Written by Alicia Lartey
Image by @nimabenati
As summer approaches I begin to taste the relaxation and pampering that is yet to come. The time to live a soft life is now! There is so much stress circulating in the air at the moment, so a visit to a tranquil spa might just be the reset you need. Going to a spa remains one of my most favorite things to do in the world, but since becoming qualified as an esthetician I have become privy to what makes the best spa experience. The most important thing to identify when looking for a spa that works for you is your reason for going and if you have any skin conditions that your spa therapist may need to know of. Understanding spa language supports a seamless experience, words such as ‘contraindications [things that may prevent treatment]’ and ‘skin outcome [radiance, clarity and smoothen are all words that can be used to describe skin outcomes]’ will be used in your consultation before treatment.
There are many spas across the UK but finding a city oasis is truly the prize! The London spa scene can be particularly precarious if you are looking for treatments that are not only relaxing but not also complete fluff. As an aesthician I find it difficult to relax and enjoy treatments unless they are platinum-level-perfect! The main objective for my spa visits is usually to relax and not have treatments to tackle skin concerns (as an esthetician I do my own treatments). In my search for a spa, I have a few minimum requirements: unique sensory experience, qualified therapists, and city seclusion. The two spa houses that recently caught my eye was the newly opened AIRE Baths and the members only Soho House Shoreditch Spa. As a city dweller it truly captivated me that both spas were in situated in the busiest parts of London but exuded so much peace.
If you are a history buff like me, you will know that London is not new to having bathhouses as they were fairly common during the Roman occupation of London. AIRE baths are inspired by Greek and Roman bathhouses, but with a modern metropolitan twist. The dark bath chambers flooded with mood lighting truly makes you forget that you were in a congestion charging zone before you walked in. AIRE is the perfect mix of cool illusiveness like that of Berghain and a traditional spa. AIRE focuses on holistic massages and scrubs rather than corrective procedures. Anyone can book a session at AIRE though availability is fleeting! AIRE has a clear identity which I really appreciate, and they do not deviate from that, they do not promise revolutionary skin results but instead offer the best relaxation techniques that money could buy.
If you have ever been a fan of Sex and The City you will have heard of the infamous Soho House, which is a members only clubhouse for creatives. Well, they now have a newly renovated spa in the heart of Shoreditch, so you can go from getting hammered at box park to getting a facial within minutes. Soho House focuses more on dealing with common concerns that arise in the skin as well as relaxing or deep tissue massages. Shoreditch House also hosts talented therapists and medics for aesthetic guest residencies, which gives you an opportunity to have treatments by a variety of people you may not have had access to. The location of the Shoreditch House Spa is not far from local train stations and there is limited parking not too far from the spa. One thing I do love is that because the spa exists within Soho House, once you have finished your treatment you can go upstairs for lunch.
One thing that Soho House is lacking is a running theme or signature treatment or feeling exclusive to Soho House. In most high-end spas, Cowshed products can be found and Soho House is no different. As I am not a huge fan of Cowshed products it was a bit disappointing to see them in Soho House; I am hoping that with the release of their new skincare line we can understand the true soho house signature. As an esthetician, I remain hypercritical of all skincare products [to ensure I only bring the best reviews] and treatments, so far nothing has particularly wowed me on the treatment list.
This was an easy win for me… AIRE Ancient Baths takes the crown! Entering AIRE is like entering a portal into the past and future at the same time!