Everything about Akasha is 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. The centrepiece is a gorgeously lit 18-metre pool flanked by a sauna, hammam and Jacuzzi, plus there’s a wealth of pampering treatments on offer across 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.
While located beneath the Connaught Hotel in less-than-relaxing 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 nicest swimming pool, black tiled and complete with waterfall.
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).
This latest opening is London’s first luxury Chinese medicine centre and touted as the hottest ticket in town. Stepping in for its signature Chuan Balancing treatment, you fill in a form to determine what element you are 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.
Nothing very bad could ever happen in The Dorchester Spa. So acutely drilled are the staff and so invisible are the processes that keep the oasis running like a well oiled machine, that you can literally relax to the point of regression. Every need will be taken care of (even those you never thought you had, like the absolute requirement for some biscotti biscuits after a massage). In terms of treatments, The Dorchester is king of the complete body experience, including full mud wraps, mineral cleanses and the luxurious rose cocoon.
Situated on the mezzanine level of the five-star Corinthia Hotel, just off Trafalgar Square, is the ESPA Life day spa. A shiny, monochrome labyrinth of treatment rooms, steam rooms and pools, the spa is thoroughly lavish, modern, low-lit and windowless. It's the ideal place to shut the door on reality. The spa's main area, the Thermal Suite, is a black-marbled oasis which houses a large steam room, swimming pool, jet pool, ice fountain, heated loungers and, most stunning of all, a glass-walled sauna amphitheatre as its centre piece.
An impressive wet room, great treatments and striking middle-Eastern statues make this one of central London’s most tranquil hotel spas. If you're after some serious pampering, opt for 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.
A classy, traditional English hotel is likely to have a classy, traditional English spa. So it’s no surprise that the spa at Brown’s Hotel is indeed classy and, in all the good ways, traditional too. The basement spa is small but perfectly well-equipped with serene treatment rooms, and designed in classic white and brown tones. There is a gym with personal trainers available too: the lunchtime specials, which combine the use of both spa and gym, are popular with the Mayfair suits who form the majority of the weekday clientele.
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.
If you’re craving pure escapism and can’t afford a plane ticket, Ushvani in Chelsea is the next best thing. Tucked just off Sloane Square and hidden discreetly behind a heavy wooden door, stepping inside Ashvanti day spa feels like being transported to an idyllic Malaysian oasis far from the maddening crowds. Intricate teak carvings line the walls, there is an abundance of decadent cream marble and everything smells and feels exotic. Once inside, your shoes are quickly removed, your bags whisked off and you’re given a scented hot towel before you’ve even had a chance to turn your phone to silent.
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London is vibrant, varied, exciting, seductive, sprawling... and just a little bit exhausting. At some point, you're probably going to need to pause to unwind.