For a spot of respite in the busy city
Whether you’re a visitor to the city or a resident in need of some time out from the hustle and bustle of the metropolitan madness, the best spas in London offer the perfect moment of respite.
From tension releasing massages and decongesting facials, to soothing watsu pools and detoxing steam rooms, there is nothing better than a pamper to ease the mind and soul.
Luckily the city has some spectacular options, here is our guide to the best spas in London…
Best spas in London: Aire Ancient Baths
Why is it so amazing? After visiting the incredible Aire Ancient Baths in Seville (their flagship space), I was intrigued to see how this vision of tranquility and luxury would translate to London, where space is at a premium, but the new location is truly mind blowing. Set in the former home of novelist J.M. Barrie, where Peter Pan was first written (look out for the first edition copy on show at reception), the sprawling building is steeped in history, with huge fireplaces and intricately restored plasterwork giving you a sense that you’re stepping back in time. And, in true Aire fashion, the magic continues downstairs in the vaulted cellars as you are welcomed into a deeply relaxing, candle lit series of pools, which wind through each other as you begin your journey to peak relaxation.
Inspired by the ancient tradition of Roman baths, and using water as ‘wellness’, the Aire space is made up of six different thermal pools, each set at different temperatures to both relax, treat and invigorate your body and mind.
- Caldarium (Hot Bath /40ºC)
- Frigidarium (Cold Bath / 14ºC and Ice Bath 10ºC)
- Tepidarium (Warm Bath / 36ºC)
- Balneum (Bath of Thousand Jets)
- Vaporium (Steam Bath)
- Flotarium (Salt Bath)
Take the full thermal tour, before heading to the treatment rooms for a full body massage, before coming back to the pools for just one more go…
Standout treatment? Aside from the Flotarium, the salt bath which gives you wings (well, at least lets you float unaided), our tip is to go for the Himalayan Salt Ritual, which along with the full Ancient Thermal Bath experience, is made up of a relaxing 90 minute body treatment, combining a 30 minute body wrap, followed by a 60 minute full body massage with hot Himalayan salt stones. Total bliss.
Where is it? Down a small, unassuming cobbled street, a few minutes walk from both Charing Cross station and Covent Garden. Who knew this seemingly sprawling underground temple existed? Aire did, apparently. 2-3 Robert St, London WC2N 6BH.
Best spas in London: Akasha
Why is it so amazing? After a rubbish night’s sleep and a hellish commute into London, it’s safe to say that my stress levels were above average before checking myself into Akasha. Thankfully, the spa itself is the polar opposite of the streets outside – calm, clean and quiet. As you descend the steps down into the spa, you instantly feel more at peace. The first thing you spot is the incredible pool, which sits at its centre that has alcoves coming off it that house the Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna. But it’s also the netural-toned marble that seems to soothe the soul too. *Side note: you don’t actually have to be on the brink of a hissy fit to enjoy this cavernous spa. You could walk in happy as Larry and still come away the most relaxed you’ve ever been.* It’s got everything you need without being so overwhelmingly big that you don’t get lost and the minimalist decor doesn’t distract you from the sole purpose of being there – relaxation.
Standout treatment? Aromatherapy Associates offers a range of treatments to tackle lifestyle concerns like stress or lack of energy; I opted for the ‘We Relax’ Wellbeing Treatment as I felt I needed help in that department. The majority of the treatment involves a massage at whatever level of pressure you prefer, combined with AA’s Light or Deep Relax oil blend and, thankfully, I left feeling like I was walking on air. Five stars. £150 for 60 minutes
Where is it? Underneath Piccadilly Circus in the Hotel Café Royal, 50 Regent Street, W1. Who knew?!
Best spas in London: The House of Elemis
Why is it so amazing? What looks to be a tiny little beauty shop, is in fact a three-story wonder emporium. On the ground floor, you can get your hands on all of Elemis’ brilliant products, whilst the first floor and basement is where you experience world-class facials and massages that soothe even the tensest people.
Standout treatment? Elemis’ Biotec facials are out of this world as they are bespoke to you and your skin’s needs. It comines ground-breaking technology and active ingredients to wake your skin up and bring energy back to your cells. Their Biotec Skin Resurfacer leaves skin smoother and softer. Is there any better feeling? No, is the answer. From £125 for 1hr.
Where is it? Walk down a warren of cobbled streets in the depths of Mayfair, and you’ll find the House of Elemis. 2 Lancashire Ct, Mayfair, London W1
Best spas in London: The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane
Why is it so amazing? While the Four Seasons treatments are dreamy, the unique selling point is the spa itself, with everything from the cosy slippers and grapefruit water to the aesthetic, which renders the spa-visitor ultimate relaxed. The oriental rooms are flooded with natural light, and whether you’re unwinding in the Sky Suite, thermal rooms or bathing in the vitality pool, it’s easy to forget the millennial stresses outside. Did I mention that there is a Hammam suite?! Now that’s pure luxury – and an excellent Instagram opportunity. You will definitely leave with your chakras rebalanced.
Standout treatment? The Hyde Park Awakening and the Four Hands at Four Seasons are probably the spa’s signature treatments, but if (like me) you’re looking to properly de-stress, I’d recommend the hot stone massage. I had never had one before and a Four Seasons offering seemed like a great start, with the treatment offering a bespoke service, depending on pressure, oils and target areas. The hot stones (basalt) are incorporated into the deep massage strokes, relieving aches and pains, releasing tension and alleviating anxiety. If you suffer from insomnia or anxiety, this is the treatment for you. At the end of the treatment – I had to be woken up because I was that relaxed. You’re then taken to a fancy pod (decked out with YuYu hot water bottles, jewelled cushions and headphones) to unwind with a pot of herbal tea and a bowl of almonds. I might have fallen asleep again. From £165, for 60 mins.
Where is it? Perfectly placed, just off Hyde Park Corner and a short walk from the hustle and bustle of the city. The spa is located on the rooftop with the floor to ceiling windows offering panoramic city views of the scenes below from your own relaxing haven. Hamilton Pl, Park Ln, Mayfair, London W1
Best spas in London: Espa Life
Best spas in London: Ushvani
Why is it so amazing? This spa is understated luxury at its best, a little oasis of calm in the centre of London. Its ethos is the Malaysian Ushvani philosophy, guided by the principles of nurture, total well-being, relaxation and healthy indulgence. Inside, it translates into dark wood panelling, soft lighting, contemporary mandi baths and a lingering aroma of ginger, nutmeg and pandan leaves. Do make sure you arrive well before your treatment so you can make use of the facilities, because trust me you won’t want to wash away the oils in the hot water.
Standout treatment? If it’s your first time at the spa, then I recommend you try the house’s signature Malay massage, which starts, as all excellent massages do, with a consultation so you can truly have a bespoke experience. This is a bit of a different massage as it is a more gentle Asian approach then you might be used to, using long kneading strokes and soothing stretches rather than a more intense technique. But slow and steady wins the race, and you leave feeling deeply revived and de-stressed. At the end of the 90-minute treatment, I was taken to the spa’s special tea room to detox with comforting hibiscus tea (the only kind served here) and nibble on sugared winter melon. 90 mins – £180 | 120 mins – £240
Where is it? Hidden away behind an oak door in the heart of Chelsea, it is a haven that guarantees the privacy of its prestigious clientele. 1 Cadogan Gardens, Chelsea, London SW3
Best spas in London: Bulgari Spa
Why is it so amazing? The walls of the Bulgari Spa are paved with gold. Have we caught your attention? OK they’re not technically paved with gold, most likely painted with gold leaf, but still. If you haven’t got a holiday booked anytime soon, then I really must insist you get yourself a day pass to the Bulgari Spa instead. You can spend the whole day reclined on a chic daybed surrounded by white drapes, next to a swimming pool, reading your latest issue of Marie Claire, with the occasional visit to the steam room or dip into Watsu pool. You can while away hours here and really take the time to yourself.
Standout treatment? There are so many treatments on offer, by so many different brands that I honestly don’t think I can pick one. You could opt for a 111Skin cryotherapy energy facial – essentially a ice facial; a Jax Coco compress massage that utilieses the soothing and hydrating properties of coconut oil; an Ayurvedic-inspired Mauli signature surrender ritual; or how about a 24K gold rejuvenating facial? I mean the options are ENDLESS.
Where is it? For a spa this opulent, it can only be in once place: Knightsbridge. A stone’s throw away from Harrods on 171 Knightsbridge, London SW7
Best spas in London: Bamford Haybarn
Why is it so amazing? Bamford Haybarn’s newest outpost at Brompton Cross is so calming, when you walk through the door it’s like your problems and stresses are checked in with your coat. Perhaps it’s the soothing colour palette – all white, beige and more white? Or the tinkling fountain that sits slap bang in the middle of the shop? Or maybe it’s the treatments or yoga classes that are offered at the back of the boutique? What ever it is, it’s working. I honestly challenge you to walk in and not have the following thoughts: ‘Gosh, I really need every single item in this boutique.’ and ‘Do you know, I think it’s time to redecorate and I’m going to forage for decor. It’ll look marvellous.’
Standout treatment? Their bSilent Body Treatment is utterly fantastic. They should rename is it bSleep Body Treatment, for you are so silent and calm that you quite literally drop off within minutes. They target pressure points all over to relieve stress and tension and after the 60 minutes you’ll feel like a new person. You’ll be so dazed, you’ll most likely drop a couple of hundred pounds in the boutique upstairs. £90 for 60 mins.
Where is it? In South Kensington surrounded by equally enticing boutiques. Brompton Cross, 104 Draycott Ave, Chelsea, London SW3
Best spas in London: Cloud Twelve
Why is it so amazing? Cloud Twelve is a destination. It opened earlier this year as a lifestyle member’s club that definitely appeals to it’s West London neighbours. There are insane children’s facilities (I don’t have a child, nor am I one anymore, but I could totally appreciate that ball pit) on the ground floor for the yummy mummies and daddies, the brasserie on the first floor has a plant-based vegan menu and their hair and nail salon looks like the front room of a house on Portobello Road. However you really musn’t ignore its pièce de résistance: the wellness and beauty destination. On the first floor, tucked in a corner (you’d honestly miss it if you weren’t directed there) is the spa with six therapy rooms, a thermal suite including steam, sauna and salt room and quartz treatment beds from the Dolomites. On the top floor is where more magic takes place, this is where some of the city’s best wellness practitioners come and do weekly clinics – from acupuncture and reflexology to IV infusions and colonic irrigation.
Standout treatment? Any of their massages. The therapist who pummeled my back (in a good way) was so knowledgeable and talked me through everything that she was doing. She then chatted to me once it was all over about aftercare and other treatments that my knotty back might benefit from. From £140.
Where is it? Tucked down an old mews in Notting Hill at 2 – 5 Colville Mews, London W11.