Best Spa Brighton: The Classic And The Quirky

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Well, my quest to find the best spa Brighton has to offer took me down an interesting path. I think I might have inadvertently booked to use the facilities at a sw1ngers hotel!

But I made it out unscathed and am reporting back to steer you through the pitfalls of finding a day spa in Brighton, East Sussex.

At first glance, there are loads of spas in the city. But, depending on your definition, the BEST spa Brighton has is the ONLY spa Brighton has. (Although there’s an alternative I prefer.)

Let me explain.

If you’re looking for a classic day spa with a hydrotherapy pool and facilities like a sauna and steam room, as well as treatments, then The Harbour Hotel will tell you they’re the place to go.

Since the spa at the Grand Hotel closed down, the HarSPA is the only place that is a true self-contained spa.

But Pure Spa is a close contender combined with the hotel’s Livingwell Leisure Club, which I’ll tell you about below.

However, if you’re looking for relaxation and happy to try something a little less ordinary, then you could find something else that suits.

Let’s start with the classic, and then I’ll take you through the other options.

By the way, sorry about the quality of my pictures here. I never manage to make a good job when the lighting is low like it is in the spas.

Brighton Harbour Hotel

The Harbour Hotel is set on the seafront, a few minutes’ walk from Brighton’s iconic beach.

Its subterranean HarSPA doesn’t enjoy any of the sea views, but it’s a cozy labyrinth designed for total relaxation.

If you’re not a hotel guest, you can access the facilities with one of their spa packages.

HarSPA offers morning, afternoon and twilight times sessions as well as seasonal packages.

Each includes a treatment.

The prices and treatment lengths vary depending on the time of day you go.

Facilities And Experience

The spa facilities here are:

  • Small heated indoor pool (very shallow swimming pool)
  • Jetted pool with hydrotherapy jets (bit of a weird pool spa thing, I couldn’t work out where you’re supposed to sit)
  • 2x Scandinavian hot tubs (quite shallow and not as warm as I like)
  • Sauna
  • Steam room (no steam when I went in, but it did generate some after about 10 minutes)
  • Relaxation areas
  • Gym
Exposed brickwork at the Harbour Hotel Brighton spa

The space would have been beautiful when it first opened.

It’s like entering a dimly lit, cozy, tunnel system that just goes on and on.

I kept discovering something else around a corner or down some stairs.

But now it looks tired, and it lacks care in both presentation and service.

There were discarded gowns, towels, cups and other litter everywhere, including in the sauna.

And the sauna and steam room floors had some kind of dirt/grit on them.

I didn’t feel very welcome or expected by reception.

And I was only given a gown and towels (no slippers) when my therapists taking me to my treatment happened to ask in passing if I was using the spa as well.

The included 45-minute treatment I chose was the back massage.

The therapist was pleasant enough, and the massage was pretty good.

But she clearly thought I was a bit odd because I wanted to keep my leggings on, and I didn’t want the towel/bolster that had been set up to lift my legs.

(It always hurts my back.)

I liked that I was able to book their spa packages online.

But overall, my experience was a bit disappointing, and I had a better experience at Pure Spa.

Pure Spa At Doubletree By Hilton

Compared to HarSPA I received exceptional service here.

I was expected and welcomed and my therapist really wanted me to feel as at ease as possible.

Pure Spa is within a Hilton-brand hotel along the seafront, close to the Royal Pavillion.

From May 2023, the Hilton Brighton Metropole was rebranded as one of their Doubletree hotels.

Although the Pure Spa’s lovely beauty salon is independent of the hotel’s fitness center, they’re on the same floor along a short corridor from each other.

If you’re looking at spa days or spa breaks, this is a definite contender.

Spa Facilities

Within Pure Spa, there are 4 treatment rooms, a relaxation room, a manipedi space and a sauna.

Technically, I booked a treatment only, and the information about using the sauna was a bit confusing.

However, the team told me that use of their sauna was included in the treatment price.

For an additional fee (depending on which package you’ve booked), you can also choose to access the leisure facilities within the hotel’s Livingwell Health Club.

These include:

  • heated indoor swimming pool
  • sauna
  • steam room
  • changing rooms
  • relaxation area

Everyone I saw at Pure Spa was wearing a gown.

I wasn’t given one, and I had read on their website they no longer provide them as part of their carbon reduction initiatives.

I assume the other people were guests of the hotel and had gowns in their rooms.

But it’s worth checking what you get if you’re looking at booking a package.

Again, Pure Spa has an online booking system which was great for me.

I choose a deep tissue massage with the Theragun.

Not in the slightest bit relaxing, but it was exactly what I needed.

My therapist was tiny but still managed to give a great treatment with deep pressure.

If you want to feel nurtured and looked after on your spa day, this is the ideal place to find friendly staff and nice, clean facilities.

And don’t worry, they do offer relaxing massage like Swedish massage and Indian head as well as plenty of other beauty therapies.

Queens Hotel

Queens Hotel is another of the spa hotels options but for me, it’s not ideal.

If you’re staying in the hotel, then you might be able to make a spa day work.

But as above, the Beautiful People Spa is operated independently and only offers beauty treatments.

The hotel’s pool and fitness center are on different floors so it feels a bit disjointed.

The hotel does offer afternoon tea, so you could perhaps split your day up with that and spend time in the different spaces separately.

Little Jasmine Therapies

I’m including Little Jasmine here because it’s an award-winning spa.

I personally wouldn’t class them as a day spa, but they won Best Day Spa for Brighton and Hove from the Luxury Travel Awards.

It was in the unique spa category, though, so they are a little bit different.

Little Jasmine offers combined spa treatments / massages to create long pamper sessions.

And what they feel sets them apart is that they have an infrared sauna for private use with your treatment.

They also advertise having a steam room.

But it’s actually a contained shower rather than a conventional steam room.

If you’re looking to relax and you’re not worried about a spa bath or other traditional spa day facilities, you could decide this would be good.

Brighton Box Sauna

Ok, let’s get on to something very quirky and very Brighton.

The Brighton Box sauna is a collection of three horse boxes converted into different types of saunas.

There’s also a firepit and an outdoor cold plunge pool in the form of a free-standing bath.

If you’re into spa-ing for invigoration, combine your session with an early morning fitness package, ice bath, or thermal massage leaves whisk (think Eucalyptus branches).

If that’s too refreshing, you can choose a more relaxing add-on like a hair or face mask.

The sauna just moved to a new location at the end of Brighton Beach, tucked in behind the Volk’s Electric Railway workshop.

The changing space they have is limited, so go as ready as you can.

You have to wear a swimsuit unless you book the whole sauna for a private session.

You can book here for individual 45 or 90 minutes sauna sessions.

Float Spa

The Float Spa is technically in Hove so it’s not for you if you’re after something in the center of Brighton.

The concept is a little bit different but it could be an alternative to the day spas if you’re just looking to chill out.

As well as three float pods, the center also offers yoga classes, holistic treatments and an infrared sauna as well as workshops and events.

You could totally put together a relaxing few hours with the various modalities.

Don’t Take Your Mum

The Charm

Right, this is where things took a turn for the odd.

The Charm is a highly recommended boutique hotel a short walk from colorful Kemptown.

Since my visit, I’ve heard Kemptown described as the “slightly seedy underbelly of Brighton”.

I think it would have been helpful if I’d realized that sooner!

The facilities – outdoor pool / spa pool and steam room – are booked privately.

But since you can pay to book it for one, two or three people, I perhaps should have realized.

I thought the booking for three was for a group of friends and limited because it was a small-ish hot tub.

But I think I was being a bit naïve, and it’s actually for a couple plus a “friend”!

The changing area was nicely presented and very clean but it was combined with a toilet.

There was no lock on the door from the hotel hallway which made me feel a bit uncomfortable.

There was a wedge for keeping the door open, which I used to wedge it shut from the inside.

Anyway, I got changed under my towel and went outside.

The pool spa itself wasn’t too clean.

But despite the excessive amount of foam and against my better judgment, I went in for a short while.

I couldn’t resist.

Sitting outside in a hot spa on a cold day is one of my favourite things to do.

But I felt paranoid and uncomfortable, and there was something dubious floating in the foam (maybe it was seagull poo…), so I left shortly after.

The receptionist was kind and didn’t charge me for the visit.

Bristol Gardens Health Spa

From the reviews, this sounds like a very clean and pleasant day spa.

But I wasn’t sure if it really was just for naturists (not that I am one).

Anyway, from the trip advisor reviews, this is more for people who want to go and be “adult” in a spa-environment.

So, yeah, I didn’t go there.

Ready to Choose Your Day Spas?

So that concludes my dalliance with spas places in Brighton.

HarSPA and Pure Spa are the classics to look at, but don’t discount the floating or an invigorating sauna by the sea.

Suzie writes honest and helpful posts for solo, nervous or first-time travelers to Greece at Greek Island Bucket List. She became a Greek resident in 2020 and is on a mission to every inhabited island in the country.

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