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.
- 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
- Mii Make Up
- Jessica Nails
Our Spa Spy review
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, an outdoor terrace, pre- and post-treatment relaxation space, a restaurant, café and gym. The special part of this project is The Club, a very modern glass extension exclusive to private members and spa day guests who want to pay a bit extra. Each level of The Club has views over the hotel grounds and its facilities hold their own with the very best spas in the UK.
What's on offer?
Reception is bright with neutral browns, vivid turquoise soft furnishings and Crittall Style doors and windows. One wall is lined with beautifully presented products. To the right is The Salon which has two pedicure chairs, four manicure desks and a blow dry station. The walls are neutral grey and bright art lifts the space.
The receptionist greeted us warmly and led us to The Sitting Room to have a welcome smoothie and fill in our consultation forms. The wood-lined walls are balanced out by the large windows, and a feature wall displays enormous, brightly coloured cotton reels, hinting at the history of the area and giving a contemporary feel.
We had booked in for a spa day at The Club, so the receptionist also gave us a wristband to access those areas as well as operate our lockers. The Club changing rooms are down a flight of stairs (there’s a lift, too) and are Art Deco-Style with emerald green walls, dark wooden lockers and brass accents. You’ll find your robe, towel and flip-flops in your locker. Four vanity areas have Dyson hairdryers and a stash of products including make-up remover, hand lotion, hair products and cotton pads. There’s a private changing room, loos and large showers with shampoo, conditioner and shower gel.
Head back up the stairs to The Garden Room, which covers the whole ground floor, for The Club spa facilities. Step down into the indoor/outdoor hydro pool which has air benches, seats and standing stations. At the press of a button, glass doors slide open and take you outside to the Japanese-style gardens. These have covered cabanas overlooking a waterway, large loungers and three hot tubs. A feature wall with cascading water gives the constant sound of tricking water.
The super-hot organic sauna (90 degrees Celsius) has an open oven so you can tip water onto the coals and unusual, sleek curved wooden benches. The salt steam room has a glowing white crystal buttons by each seat which give a burst of extra steam to the individual space. Both would take eight people comfortably. Cool off in the experience shower which varies waterpower, light and scent on a two-minute pattern – much gentler than a cold bucket shower.
Relax between heat treatments on a range of loungers or hanging seats and flick through magazines; staff regularly come through the space if you would like to order drinks.
Upstairs is The Whisper Room, where you’ll find more thermal experience rooms and relaxation space. The large traditional wooden sauna has a dual aspect view overlooking the grounds, heated to a relatively mild 65 degrees Celsius. The small botanical steam room has a backdrop of intricate veined marble: its trickling water fountain creates a chilled space. There’s another experience shower, four heated stone beds and, again, comfortable loungers aplenty.
The dark Deep Relaxation room is through a set of double doors and has 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 the Cottonmill spa day can enjoy the original, recently renovated spa facilities. On the ground floor is a 14.5 metre swimming pool with one side for lap swimming and two hot tubs which jut out over the Roman steps. A row of loungers run down one side, with views onto the outdoor terrace. There’s also a sauna and steam room and the Rose Relaxation Room.
Tell us about the treatments
We tried the Sound and Sand treatment (60 minutes, £99) which involves a massage on a quartz treatment bed.
My therapist, Rachael, met me in The Sitting Room and took me to our warm, low-lit treatment room. The quartz bed has a top layer of tiny crystal grains like warm, soft sand. I took off my robe and laid face down. Rachael tucked grains under the edges of my body, so I felt completely supported.
Rachael placed a large sound bowl on my lower back and a smaller one on my feet, then rang each three times. She removed the bowls and massaged my back using long soothing strokes to stretch my tired muscles. Rachel invited me to turn face up, then massaged my neck and scalp and tilted the table, so my head was lower than my feet. This relieved the pressure on my back – a welcome sensation – as she massaged my arms and legs. Rachael then tilted the table the other way, so my head was higher than my feet. She massaged my legs and activated the ‘dynamic wave’, a series of paddles built into the bed that gently lift the vertebrae of the spine.
To finish the treatment Rachael placed the singing bowls back on my stomach and feet, rang each bowl and re-set the table so I was level again. She gave me a few minutes to awake from the treatment and get back into my robe, then took me to the Rose Relaxation Room, a low-lit space with large white leather loungers, light pink screens, and a station with drinks and fruit and nuts to nibble on. I felt relaxed and soothed, but also smiling at having tried something completely new.
The Spa at Cottonmill offers a good variety of massages, facials, body treatments, manicures and pedicures and beauty treatments including makeup application and blow dries. There are treatments for men and mums-to-be too. Try the Sand and Water treatments for more unusual therapies including Vichy and quartz bed massage.
Spa guests lunch in the small Dining Room within the spa where everyone is in their robes. Lunch is a cold and hot buffet including salads and several hot main meal options. On the day of our visit the main meals included Chinese beef, mushroom ravioli, a duo of hake and pollock, and roasted snake gourd. Dessert is also a buffet with fresh fruit, mini glasses of mousse and cakes. We tried the salads and mix of freshly baked bread – nice and light for a spa day.
If you feel peckish during your spa day you can order pastries, salads, fruit and small sandwiches in The Sitting Room.
We loved / we didn't love
The Club facilities are second to none. The green views are relaxing, the thermal experiences are well designed and there’s plenty of relaxation space.
The spa gardens. Both The Club and Cottonmill facilities have sheltered spa gardens where you can enjoy the sunshine.
The beauty spaces. Book a mani/pedi and a blowdry and you’re ready for any event.
We didn’t love
The Dining Room is a small space, we had to squidge between tables to get in and out. The walkways were often blocked with other guests and waiting staff. The food options were quite limited too.
The divide between Cottonmill and The Club at Cottonmill is confusing; we heard some complaints from other guests who didn’t understand the difference.
Who do you think would like it?
City dwellers. Sopwell House is less than an hours’ drive from London so you can easily get away from the stress of the city.
Spa-istas. The Club was one of the openings in 2019, it’s a must-try if you want to stay in the know.
Treatment lovers. There’s a lot on of offer from machine-led facials to affusion massage.
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