Best For An Urban Escape:
ESPA At Corinthia
What To Expect: Spread over four floors, ESPA at Corinthia is defined by dark décor – think black Italian marble, polished chrome and pewter artwork – that’s cocooning in its warmth. With log fires, an ice fountain, black-mosaic steam room and a glass-fronted sauna, you could easily spend a couple of hours here, while the sleep pods are the ideal spot for a post-treatment snooze and the thermal floor is well worth a visit. Expect the best treatments from globally acclaimed naturopaths, traditional Chinese medicine acupuncturists and herbalists, osteopaths and massage experts.
What To Book: With a wealth of treatments on offer – from cryotherapy-inspired body rituals to Barbara Sturm facials – there’s something for everyone, but you can’t go wrong with the Restful Massage, a 90-minute treatment that starts with guided breathing and follows with a deep massage using hot stones and warm aromatherapy oils to aid restorative sleep.
Best For Something Different:
What To Expect: In the basement of an 18th-century townhouse once home to Peter Pan creator JM Barrie, Aire is unlike any spa you’ve been to in London. It’s set around a series of pools kept at the varying temperatures you might find in a Roman bath – think the tepidarium (warm bath) and caldarium, the bubbling balneum, the aromatherapy steam room known as the vaporium, and the flotarium, a salt bath designed to mimic the weightlessness of the Dead Sea. Move between the pools at your own pace but be sure to allow time for a massage along the way. Unlike other spas in the capital, Aire isn’t tied to a hotel, so you don’t need to stay somewhere to get access.
What To Book: Working your way through Aire’s signature baths is an experience in itself but add on a 60-minute Ancient Massage to feel rejuvenated from head to toe.
Best For Botanical Treatments:
What To Expect: Tucked away under the South Bank’s Sea Containers Hotel (formerly the Mondrian), the Tom Dixon-designed Agua Spa is a destination to know for results-driven treatments. The cutting-edge spa nods to Roman spa culture throughout – you’ll find six spacious treatment rooms, rain showers and steam baths, and a pampering room dedicated to manicures and pedicures, done with seasonal herbal oils and Japanese massage techniques. In recent years, the spa has built a reputation for specialised treatments, including cancer and post-surgery treatments as well as pregnancy massages. The definition of an urban escape, this laid-back space is the perfect spot to spend a relaxing day. It’s also available for exclusive hire.
What To Book: Agua Advanced Body Work is the spa’s signature treatment and a must for muscular tension and sports recovery. Blending deep tissue, myofascial, trigger point therapy, hot stone and Thai stretching techniques, using Agua’s house-made products inspired by herbalism and aromatherapy, expect 60 minutes of pure bliss.
Best For Top-To-Toe Pampering:
What To Expect: Ushvani is a retreat just off Sloane Square that offers Asian-inspired treatments. The capital’s only Malaysian spa, it’s consistently scooping spa awards for its superlative treatments, beautiful décor and outstanding service. Ushvani uses its own products, the smell of which lingers delicately in the air – think ginger, nutmeg and pandan leaves – and thanks to a staggered booking system, the space never feels overly crowded. There’s a strong focus on the mind here – all treatments start with guided meditation and breathing exercises to supercharge the relaxation process.
What To Book: Ushvani’s signature Malay massage takes a more gentle, Asian approach, using long, kneading strokes to banish knots and tension. If you have the time, treat yourself to a two-hour treatment – at Ushvani there’s a minimum booking time of 90 minutes for all body treatments, but the additional 30 minutes will guarantee full-body relaxation.
Best For Bespoke Options:
What To Expect: The spa at the Mandarin Oriental in Hyde Park underwent a multimillion-pound refurb a few years ago, making it one of London’s newest and most luxurious places to unwind. Spread across two floors of the hotel, you’ll find a 17-metre pool, amethyst crystal steam room, 13 treatment rooms and the Oriental Suite, complete with a Rasul water temple – a tiled steam room used for heat and mud therapies. During the week, you’ll need to book a minimum 90-minute treatment, extending to two hours on the weekends, but with some of the best therapists around offering an array of treatments list, you’ll never want to leave.
What To Book: The signature four-hand massage – Oriental Harmony – might be unlike anything you’ve tried, involving two therapists working in unison. Not sure what to book? Book a length of time rather than a specific treatment and trust the team to work their magic following a thorough consultation.
Best For Something Special:
What To Expect: Seven years in the making, the spa at Claridge’s deserves the hype. Though it spans several thousand feet, the space feels intimate and secluded. It’s been designed to help you disconnect from everyday life – think minimalist interiors, soothing music and soft lights that surround the saunas. Everything is considered: the handmade poultices used during treatments; the Japanese loos and the kimono-style pink robes; and not forgetting the jewel in the crown, the heated swimming pool flanked by stone columns. Nearby, you’ll find cabanas which offer privacy before or after a treatment and a host of saunas and steam rooms. For treatments lasting 90 minutes or more, you can use the pool, sauna and steam room for two hours as part of the experience.
What To Book: If you’re going to splurge on one treatment, make it the Bamboo & Silk Ritual – a warming deep-tissue massage that focuses on alleviating tension and stress. It’s 90 minutes of sheer bliss. Finish your day with a blow-dry at the Josh Wood salon or a manicure with Instagram-favourite Harriet Westmoreland.
Best For Massage:
What To Expect: Amid bamboo walls, soft lighting and wooden walkways, the Sense spa offers the very best in self-care. Treatments and products are rooted in a sense of place – British lavender is used in its signature massage oil while facials incorporate botanical skincare from British brand Votary. Even the body rituals feature muscle-relaxing Epsom salts sourced from the Surrey spa town.
What To Book: Sense is known for its massages, which can incorporate hot stones, body brushing, lymphatic techniques and CBD oil. The Ultimate Deep Tissue massage will make light work of tight muscles using flowing strokes, hot stones and a massage gun.
Best For Holistic Treatments:
What To Expect: This award-winning spa takes a holistic approach to wellbeing. As you descend the steps into the spa, it’s the 18m pool, flanked by squashy day beds, that captures your attention, but tucked around the pool are nine treatment rooms, a sauna, a hammam, and London’s first Watsu pool for private hydrotherapy sessions. A spacious spa that has everything you need without being overwhelmingly big, Akasha is a great place to while away the hours.
What To Book: Facial and body treatments headed up by Aromatherapy Associates are some of the best we’ve experienced but, for a treatment with difference, book in for a bodywork session in the Watsu pool to soothe deep-rooted aches and pains.
Best For A Weekday Treat:
What To Expect: Right in the City, the spa at Pan Pacific is for those who take their wellbeing seriously. From sculpting lymphatic drainage treatments to high-tech facials for all skin types, including those prone to sensitivity and rosacea, the treatment menu won’t disappoint. If you’re into your fitness, the gym is one of the most technologically advanced in the city – you’ll find a TecnoBody D-Wall, which offers biometric feedback, as well as top trainers for bespoke recovery and stretching sessions. Just note that if you’re not staying at the hotel, treatments and spa days can only be booked during the week.
What To Book: Start your day with a PT session before unwinding with the signature massage, which combines Thai and Balinese acupressure techniques to stimulate circulation and increase flexibility. Or try the Golden Retouch, which includes a Thai massage, infrared sauna blanket and a lifting facial.