A sanctuary in the heart of London
Working life in London is stressful, and that’s putting it mildly. The dark, dawn breaking starts followed by arduous tube or bus journeys, are exasperating. To be honest those squashed, tiring tube rides, where red-eyed workers clutch cans of red bull and only the jerks of the train keep you awake, make me rather murderous towards my fellow passengers. Long hours and long commutes do nothing for peace of mind however there is one idyllic way to shake the stress away and that’s a spa day. This is a precious luxury but the effects of a day of relaxation, saunas and swimming will last for days, maybe even weeks.
Nestled in the bustling centre of Convent Garden you will find the Sanctuary Spa. From the outside it is very unassuming, the small but elegant shop is the entrance to the spa however inside hides a cavernous heaven of treatment rooms, pools, Jacuzzis and restaurants. Walking through the tiny shop, and upstairs, you arrive at the calm, welcoming reception. The all-female spa means from morning until evening there is not man in sight.
The changing rooms are spacious and you have all the beauty products you need on hand; Sanctuary’s lotions, face creams, shampoos, conditioners, hair treatments, scrubs, the list goes on.
Entering the spa is like emerging into another, alien world. Stepping down the main staircase you catch glimpses of the tentatively lit seating areas, women wandering around in white robes and the glassy pool.
The Koi carp lounge is a soft, padded seating area with the shallow carp pool forming the nucleus of the room. Spherical chairs cup sleeping women, and long cushioned spaces are scattered with magazines, drinks and fresh towels. The whole spa is quiet, and staff speak in hushed whispers so as not to disturb the tranquil environment.
The Sanctuary pool is bath warm and shallow, with the iconic wooden swing hanging in the centre. This is great fun to swing on, however, be careful not to make my mistake and slide straight off the slippery seat! This pool feels enormous as the roof stretches up to four levels high and sunlight pours in from the glass ceiling. The curving white walls, arching mirror inlets, creeping vines and colourful mosaic tiled surfaces give the place a warm, Greek inspired feel. The design creates a maze-like, grand and snaking sensation to the inside of the spa.
The Koi lounge serves lunch from 12-5pm, which is a creative and utterly delicious menu, or if you’re feeling extravagant, go for the set lunch in the restaurant including starters and pudding- it does look fantastic.
Meandering further into the spa’s innards a spiraling staircase bending to the curve of a huge Jacuzzi below leads to the sauna and steam room. Here a smaller, cooler Jacuzzi looks out on the vast exercise pool, which is perfect for dipping into after a sizzling sauna or sweaty steam room session.
The complimentary treatments are either an infrared or sleep treatment. The infrared experience is quite intense and relieves aching muscles with concentrated heat; I opted for the sleep treatment instead. The sleep room compromises 14 quilted, vibrating beds each with earphones, which play a meditation CD for half an hour.
There is a plethora of other treatments you can choose from on the day and the massages are unbelievably alleviating and managed to sort out my knotted shoulder.
A day spent at the Sanctuary Spa draws you away from the real world and assuages anxiety. I was left standing on the tube in a daydream, completely serene and unaffected (as I usually am) by the rush hour mania.