A day on Oxford Street might be brilliant for shopping, but with around half a million visitors milling around every day, 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.
The retreat is part of the stunning Langham hotel, with a separate entrance on Cavendish Place for day visitors. Inside, 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 – but go for a signature Chuan session (from £90) to get a taste of the Chinese medicine influence. The Chuan Harmony massage starts with a quick but thorough questionnaire about your current hang-ups and personality traits (don’t worry, there’s nothing too probing) to determine which element needs rebalancing. The therapist will then use the unique blend of oils assigned to that element and hone in on the associated areas of your body that need loosening up. Rebalancing earth, for example, requires uplifting eucalyptus oil combined with a heavenly facial massage.
During the hour-long treatment, the therapist gets to work on every part of your body, pushing pressure points, smoothing out any knots and generally working their soothing magic. It will almost certainly send you off into a sleepy state of bliss. Then it’s time to wake up gently in the relaxation room with herbal tea, fruit and healthy snacks.
Be sure to keep a few hours spare for a lengthy session in the roomy, luxurious changing rooms – all marble fittings, complimentary goodies and cosy seating areas – where you’ll find a single-sex steam room and sauna. Guests can delay the inevitable return to reality further with a few laps in the 16-metre pool which is flanked by chillout areas and a dramatic spiral staircase.
And it’s not just the treatments that have an East Asian influence: the imagery and the relaxing music drifting over the speakers contribute to every corner of the spa having a Chinese feel. The name Chuan means flowing water, and you’ll notice that the decor features soft, curved edges, inspired by the banks of a stream. It’s a far cry from the hustle and bustle of the outside world.
You’ll leave your session at Chuan Body + Soul rejuvenated and rebalanced – bring it on Oxford Street!