Why fly off to Thailand when you can enjoy authentic Thai flavours at the New Forest’s SenSpa. The zen gardens, Thai food, therapists trained in Thailand and Thai décor create an authentic experience. The pools and thermal experiences are extensive; there’s a huge spa pool, whirlpool, herbal sauna, crystal steam room, ice room, laconium, tepidarium… we could go on! There are gentle nods to the spa in the attractive red-brick hotel which has two Thai Buddhas guarding the entrance.
- XXL robes available
- 19 treatment rooms with two double rooms
- Rasul mud room
- Relaxation room
- Quiet room
- Hydrotherapy pool
- Herbal sauna
- Crystal steam room
- 14m swimming pool
- Experience showers
- Ice room
- Hammam room
- Vichy showers
- Thai Temple Studio with classes
- SenSpa boutique
- AlphaSphere Deluxe
- SenSpa Organic Therapy
Our Spa Spy review
Careys Manor is a red-brick manor-house hotel in the heart of the New Forest.
You can easily lose a day or more in SenSpa, a sumptuous and authentic Thai-themed retreat with extensive thermal experiences, soothing relaxation rooms, and indulgent treatments at the expert hands of therapists trained in Thailand. Two Buddha statues signal the entrance to the spa.
What's on offer?
The low-lit reception area has comfortable seating and a spa shop selling SenSpa's own range of products, alongside sister brand Willow. There are plenty of glossy magazines to read if you arrive early.
High ceilings are draped with Asian fabrics in the changing rooms, where two shelving units are resplendent with towels. Another towel, plastic sandals and a robe are in your roomy black wooden locker; you'll need a £1 coin for access, or ask at reception for a token.
Two private changing cubicles have saloon-style swing doors and there are two slatted benches by which to change. The showers are small but are equipped with SenSpa Nourishing shampoo, conditioner and body wash scented with jasmine, cedarwood and ylang. The vanity area is well lit and equipped with eight powerful hairdryers, SenSpa's Nourishing hand and body lotion, and plenty of cotton wool.
The thermal facilities at SenSpa span two floors. The first wet area has a 14-metre ozone-treated swimming pool and a large rectangular Jacuzzi. A skylight lets in the passing sunshine, while slick dark tiles and twinkling lights in the ceiling add a modern touch.
We began our spa journey at the impressive hydro-pool with its swan-neck jets, submerged loungers and bubbly whirlpool. A hot and suitably steam room has a large amethyst crystal at the centre, and the herbal sauna was delicately-scented on our visit. In the experience showers, press a button for your choice of sea, ice or tropical storm, complete with appropriate soundtrack. We loved ice after a long session in the sauna.
On the spa's upper level are a laconium, tepidarium -- with curved, mosaic-tiled beds -- rhassoul, hammam and several treatment rooms. The large relaxation room is well stocked with glossy magazines. Help yourself to juice, tea, coffee and water, or order a snack from staff as they pass by.
Fancy a snooze? Head to the Quiet Room and snuggle under a blanket on a comfortable lounger. New at SenSpa is AlphaSphere Deluxe, a series of multi-sensory relaxation pods that you can book in 25-minute slots. The space-age-looking pods combine sound and colour therapy, aromatherapy and vibration to encourage deep relaxation.
A regular schedule of classes, including yoga, Pilates, and Zumba, takes place in the naturally lit Thai Temple Studio. We tried Body Balance, which combines mindfulness with yoga and Pilates, and found it deeply relaxing. SenSpa also has a gym with personal trainers on hand.
Tell us about the treatments
We tried the Sen Fusion Massage (90 minutes; £110), a full body massage which combines Thai, ayurvedic, shiatsu and Swedish techniques using one of SenSpa's own-brand essential oils..
My therapist, Onsri, met me in the spa reception and invited me to follow her to a dimly lit treatment room with Thai cotton drapes over a treatment bed, and Thai tapestries on the wall.
Onsri explained that the full body treatment would combine various massage techniques in order to achieve the desired result; in my case, this was relaxation and the easing of tension in my shoulders. We chose a massage oil by scent from a choice of three (I was drawn to cedarwood, said to be good for relaxation), and Onsri left the room while I settled myself on the bed.
Onsri began the treatment by scrubbing my feet and wrapping them in warm towels. She used shiatsu techniques on my arms to loosen the muscles before concentrating on my back and legs. When I asked for more pressure on my weary shoulders; Onsri duly obliged.
Halfway through the treatment, Onsri asked me to turn over for another sequence of massage strokes and stretches on my front. At the end of the treatment, Onsri explained which areas of my body she felt were holding the most tension, and gave me a list of SenSpa products that she felt would help.
Onsri took my request for looser muscles very seriously, focusing on my upper back and shoulders. As a result, my entire body felt less tight, while my mind seemed calmer. SenSpa products contain a high concentration of essential oils making them smell fresh and uplifting.
SenSpa at Careys Manor offers various therapies that focus on relaxation. It has a good range of scrubs and wraps, hammam massages using a heated bed, and massages that focus on stress relief and detoxing. The facial menu is very enticing, with organic SenSpa, Willow and Eminence ranges combining ingredients such as manuka honey and rose oil. SenSpa offers specific treatments for men and mums-to-be, and you can slather yourself with mud in the rhassoul.
If you're visiting the spa for the day, you can enjoy a two-course Thai lunch in the SenSpa Zen Garden restaurant as part of your package. Along with other guests, we ate happily in our robes, choosing between five starters, five main courses and three desserts. Our spring rolls with plum sauce and green chicken curry were definitively Thai, fresh, and delicious.
You can also choose from a menu drawn up in collaboration with Spring Green London; this is a mainly plant-based menu with a choice of nutrient-rich salads with various toppings and dressings, or a Super Beetroot Burger with sweet potato fries. You can also order wines, smoothies and other juices, all at an extra cost. Afternoon tea is on offer, too.
Careys Manor has two other restaurants: AA Rosette Cambrium, under head chef Alistair Craig, is highly regarded for its innovative British food using local, seasonal ingredients. There is also a French-inspired bar and restaurant within the hotel grounds called Le Blaireau.
We loved / we didn't love
The Thai pampering: SenSpa doesn't just give a nod to Asia; the spa is inspired by Thailand, and the majority of therapists and Zen Garden restaurant chefs are Thai.
The food: From traditional Thai dishes, to a sumptuous afternoon tea, or gourmet dishes in the Cambrium restaurant, you can't fail to eat well at Careys Manor.
The location: The New Forest is one of the most beautiful parts of the UK, and it's worth making time to enjoy it as part of your SenSpa experience.
We didn't love
The changing rooms are in need of an upgrade.
The showers are so tiny we kept knocking the lever-style tap and, therefore, turning off the water.
Who do you think would like it?
Solo spa goers: SenSpa is somewhere you can curl up happily with a glossy magazine and deeply relax.
Weekend breakers: There is a lot to keep you busy here: relaxing in the various heat-therapy areas, walking in the New Forest, working out in the gym, or taking part in an exercise class.
What bubble rating did you give this spa?
We awarded SenSpa at Careys Manor a Good Spa Guide Bubble Rating of 5 Bubbles. The therapists and staff are welcoming and highly trained; the products are a delight; there are plenty of heat experiences to enjoy, and the food won't disappoint.
SenSpa’s Zen Garden Thai restaurant serves authentic Thai cuisine.
Ten room styles available in Careys Manor Hotel, from Manor Rooms to The Manor Suite. Room rates from £189 per room per night (double occupancy)
Weekdays: 7am - 9pm; Weekends: 7am - 8pm