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 - including 2 AA Rosette The Restaurant - a cocktail lounge, a light and airy conservatory bar 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, an outdoor terrace, pre- and post-treatment relaxation space, a restaurant, café and 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. 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 while completing consultation forms. Wood-lined walls are balanced out by large windows, and a feature wall displays enormous cotton-reels, hinting at the history of the area.
We were booked for a spa-day at The Club, so received 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, towel and flip-flops in your locker.
Four vanity areas have Dyson hairdryers and a stash of products including cleanser, day-cream, 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. 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.
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 a button by each seat to give a burst of 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.
Relax between heat treatments on a range of loungers or hanging seats where you can enjoy table service using the QR code to order a fruit juice, glass of fizz or cocktail.
Upstairs is The Whisper Room, containing even more thermal experience rooms. 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 has a backdrop of intricate veined marble: its trickling water fountain adds a freshness. There’s 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 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 an experience shower.
Cottonmill offers up to six classes per day including Barre Fitness and Disco Rhythm, as well as Yoga and Group Cycling classes. Personal Trainers can be booked for tuition. The world-class gym is equipped with Technogym cardio strength and training machines.
Tell us about the treatments
Eager to focus on relaxing my post-gym muscles, I opted for Cottonmill's Signature Massage (60 minutes, £105), a classic treatment that can be tailored to suit while allowing the therapist to target areas of concern.
Danielle met me in The Sitting Room and led me to a good-sized treatment room, decorated in warm beiges with flickering candles. After checking my goals and explaining the steps so that I could avoid – or focus – on anything in particular, Danielle stepped out of the room so that I could get comfortable on the heated bed, lying face down.
The treatment began on my back with gentle effleurage to warm the muscles and encourage circulation, before firmer work on my shoulders and down my arms. After covering my back, Danielle uncovered one leg at a time to work on the tightness I’d asked her to focus on. Each technique flowed smoothly into the next.
At appropriate times, Danielle checked on the room temperature and the pressure of her massage. I was then asked to roll onto my back so she could work on the fronts of my legs, across my shoulders and stretch out the tension in the back of my neck.
This treatment also includes a head massage -- if you have dinner reservations but not enough time to wash your hair, ask your therapist to use dry hands so that you don’t have to miss out.
I knew the treatment was ending when Danielle uncovered the hot, damp towel which she had applied to remove residual oil from the soles of my feet.
Danielle then left the room so that I could collect myself and re-robe, returning to check on the areas of tension I had requested her to focus on, and applying a refreshing treatment gel that would continue to work throughout the day and evening.
Danielle then led me to the Rose Relaxation Room -- a low-lit space with large white leather loungers and light pink screens – and made me a fruit tea.
My spa partner tried the Elemis Deeper Than Deep Hot Stone Massage (60 minutes, £115) designed to restore hard-working muscles and provide intense hydration. Having never tried a stone massage before, he was impressed with the release of tension caused by the heat without the need for deep pressure.
The Spa at Cottonmill offers a good variety of massages, facials and body treatments from Elemis and Aromatherapy Associates, as well as manicures/pedicures and beauty treatments including make-up application and blow dries. There are treatments for men and mums-to-be, too.
The focus at the spa is on calm relaxation using traditional healing practices, but you’ll also find invigorating treatments such as the Cottonmill Quartz Poultice massage. Facials combine botanical ingredients with advanced techniques for result-driven treatments.
Spa guests can lunch in their robes at The Pantry, linked to the elegant Brasserie restaurant. The menu has a wide range of dishes, from salads, hummus or starters to wraps, sandwiches or more hearty dishes such as burgers (which we personally enjoyed) or fish and chips. There is also a delicious selection of desserts.
The evening before, we enjoyed dinner at the Brasserie with its open-plan kitchen and vibrant atmosphere. My salmon fishcakes with watercress and hollandaise sauce were just what the doctor ordered; my spa partner’s steak and chips was, apparently, the best he had had in a long time. The wait staff in both areas were polite and knowledgeable.
We loved / we didn't love
The Mews Suite: sitting in a private outdoor hot tub under the stars is a very special experience.
The thermal experiences in The Club are well designed and there’s plenty of space to relax, including the sheltered spa gardens.
We didn’t love
The Experience Shower: the button to operate this sits next to the jets -- we were blasted in the face with water.
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.
Occasions: celebrate with a traditional afternoon tea, add a glass of bubbly for a luxurious treat.
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