimalist space.

The dry relaxation areas are upstairs; there's a lift as well as stairs. The open-plan waiting area has six sets of very comfortable seating; in good weather, you can also head outside to the balcony which overlooks a small lake. Help yourself to fruit-infused water and plenty of magazines if you want to settle in for some pre-treatment chill-out time. Just along the corridor, the deeper relaxation room is very low-lit with flickering candles and free-standing lamps. The walls are black and grey and there are lots of leather loungers. Snooze after a treatment or pick up a magazine and some fruit and enjoy the quietness.

Lifehouse also has a gym and a studio class with a wide selection of fitness and more holistic classes including yoga and Pilates.

Tell us about the treatments

Tell us about the treatments

We enjoyed a medley of treatments: a Lime and Lemongrass Salt Scrub (25 minutes; £40), a Himalayan Back Massage (30 minutes; £45) and a Carita Neomorphose Facial (90 minutes; £90).

My first therapist, Annalise, led me to a pleasantly-decorated room with sage green walls and stone-hued towels. I lay face down so that Annalise could apply the tangy scrub, which was sufficiently exfoliating without being abrasive. After a warm shower, I returned to the bed for my Himalayan back massage.

Annalise massaged a relaxing Clarins oil with a fresh orange scent into my skin. She then used a pre-warmed, heart-shaped Himalayan rock to ease knots out of my shoulders. My mind began to switch off.

For the facial, my therapist, Jana, led me to the Carita house on the lower level of the spa, a large room starkly decorated in black and white, with two treatment beds. Jana began by cleansing and exfoliating my skin until it felt smooth. Next, she used a Cinetic Lifting Expert Machine to stimulate my skin and increase tissue firmness. Dubbed "an alternative to cosmetic surgery", the machine emits micro-currents and light technology from a flat metal head. My eyes were shielded as the machine emitted a series of blue and red lights, in conjunction with a hydrating mask.

To finish, Jana donned gloves and, pushing a button to emit a current, massaged the contours of my face. This was admittedly uncomfortable but the results were worth it. A dab of eye cream, slick of serum and a good amount of moisturiser completed this results-driven treatment.

Afterwards, my skin looked firmer and some of the fine lines around my eyes had vanished. As facials go, the Neomorphose facial comes highly recommended.

Lifehouse has an extensive, varied treatment menu with options to relax and promote wellness, with specific treatments for men and mums-to-be. Choose from Clarins, Decleor, Carita, Natural Spa Factory, Spiezia or Thalgo. Lifehouse has a dedicated area for OPI manicures and pedicures. You can also book consultations with a resident naturopath.

Food facts

Food Facts

Lunch is served in the Brasserie between the main reception area and the spa. You can choose to sit inside or, if it’s warm, out on the terrace. Still in our robes, we enjoyed a three-course buffet lunch with a mix of hot and cold dishes including soup and salads. Our courgette and potato soup was light and warming. Afternoon tea is also available if you want to celebrate an occasion.

That evening, we returned to The Brasserie and enjoyed a fresh chicken salad with a glass of Pinot Noir, followed by a moreish chocolate torte.  

We loved / we didn't love

We loved / we didn't love

We loved

Our treatments: All three of our treatments were delivered by friendly, capable therapists.

The hotel grounds: The pretty gardens are a far cry from city living.

We didn’t love

The foot traffic: We visited on a Saturday afternoon and struggled to find a free lounger; the thermal facilities were at capacity, too.

Who do you think would like it?

Who do you think would like it?

Couples: We saw plenty of couples enjoying some quality time together.

Friends: The vibrant atmosphere at Lifehouse makes it a great place to catch up.

Anyone looking for wellness: Lifehouse offers seven retreat programmes including de-stress, detox and recovery.

What bubble rating did you give this spa?

What bubble rating did you give this spa?

We awarded Lifehouse Spa and Hotel a Good Spa Guide Bubble Rating of 5 Bubbles for its extensive treatment menu, modern design, tasty food and friendly staff.

Supreme Spy visited in September 2017 and awarded it 5 Bubbles.

Public Opinion

This spa is...

What others are saying

"I never write reviews but please read this first before booking. On arrival the staff were great. great check and the booking mangaer and colleague Were brilliant. Then we found a broken window in our room. it was stuck and there is no air con on a very hot day. That's fine these things happen. they was brilliant and helped us move rooms. It was a shame we switched rooms to an ever worse view and smaller bed though. The car park view was not that graet but we are not one to let this ruin our stay. We used the spa, walked the beautiful gardens and ate an 'average' dinner. It was over priced and not really up to expectational. But again we are there to relax, so I didn't compain. The this is were things got worse. Our now second room, the one with the car park view had massive red stains on the matress sheet. we pull back the cover to get into bed after a relaxing day and saw what looked like 3 massive blood patches. My fiance was in tears. It was shock and disuct. How did your cleaning staff not spot this!!! After calling reception staff member 2 was rude and said 'what do you want me to do, bring new sheets up'. - No I said switch rooms. He was angry on the phone. We packed our small bags and walked to reception. 'Staff 2' He 'death stared' us and didn't want to help at all, VERY RUDE AND AGGRESSIVE! He soon changed his tone when I asked his name, funny that. Again I never compain. Who do when the go to vist a spa and relax? I also had to suggest that we return back to our broken window room as he somehow couldn't find another spare twin bed in what looked like a half empty hotel during our stay. The next day we asked to speak to someone higher up and we spoke to a manager - She was also on edge and said she looked at the bed sheet last night and said I quote - 'it wasn't blood just rust'. What does a customer do when a manager tries to defend herself rather than helping in any way. Not ever a sorry from the manager She also said that it was clear that we used the bed. Well, how do people get into bed at night other than pulling back the covers? Yes I will share pictures. We also overheard 3 other couples complain in reception as we checked out. One other - I called the hotel to see what time I could use the pool and spa up to. They said 11pm at night. So I thought great that will give us time to arrive eat and still use the spa. But no the spa closes at 9.30pm, NOT 11pm as they said befre taking my hard earned money. On onther note - The food was also very poor. The sogy skin on overpriced fish dish. We were also seated far from the rest of the group. Breakfast was also very poor, watery mushroom and the worst hash browns you could imagine. What a shame. We go to realx for a while and we get all this and I have to spend an hour of my life complaining. No refund was offered. No free spa day. Just a small amount off my meal. And by the way I tipped the staff. These problems could have been easy fixed. And we could have left happy. We also overheard 3 other couples complain in reception as we checked out. I spoke to one guy in the car park and he mentioned how they will complain also. MAY 2016"


  • May 26, 2017 at 11:32 am

"I booked 2rooms for a Christmas treat for myself 2daughters and 23yr old granddaughter. We had horrendous problems. Started at reception only could find one of rooms on system had given other room to another person with same name. Not given rooms next to one another until I said Ihad requested it. No times for breakfast or directions to room. No robes or slippers in one of the room no one answering phone so back to reception to tell them. Room full of cobwebs and stains by tea tray. Reported it and told it would be cleaned that evening whilst we were out for dinner. Not done. Worse to come at breakfast my daughter had long hair attached to her beans. Her breakfast was changed using the same tray of beans. Complained to manager Mark who allowed us to stay in room until 6pm instead of 12pm ( Which still had not been cleaned ) and gave £50 refund not even 1 persons money. I paid extra to upgrade room which was a waste of money. When I emailed Mark to say I did not think after all the terrible things we should have had more compensation than £50 and longer in room. I have been many times before and things have been fine. What a disappointment for my guests especially as their Christmas present"

Linda Stone

  • January 20, 2016 at 8:32 pm

Spa Location

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Spa location


01255 860050

Visit the spa's website

Extra Information


The Restaurant at Lifehouse offers breakfast, lunch and dinner with a Mediterranean influence, all created with local produce. The bar is open all day offering cocktails, champagne, lite bites and afternoon tea. 


Lifehouse Hotel offers 89 en-suite rooms, featuring views of the historic gardens. 

Opening Hours

06:30-22:00 Monday to Friday

06:30-21:00 Saturday & Sunday

Treatment menu

View the treatment menu

Lifehouse Spa and Hotel promotional video
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