Pre-Christmas pampering: 17 of the best spas in London

·10-min read
Pan Pacific London   (Jack Hardy)
Pan Pacific London (Jack Hardy)

We’re all wearily approaching the end of the year, meaning we could all do with a pre-Christmas pick-me-up, pronto, before the festive drinks invites start to roll in.

But with London so teeming with sanctuaries - how do you decipher the good from the great? Below, we’ve done the hard work for you, and rounded up the capital’s best spas.

Whether you’re looking for a deep tissue massage to iron out WFH-induced aches and pains, want to revive an exhausted complexion (who can blame you) or are just after some much needed “me time,” the perfect destination exists right here.

Where will you choose?

Aire Ancient Baths

 (Aire Ancient Baths)
(Aire Ancient Baths)

Set beneath an 18th-century neoclassical building steps away from Covent Garden, Aire Ancient Bath is a roman-style spa complete with a maze of turquoise pools framed by exposed brick arches . Aire opened its first thermal bath house in Seville 20 years ago and has since opened seven more, in places like New York, Barcelona and Copenhagen. This is the first in the UK. The wellness ritual is designed to soothe body and mind by exposure to different water temperatures. There are seven thermal baths, including a tepidarium (36C), caldarium or hot water bath (40C), chilly frigidarium (14C and 10C), vaporium (steam room), balneum (jet pool) and flotarium (salt bath). Upstairs massages are on offer, and, if you’re feeling flush, you can even unwind in a bath of rioja here.

Cost: From £90 for the 90 minute experience (massages are charged as extra).

Location: 2-3 Robert Street, London, WC2N 6BH, beaire.com

The Spa at the Mandarin Oriental

 (The spa at the Mandarin Oriental)
(The spa at the Mandarin Oriental)

The spa at the Mandarin Oriental in Hyde Park underwent a multi-million pound refurb before reopening in 2018, and is now arguably London’s most luxurious. Fancy features include an amethyst crystal steam room, 17-metre twin lane swimming pool, vitality pool and samarium, alongside 13 treatment rooms and the Oriental Suite, complete with an impressive Rasul water temple - a tiled steam room used for heat and mud therapies - that’s perfect for indulgent couples therapies. Be sure to arrive 45 minutes ahead of your appointment to enjoy full use of the facilities.

Cost: £410 pp for the Water Wellness luxurious Oriental bathing and massage experience (2 hours 30 minutes).

Location: Hyde Park, mandarinoriental.com

Pan Pacific London

Pan Pacific London (Jack Hardy)
Pan Pacific London (Jack Hardy)

Pan Pacific London is a sprawling new Singaporean-inspired hotel that has just opened off Bishopsgate, with an entire 1,083m² floor dedicated to wellness, featuring a gym, mindfulness studio, sauna and steam room, as well as an 18.5m-infinity pool with panoramic views of the bustling city below, where auqa bike and barre classes are all on offer. Treatments on the menu fuse South East Asian traditions and cater to all kinds of concerns. Weary travellers can book in for “flight mode recovery,” for example, while the Holistic Oil Massage involves an oil mixing experience to create a bespoke blend, combined with Thai and Balinese acupressure techniques and deep tissue kneading to promote blood circulation and reinvigorate the senses.

Cost: £145 for the Pan Pacific Holistic Oil Massage (60 minutes).

Location: 80 Houndsditch, London EC3A 7AB, panpacific.com

Taj Hotel Jiva Spa

 (Jiva Spa)
(Jiva Spa)

Taj opened its first Jiva spa in Europe last year in the heart of London’s Westminster - so it still feels brand-spanking new. The spa takes inspiration from ancient Indian wellness philosophies, offering a menu of body rituals and facials which blend traditional healing techniques and use luxurious Temple Spa products. Unwind in between treatments in the atmospheric vitality pool or break a sweat in the fitness suite.

Cost: £180 for the Vishrama deep muscular experience (120 minutes).

Location: St. James’ Court, A TAJ Hotel, stjamescourthotel.co.uk

The Spa at the Bulgari Hotel

 (Press)
(Press)

One of the largest in London, a visit to the Bulgari spa in Knightsbridge is a rather glamorous affair. Spread across two storeys, it boasts fitness rooms, steam rooms, saunas, ice showers (for the bravest of souls) and a serene 25-metre swimming pool surrounded by wooden cabanas. There are 11 treatment rooms, a private spa suite and decadent relaxation room with a dramatic vertical fireplace to nestle down next to after treatments.

Cost: £160 for Dramatic Healing Massage (60 mins).

Location: Knightsbridge; bulgarihotels.com

The Ned SPA Cowshed

Following all Soho House group traditions, The Ned’s spa offers a range of deeply relaxing Cowshed treatments, mani-pedis and the chance to get your back and sides done at Ned’s Barber. Built around a 20-metre pool, surrounded by marble columns, and featuring a traditional Moroccan hammam, the space is a welcome - and rather grand - retreat in the centre of The City. While non-members are welcome for treatments, spa facilities are currently restricted to Ned Club members and hotel guests only.

Cost: £160 for Deep Tissue Massage (60 minutes).

Location: City of London; thened.com

Sofitel London St James

 (Sofitel London St James hotel)
(Sofitel London St James hotel)

To celebrate the reopening of spa life, Sofitel London St James has launched “Health in the City” a new wellness package aimed at encouraging guests to re-energise and reset post-lockdown. Choose from either a 60-minute personal training session at COACH, a shiny new health club based a couple of minutes away from the hotel, or a 60-minute wellness session with the hotel’s nutritionist Huguette Lelong, who will offer coaching on diet, health and nutrition. Afterwards enjoy a luxury facial treatment or detox massage at Sofitel SPA, before finishing off the experience with a healthy picnic hamper for two packed with fresh salads and delicious nutrient-packed smoothies on nearby St James’ Park.

Cost: £269 per person (minimum two people).

Location: St James; sofitelstjames.com

The Bamford Wellness Spa at The Berkeley

 (The Bamford Wellness Spa at The Berkeley)
(The Bamford Wellness Spa at The Berkeley)

Scottish skincare brand ishga, which draws on natural ingredients from the Hebridean islands such as hand-harvested seaweed, has launched a three-month residency at the Bamford Wellness Spa in Knightsbridge with two deeply nourishing 90-minute holistic treatments. Go for the ishga Immune Boosting Ritual to revitalise the body after a year of WFH. The treatment begins with a hydrating sea salt and oil scrub, followed by either a 60-minute full-body massage, hot stone massage or ishga hot poultice massage. You’ll leave feeling like a different person.

Cost: £160 for 90 minutes.

Location: Knightsbridge, ishga.com; the-berkeley.co.uk

The Lanesborough Club & Spa

The Lanesborough Hotel’s swanky spa in Knightsbridge offers fantastic facilities (and some of the most ‘grammable changing rooms we’ve seen), but it’s open to members only (aside from hotel guests). Membership costs from £3,500/year or £300/month, plus a joining fee from £1,000. Inside, there’s a vast gym with every machine you can think of; a cold mist, mint-infused “shower,” to cool you down post-workout; thermal suites and hydrotherapy pools to unwind in; as well as a dedicated parlour offering top notch manis.

Cost: £205 for the Deep Tissue Potali (90 minutes).

Location: Knightsbridge; lanesboroughclubandspa.com

Akasha at Hotel Café Royal

A couple of floors below the hustle and bustle of Piccadilly Circus sits Hotel Café Royal’s opulent spa. Making your way down the stairs, you’ll enter what feels like a spacious marble vault - this is total escapism territory. In addition to a menu of body treatments and facials, the spa offers holistic therapies such as reflexology and reiki, and boasts a serene low-lit pool and jacuzzi. Feeling decadent? The Opulent Seclusion Experience begins in your very own marble whirlpool bath with a glass of champagne and is followed by a deeply relaxing 60-minute Ultimate Aromatherapy Associates massage or facial.

Cost: £225 for the Opulent Seclusion Experience (90 minutes).

Location: Piccadilly Circus; hotelcaferoyal.com

House of Elemis

Tucked away in the backstreets of Mayfair, the House of Elemis, a beautiful day spa offering top-notch facials and body treatments, reopens on April 14. The brand has launched a new No Touch Facial that combines tech and safe-touch tools like cooling wands, spatulas and a face mitt, with BIOTEC products to bring your skin back to life. Choose from the Hydra-firm or Resurfacer.

Cost: £125 for the No Touch Facial (60 minutes).

Location: Mayfair; elemis.com

ESPA Life at Corinthia hotel

 (Press)
(Press)

Spread over four floors in the heart of London, ESPA Life has a futuristic feel, with wave-style corridors and sleep pods which replace traditional daybeds in the relaxation room. Treat yourself to the Resilience Ritual which includes a hot stone massage, manual lymphatic drainage, an algae body wrap and scalp massage - just what the doctor ordered.

Cost: £320 for the Resilience Ritual (120 minutes).

Location: Embankment; espalifeatcorinthia.com

Cloud Twelve

 (Cloud Twelve’s Dolomite quartz beds)
(Cloud Twelve’s Dolomite quartz beds)

Over in Notting Hill, Cloud Twelve is a wellness and lifestyle club set across three floors. There’s a salon, spa and holistic wellness clinic, plus a healthy brasserie and creche. Treatments include drawl-worthy massages, facials, pre and post-natal rituals and treatments specifically designed for men. Book into the couples’ suite to chill out on the Dolomites quartz beds and enjoy the sauna, steam and Himalayan salt rooms.

Cost: £180 for the Cloud Twelve Signature Deep Relief CBD massage (60 minutes).

Location: Notting Hill, cloudtwelve.co.uk

Four Seasons Spa, Park Lane

 (Press)
(Press)

Perched high up on the 10th floor, the fabulous Four Seasons Spa on Park Lane boasts stunning views of Hyde Park below, which can be enjoyed from one of the nine luxury treatment rooms that feature floor-to-ceiling windows. You’ll have to wait for this one, as the spa reopens on May 17 along with the rest of the hotel, but it’ll be well worth it. If lockdown’s been messing with your sleep, opt for the Signature Deep Sleep Massage which combines a full-body massage and foot acupressure to help you slide into deep slumber. Arrive in time to make use of the vitality pool ahead of your treatment.

Cost: £175 for the Four Seasons Signature Deep Sleep Massage (60 minutes).

Location: Park Lane, Central London; fourseasons.com

The Spa At The Dorchester

 (Press)
(Press)

With Art Deco-inspired interiors, The Dorchester’s spa oozes 1930’s glamour with a modern edge. From manicures to full-body scrubs their treatment list is extensive and all are highly tailored to clients’ needs. Facilities include a mani-pedi suite, relaxation room, and male and female aromatic steam rooms and experience showers. The spa will also reopen on May 17.

Cost: £130 for the Aromatherapy Associates Deep Cleanse Facial (60 minutes).

Location: Park Lane; dorchestercollection.com

Agua Spa at Sea Containers

 (Press)
(Press)

Sat on London’s South Bank, Agua oozes Hollywood glamour and offers a menu of highly personalised holistic treatments. There are six private treatment rooms, including a couples’ suite, a nail and grooming lounge, as well as separate male and female steam rooms with rain showers. Book in for the Advanced Bodywork treatment, which combines deep tissue and sports massage with myofascial and Thai stretching, to banish WFH-induced aches and pains fast.

Cost: from £110 for the Advanced Bodywork Massage (60 minutes).

Location: South Bank; seacontainerslondon.com

Sense Spa at Rosewood London

 (Press)
(Press)

Sense Spa’s cosy, candlelit space featuring bamboo walls and soothing water sounds, offers a real retreat from the city. In need of a detox? Book in for the Epsom salt-rich full-body treatment which includes a magnesium sulphate salt scrub to exfoliate and help draw out toxins, followed by a deep massage with detox oils containing juniper, grapefruit and geranium. Pure bliss.

Cost: £170 for the Detoxifying Body Ritual (90 minutes)

Location: Covent Garden; rosewoodhotels.com

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