Center Parcs Whinfell Forest Spa Review

I have visited the spa at Whinfell Forest twice now, once as a non-resident visiting as a 'day guest' and more recently when we were staying at Center Parcs in January 2022 (which is when this post is based on). I love the spa here and if you are looking for a wide range of spa experiences, I really do think it is one of the best spas in the North.  

Please always check details with venue direct when booking for the most up-to-date information. 

Center Parcs Whinfell Forest Spa Review

As mentioned in the opening paragraph, you can visit the Aqua Sana Spa at Whinfell Forest as either a guest staying at Center Parcs or as a non-resident. 

First of all, let's look at the non-resident packages. You can drive to Center Parcs from Newcastle in less than 2 hours and it is very easy to get to, just straight along the A69 and down the M6.

It is possible to visit by public transport too and a train trip from Newcastle to Penrith should take around 2 hours with a quick change at Carlisle. There are buses from Penrith to Center Parcs but I feel like a taxi would be easier. Expect to pay around £22 for an off-peak adult single train fare. 

On arrival, you just need to let gate security know you are there for a spa day. They will find you on their list, direct you to a car park and hand you a map with walking directions to the spa. If you click on the image below, you can see the spa in the green building to the right of the lake by the sports plaza. 

Center Parcs Whinfell Forest Spa Review  - map

Spa days for non-residents can be booked directly through the Aqua Sana website here. Spa days are available from £59 per person for a twilight taster for 2 up to £95 per person for a full spa day including lunch and bubbly. These prices do not include treatments. 

Treatments can be added onto any spa day seperately and there is the usual range of facials, massages, body treatments, manicures and pedicures. Aqua Sana primarily use Elemis and DeclĂ©or products for their treatments which are definitely personal favourites of mine. Non-residents cannot book a treatment without booking spa access first. 

Expect to pay around £85 for a full facial or massage. Express treatments are available from around £45. Treatments can be booked at the same time as your spa day or added at a later date (or even on the date) subject to availibility. 

If you are booking as a resident, I did find spa access to be slightly cheaper with a 3 hour session costing £49 per person or £55 to include afternoon tea. If you are staying at Center Parcs, you just book your spa sessions and treatments in the activity booking section of your booking online once available. You pay for treatments / experiences when you book. 

It is worth noting that the minimum age to visit Aqua Sana is 14 years. Spas are normally reserved for ages 16/18+. I do think a spa day at Aqua Sana would make a wonderful introduction to spa days for teens and would be a very nice treat for those taking exams etc..... It is also a nice holiday activity to enjoy if you are visiting Center Parcs with teens. Under 18s do need to be accompanied by an adult at all times. 

I do not have first hand experience of this, but apparantly, if you are staying on site and are pregnant, you can pop into the spa and book a few hours for £10. Obviously you are limited as to what you can do but £10 is a bargain for the chance to have a nice swim and enjoy some r&r. 

What to Expect from a Spa Day at Whinfell Forest 

I just want to stress again that this is based on my experience in January 2022. We booked the 3 hour spa experience for £49 per person. This includes simple refreshments, robe hire and spa access. 

First of all, the staff at Aqua Sana are all lovely. You check in at the spa reception and the staff go through everything with you so you know what to expect. If there is any treatment availibility on the day, they will also ask if you'd like to book any additional treatments. 

If you are staying on site, you can also book just a stand-alone treatment without visiting the spa. If you just book a massage / facial etc......, this will not include spa access and it needs to be booked seperately.  There is also a nail bar by the spa reception which looked lovely. 

During our visit, we were given a name tag and a cotton bag with a robe in it. We were told to attach the name tag to our bag and to carry it around the spa with us / keep our robe in there when not in use. This system worked so well and I really hope that more spas take on a similar system. It meant there were no towels draped over loungers and nothing was lost. 

Outside of each experience room there is a little hook where you can hang your bag. This is also handy as you can see with a quick glance if anyone is inside a room without having to open the door. The canvas bags are handy for keeping your water / kindle / book altogether too. 

They don't openly encourage the use of towels around the spa area which is a little odd but again, it worked well and the whole place felt so much tidier. You aren't given a towel on arrival and they aren't noticeably anywhere to pick up. Nobody seems to use them here and everyone relys on just using their robe to dry themselves which actually worked better than expected. There are towels hidden in the changing rooms at the back next to the showers if you are really desperate but I would say you don't really need one. 

Flip flops or slippers are not provided either and I regret not bringing my own. Don't forget to pack them like I did! Although you can buy some for a couple of £ from reception if needed. 

The changing rooms at Center Parcs are really lovely. There are a couple of private rooms but it's mostly communal with private showers to the rear. There are plenty of mirrors, wet kit bags and swimsuit dryers and complimentary hairdryers. Other bits and bobs are available to purchase. 

Lockers are operated with your accommodation key (which is a wrsitband) and very simple to use, simply tap the locker with your wristband to lock / unlock.  

Center Parcs Whinfell Forest Spa Review  - changing rooms

Center Parcs Whinfell Forest Spa Review  - hairdryer

Once you are changed and have your bag in tow, you exit into the spa and are greeted by a member of staff who will provide a quick tour. I would recommend this if it's your first time or it's been a while as it's a good way to get your bearings and it also means you don't miss out. The tour only takes a few minutes and is a good chance to ask any questions too. 

The spa at Whinfell isn't huge and it would be difficult to get lost here. There are 16 different areas and experiences to enjoy and you can just come and go as you please. 

We visited from 9am-12noon on a Saturday in January. We had the place to ourselves on arrival, it was noticeably very quiet before 10am and then from 10:30am it did seem to get busier. 

On the day of our visit, it was mostly couples and groups visiting and there were a few solo spa go-ers too. One thing I do think this spa lacks is a silent zone. I know some other spas have rooms which are dedicated silent zones and I think that would work here.

I really don't begrudge friends talking, I do the same when I visit spas with my friends but there is nowhere to escape from it and I would say that if you want absolute calm and quiet, you will probably struggle to find it in the spa area. I'd recommend booking a private treatment instead if that was your goal.

Don't get me wrong, it wasn't rowdy or anything. But it wasn't quiet either. 

There are loads of different spaces and areas to relax, you won't struggle for a seat here. There are popular waterbed just around this corner which do get taken fairly early on. We tried them though and weren't too fussed. I preferred the big spa beds and loungers overlooking the gardens. A big plus is that there are so many little spots where you can lie down and relax.  

Phones are discouraged which is why I haven't taken many photos (I quickly ran around at the start when there was nobody else there) but plenty of people were lying around scrolling Instagram. I wouldn't call here a strict no-phone zone. 

Center Parcs Whinfell Forest Spa Review  - spa beds.

There are two pools to choose from at Aqua Sana Whinfell, the first being a party covered hydropool which has a roof but one side is open and looking out onto the outdoor pool and forest beyond. It's lovely and warm with powerful jets and bubbles. 

Center Parcs Whinfell Forest Spa Review  - hydropool

The second pool is outdoors and although it is warm, it isn't 'hot'. I actually preferred the outdoor roof pool in the Subtropical Swimming Paradise to the spa pool. However the spa pool is still blissful. Floating around in a warm pool amongst the trees in January was so peaceful and calming. I loved it.

I could touch the bottom in the pool and it was just the right depth for relaxation without having to worry about staying afloat if you know what I mean. 

The spa does have disabled access and hoists and it is recommended you contact the spa directly before booking to discuss requirements. 

Center Parcs Whinfell Forest Spa Review  - heated outdoor pool

One of the areas you can relax in overlooks a Japanese Garden. 

Center Parcs Whinfell Forest Spa Review  - japanese garden

As mentioned earlier, there are 16 different spa experiences and areas to enjoy here. You can come and go to them all as you please and visit as many times as you like. They are mostly different types of steam and saunas. Below is an example, you will see the hooks next to the door for your bag to hang on, plus a sign explaining what to expect, how long to spend in the room and any little pointers. Most experience rooms have a dedicated shower next door which has been designed to match the experience. 

There were a fair few people in the spa after 10:30am but as there are so many experiences, it never really felt busy and we only shared a room with other people on occasion. 

I'm not going to go through them all but here are some of my highlights: 

Tyrolean Sauna and Ice Fountain 

This is a what you'd expect from a sauna - one of those traditional pine types. It's hot and there is loads of room. It's pretty hidden away just past the waterbeds. Next to the sauna is an ice fountain and guests are encouraged to alternate scrubbing themselves with ice and visiting the sauna. Invigorating stuff! 


Lie back on the heated tiles and relax (the tiles are pretty hot so be careful). The room is filled with the scent of lemon and lying here felt so good on my back. I think it was my favourite area. 

Japanese Salt Steam Bath 

I love this one as it is SO steamy, honestly I've never been in a steam room like it. You literally can't see anything other than the glowing salt rock in the middle of the room. The steam is filled with jasmine and it's lovely and relaxing. 

Greek Herbal Bath 

Another room we absolutely loved. In the centre is a heated plate filled with aromatic herbs like sage and rosemary. It smells divine. 

In our three hour visit, we were able to experience everything once plus our favourites a couple of times. 

Here is a full look at what's on offer, click on any of the images to enlarge: 

Center Parcs Whinfell Forest Spa Review  - spa experiences to try

Center Parcs Whinfell Forest Spa Review  - balinese steam room

Center Parcs Whinfell Forest Spa Review  - turkish hamman

Guests can help themselves to complimentary water and cranberry juice from various stations around the spa. The cups are absolutely teeny though and I would recommend bringing your own bottle of cold water with you instead. 

Staff are visable and keep the place looking very clean and tidy and all of the experience rooms and pools etc.... were in good working order. 

There is a Vitale Cafe Bar just beyond the main spa (but in the same building), most people sit in here with their robes on. You can just pop along at any time during your spa visit and order a drink / bite to eat (card payments only). As far as I could see, you have to eat/drink in the cafe area and no food or drinks can be taken into the spa. If your spa day includes lunch, it will be taken in the Vitale Cafe Bar. 

Center Parcs Whinfell Forest Spa Review  - vitale cafe menu

Center Parcs Whinfell Forest Spa Review  - spa drinks menu

I didn't book a treatment this time but during our last visit I very much enjoyed an Indian Head Massage. The treatment rooms are finished to a high standard and the staff were super gentle. I didn't book a treatment this time due to budget and I kind of just wanted 3 hours in the spa with Steve but I am very tempted to book a treatment when we visit Center Parcs next year and might save some of my birthday / christmas money to do just that. 

If you are staying at Center Parcs and have children under the age of 8, you can book them into a supervised activity / creche to coincide with the spa. These activities are generally themed (eg pirate morning / chocolate party) and cost around £30 per child.

It is probably not officially permitted but we just left the kids in the lodge watching TV and feeding squirrels while we escaped.  My three are regularly left alone for a few hours here and there at home now and I feel like they are old enough and responsible enough (you know your own kids). 

If your kids are aged 14+, you can pay for them to join you in the spa. 

There is a tricky gap in the market for kids aged 8-12 though with no supervised activities available and generally, if you are staying on site with kids of this age and don't have friends / family with you, most people tend to visit the spa one parent at a time. It's not uncommon and plenty of other people do this so don't feel like you'll be an outsider if you visit the spa alone (sorry - I know this is a bummer to single parents who can't do this, I wish there was a solution too). 

They didn't seem particularly strict about asking us to leave the spa on time - I don't know what they'd do if we stayed over our time or if they'd even notice. But after 3 hours, we were actually dying to see the kids again and felt sufficiently relaxed / were ready to leave. 

Back in the changing rooms there are complimentary (and decent) showers, toiletries and towels all in individual cubicles and loos. You simply use your wristband to open your locker and when you're sorted, pop your cotton tote bag and robe in the laundry bins. We didn't get too dolled up afterwards as we were heading swimming with the kids later that day. 

For £49 per person, I feel like Center Parcs Whinfell Forest Spa is such good value. I love the range of experiences on offer and that there is plenty of space / never a fight for a lounger. I know it is definitely going to be a spa I visit again in the future. 

You can read my other spa reviews below: 

Ramside Hall Spa Review 

Rockliffe Hall Spa Review 

Seaham Hall Spa Review 

The Garage Spa Review 

Beacon Hill Spa Review 


1 comment

  1. I was looking for a review of Center Parcs Whinfell Forest Spa, but yours was the most detailed and informative I could find. Thank you for providing this information.


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