spa-1At this time of year, when the watery sunshine starts peeking through the low lying smog, it is suddenly all too clear that not a single part of my body is ready to be exposed to the elements. Despite all my best intentions to embark on a winter programme of fake tanning, nail maintenance, pumicing and body brushing, I have in fact spent the colder months gorging on pies and disguising my sins beneath a good pair of leggings and a waist-cinching coat. Whilst I accept that there is no spa treatment that can magic away the pies (within a reasonable price range), here are a few places that claim to be able to take the edge off the ungroomed, pasty, cellulite-covered winter body, without having to sell a kidney to pay for it!

porchester-spaPorchester Spa in Westminster is an art deco spa that provides three Turkish hot rooms, two Russian steam rooms, a Finnish log sauna, and an ice cold plunge pool. You can get yourself a ‘Unique Porchester Body Scrub’ from £15, a mud wrap from £45 and Facials start at £60 for an hour. A manicure is £20 and a Brazilian wax will set you back £25. I had an olive soap body brush (£25) which involved being scrubbed all over followed by an olive soap wash massage. The therapist, Zsalt, proved his worth in my eyes when within two minutes he had already zeroed in on my right shoulder which is where I carry my ridiculously large handbag and consequently, have a whole bundle of knots and pain. The treatment room was very relaxing, candlelit and clean and the process felt very much worth it, as I left feeling thoroughly de-stressed (the massage was one of the best I have had) and smelling wonderfully of lemon balm. Zsalt also went through the list of the spa’s new treatments with me, all of which sounded delightfully pampering, reasonably priced, and which will no doubt be delivered with the same gentle but firm efficiency.

Bethnal Green based Spa London recently won Day Spa Of The Year 2009 and impressed my friend Miranda, being “good quality and very good value”. Facials range from £42 for a 55 minute rebalancing treatment to £65 for a 55 minute microdermabrasion dermo peel. A 25 minute salt scrub is £34 and a back, neck and shoulder massage will cost you £36. The cheapest manicure is £26 and waxing starts at £12.50 for an underarm.

spa-2With branches near Marylebone Road and Maida Vale, Casa Spa promotes itself as “a sanctuary of calm with luxuriously tranquil surrounding, delights to refresh each sense and intuitive care that takes on deeper meaning”. An hour-long Dermalogica facial will cost you a very reasonable £40 or for ‘The Rolls Royce of facials’ (bio-oxygen/anti-age/acne) you’ll need £70. Body massages start at £50, their detox/foot massage is £30. With bikini season approaching, if you opt for a wax, they use the Harley Body Wax System which is apparently less painful, and will cost you £25.

I spent an entire morning at the Casa Spa just off Edgware Road, and experienced a range of treatments. The spa is fairly unconventional in set up, appearing at first glance to be a glass fronted shop right on the street. However, once you’re downstairs in the candle-lit cushion-strewn interior, the atmosphere is far more relaxed. The spa is quite small which creates a cosy, intimate atmosphere. Unfortunately a large hen party arrived during my visit and the facilities suddenly became distinctly crowded and uncomfortable, particularly as there are no changing cubicles or lockers. I had a facial and a massage during my stay, and found the massage different to previous experiences, although no less effective. The facial left me a little unconvinced, and I probably would not have been so happy with it if I had paid £70. The spa has a lovely, seemingly brand new, 2-3 person sauna and an excellent Turkish Hammam during which they do a fantastic rub with home-made olive and eucalyptus soap, followed by a good scrubbing once you’ve been thoroughly steamed, all of which left my skin feeling wonderfully polished and smooth. The Hammam can be hired for groups and couples, and would be a lovely way to spend a Saturday morning.

The Porchester Spa

London W2 5HS

Casa Spa – Edgware branch

439 Edgware Road
London W2 1TH

Spa London

Old Ford Road
London E2 9PJ

Other reasonable spa options in London include:

The Rosebery Rooms 168 Clerkenwell Road, London

Siam Beauty 119 Lavender Hill, London, SW11 5QL

Ironmonger Row, London EC1