In the market for a seriously relaxing and indulgent spa day in London? Book yourself into ESPA Life at Corinthia. The luxurious spa is the ideal place to relax with friends or family. To spa here is not cheap, however, it’s an indulgence fit for a special occasion. Editorial Director Amy Lawrenson headed there to discover why it tops so many people’s lists of favourite London spas.
A stone’s throw from the river Thames sits the luxurious Corinthia Hotel with its high ceilings flaunting dazzling chandeliers. You feel as though you’re stepping back in time (and perhaps won the lottery en route) upon entering this grand hotel. Admittedly, to spa here is not cheap, as it’s an indulgence fit for a special occasion (although I wouldn’t head here if you’re on a raucous hen do—think more mum’s birthday).
The spa spans over two floors and, as with all good spas, it’s a bit of a rabbit warren where you can happily lose all concept of time, space and how to get back to reality. It sets you up nicely for a lazy, hazy time. A long corridor leads you tantalisingly to a bright, modern marbled reception area. It was here that I was greeted with a welcoming smile, offered a water or herbal tea and then shown around.
There is a large changing room with tall lockers that fit my handbag and gym bag. You can hang your clothes up (so you don’t leave a crumpled mess) and swap them for a fluffy robe and rubber slides—so far so chic. There are dressing tables complete with everything you would need from cotton pads to hair dryers. The changing rooms also boast fireside loungers where you can relax.
Set within a dimly lit, black tiled room you’ll find a swimming pool, a steam room and a plunge pool complete with various hydrotherapy jets. The sauna is set within a glass cube, which looks impressive from the outside but makes you feel like a fish in a bowl on the inside. At one end of the wet room are loungers placed in front of a fireplace that is cleverly mirrored so it appears as if, hypnotically, it flows on forever into the distance.
I have always found hotel gyms to be a tad disappointing, but this gym rivals the one I pay a monthly membership for. State-of-the-art rowing machines, treadmills, free weights—you name it, they have it. Revving up your heart rate on a spa trip not your kind of thing? Head to the tranquil relaxation room where you can snuggle down on a bed hidden behind a curtain with a magazine or three. There are herbals teas and dried fruits to snack on. Well, all this relaxing is bound to work up an appetite.
I booked in for the ESPA Inner Calm Massage (£190 for 90 minutes), the aim of this massage isn’t just to relax your body but to help quieten your mind too (sounds like bliss, right?). The therapist let me smell a variety of oils and I chose the one I was most drawn to. I was encouraged to breathe deeply throughout the treatment. After checking with me, the therapist used a firm touch and kneaded away at my knotted muscles and weary limbs from head to toe. I started lying face down before rolling over like a happy seal on sand. When I was relaxing face-up, a warm eye mask was applied to shut out any light and maximise relaxation. The treatment was finished with a scalp massage using a rose quartz crystal. Linked to the heart chakra, it’s believed to help improve circulation and reduce stress. Finally, the crystals are massaged over the third eye and forehead to help “restore focus”.
I was so stressed when I stepped into that room that I didn’t think I’d relax, but I actually had to ask the therapist what happened at the end of the treatment (the part with the crystals) because I had fallen asleep. A small miracle.
In February, ESPA is launching its Strength & Resilience Massage using uplifting eucalyptus and tea tree oils within its new Muscle Rescue Balm. This treatment has been created to soothe and restore aching muscles with a combination of massage techniques and yogic stretches, which is great for anyone with a more physically active lifestyle.
The Insider Tip
Peckish? The gym has yummy protein bites that are worth trying. We took ours and chilled out by the fire in the changing rooms, which sounds like an odd place to hang out, but it was super relaxing and you didn’t feel guilty about having a natter (the relaxation room is quite rightly limited to very occasional whispering). There is also a spa lounge on the same level as reception that serves juices, salads, protein shakes, teas and treats (of the chocolate and bubbly variety).
The Finer Details
Cost: £175 per person for access to the spa facilities only, which also includes a two-course lunch and one glass of champagne or juice/soft drink.
Facials and massages start at £125 (60-minute treatment).
Spa day packages start from £250 per person (Tuesday to Friday).
Monday to Friday 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.