Monday, 1 September 2014

Review of Champneys Henlow Health Spa

Review of Champneys Henlow Health Spa
I started visiting Champneys Henlow Health Spa nearly 25 years ago, when it was known then as Henlow Grange Health Farm and run by the indomitable Mrs Purdew.  It was my first residential spa experience, and one that has been oft repeated.  Subsequently, I have regularly stayed at all four of the UK’s Champneys resort spas, but Champneys Henlow has a special place in my heart and still remains a firm favourite for a great value-for-money UK spa break. 

How long a stay?

Many people dip their toe into the water with either a Spa Day or a 1-2 night break, however, my personal preference and recommendation is 3 nights+, as you will come away from such a break feeling completely refreshed and rejuvenated, as though you’d been on a fortnight’s holiday.

Travelling solo or in company?

I often travel solo, and a break at Champneys Henlow is a great option for anyone holidaying alone.  All Champneys Spas offer a Champneys Table at lunch and dinner for those who want to socialise, and which you can dip in and out of as your fancy takes you.  There are also themed breaks such as their Traditional Week or Boot Camp, where you have the opportunity to participate in joint classes and/or talks with other guests on the same break as yourselves. 

Champneys is also a lovely break for friends to take together.  It is not so much a “couples” break, especially during the week when male guests are rare but not unknown but less so at weekends. 


Review of Champneys Henlow Health Spa Pool & Wet Areas
One of the reasons I love Champneys Henlow so much is the fabulous “wet” facilities.  The excellent 25-metre pool is located in a sunny conservatory and other facilities include a whirlpool, female laconium, male and female steam rooms, male sauna, Thalassotherapy pool and Rasal chamber.  I can wile away hours and hours in the Henlow pool area.

For Gym Bunnies, there is a comprehensive but smallish gym located in the older Main House area. It offers the usual suspects of aerobic exercise machines (treadmills, bikes, cross trainers, vibro-plates etc) and a weights area.  Surprisingly, the gym rarely gets full, especially during the day time weekdays.

There are also 2 Fitness studio areas – a large workout studio and a cosier, soft Mind & Body area.  Including pool-based aqua classes and outside activities such as power-walking, you can choose from up to 20 different classes per day, all included in the price of your stay.  Most are aimed at the averagely fit and last 25mins-45mins.  You do need to book your place for the more popular classes (usually the ones based in the Mind & Body studio), this can be done in the morning for free or a small booking fee in advance.

The enthusiastic, knowledgeable Fitness team at Henlow provide a full range of fitness training, with additional specialist fitness/well-being/exercise sessions conducted by independent qualified trainers.

Finally, Henlow itself is set in 150 acres of beautiful parkland nestled in the lovely Bedfordshire countryside.  To take advantage of it, you can hire bikes to ride and there are plenty of walks – either one of organised walking excursions or just venturing out by yourself.


Review of Champneys Henlow Health Spa Treatments
With 40 treatment rooms, a manicure/pedicure studio and hot wax area, the choice of treatments at Henlow is extensive.  Most breaks include a selection of inclusive treatments.  These are usually 25mins duration and can tend to be delivered by the more inexperienced therapists (unless you have booked into a Premier room).  The more experienced therapist tend to deliver the specialist treatments (generally 50mins duration) that are available at an extra charge.

I always like to try something new whenever I visit, most I have enjoyed, a lot have become very firm favourites (Head in the Clouds, Twilight Aromatherapy), and some I’m glad I’ve tried but wouldn’t repeat the experience (Complete Wax Experience, Reike)!  The treatment area can get very busy and if there is something you definitely want to try, or want at a specific time, it is best to book in advance of arrival. 

Whilst there is absolutely nothing wrong with treatments at Henlow, if you have ever experienced a very luxurious (and expensive) day spa, Henlow’s spa treatment area will seem much more utilitarian in comparison.  The waiting area can get very full before treatments commence, and the treatment rooms are generally small, not luxurious but always clean, welcoming and more than adequate for the job.

If you have never visited a therapist before, you can be reassured that your modesty will be preserved at all times, your therapist will explain the treatment to you and check for any contra-indications in advance of starting.  If you don’t like to receive treatments from the opposite sex, just advise Henlow before arrival and your needs will be accommodated.

Dips’ Top Tip - Here’s a top tip for great value treatments when visiting Henlow.  Within the Spa waiting area, there are concession shops for some lovely beauty brands (at time of writing these are Elemis and Decleor) which are staffed by fully qualified therapists and with their own treatment rooms, from which they offer number of sampler treatments.  What’s more, the price of the treatment is then offset against any purchases you make at the time.  These need to be booked directly with each of the brand shops and are not bookable via Champney’s online booking system.


Review of Champneys Henlow Health Spa Food & Dining
I think the question I am asked most often about staying at a Spa is “Aren’t you starving on all that rabbit food?”  As it is, nothing could be further from the truth.  The food at Champneys Henlow is delicious and plentiful; you will not feel deprived in the slightest, in fact it is often hard to believe that you are eating healthily.

The arrangement for breakfast and lunch is buffet-style, and you can eat as much or as little as you like.  Dinner is a three-course, waiter-served meal.  The menu always provides nutritional and dietary information such as guidance on fat content and suitability for specific dietary needs. 

For breakfast, there is an extensive choice of fruits, compots, cereals, breads, yogurts and juices.  Additional cooked items are available to order at a small extra charge.

Lunch is based around a number of buffet stations.  There is always soup, a salad and cold cuts buffet, a choice of hot main meals and even dessert.  Whilst the restaurant promotes healthy eating and moderation, portion size is controlled by the diner, allowing for differing calories needs, especially if you are exercising heavily during your stay.

The evening meal is a three course, table d’hôte style meal. There is normally around 4-6 different choices for each course.  Wine can be ordered to accompany your meal, at extra charge.

In addition, there are two areas in the Spa where you can purchase hot and cold drinks and light snacks throughout the day.


Review of Champneys Henlow Health Spa Rooms & Accomodation
Standard and Superior rooms are available with either a double bed or twin beds (plus 2 standard triple rooms).  The majority of these rooms are situated in a modern extension to the Main House and compare in style and facilities to a modern four-star hotel.  Standard and Superior rooms are effectively identical in size, décor and amenities, the only difference is that Superior rooms are on the ground floor you’re your own patio doors for direct access to the grounds and an outside seating area, whereas the standard rooms are on the first floor without an outside patio area.

Review of Champneys Henlow Health Spa Superior Rooms
Dips’ Top Tip - It’s my experience that, unless you specifically want a ground floor room, it is only worth paying the supplement for Superior during the summer months, when you will be able to have the patio doors open and to sit directly outside your room.

Review of Champneys Henlow Health Spa Premier Rooms
There are a small number of Premier rooms and a Premier Suite.  Premier rooms are mainly situated in the Main House, and are luxuriously decorated with plenty of room to relax. The two-room Suite is situated in the Main House, above the conservatory and close to the facilities. It is beautifully decorated; the lounge area has comfy sofas, a private dining area and cosy fireplace. In the bathroom, you will find a bath with a TV to watch whilst you soak aching muscles and a separate walk-in shower.

Comparison of different accommodation at Champneys Henlow:
Common to all accommodation classes:
Flat screen TV with Sky Sports
DVD player
Tea and coffee making facilities
Mini toiletries
Dressing table
Rain macs
Still and sparkling mineral water on arrival
Towelling robe to wear
Flip flops
Daily housekeeping service

Additionally, in Standard & Superior Rooms, the bathroom has a Bath with Shower-over it.  Superior Rooms usually have direct access to outside space.

Premier Rooms & The Suite are situated in prime area of the resort.  Premier Rooms have a Bath with Shower-over, whilst The Suite’s bathroom has separate Bath and Walk-in Shower.  Additionally, the Still and sparkling mineral water is replenished daily, there is fresh fruit on arrival, a daily newspaper and nightly turndown service.  The bathrobes are upgraded.

The Premier accommodation also comes with Champneys Premier Service (see below) when booked at full tariff.

Champneys Premier Service

This is a range of additional services and benefits available to anyone booking a full-tariff stay in either a Premier Room or Suite.  There start before you have even arrived at the Spa, with a call from Premier Therapist for a pre-arrival consultation!  You will also have a Premier Therapist dedicated to you during your stay, so the same person will provide your treatments and generally assist you during your stay.  Premier Therapists are Champneys most experienced and knowledgeable therapists, who will make you feel cherished and pampered during a most indulgent stay. They will organise your priority treatment, fitness/relaxation class and dining time bookings to ensure they are scheduled to suit your requirements.   There is a separate waiting area for Premier guests, which is a useful bonus given my comments above regarding the standard treatment waiting area.


Having started this review by revealing that I have been visiting Champneys Spas for nearly 25 years, it should come as no surprise that I thoroughly recommend Champneys Henlow for a relaxing and refreshing Spa stay. 

NB:  This is not a sponsored post, I have always stayed at Champneys Henlow at my own expense.

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