Tucked away at the bottom of a long driveway, the peaceful Aquarias Spa at Whatley Manor oozes charm and exclusivity. The cool, calm spa feels intimate and personal with a wide range of treatments delivered by capable therapists. It also has a Natura Bissé Bubble Suite. Drift in the large hydropool, heat up in the thermal experiences including a tepidarium, calidarium, steam grotto and sauna, or swim outside to the bubbly outdoor pool and watch the wildlife.
- XXL robes available
- Hydrotherapy Pool
- Steam Grotto
- Salt scrub showers
- Experience showers
- Sensory Room
- Thermal Cabins
- Spa Lounge
- VIP Suite with Hydrobath
- Spa garden
- Workout studio
- Personal training
- Natura Bisse
- Lava Shells
Our Spa Spy review
Whatley Manor is a rambling honey-hued Cotswold manor house in 12 acres of sweeping grounds dotted with streams and ancient oak trees. Drive down the long approach road and huge, arched oak doors open, as if by magic. A member of staff will be waiting to greet you and handle your luggage. Cotswold charm gently merges into holistic wellness in the modern Aquarias Spa, which is housed in a sympathetic extension to the hotel.
What's on offer?
There are two entrances to the spa: through an old courtyard with buttery stone facades and preserved stable doors, or within the hotel itself (guests are encouraged to wander from their room to spa in their robes). The spa is set over two levels and is surprisingly sprawling, with five treatment rooms and a double treatment suite including a couples’ hydro bath.
The reception is very calm with pale wood floors, exposed brickwork and skylights letting the sun stream in. A friendly receptionist greeted us and showed us around the spa.
The changing rooms are equally peaceful with stone-tiled floors, honey-coloured lockers and bright red seating. There’s a mirrored vanity bar stocked with hand and body lotion, facial cleanser and hairdryers, a private changing room, a line of frosted glass-fronted showers with shampoo, conditioner and body wash, and a loo. Everything was immaculate during our visit.
Aquarias Spa has a thermal journey that you can follow, or pick and choose your favourite heat experiences. We started at the salt showers, using the scrub to freshen our skin. We moved on to the gently warmed caldarium with a ylang ylang and lime blossom scent, the hotter laconium deliciously scented with orange and mandarin, the toasty steam grotto which is fresh and minty, and the hot traditional wooden sauna. Cool down under a rain-like deluge in the experience showers.
The heart of the spa is the large hydrotherapy pool which runs from the inside, out. We loved lying on a submerged lounger, feeling the bubble jets working away, and having our shoulders pummelled under the swan neck fountains. At one end, floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the gardens. Swim though a little opening to the outside Jacuzzi-style seats looking over the spa terrace. There are plenty of loungers inside and outside where you can cosy up in a robe and bury your head in the latest magazines.
There are two relaxation rooms at Aquarias Spa. The dream wave sensory room has a central water feature and rainbow of lights creating hypnotic patterns on the walls, there are two loungers – grab a blanket and drift off post-treatment. The spacious tepidarium has ten heated mosaic recliners, stacks of magazines and a mosaic lion to greet you at the door.
Aquarias Spa also has a beauty salon for manicures and pedicures, and a well-equipped gym.
Tell us about the treatments
We had the ila Gold Cellular Age-Resort Face Therapy (90 minutes, £150).
My therapist, Violane, led me to a pretty treatment room with sunny yellow walls and asked me to lie face down on a warm bed. She began the treatment with an invigorating back massage which felt very intuitive; each stroke attuned to my breathing.
Violane asked me to turn over on the bed and applied a cleanser rich in fragrant jasmine, followed by a sweet blackcurrant and honey scrub, and an orange blossom toner. She smoothed on a hyaluronic acid serum and massaged my face with long, soothing strokes. My skin was ready for the light therapy; Violane moved a handheld device over my skin using three different lights --red for anti-ageing, blue for cleansing and yellow for hydration.
To finish, Violane applied a layer of gold and plant stem cell cream onto my face, neck and décolletage, to brightening and tightening my skin. My face looked plumper and well hydrated with a glow that lasted well into the next day.
Aquarias Spa offers a range of facials, massages, detoxifying and restoring body wraps and scrubs using Natura Bisse or ila products. Men and mums-to-be are well catered for, too. If you’re feeling especially indulgent, book the VIP suite and enjoy a two or three hour ritual.
The light and airy spa lounge overlooks the pool and offers freshly made sandwiches, soups, salads, and a range of freshly-made smoothies. All of the produce is locally sourced -- think saltwater prawns, Coln Valley smoked salmon and Wiltshire beef. We chose the creamy avocado and radish on toasted sourdough with a cheeky side of hand-cut chips.
If you visit overnight we would thoroughly recommend dinner in The Dining Room. The decadent twelve course tasting menu with wine flights was devised by young chef Niall Keating. Dishes rotate according to seasons; we tucked into oysters with seaweed, black tortellini, risotto with chorizo and cherry marzipan. It was unforgettable.
We loved / we didn't love
The hydrotherapy pool: Overlooking the curving hills, the indoor/outdoor pool is real highlight
The spa atmosphere: Aquarias Spa is seriously serene and the scents around the spa are a treat for the senses.
The food: We could wax lyrical until the last petal falls.
We didn’t love
The lack of a swimming pool: The hydro pool is lovely, but not large enough to swim.
Who do you think would like it?
Aquarias Spa is a wonderful choice for couples, solo spa goers and small groups of friends in search of a tranquil spa day.
Foodies will love the cuisine from the healthiest option in the spa to the most decadent tasting menu.
What bubble rating did you give this spa?
There are two restaurants to choose between; The Dining Room and Grey’s Brasserie both of which are overseen by executive chef Niall Keating. The cuisine focuses on a mix of modern British comfort food using seasonal and local ingredients whenever possible . With two bars on offer there's no shortage of places for an aperitif either!
There are fifteen rooms and eight suites available in this Cotswold manor house. Each room is individually designed and styled with a modern take on traditional country decor making the rooms both stylish and homely. From standard rooms to an impressive grand suite there's a room to suit every type of getaway at Whatley Manor.
See the hotels entry on Pride of Britain Hotels.
Monday to Friday from 8.00am to 9.00pm
Saturday and Sunday from 8.00am to 8.00pm