Calming Down in London Town: 5 Stops on a Relaxing London Spa Tour
Spa-goers interested in crossing the pond in search of the latest and greatest in spa services, design, and treatments need to look no further than England’s buzzing capital. I had the good fortune to tour five of the relatively recent additions to London’s spa and wellness scene, and I must say, I was impressed!
The Bulgari Spa, The Bulgari Hotel & Residences
Oozing with modern luxury, the Bulgari Spa is an urban oasis offering 11 treatment rooms, a private spa suite, a fitness room, steam room, sauna, ice shower, relaxation room, and a stunning indoor pool with cabanas. The menu is just as extensive, offering a wide array of services from gentlemen’s grooming to an advanced clinic with non-surgical treatments (such as an Acupuncture Facial) and everything in between (hair, beauty, massage, body, skin care, and wellness therapies and treatments).
During the visit, I was treated to the iS Clinical Fire & Ice Facial, a highly efficacious facial inclusive of a peel, masque, and soothing moisturizer which spanned in feeling from hot to cold, hence the name. The immediate result is an incredible complexion that looks like it was a week or two in the making at a dermatologist’s office. What’s more is the talent of the staff, with incredible bedside manner and a level of intuition that’s uncanny. My facial was followed by a massage and scalp treatment that literally eradicated my jet-lag. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s a luxurious magic in that spa. For those visiting, be sure to make time for lunch, poolside. The club sandwich is indulgent, as are the smoothies, many of which are made with a sinfully-disguised, plant-based protein.
Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Centre, Hotel Café Royal
Accessible by its own, street-side entrance, Akasha offers an extensive, underground experience hidden away from the hustle and bustle of London’s city center. Stepping in off the street to a modest foyer area, I was immediately ushered downstairs via lift to an incredibly modern, bright, stone sanctuary. With nine treatment rooms and impressive water-based facilities including a Hammam and Vichy shower, Akasha has all you need to slip away unnoticed for several hours.
Its crowning achievement includes an 60-foot aqua-blue lap pool with an adjacent Watsu area, the only one of its kind in London, where tailor-made hydro-treatments and guided meditation are offered while afloat. The property also offers an extensive fitness facility inclusive of the latest in technology and equipment, such as TRX bands, allowing for both traditional and new-age functional forms of fitness. The spa’s wellness programs and treatments are centered around their elemental philosophy of earth, water, fire, and air, offering something for everyone.
Lifehouse Spa and Hotel, Thorpe-le-Soken, Essex
Set amidst 12 acres of English heritage gardens, and just over an hour’s train ride north of the city, is a contemporary, destination spa complete with resident ducks, a lake and several majestic, century-old trees. For urbanites in need of a nearby escape that feels like another country, award-winning Lifehouse awaits – affordable and accessible – for those who wish to shed pretense and nourish the soul with what nature intended.
Complete with over 30 treatment rooms and 89 hotel rooms, a plethora of relaxation areas, a nail and beauty salon, a spa boutique, and an extensive wet area (including sauna, steam, a chromatherapy lap, and vitality pools), there’s plenty to keep busy for a day break or spa stay. But that’s not all! At Lifehouse, you can select from a number of wellness programs, from weight-loss to juice cleanses, detoxes to “Nifty at 50”, each complete with food, fitness, spa treatments, and/or personalized consultations. Regardless of dietary restrictions, there are options to relax, enjoy, and socialize, whether that means enjoying a juice-fast or a traditional cocktail, it’s your choice. Either way, Lifehouse is a refreshing escape for adults that combines full-service spa and wellness rituals with down-to-earth soulfulness as nature intended.
agua Bathhouse & Spa, Mondrian London
One of the newest additions to London’s spa scene is the agua Bathhouse & Spa, a “boutique bathhouse,” offering a distinct, social hub for Mondrian’s guests. The Bathhouse delivers a “wow” first impression, particularly for fashion-forward, want-to-be interior designers. Cloaked mostly in white with striking gold, metallic accents, agua feels subtly glamorous and chic in a way that makes you want to sneak through its hallways quietly and swiftly on tippy-toes.
Aside from facial, massage, and body treatments, agua offers a “glamour lounge” for hands, feet, and brows, complete with menus for both ladies and gents. There’s also a complimentary product bar where guests can sample several of the lines offered in the spa’s boutique, including stunning nail polish bottles each adorned with their own, black-satin bows.
While I did not have time to enjoy a treatment, I did have time to enjoy some surprising design features like the foam bench in the signature relaxation area that deceptively looked like it was made of white marble. I look forward to returning to this self-titled “curated, quirky, spa playground.” I have a feeling it’s the place to be when a Hollywood-style, glam-over is in order.
ESPA life AT CORINTHIA, The Corinthia Hotel
I must admit: I was not prepared for the fact that ESPA life is literally bigger than life. Spread across several floors of the iconic Corinthia Hotel, this full-service, immaculately-designed spa. over 30,000 square-feet in size, offers a “fully integrated approach to well-being” with one of the most extensive menus of spa services, fitness, beauty treatments, and alternative therapies, offered anywhere in the city. In addition, ESPA has brought together a team of naturopaths and Chinese medicine acupuncturists and herbalists, among other specialists, to offer destination-spa-style programming in what I would call an urban, day-spa resort. And that’s just the menu!
The facility itself is so expansive and exceptionally appointed that I felt like I was in a luxurious episode of Alice in Wonderland, winding down steps to discover one surprise after another. The facility includes 17 treatment rooms, a private spa suite, nail studio, indoor swimming pool, vitality pool, amphitheater sauna, ice fountain, marble-heated loungers, and private sleep pods. There’s even a spa cafe, and this is all before you even get to a treatment room and there, my friends, is where ESPA life truly shines, from product to technique.
I had the Ayurvedic Inspired Ritual Massage which commenced with a foot-bath, followed by a scrub, body wrap, and massage with two showers mixed in between. Scrubs and wraps were not my favourite past-times… until now. I was put into an absolute state of bliss, so rare and deep, that I can only attribute it to two things: ESPA’s signature oils – time tested, secret potions – and my therapist.
I can safely say, a spa visit, regardless of the high-price point that luxury spas in London now command, is worth its weight in British pound sterling. Plus, if you spend an extra hour or two enjoying the state-of-the-art facilities, you could end up feeling weightless without a care in the world. Now that’s a worthwhile return on your spa investment!