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The Berkeley spa

The best spas in London

Finding relaxation in the city can be tricky, so use our ultimate guide to London’s best spas for guaranteed rejuvenation

By Ellie Walker-Arnott
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Phone off, fluffy robe on. It’s time to sit back and relax at one of London’s most sensational spas. Whether you’ve got tired, city-beaten skin that needs reviving with a facial, stressed-out muscles that need soothing with a massage, or you’re simply in search of somewhere lush for a little ‘me time’, London’s best spas can cater to your every demand. Whatever your budget, put your feet up and prepare for a proper pampering.

Video: Why not pamper yourself with one of these ten fab spas in the city? 

The best spas in London

1. ESPA Life at Corinthia

Shopping Whitehall

Best for: Unrivalled spa facilities.
Located in the basement of the five-star Corinthia hotel, just a moment from Trafalgar Square, the ESPA Life spa is a monochrome cocoon of sheer relaxation. Book in here and you’ll get to enjoy the vast Thermal Suite, which is a black-marbled sanctuary home to a large steam room, plunge pool, jet pool, ice fountain, heated loungers and, the pièce de résistance, a glass-walled sauna amphitheatre as its centrepiece. If you opt for a treatment on your visit too (which are absolutely worth splashing out on – they’re up there with the capital's best), we recommend either a personalised massage, or a back, face and scalp treatment. 

2. Akasha Spa

Health and beauty Spas Regent Street

Best for: Heavenly hydrotherapy.
Another basement oasis in the centre of town, Akasha sits underneath the Hotel Café Royal in Piccadilly Circus. This labyrinth of marbled walkways leads visitors to all sorts of sensational spa facilities including a sauna, jacuzzi, steam room and an 18-metre swimming pool, while there are also nine private treatment rooms offering everything from a ‘Four Elements’ body journey to a rebalancing Indian massage. An even bigger draw to Akahsa are its Watsu hydrotherapy rituals, however. Home to London's first Watsu pool, here you can enjoy a Shiatsu massage whilst floating in your own private 35 degree-heated pool.

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3. Four Seasons Spa

Health and beauty Spas Hyde Park Corner

Best for: Treatments with a view.
Hint: if your therapist asks how you’d like the curtains at the Four Seasons Hotel spa, the correct answer is open. As well as a posh Park Lane postcode, each treatment room offers floor-to-ceiling windows with killer views over Hyde Park. Of course, what’s inside counts too. Don a fluffy robe and squishy flip-flops, then pad toward the heat therapy rooms complete with sauna and pool. Their wide range of treatments includes massages, facials, wraps, scrubs and nail treatments, each using high-end products from brands like ESPA and The Organic Pharmacy. Afterwards, head to a dimly-lit relaxation pods where you can have a steaming cup of tea and some nibbles, while you slip on a pair of headphones and let the calming effects of your treatment really sink in.

4. Sense Spa

Health and beauty Spas Holborn

Compared to the cavernous ‘wellbeing centres’ found in many of London’s high-end hotels, the Rosewood’s Sense Spa, tucked neatly into the hotel basement, is definitely on the teenier end of the spectrum. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, though. Instead, this relative compactness makes for an intimate, relaxed atmosphere; as does the understated, Eastern-inspired décor, the soporifically soft lighting and the softly rippling water that winds its way around the central relaxation room. Across the spas’ seven private rooms, there’s an impressive array of treatments on offer, from targeted facials (which use ethically-sourced high-performance Sodashi products) to luxurious massages and an array of traditional beauty services.

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5. Como Shambhala

Health and beauty Spas Mayfair

Best for: Specialist treatments.
The second floor of Park Lane’s Metropolitan hotel, owned by luxury hotel group COMO, is where you'll find the small but delightful Shambala spa. Calm, warm and with wonderfully welcoming staff, COMO Shambhala offers a huge range of beautifying treatments and specialist therapies. For the body, the Detoxifying Skin Treatment, which can be booked with a luxurious bath and massage to follow, is a heavenly indulgence; while the reflexology and acupuncture appointments are just the remedy for aching souls. If it’s your mind that could do with a little TLC instead, the spa can arrange sessions with experts in intuitive counselling and energy healing too.

6. Bamford Haybarn Spa at The Berkeley

Health and beauty Spas Knightsbridge

Best for: Rooftop lounging.
A country-styled sanctuary overlooking the lush greenery of Hyde Park, the health club and spa located on the seventh floor of The Berkeley hotel is decked with white wooden panels, whilst soft grey cushions, potted herbs and bales of wicker are added decoration. Undoubtedly the star of show is the rooftop pool, which has a retractable roof for London’s sunny days and offers incredible views over the city. If you can tear yourself away from being poolside for longer than a loo break, treatments in the spa include exfoliations, massages, hot and cold stone therapy, and men’s sprucing sessions too.

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Cowshed Primrose Hill, London's best spas
Cowshed Primrose Hill, London's best spas
Chris Tubbs

7. Cowshed

Shopping Primrose Hill

Best for: Temporarily escaping the city. 
At this cosy north London branch of Cowshed, the country-themed day spas brought to us by the Babington House bunch, guests are immediately welcomed into a rustic kitchen, where homemade cakes, herbal teas and glasses of bubbly (for proper pampering) are all up for grabs. Once fed and watered, six leather chairs each with individual TV screens are for those in for a manicure or pedicure, while downstairs there are seven cream, wooden-clad treatment rooms are ready to accommodate body cleanses, reflexology, massages and anti-aging facials. 

8. Chuan Body+Soul Spa

Shopping Marylebone

Best for: Personalised treatments. 
A day on Oxford Street might be brilliant for shopping, but it’s hardly good for the soul. Luckily, tucked away on a quiet-ish street nearby is the calming haven of Chuan Body + Soul – a luxurious subterranean spa perfectly positioned as an alternative to the mayhem on the streets above. It’s a cosy haven of remedies and relaxation, underpinned by traditional Chinese medicine of the five elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water. There’s a small but well-curated selection of treatments available. Go for a signature Chuan session to get a taste of the Chinese medicine influence – and be sure to keep a few hours spare for a lengthy session in the luxurious changing rooms where you’ll find a single-sex steam room and sauna. Delay the inevitable return to reality further with a few laps in the 16-metre pool, flanked by chillout areas and a dramatic spiral staircase.

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9. Aveda Institute

Shopping Covent Garden

Best for: Botanical hair therapies.
This hub of all-natural hair and beauty on High Holborn is light, airy and always packed out. One of the original purveyors of herbal products, Aveda’s flagship spa and salon provides Londoners with a huge range of therapies and grooming services. For untamed talons, manicures and pedicure are available tucked away in swish nail booths, while downstairs a handful of treatment rooms lend themselves to stress-beating body wraps and chakra-balancing massages. Back on ground level, lacklustre locks can benefit from either a stylish chop or one Aveda’s intensive botanical hair and scalp treatments as well.

10. Lush

Shopping Cosmetics Oxford Street

Best for: Fun and quirky treatments.
Meander past the towers of delicious smelling, neon-coloured cosmetics which fill this Oxford Street store and you’ll find one of Lush’s seven in-store spas. Sure, Europe’s busiest boulevard hardly seems like the location for a day of relaxation, however as soon as you step into the quaint, country kitchen-styled spa, where you can experience a mineral bath, a multi-sensory massage or a reflexology session all to a tailor-made soundtrack, the street’s shuffling tourists and tooting buses are forgotten. For the ultimate muscle untangler, we recommend stopping by for ‘The Good Hour’ (£110).

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11. Ushvani

Health and beauty Spas Belgravia

Best for: Pure luxury.
The place for total, utter and complete indulgence, Knightsbridge’s Ushvani should be on every spa-lover’s bucket list. Founded by Usha Arumugam with the aim of bringing an authentic Malaysian-style spa to London, Ushvani offers weary city dwellers an exotic retreat. Decked out with swirling cream marble and dark wood furnishings, facilities include a hydrotherapy pool, steam room, couple’s suite and hibiscus tea lounge. The treatment menu is Asian inspired and features a nutmeg flower ritual, warming herbal ritual and a divine Malay massage.

12. The Porchester Spa

Health and beauty Spas Bayswater

Best for:Turkish-style saunas.
This old school spa is a hit with the locals, but it's worth making the trek for too. Not just for its affordability, but also its history. First opened in 1929, the place still has all its original features, including the green and white tiles. A reasonable £30 will gain you access to the two steam rooms, three Turkish hot rooms, a sauna, relaxation area and cold plunge pool, as well as a 30m swimming pool. Any extras, like a 30-minute back, neck and shoulder massage, will cost upwards of £33 per treatment.

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13. Thai Square Spa

Health and beauty Spas Charing Cross

Best for: Men’s grooming.
With rich decor (think rich silks, gold finishes and wood-carved sculptures) this day spa on Northumberland Avenue is an opulent oasis of calm just a hot stone’s throw from Trafalgar Square. For less than fifty smackers visitors can enjoy the spa’s Sen Space for an hour, which includes a sauna, steam room, jacuzzi and ice fountains. Treatment-wise, £75 will get you a signature body scrub whilst top dollar treatments cost well over £200. Besides a long list of beauty therapies, Thai Square has a solid selection of male-specific treatments too such as a collagen facial and hot towel facial.

14. Spa Experience

Health and beauty Spas Bethnal Green

Best for: Bargain wellness.
For a steal of a spa experience, Spa Experience is your spot. At the  London branches of the UK-wide leisure chain (Ironmonger Row Baths in Old Street, York Hall in Bethnal Green, New Kensington Leisure Centre, Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre, New Waltham Forest Feel Good Centre and Wimbledon Leisure Cetnre), a three-hour day package grants visitors use of saunas, steam rooms, plunge pools and relaxation beds for just £26. If you’ve got a few more pounds to play with after that, Elemis massages start at £30, while a 50-minute milk and argan oil body pumice will leave you feeling like Cleopatra for a reasonable £49-£61.

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15. Spa at Mandarin Oriental

Health and beauty Spas Knightsbridge

Best for: Potent anti-aging facials 

The regal façade of the Mandarin Oriental hotel looks out over Harrods, and with its location just a stone’s throw from Knightsbridge tube, this is well and truly the posh part of town. Serene, dimly-lit and beautiful, this place feels a world away from London. You’ll find all the facilities you’d expect at a luxury hotel spa – pool, relaxation area and fitness centre. There’s also a full menu of luxurious treatments, ranging from those taking advantage of traditional Chinese medicine to a range of potent Nescens anti-aging facials. After 50 minutes with my attentive therapist – and an acid peel, lymphatic drainage and a facial massage to boot – I emerged with actual cheekbones, a Kardashian-worthy jawline and a glow that lasted all week.

More spas, saunas and treatments in London

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