Best for: stunning surroundings and a beautiful pool
It may be just a few seconds walk from that noted oasis of calm, Piccadilly Circus, but once you’ve dodged the crowds to retreat inside Akasha’s heavy wooden doors, you really wouldn’t know it. Hats off to whoever was responsible for the soundproofing: down in the cavernous basement of the Hotel Café Royal, you couldn’t feel further from the madness above.
The Hotel itself boasts an illustrious history. Started life as a drinking spot favoured by fin-de-siècle literati, (Oscar Wilde, H G Wells and Arthur Conan Doyle were among its patrons), it’s now a sophisticated, five star affair frequented by Sloaney socialites. While absinthe may be off the menu – the only green beverage you’re likely to find here is probably kale juice – the sense of old world opulence remains. Everything about Akasha is really rather magnificent, from the wood-panelled reception to the clean lines of the changing rooms, which boast a square footage greater than the average London flat.
After navigating the labyrinth of cool marble walkways, you soon reach the centrepiece – a gorgeously lit 18-metre pool flanked by a sauna, hammam and Jacuzzi. It’s also home to the capital’s only dedicated Watsu pool, where you can opt for a 50-minute session (£120) that encompasses hydrotherapy, meditation and Shiatsu massage.
Armed with a stack of glossy magazines, it’d be oh-so easy to while away an entire day on a sleek poolside recliner. If you can bear it, though, there’s a wealth of pampering treatments on offer across Akasha’s nine private rooms. Exclusive to the spa is the indulgent Elixir des Glaciers facial, which uses a raft of Valmont’s luxurious Swiss spa products to cleanse, brighten and smooth away stress. At £350, it costs about as much as a quick trip to the Alps – but after an hour and a half of pampering, your skin will look like it’s had a two-week holiday.
A day in Akasha’s serene surroundings is enough to revive even the most stress-frazzled, world-weary of Londoners. Once you’re finished, you’ll feel so Zen, the battlefield of selfie-sticks outside won’t even bother you. Promise.
Day Spa packages start from £95.