Cancer care trained
With fantastic facilities – think five-star hotel, award-winning restaurant – and a spa with a tremendous range of well thought-out treatments and exceptional customer service, Pennyhill really does deserve its place on the spa pedestal. It's jaw-droppingly vast with eight pools, the most impressive being a 25-metre ballroom pool with underwater music. If you’re staying long enough (you can come just for the day), dinner is a must.
Pennyhill Park Hotel and Spa is set in 123 acres of beautiful Surrey countryside near Bagshot. The original house was built in 1849 and has been extended significantly - and sympathetically - since it became a hotel in 1972. It became part of the Exclusive Group of Hotels and Venues in 1981.
The Spa was built in 2003 and sits within its own 45,000 square foot wing of the hotel, blending seamlessly with the outdoor thermal areas and pool.
The spa reception area is spacious and bright with statement lighting. We were warmly welcomed and handed flip-flops and a digital wristband for the lockers – where super soft robes await inside - and a map to navigate all three floors of spa wonderland.
You’ll find the spa restaurant, Themis, on the left of reception, and a seating area with sofas and chairs on the right, overlooking the outdoor pools. Walk down the corridor to the changing rooms, which are unusually large and well-equipped with plenty of private cubicles, several benches, piles of fresh fluffy towels, seven huge showers with all the Comfort Zone amenities you could wish for, a double swing seat (why not?) and two round vanity areas with Dyson hairdryers and tongs. Mention must be made of the lockers which were spacious enough for our suitcase, winter coat, boots and handbag; store small valuables in the drawer inside. Male guests will find a brand-new sauna in their changing rooms.
Head downstairs for the outdoor facilities, which lie in a natural valley between the main hotel and the spa – you will have seen the pools glimmering temptingly on your way to the spa wing. Here you will find an 18-metre heated outdoor pool surrounded by loungers. There are comfortable seating areas with tables tucked between lavender beds, all protetected by white parasols and sails on sunny days.
The three warm Canadian hot tubs stand out with their statement black marble: there are two for couples and one for a group of four. There is also a very warm and bubbly indoor/outdoor hydrotherapy pool which is large enough for 15 people.
Indoors you’ll find the serene 25-metre ballroom pool with fiberoptic lighting and underwater music, a raised hot tub to one side and comfortable loungers along the windows facing the outdoor pools. Make sure you carve out enough time to experience ‘thermal heaven’: 11 experience rooms including two foot-spas, a Tepidarium with nine heated beds, a dry heat sauna with floor-to-ceiling-glass walls, two fragrant circular steam rooms (one scented with rose and jasmine, the other with menthol), a warm Laconium, a gently heated, ladies’ only ‘blu room’, a hot steam room (they don't lie) and a herbal steam room. Phew. We loved the rose-scented steam room with its dusky pink mosaic tiles and alcove-style seating. Couples can get hot and dirty (stop it) in the mud room.
Cool down in the spacious ice igloo, brave the drench bucket, drop into the deep plunge pool or try the three experience showers.
There’s also a relaxation room with a semi-circle of loungers, and a candle-lit post-treatment sensory room with six round wicker beds and a large double bed with cushions and duvets to keep you snuggly warm.
Want to work out? Use the new equipment in the large gym – which can be linked to an app for tracking progress – take a class in the studio or play tennis on the court beside the pool.
We tried the Natura Bissè Diamond Life Face Infusion Ritual (90 mins, £225).
My therapist, Hannah, met me in the spa reception area and led me up the stairs to one of the 23 treatment rooms. Hannah talked me through the treatment and asked about my areas of concern before leaving me to disrobe and lay face up on the heated bed, complete with heated spinal pillow. She commenced the treatment by gently placing a heated cushion across my stomach and asking me to take three deep inhalations.
The facial began with a deep cleansing ritual: a double cleanse using Diamond White Rich Luxury Cleanse – with brightening pomegranate extract – followed by a spritz of lavender-scented Diamond Clarity Toning Lotion. Next, a three-stage Diamond Glyco Extreme Peel which uses a carboxi style exfoliator to oxygenate and renew the skin. Hannah explained that the peel would initially tingle and heat-up upon application, bubbling as it sloughed off dead skin and promoted cell renewal.
Hannah then performed a pressure point facial massage using Diamond Extreme Serum; first using a magnetic tool followed by a tightening rhythmical manual massage; she focused on areas of congestion around my sinuses providing me with some much-needed relief.
Next, one of two masks: a chromo rejuvenating LED mask which worked its magic while Hannah completed a hand and arm massage, followed by a Diamond Glowing Mask which she applied to my whole face, including my eyes, checking I didn’t feel claustrophobic. The thick and cooling mask felt luxurious and indulgent on my skin; the whole-face cocooning affect was very soothing.
As I enjoyed the sensation, Hannah completed a mini foot and leg massage before satisfyingly peeing off the mask in one. Hannah then applied the final slather of Diamond Extreme Rich Cream, Diamond Extreme Eye and SPF 50+.
Hannah then led me along the corridor to the dark post-treatment Sensory Room with waterbeds, warm blankets and twinkling lights in the ceiling. Here, I found my spa partner looking suitably chilled after her Spa Massage (60 mins, £150).
The Spa at Pennyhill Park offers a wide range of facials, massages, scrubs, wraps, manicures, pedicures, beauty treatments and holistic therapies from spa heroes Natura Bissè and Comfort Zone. They also offer ‘recovery’ treatments for anyone dealing with cancer, make-up by Mii and nails by Jessica.
Themis is the large, bright café/restaurant next to the spa reception where you can feast in your robe. It serves a selection of fresh, healthy dishes whilst catering to dietary requirements. Nibbles, wraps and sandwiches all feature on the menu, alongside mains such as superfood salads, sea bream and 8oz sirloin steaks. There’s also a tempting selection of desserts created by Head Pastry Chef Sarah Frankland (of Professional Bake Off fame) plus afternoon teas, wine and fizz.
We feasted on the Surrey Charcuterie board with locally cured meats, pickles and toasted sour dough, paired with a glass of Ridgeview Sparkling wine. Tempted by the desserts we made light work of the chocolate and coffee tart, while my spa partner enjoyed the almost too-pretty-to-eat pear and almond delice.
If you’re staying overnight, don’t miss dinner at the re-branded Hillfield Brasserie bar and restaurant (previously The Brasserie) run by We loved the fresh palette of spring greens and whimsical woodland wallpaper; grab a seat by the window for pool views. This restaurant prides itself on being hyper-local, with everything sourced – where possible – from Surrey.
We tucked into a delicious Mosiac of Windsor Great Park Game with duck fat brioche to start, followed by Nose to tail Hill House Farm Pork tenderloin and belly served with hispi cabbage for main. A glass of Gavi di Gavi was the perfect accompaniment.
Despite a dessert menu of profiteroles, pretty macarons and Hillfield’s own take on Jaffa Cakes, we had no option but to throw in the towel - instead, retreating to the bar for a Margarita nightcap.
The facilities: from outdoor pools and hot tubs to indoor pool playing underwater music – plus the seemingly endless steam rooms, saunas, plunge pools and foot baths in Thermal Heaven – Pennyhill has not missed a trick.
The super-luxe treatments are superb with therapists that really know their stuff. The Natura Bissè products felt amazing on our skin; the after-glow confirmed instant results.
Our room: was of epic proportions with two of the comfiest beds this Spa Spy has slept on and views over the spa pools.
We didn’t love
Not having enough time; with a whole spa wing to explore you’ll need an entire weekend.
Couples: the outdoor pools, complete with rising steam and twinkling lights come dusk, have romance written all over them.
Rugby fans: the English rugby team train here – you might well catch a glimpse of them during your stay. (a little birdy tells us they’re back in January).
Girlfriends: we saw several girls telling the world (via Instagram, no doubt) that they were enjoying the hot tubs.
Yet again, we awarded The Spa at Pennyhill Park our highest Good Spa Guide Bubble Rating of 5 Bubble Luxury for its extensive water and heat facilities, professional yet friendly staff and high-end treatments. It really is a spa-lovers playground.
The Spa’s restaurant Themis serves brunch, lunch and supper. In the hotel, afternoon tea is served in the Ascot Bar; The Brasserie serves a lunch buffet and an evening à la carte menu; The Latymer, with two Michelin stars, offers a fine-dining menu.
Seven room types available, from Traditional Hotel Guestrooms to Exclusive Master Suites. Rates from £335 per room per night.
6am - 9pm, Monday to Friday
7am - 9pm, Saturday and Sunday
Hotel residents have access to the spa from 12 noon on the day of arrival.