London: spa town

by Nick.Boulos

Wellbeing has never been so important – or so wickedly indulgent - but with so many spas to choose from in London, which is the one for you?

City life can be draining. In the capital, visitors and locals alike live life in the fast lane, so scheduling some ‘me’ time in one of London’s many spas is a necessity and not a luxury. But which so much choice, which is the one for you? I scoured through countless spas to find three uplifting urban retreats, each offering something slightly different…

The Spa at Chancery Court

Editor's note: The Chancery Court Hotel is NOW CLOSED.
A holistic retreat in the heart of Holborn, The Spa at Chancery Court is an exquisite environment with Asian-influenced interiors and the most sensual treatments in town. Limestone walls, soft floor lighting and waterfall features dominate the communal areas, while treatment rooms are decked out in split bamboo with an ever-evolving light display of warm shades of orange and jade.
The therapists here really know their craft. Before the massage begins, time is taken to identify any problem areas and evaluate your physical and psychological health. Questions on your emotional state, stress levels and occupational hazards are all incorporated into creating the perfect massage with maximum results.
For something slightly different, opt for one of the spa’s more unusual treatments, like Ashtaang, a heavenly eight-handed massage. My every sense was soothed and nurtured until body, mind and soul were reset in perfect harmony. Powerful and strong, the evocative smells of mint and eucalyptus reached every dark corner. As the unwanted knots in my back were banished, I drifted deeper into a hazy existence, only to stir when being led to the silent relaxation room, where a fresh cup of camomile tea was waiting.
Other notable features of this award-winning spa include the eucalyptus-infused amethyst crystal steam room and the mosaic-tiled lifestyle showers, which boast two options: Cool Mist and Tropical Downpour – just the thing to top off your revitalizing visit.
252 High Holborn, London WC1
Where to stay: Editor's note: The Chancery Court Hotel is NOW CLOSED..

Gentlemen’s Tonic

In this day and age it’s just as important for the fellas to look after themselves, and a new breed of spas aimed at the metrosexual male market, have opened and are doing big business. Treatments range from mani and pedis to, er, intimate waxing and detoxifying facials and massages.
Gentlemen’s Tonic, tucked away on a quiet Mayfair backstreet, is an intimate but immaculate ‘grooming establishment’ full of wonderfully nostalgic touches. The private ‘hairstations’ are fitted with charming old-school barber chairs and other secluded areas provide pleasant spaces for wet shaves, eyelash tinting, eyebrow shaping and luxurious hand and feet treatments.
The spa has also formulated its very own range of skin and hair-care products, which are incorporated into treatments. The Babassu & Bergamot range uses natural based plant-derived materials and took over three years of research to develop. The modern man would expect nothing less…
31a Bruton Place, London W1.
Where to stay: there’s no shortage of places to lay your head in this part of town, but the Mayfair Hotel  is perhaps the slickest option. Opened by King George V, the Mayfair first opened its doors in 1927 but a recent £70m refurbishment ensures the facilities are second to none. Today, it boasts furniture designed by Fendi, Russian artwork and a private theatre.  

Agua at The Sanderson

Just like the uber-cool hotel in which it resides, the Agua spa does things a little differently. There’s no background music of waterfalls and whale song here, nor is there moody or discreet lighting. In fact, this establishment challenges the very idea of what a spa has come to represent.
The Agua Spa is rather invigorating. A network of full-length white curtains that hang from the extravagantly high ceilings and flutter as you walk past provide a warren of airy corridors that encompass a large relaxation room and private pods with comfy loungers and individual TV sets. The massage rooms are also given the curtain treatment. The same pristine veils replace traditional walls and the lighting is brighter. French jazz and bold classical tunes stream from the speakers, which once again reinforces its forward-thinking stance.
Some things, of course, remain the same. The range of indulgent treatments, like the Milk and Honey massage, are top notch and the therapists ensure clients leave as good as new. But instead of sinking into tranquil and lethargic state, as is often the case after a spa session, I left bursting with energy, feeling refreshed and utterly revitalized. The vivid setting and prominent touches certainly works wonders…
50 Berners Street, London, W1.
Where to stay: where else but the Sanderson? The five-star property attracts the chicest of clienteles. Celebrities favour this hotel thanks to its bold Dali-inspired design and its youthful approach. The minimilistic Long Bar – 80ft, in case you’re wondering – is a popular spot for a tipple, while Suka, a British-Malay fusion restaurant, offers culinary delights and surprises.



A keen traveller from a young age, Nick first stepped on foreign soil aged four during a trip to Egypt: a few days that left a lasting impression. Now a freelance travel journalist based in London, his work has taken him across the world from the deserts of Namibia to the world's most active volcano and North America's only ice hotel. Among others, Nick has written for The Independent, Wanderlust, Sunday Times Travel magazine, Independent on Sunday, Daily Express and The Observer. His favourite places include: Bagan, Burma; Rio de Janeiro; New York City; Sonoma Valley, California and Wanaka, New Zealand