London's best spas
Unwind with our guide to London spas, featuring massages, beauty therapy and everything else you need to relax
Fluffy towels at the ready; it's time to get pampered. London's best spas will host hen parties, manage your weekly manicures or provide the most relaxing treatments. Browse the list to find the one that will most suit you.
Tell us if we've missed out your favourite spa or treatment in the comment box below.
Until 2007 when Spa London opened in Bethnal Green, there was no such thing as an affordable day spa in in the capital. A second branch opened at Swiss Cottage Leisure centre with a long, good-value treatment menu and late last year a third in the form of the elegantly restored Ironmonger Row Baths in Islington complete with saunas, steam rooms and relaxation lounge. The East End original also includes steam rooms, Turkish hamam and plunge pools. Treatments range from an Escape in the City Salt Scrub (a 25-minute cleansing that should remove all trace of London grime), to the spa's signature Gym & Tonic in which your body is cleansed, body brushed and exfoliated, before being treated to an aromatherapy massage and warm marine mask. Indulgence without the price-tag.
- York Hall Leisure Centre, Old Ford Road, E2 9PJ
With a regular swathe of offers on its website, The Sanctuary has become the go-to ‘girls’ day out’ destination (it performs 28,000 facials a year). Like modern-day Romans, groups of bathrobe-clad women sprawl out across giant cushions, drinking prosecco, eating mini macaroons and reading celebrity magazines. The treatments, however, are its forté. There are dozens of affordable treatments with prices starting at £XX for XX. The latest treatment is the Active Reverse Facial (£175) created by celebrity facialist Nichola Joss, who between flying to LA, works at the spa on alloted dates (next slot is March 21). Take your own flip-flops, as no slippers are provided – and bring a girlfriend or seven.
- 12 Floral Street, WC2E 9DH
London has luxury five star hotel spas aplenty but none have quite the swank factor as the Four Seasons Park Lane spa. Located up on the tenth floor with stunning views of London over leafy Hyde Park (we’ve seen them all but these definitely in our top five) it has everything and more you’d want from the hotel spa experience. Big, comfy treatment rooms with floor to ceiling windows overlooking that view. There are spacious, daylight-filled changing areas with vast dressing tables, posh hairdryers and all the products you need. The indulgent, secluded lounging area is a must between sessions in the sauna and plunge pool. We experienced the ultra-indulgent Omorovicza Gold Hydrating Facial which features actual gold being slathered over the skin (£175) but you can also get manicures, pedicures and massages – the newest is the throughly indulgent Four Hands massage where two therapists work their magic over your body for 80 whole minutes (£245). Prepare for a right proper pampering.
- Hamilton Place, Park Lane, W1J 7DR
If you are looking for beautification of the mind, body or soul, head to this recently opened wellbeing centre, 58 South Molton. Located conveniently in the middle of town, 58 South Molton homes a range of top practitioners including the gloriously soothing osteopath Avni Trivedi, whose dulcet tones and calm manner will have you relaxed in seconds. Avni specialises in pre and post natal treatments and can get to the root of your aches and pains by making subtle adjustments to your spine. She also makes helpful suggestions about lifestyle and posture. Having seen her over various sessions for a sore neck, we can vouch for her effectiveness. If it’s perfect skin you are looking for, book in with Doctor Terry Loong, a trained surgeon-turned-skin doctor who is on a quest to make her clients look more youtful. Like many of the practitioners here, Doctor Terry takes an holistic approach and analyses lifestyle factors to see what’s really getting under your skin. She then makes a detailed action plan with practical solutions, which may or may not include baby Botox injections and chemical peels. It’s all done in modern, glamorous surroundings that are a world away from the wood panelled fustiness of Harley Street.
- W1K 5SL
For those who care about what is going into and on to their bodies, the Aveda Institute on High Holborn is hard to beat. One of the orginal purveyors of natural hair and skin products, the brand continues to deliver quality treatments at this vast, airy hair and beauty spa. Time Out has long been a fan of the salon, not only for its fabulous non-agressive colour and great cuts, but the serene manicure and pedicure booths, tucked away at the back. What makes this salon appealing is that is refreshingly un-sceney: no air-kissing, fuss or celebrity gossip.
- 174 High Holborn, WC1V 7AA
With its small but perfect open-top swimming pool overlooking Hyde Park, this spa, a favourite with celebrities, wins points for its location. But the treatments are also impressive with emphasis on facials and a strong selection of men’s treatments, such as the Hydra Performance Facial for men featuring Swiss glacial water (just so you know). Less fancy treatments, such as eyebrow shaping, are also available.
- The Berkeley, Wilton Place, SW1X 7RL
The Porchester Spa, loacted in a spectacular 1929 building, is one of London’s more authentic spa experineces - benefited from a new ventilation system, re-tiled steam room and bigger sauna since its refurbishment in 2006. But but don’t expect the fluffy-white towel and ambient-music experience. This is the spa to come to if you like pools (they have a proper swimming pool, plus a plunge pool for cooling off after a stint in one of the three Turkish hot rooms). People – including lots of local men – come here for no-nonsense treatments (like the Hot Towels Treatment ) at affordable prices, including wraps, facials and massages.
- The Porchester Centre, Queensway, W2 5HS
While located beneath the Connaught Hotel in Mayfair, once you’re being massaged in oils from the continent of your choice in the heavenly Aman Spa, ensconced in hot towels on a heated bed, and being murmured to in hushed tones by your barefoot therapist, you won’t believe you’re not in a Malaysian beach spa. The spa also features what must be London’s loveliest swimming pool, black tiled and complete with waterfall. A half-hour treatment costs around £70.
- Carlos Place, W1K 2AL
It’s not immediately obvious where Spa at Bluebird as (tip: look for the mirrored wall and Blink threading bar tucked in a far corner). Through a discreet door the world dissolves into a calming, peaceful oasis. One of the most popular treatments is the Micheline Arcier signature facial which proves an hour's-worth of relaxing – but ultra effective – cleansing. An arsenal of brushes, pads, and steamers were used in conjunction with oils, massages and pressure-point work resulting in one of the best facialwe’ve tested. Afterwards, you may even manage to float, untempted as we did, past the new season shoes.
- 350 Kings Road, SW3 5UU
Having out-grown its original Hampstead space, the popular Gary Ingham salon relocated to a bigger, flashier site on Heath Street in spring 2012. The move saw the Aveda salon expand its offering with a new upstairs spa and a broad range of treatments, from threading, waxing and facials, to Chakra balancing and Lava Shell massages. Therapists are friendly and skilled – ours offered personalised tweaks to a very accomplished and effective deep tissue massage – while the hair salon staff are equally service-minded, ferrying wines, coffees and Aveda's own blend herbal tea to relaxed punters. High-tech additions (such as bliss-inducing electronic massage chairs at the wash basins) show Gary Ingham to be ahead of its competitors, while talented hair stylists and colour technicians make use of Aveda's superior products to deliver uniformly excellent results.
- 63-67 Heath Street, NW3 6UG
With a chic restaurant and chic spa area, this 4-star boutique hotel is situated in Shepherd’s Bush, just a 15-minute walk from White City. The rooms have handmade mattresses and luxury linens.The award-winning K SPA offers a range of luxurious treatments, at an additional charge. Guests can relax in the herbal steam room, hydrotherapy pool or fragrant foot baths. It is also possible to cool off in the innovative snow room.The spacious rooms at K West Hotel & Spa have elegant décor, and each has a luxury bathroom with designer toiletries. Rooms also have a large work desk, flat-screen TV and Wi-Fi access.K Lounge serves light snacks and creative cocktails, and has a live DJ at weekends. The stylish Kanteen restaurant displays modern art, and serves contemporary cuisine in a lively setting.Just a 5-minute walk from Westfield London Shopping Centre, K West Hotel and Spa is half a mile from Shepherd's Bush Underground Station. Private parking is available on site.
- Richmond Way, W14 0AX
If money were no object, we’d go to Ushvani. Located behind a barely marked almighty door in Knightsbridge, it feels more like a hidden gentlemen’s club than a spa. But in the bowels of the building are whirlpools and baths and truly world-class facilities. The serene treatment rooms and luxurious hydrotherapy pool soon whisk you into a Zen-like state. Treatments include the scrumptious Summer Body Experience, featuring a delicious-smelling papaya-and-cane-sugar scrub and green coffee oil, which apparently helps break down pesky fatty deposits. Or there’s the orange-and-chocolate scrub and wrap. If we had the money (and we don’t), we’d book into the Asmara couple’s suite for three hours of complete spa experience
- 1 Cadogan Gardens, SW3 2RJ
This friendly, subterranean, luxury spa is all dark wood and limestone, scented candles and hushed tones – punctuated by the post-treatment guests shuffling around like contented zombies. With a 40 per cent rise in the number of male visitors in the past year, our tester picked from the men’s menu: the Gin & Tonic is a full-body exfoliation with salt and juniper berries, a 55-minute intense massage, and a reviving gin and tonic for afters – all of which was delivered with a firm but fair hand. There are more than 40 treatments available (from the gently relaxing to results-driven ‘cosmeceutical’ treatments), and the dry sauna and steam rooms complete the package.
- Chancery Court Hotel, 252 High Holborn, WC1V 7EN
London’s first luxury Chinese medicine centre is a great place to while away a couple of hours. Stepping in for its signature Chuan Balancing treatment, you fill in a form to determine what element you are (we’re earth, apparently) before being whisked off for a sublime massage, which stimulates the body’s pressure points to relax and detoxify. We fell asleep mid-treatment – ‘Fifty per cent of people do,’ smiled the therapist.
- The Langham, 1c Portland Place, W1B 1JA
This elegant Rocco Forte-owned Mayfair hotel provides a thoroughly relaxing and luxurious experience. The seasonally changing signature pedicures are still a big draw –when we visited, the ultra-indulgent ‘Hot to Trot’ pedicure offered a pressure point foot massage while you sip on a passionfruit, lychee and minty gin cocktail, all finished off with the perfect polish.
- Brown's Hotel, Albemarle Street, W1S 4BP
With its opulent surroundings, crystal steam room, sanarium and vitality pool, The Mandarin Oriental lives up to its reputation as one of London’s most luxurious day spas. Arranged over three levels, the dark wood interior, highlighted with oriental blooms, water features and stone sculptures, is impressive. Clients are encouraged to book time rather than specific treatments to get a perfect bespoke service. We rather fancy the Customised Aromatherapy Facial - a tailor-made, indulgent treatment that makes use of the lovely, specialist oils of Aromatherapy Associates.
- Mandarin Oriental, 66 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7LA
This small but well-established spa brand’s exotic, unisex retreat is tucked away down a cobbled lane off Bond Street. The elegantly ethnic treatment rooms are a lovely setting in which to relax and enjoy a spot of pampering, from wraps to facials. Customer service is always good and the treatments provide equal measures of relaxation and results. One of its best-sellers is the Visible Brilliance facial which delivers exactly what it claims. The massages – we’ve experienced a few here – are highly recommended.
- 2-3 Lancashire Court, W1S 1EX
The entrance may be more Rodeo Drive than zen garden – a large shop, then a leopardskin chair next to a lion’s-mouth fountain on which to fill out forms – but this Mayfair spa delivers one of the best massages we have experienced. ‘It’s Swedish aromatherapy with a bit of shiatsu thrown in,’ the therapist told us on a recent visit, before smothering us in balm and digging out every recalcitrant knot with the vigour you always ask for but rarely get. Even palms and toes are attended to. There's more unusual treatments too. The Madagascar Escape takes you on a 'voyage to the beautiful island' through essential oils and no less than 52 acupressure-style techniques.
- 63 South Audley Street, W1K 2QS
An impressive wet room, great (if expensive) treatments and striking middle-Eastern statues make this one of central London’s most tranquil hotel spas. New to the spa this season are the indulgent Golden Caviar Facial and Cashmere and Silk Body wrap. Spa-goers are encouraged to lounge in the relaxation area post treatments as well as indulging in the sauna and steam chamber featuring fibre optic lights on the ceiling, to similate a night’s sky.
- Radisson Edwardian May Fair Hotel, Stratton Street, W1J 8LT
Thirteen years after opening, the Agua Spa is still at the top of its game, delivering excellent treatments against a dreamy backdrop of swishing white curtains. On a recent visit, we sampled the Mother Nature Pregnancy Massage which involved lying on a warm water bed, being slathered in heavenly Aromatherapy Associates oils and being gently massaged all over from scalp to toes. Ultra-soothing. We can also recommend the Eve Lom Experience facial, hot stone massage and fabulous manicures using Rococo polishes.
- The Sanderson, 50 Berners Street, W1T 3NG