A beautiful country house hotel in St Albans, Hertfordshire, Sopwell House renovated its Cottonmill spa last year, turning it into a wellbeing sanctuary. Our Graphic Designer, Emma, went to get the full experience…
The spa at Sopwell House had been on my bucket list for some time so I was very excited to try it out. I decided to book the Weekend Club Haven package, which includes early check in from 12 noon, and gave me an extra three hours to use the spa facilities on the day I arrived (woohoo!).
My room at Sopwell House was plush, stylish and spacious, with Elemis toiletries (a nice touch). There was also a turndown service later in the evening, including a bottle of fizz on ice, left for me on the table.
I sampled a couple of drinks in the cocktail bar before dinner. The cocktail menu is themed around the history of the hotel. My favourite was the ‘1603’, which was flavoured with rhubarb and prosecco.
My package included a three course dinner in The Restaurant at Sopwell House, which has two AA rosettes and has won multiple awards.
There was a surprise appetiser course (pictured left), which included a kohlrabi canapé, a slice of guinness bread with marmite butter, a twisty individual sun dried tomato bread roll with homemade salted butter, and a sweetcorn and red pepper foam. Absolutely gorgeous, my favourite being the tomato bread. Then the starter was poached salmon with crispy skin, dill and lemon curd (pictured right).
I wanted to try things I wouldn’t normally order, so for the main course I had roast grouse, which came with a black fig, brioche purée, a salsify croquette and roasted almonds. It was absolutely divine, rich and flavoursome. For dessert I ordered a peach and white chocolate mille feuille which came with a slick of lemon ice cream to offset the sweetness. I only managed half though because by this point I was fit to burst.
It was superbly easy to get there by train. It’s close to the centre of St Albans so there are multiple rail stations and easy access by car too, but it’s still tranquil when you’re there and there are gardens to explore. I got a cab which took 5-10 minutes from the station.
My package included access to the newly opened Club at Cottonmill facilities, which I was especially gleeful about. They really are absolutely beautiful. Tastefully decorated throughout in warm neutrals and bronze, it felt expensive and luxurious – and yet I still felt comfortable there, like I was welcome. I got to use these facilities twice, and it was heavenly – so peaceful and private.
My favourite feature was the hydrotherapy pool, which leads from indoors to outdoors. It had multiple massage features and was gorgeously warm. I almost dozed off leaning on the wall with my legs free-floating behind me. It was a sunny weekend too so I even caught a bit of colour on my skin.
The spa garden is a really special feature of the Club facilities, and it didn’t disappoint. There are cushioned cabana seats (where I curled up with a book), loungers, a big outdoor sofa and fire pits for when the weather’s colder. There are water features everywhere which add to the soothing ambience. There are also three outdoor hot tubs, plus of course the incredible hydro pool. I felt even more spoiled when I was floating in the pool and a member of staff asked if there was anything they could get me to drink while I was in there.
There are two saunas in the Club facilities (one organic, one panoramic), and two steam rooms (one salt, one botanical). I’m a big fan of steam rooms so I visited those multiple times. There are also experience showers, heated loungers and lots of comfortable sofas and hanging basket style chairs to relax in.
While I was visiting Sopwell House I took the opportunity to check out the main spa facilities (the ones available to guests who don’t book Club access). These included a swimming pool, two hot tubs, a sauna and steam room and a mosaic heated bench area.
My package included an astonishing three and a half hours’ worth of treatments(!). This started with a 90 minute ESPA Mindful Massage, followed by a 60 minute ESPA Optimal Skin Health facial. My therapist Lucy was kind and friendly, and the treatment room was as beautifully decorated as the rest of the spa. I was offered a choice of playlists to listen to during my treatments, which was a charming touch (I chose nature sounds). Needless to say, after all that I practically melted off the treatment bed. My final treatment I booked for the following morning, a pedicure in the nail salon. This was equally lovely and well done.
I wonder if they’ll consider permanent residents? *looks hopeful*
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