With spring nearly here it is time to get buffed and scrubbed and shake off the winter blues. So it’s time to explore the newest offerings on the London spa scene.
The Spa at the Intercontinental O2
This new hotel right by the 02 area sits on an enviable plot overlooking the metropolis of Canary Wharf. The ground-floor spa is a haven of peace and tranquility with a 17-metre-pool, spa pool and eight treatment rooms. The aesthetic draws on the hotel’s location within historic Royal Greenwich and local influences of the East India Trading Company. Think mosaic tiles, sumptuous rugs and delicate pendant lighting inspired by the area’s trading of porcelain and silks as far back as the 18th Century.
This is an Espa spa, so the treatments and products are deeply relaxing and reviving. I went recently for a full-body Swedish massage in one of the spacious treatment rooms. The only thing that struck me as strange was there was complete silence in the room. As the spa has only been open a few weeks I thought it best to check whether this was a concept or a teething problem.
“We are having Bose systems installed for each room that will create a fantastic music experience while clients are having their treatments,” explained Stuart Brand, the Spa Manager. “Clients will also be able to choose from a number of playlists.” If you visit the spa in the afternoon, it is worth considering the afternoon tea that they have just started serving in the Meridian Lounge, an airy space with floor-to-ceiling windows. Each ‘course’ of the afternoon tea comes with a different recommended tea from the East India Company, so we enjoyed first flush darjeeling with our sandwiches, bergamot and neroli early grey with our scones and rosebud tea with our cakes. Ending on a cleansing peppermint and fennel, this perfectly matched the feeling of revival that I’d gotten from the massage.
Gazelli House, South Kensington
This skincare emporium is more like a private members’ club than a spa. In fact, when you go for your first treatment you are given a membership card that enables you to return at any time to use the facilities, whether it’s to sit with your laptop in the lounge or take an hour to curl up with a self-help book and a cup of tea. The building is an old townhouse in the heart of chi chi South Kensington, in a little turning off the Brompton Road, and it’s only been open a few months.
The three subterranean treatment rooms feature striking hand-painted tiles from Spain with oversize flower heads, which give the rooms a celebratory feel. This is the place of indulgence and ‘me time’. They take skincare very seriously here and also look at the state of your skin as part of your general wellbeing. Before you even enter the room for your facial you are given a holistic questionnaire exploring all areas of your life. The reason for this, my therapist explains later, is that if your skin is, say, dehydrated due to stress, then there are other facilities the house can provide as well as a hydrating facial, including one-to-one coaching, social opportunities and de-stressing one-off activities such as painting classes.
Once you are in the treatment room, the therapist takes half an hour to give a full diagnostic on your skin, checking for elasticity, hydration, congested areas, collagen and signs of age. She concluded that my skin was dehydrated with a sensitive area around my cheekbones that has a tendency to redness. To revive and hydrate the skin they recommended oxygen therapy. This was the most hi-tech facial I’ve ever had. The cleansing was done using the OXYClear and an LED blue light followed by the OXYJet, which sent little puffs of oxygen to the skin, combined with a firming serum. The jets served to push the serum three times deeper into the skin, where the active ingredient sodium hyaluronate quickly attracted moisture to the area, hydrating the skin from within. But it wasn’t all gadgets – there was also a deeply relaxing drainage massage for the face, neck and shoulders.
I’d never really held much regard for facials, thinking they were not much more than you can do at home with a cleanser and a mask, but this changed my mind. My skin was visibly improved and I was confident to go without make up for the rest of the day.
Thai Square Spa, Northumberland Avenue
This exotic London day spa has moved address and launched its own range of products, iMantara by Thai Square. Previously in Covent Garden, it is now housed in a beautifully converted Victorian Turkish bath house between Trafalgar Square and the Embankment. Most of the spa facilities are below street level, where Roman pillars and beautiful mosaics hint at a different age of pampering.
Hidden in this underground cavern are five Thai massage treatment rooms, six ritual massage rooms and one vast VIP suite treatment room with private relaxation zone and steam room. Signature treatments include the Temple of Jade Hot Stone Body Massage and the Thai Herbal Ceremony, which includes a herbal steam and cleanse before a full-body massage. All use fabulously scented products from the bespoke in-house range.
As well as treatment rooms, they have hot (sauna and steam room) and cold zones (ice fountain and jacuzzi) to stimulate circulation and eliminate toxins; there is also a Himalayan salt house to restore minerals to the skin.
This is in the ideal location to pop in for an hour or so of calm in between sightseeing and shopping in London.
Dreaming of a relaxing getaway? Start planning your spa retreat by checking out our London hotel deals.