If fun is what you’re looking for, Whittlebury Hall’s day spa is a great choice. This self-contained day spa is in a separate wing from the popular hotel. The main attraction is the heat and ice experience with hydrotherapy pool, hot and cold thermal rooms and experience showers, but there’s also a sizeable swimming pool and classes available in the exercise studio. This is a very good-value spa, deservedly popular with locals and groups of friends.
Rasul (bookable as a treatment)
Aromatherapy crystal steam room
Roman salt steam
19m swimming pool with bubble jets
Aerobic and dance studio with classes
Our Spa Spy review
Whittlebury Hall is in the heart of the Northamptonshire countryside. The long driveway with golf course to one side and acres of green fields all around is as impressive as the grand Georgian hall at the end.
Clear signs directed us to the car park where plenty of spaces were available on a Sunday. Whittlebury Hall has a leisure club, including a gym, as well as conference and training facilities, so is potentially busy all week long.
The spa reception is separate from the hotel reception. A friendly member of staff talked us through our itinerary for the day, including when and where lunch would take place and what time our treatment was. She handed us a pack that included these details and a locker key. She guided us to a seating area and offered us a welcome selection of fruit and jugs of iced water. We filled out a consultation form before going on a one-on-one tour of the spa and leisure facilities, which you can use as part of some the spa packages.
What's on offer?
The spa has a strong Grecian theme with dramatic pillars, stone tiles, painted murals of coliseums against blue skies, and even nude goddess statues. The 19-metre swimming pool in the leisure area is decorated in the same style, with a decorative ceiling and grand columns. It is striking and makes you want to dive right in!
The changing rooms are a good size, with enough space to sit down on the plush purple benches. It never felt overcrowded. Plenty of mirrors mean you don't have to jostle to apply post-spa make-up. There is also a swimsuit dryer, hairdryers, GHDs, cleanser and toner. Each of the showers has shower gel, shampoo and conditioner.
The centre of the spa is a heat and ice experience. You work your way around in a clockwise direction, gradually getting warmer before dramatically cooling off. This thermal journey is designed to enhance mood, stimulate circulation, and invigorate the senses.
First stop was the tepidarium, which has two comfortable beds under heated lights. The tepidarium felt like reclining in the sunshine on a cloudless day. Next up should have been the side-by-side footbaths, to warm our feet and give them some TLC. Unfortunately, these were out of order during our visit. Instead, we moved to the heated bench, where we sat and looked out over the hydrotherapy pool at the centre of the spa. It's a good size, with plenty of water jets to pummel away any aches and pains. It could comfortably fit 10-12 people.
Next, it was time to cool down with the experience showers. Different temperatures (cold or very cold!) and pressures felt invigorating after the warm experiences.
We moved on to the steam rooms: an aromatherapy crystal steam, a salt steam, and a caldarium. We followed each with a cool drench shower and/or a trip to the face-wash station: an ice bucket you can dip clean flannels into and press against your warm skin.
The final part of the spa is the sauna area, where you reach the most extreme temperatures. There are two saunas at 60 degrees and 85 degrees plus respectively. We followed the first sauna by pulling an ice bucket of water over our heads. It helps to have a friend who will gleefully do this for you! We followed the second sauna with a visit to the ice cave, a cool little cubby where we rubbed ice over our bodies and took cold showers.
After all that, a lie down was definitely in order; this is where we found our favourite part of the spa: the whisper room, a darkened room, filled with warm floatation beds behind billowing white curtains. As soon as we lay down on one, we were enveloped in comfort and warmth, and felt like we might never get up again. The gentleman snoring softly next to us may still be there...
Tell us about the treatments
We had the ESPA Back, Face and Scalp massage with Hot Stones (100 minutes, £119). Around 15 minutes before, we went upstairs to wait in the treatment terrace, a bright and warm area with music softly playing. A shop on this level sells beauty and skincare products, including from Espa, Elemis and Jessica. We browsed these and tried plenty of testers while we waited for our therapist.
Bang on time, our glamorous therapist Roxanne called out our name and shook our hand before leading us down a darkened corridor. The treatment room was dimly lit and smelled divine. Roxanne asked if we'd had the treatment before, and if there were any areas of our back that needed attention. Roxanne also asked if we would like the invigorating or relaxing version of the treatment. We chose the latter. She held up the towel for us to get into position, face down on the treatment bed.
The treatment started with a back massage which Roxanne tailored to the level of pressure we asked for. She then applied the hot stones. Having never had the treatment before, these were hotter than we expected. However, it felt like they were working every ache and knot out of our back (ones we didn't even know we had!).
Next, we turned over for the shoulder, scalp and face massage. This was a much gentler massage and had the desired relaxing effect
Lunch is a buffet from 12 noon in a café-style room to the side of the spa. Everyone rocked up in their robes and chose from the selection of jacket potatoes, meats, salads and pastas. It was quite basic but healthy and there was something for everyone.
As we stayed overnight, we got to enjoy fine-dining in Murrays, one of Whittlebury Hall's three restaurants. It was a beautiful, creatively presented three-course meal; we chose goat's cheese, fine cuts of lamb and to-die-for cheesecake. Murrays proved why it's earned two AA rosettes. The atmosphere was relaxed but intimate and perfect for a couple. The service was impeccable, too.
In the morning, we indulged further by visiting Astons restaurant and having a full English breakfast. This was a much more informal setting than Murrays, and the food was presented buffet-style, with tea and coffee readily served by the staff.
We loved / we didn't love
The whisper room: After a treatment, relaxing into a warm, cosy floatation bed feels like the perfect end to the experience.
The cubby holes: You receive a towel and robe in your designated locker. In the spa itself, there are cubby holes relating to your locker number. This is a nice touch, as you never end up putting on someone else's soggy dressing gown!
The Grecian décor: Having a consistent theme between the spa and leisure facilities brings everything together. The design felt perfect for a day of indulging your inner goddess.
We didn't love
The showers: The black granite-style walls make them feel gloomy and claustrophobic. The rust on the accompanying benches doesn't help make the area feel inviting.
The salt steam room didn't have much -- or really any -- scent to it. Steam rooms are much more enticing when you walk into a eucalyptus haze.
The soggy slippers: If you don't bring your own footwear, you need to buy flip-flops or slippers at reception for six pounds.
Who do you think would like it?
Groups of friends/hen parties/mothers and daughters: Whittlebury Hall is a busy spa with plenty of places to sit and chat between being pampered and relaxing. The Hall also has plenty of bars/lounge areas if you fancy a drink or two after your spa experience.
Couples: The features of the spa are often set up for two people (or more) so it's perfect for a couple or friends. The spa itself isn't very intimate. However, the bedrooms are lovely. If you stay overnight, enjoy a romantic dinner at Murrays.
What bubble rating did you give this spa?
We gave Whittlebury Hall a Good Spa Guide rating of 4 bubbles. The setting, variety of treatments and experiences, plus everything the Hall itself has to offer (restaurants, bars, courtyards and pretty bedrooms) makes it a great getaway. However, there's potential for the spa to feel crowded at weekends. A mid-week treat is definitely recommended.