Espa Life Spa - Corinthia Hotel
If you were to try to conjure up an image in your head of the world’s most luxurious spa, then we’d bet it would look a lot like the Espa Life Spa. A subterranean haven located below the brand new five-star Corinthia Hotel over in Whitehall, the Corinthia Spa is glamorous... and then some. Imagine something along the lines of four whole floors of sleek black marble stretching over 2,500 square metres and containing everything from a chic steel swimming pool, to a Daniel Galvin hair salon. There are 17 treatment rooms, a spa lounge that’s made of white marble and filled with white leather sofas and glowing fires, an amphitheatre sauna, steam room and ice fountain and if that wasn’t enough there’s an entire level dedicated to a ‘thermal floor’. Phew, we’ll need one of their indulgent signature massages after all that.
Read our full review of the Corinthia
If the Aveda Institute comes with slightly fewer luxury trappings than one or two of the other spas in London on this list, it also comes with unfailingly welcoming staff and some damn good, and surprisingly reasonably priced, treatments. And that ultimately, if you strip away the frills and fripperies, is essentially what we all need. What’s best about this place, however, is that it’s a bit of a one-stop shop for a beauty overhaul. At street level, you enter the huge glass-fronted building of the Aveda Institute and descend to the serene basement for a full exfoliation, massage and facial (with all-natural products) before heading up to the academy hair salon for a full re-style and a manicure. Because there’s nothing like a bit of multi-tasking now, is there?
174-177 High Holborn, WC1V 7AA; tel: 020 7759 7355.
From raspberry seed anti-oxidant facial oil to spearmint exfoliating sea-salt scrub, it’s safe to say that the bathroom shelves of the ELLEuk team are crammed with delicious Cowshed products. And while it’s great using them at home, not much beats heading to their spa for a little bit of indulgence. You're spoilt for choice for which to go for, from their Carnaby Street haven (complete with its own cafe) to the light, airy farmhouse kitchen-style interiors of the Clarendon Cross store over in Holland Park. However, for our money we’ll be plumping for the laid-back cool of the spa over at Shoreditch House. The fact that you don’t need a membership to book, combined with their choice of treatments (such as the a-mazing Cowshed Moody Massage), never fails to put a smile on our faces.
Read our full review of Shoreditch Rooms
The Spa at Bluebird
Tucked away just off the King's Road the spa at the Bluebird is a perfectly placed pick-me-up after a hard day's shopping. With just two treatment rooms, it's a testament to the small-is-beautiful concept and certainly punches above its weight in terms of what it can deliver. They offer (exclusively in the UK) LA-based, celeb favourite Ole Henriksen treatments such as the 120-minute head-to-toe body care as well as a brilliantly reviving jet lag massage. The only possible problem might be when leaving: you have to head out through the Bluebird shop and past the Spring/Summer 2012 Peter Pilotto collection. Don’t say we didn’t warn you...
350 King's Road, SW3 5UU; tel: 020 7351 3873.
Ushvani is another one that falls into the upscale bracket as far as spas in London go. Actually, make that the upper end of the upscale bracket. But, my, is it good. Hidden discretely away behind the door of a Georgian townhouse in Knightsbridge (which certainly adds to the sense of exclusivity) are room after room of absolute calm where expertly trained therapists work their magic using their own bespoke range of carefully crafted Malaysian products. Go for an indulgent Ushvani Coconut and Hibiscus hot oil massage and you get rich luxurious oils poured all over your body to relax your muscles and your mind. They even have their own teeny yoga studio to stretch out in, and a maze of whirlpools, baths and hydrotherapy. Heaven.
1 Cagodan Gardens, SW3 2RJ; tel: 0207 730 2888.
Like our pick of the best spas in London but looking for something else to do in the capital over the Bank Holiday weekend? Check out our pick of the London May Bank Holiday ideas. Or see our London city guide.