Sopwell House is a beautiful whitewashed Georgian manor turned stylish country hotel. The spa was refurbished, refreshed and had a brand-new extension built in 2019, and now houses the latest spa facilities and technology. The spa has two distinct areas: Cottonmill and The Club at Cottonmill. Cottonmill facilities include a 14-metre indoor pool, two hot tubs, a sauna, steam room, poolside terrace and The Sitting Room. After a treatment, guests are invited to rest in the Rose Relaxation Room. You can also upgrade your experience to The Club at Cottonmill where the facilities are among the best in the UK. There are three floors of saunas, steam rooms, experience showers, relaxation space and a gorgeous indoor/outdoor hydro pool which opens onto the spa garden -- an experience of it's own where you will find cabanas, loungers and bubbly hot tubs surrounded by a Japanese style waterway. Our review and bubble rating applies to The Club only.
- XXL robes available
- 14.5-metre pool
- Three hydrotherapy pools
- Outdoor hot tubs
- Three steam rooms
- Four saunas
- Rose relaxation room
- Deep relaxation room
- Experience showers
- Spa Garden
- Exercise studio with fitness classes
- Aromatherapy Associates
- iS Clinical
- Mii Make Up
- Jessica Nails
Our Spa Spy review
Sopwell House is a sprawling, whitewashed Georgian manor set in 12 acres of Hertfordshire countryside near the historic city of St Albans. The stylish hotel has two restaurants, a cocktail lounge, a light and airy conservatory bar, conference facilities and a comprehensive spa.
The spa is separated into two areas: Cottonmill and The Club at Cottonmill. Cottonmill itself offers a good value day spa, with a swimming pool, sauna, steam room, outdoor terrace, pre- and post-treatment relaxation spaces, a restaurant, a café and a gym.
The Club at Cottonmill is a modern glass extension exclusive to private members and spa day guests who are willing to pay extra. Each level of The Club has views over the hotel grounds.
What's on offer?
Reception is bright with neutral browns, vivid turquoise furnishings, and Crittall style doors and windows. One wall is lined with tempting products to try and buy. The Salon has two pedicure chairs, four manicure desks and a blow dry station. Bright wall art lifts the space.
The receptionist greeted us warmly and led us to The Sitting Room for a welcome fruit drink. Wood-lined walls are balanced out by large windows; we loved the enormous cotton-reels depicting the history of the area.
We were booked for a spa-day at The Club, so received a map (it’s a large spa) and wristbands to access the area as well as operate the lockers. The Club changing rooms can be found down a flight of stairs (there’s a lift, too) and are Art Deco in style, with emerald-green walls, dark wooden lockers and brass accents. You’ll find your robe and two towels in your locker.
Four vanity areas have Dyson hairdryers and a stash of products including cleanser, moisturiser, deodorant and hair products. There’s a private changing room, loos and large showers with shampoo, conditioner and shower gel, too.
Head back up to The Garden Room for The Club spa facilities. Make a beeline for the indoor/outdoor hydro pool which has air benches, seats and standing stations. The water was super-hot on our visit and more akin to sliding into a hot tub. At the press of a button, a glass door will slide open to allow access to the Japanese-style gardens. Here you’ll find covered cabanas overlooking a waterway, large loungers and three hot tubs. A feature wall of cascading water reminds you that you are at a spa.
Back inside, the super-hot organic sauna (90 degrees) has sleek curved wooden benches and an open oven to tip coals onto (carefully); the salt steam room has several buttons for instant (and rather surprising) bursts of steam - both would take eight people comfortably. Cool off in the experience shower which varies waterpower, light and scent on a two-minute rotation.
Relax between heat treatments on a range of loungers or hanging seats. QR codes dotted around the space allow spa-goers to summon juices, glasses of fizz or cocktails to their location.
Upstairs is The Whisper Room, with even more thermal experiences to try. The large traditional wooden sauna has a dual aspect view overlooking the grounds, heated to a relatively mild 65 degrees Celsius; the botanical steam room a backdrop of intricate veined marble - its trickling water fountain adds a freshness. There’s also another experience shower, four infra-red stone beds and, again, comfortable loungers aplenty.
At the far end you’ll find a dark Deep Relaxation room with six colour-changing pods: lay back and watch the colours rotate. The tops of the beds are soft to the touch and gently pulse with calming music.
Each floor has toilets, towels and a drinks station with water and herbal teas. Those on a Cottonmill spa day can also enjoy the original spa facilities: a 14.5 metre swimming pool with one side for lap swimming, and two hot tubs which jut out over Roman steps. A row of loungers runs down one side, with views onto the outdoor terrace. There’s also a sauna, a steam room and an experience shower.
If heat and water aren't really your thing, Cottonmill offers up to six classes per day in its studio, including Barre Fitness and Disco Rhythm, as well as Yoga and Group Cycling classes. There's also a world-class gym equipped with Technogym cardio strength and training machines - hop to it, gym bunnies.
Tell us about the treatments
We tried the Aromatherapy Associates Ultimate Glow Facial (60 minutes, £125), a new treatment for the brand.
My therapist, Vanessza, met me in The Sitting Room, led me to treatment room no. 2 (of 16) and invited me to sit on a chair while she explained the steps of the treatment; she then left me to disrobe and get comfortable on the treatment bed, lying face up.
Vanessza began the treatment with a cleansing balm which felt thick and luscious on my skin; she removed this with relaxing hot mitts. The second oil-to-foam cleanser ensured my skin was squeaky clean. Vanessza then used the moisture of a Pro Glow oil to massage my face, using two fingers on each hand to push the skin around my eye sockets and cheek bones.
The mask that followed contained Hyaluronic acid and tingled as it worked – while it did, Vanessza massaged my head (we can never get enough of this). A toner containing rose oil and Niacinamide was then sprayed onto my face from above.
Next up: a scrub containing coconut shells which Vanessa removed with hot mitts. The treatment ended with some eye cream, serum, moisturiser and a dab of frankincense oil to keep me calm for the rest of the day.
My spa partner – who looked zoned out after her Upper Body Bliss treatment (60 minutes, £125) – was already relaxing on one of the huge lie-flat beds in the Rose Room when I enetered.
The Spa at Cottonmill offers a good variety of massages, facials, body treatments, manicures/pedicures and beauty treatments including makeup application and blow dries. There are treatments for men and mums-to-be, too. Cottonmill has partnered with two British brands; Elemis and Aromatherapy Associates. IS Clinical is used for advanced skincare.
Spa guests can lunch in their robes at The Pantry, linked to the elegant open-plan Brasserie restaurant. The three-course menu is topped and tailed with a buffet for starters and desserts, and plates to order for mains (including burgers and pasta dishes). After filling up plates our starter plates with hummus, salad and feta, we tucked into a tangy Crab Linguine which we washed down with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Despite the tempting desserts on the buffet bar (brownies, Tiramasu, fruit), we managed half a slice of blueberry cheesecake before throwing in the towel.
That evening we enjoyed dinner at Omboo which celebrated its one-year anniversary on our visit. Bank seating, rich floral wallpaper and hanging pendant lights create a cosy, oriental feel.
The menu is inspired by spices of Asia and the Far East with sharing platters replacing starters and mains (just how we like it). The menu is divided into Snacks, Sushi, Field, Ocean and Farm; dishes such as shrimp tempura, pulled duck salad, grilled chicken skewers, and matcha green tea and white chocolate mousse rendered us suitably indecisive.
In the end – and after some help – we filled the table with fried chicken with kimchee mayo; crispy salmon Sushi with cream cheese; grilled asparagus with miso; and a crispy, tangy green papaya salad. Everything was beautifully presented and lip-smackingly good. For the anniversary, each guest was offered a cocktail consisting of lychee juice, elderflower and Prosecco. Bottom’s up.
We loved / we didn't love
Our Mews Suite: sitting in a private outdoor hot tub under the stars was a very special experience.
The Spa Garden: with its day beds, sofas, open fire, loungers, hot tubs and hydro-pool, as well as plenty of greenery, is a delight on a sunny day.
The food: from our healthy, tangy lunch to our flavours of the Far East dinner – not to mention our hearty breakfast – we ate like King’s.
We didn’t love
Having to leave…
Who do you think would like it?
With its hot tub under the stars and outdoor facilities, The Club at Cottonmill is a great choice for couples.
Londoners wishing to escape the big smoke for a day or two.
Business guests can hold meetings in one of Sopwell House’s 12 conference rooms before relaxing in the spa or enjoying dinner in one of the restaurants.
What bubble rating did you give this spa?
The Pantry is available for spa lunches and spa afternoon tea and is a place to retreat in your robe for some much needed sustenance.
Diners also have a choice of two restaurants in the hotel – The Brasserie or The Restaurant.
The hotel features 128 stylish rooms and suites, including 16 mews suites that offer guests greater privacy and a place to unwind and soak away in the hydropool.
Monday – Friday: 6.30am – 10.00pm
Saturday & Sunday: 7.30am – 9.00pm
Travel and Parking
Nearest train stations include
St Albans Abbey (0.5 miles), Park Street (0.9 miles) and St Albans (0.9 miles
London Luton Airport (9.8 miles), London Heathrow Airport (19.2 miles) & London City Airport (23.2 miles)
M1 JCT 6A (2.6 miles), M25 JCT 21 (2.7 miles) and M25 JCT 22 (3.0 miles)
360 Onsite Car parking spaces available