Road to recovery

Sara Manuelli and Trish Lorenz sample some of the best spas and treatment centres to reinvigorate their bodies and minds

So you’ve quit the cigarettes and gone on a detox diet, but is there any way of making those New Year resolutions less depressing?

Pampering treatments, whether a holistic facial or a warm sea salt scrub, are the way to beat the winter blues. Traditionally these treatments were confined to the basement areas of beauty salons, cubicles drenched in harsh, white light inside clinical interiors. But since this nation’s love affair with wellbeing has started to gain foot (according to Mintel’s latest figures, the UK market for health and beauty treatments in 2000 was worth around £870m), our aesthetic requirements have extended from our bodies to the spaces that surround them.

Spa rooms have become a feature in many hotels as holiday operators increasingly promote health and beauty packages. Even the high street is getting in on the act, with The Body Shop and now up-market beauty products retailer Molton Brown offering ‘day spas’ in shopping centres. Here, we look at a series of recently completed spas and treatment centres that appeal to our senses.


Design: Craig Moffatt Architects and Design

Graphics: Crazyshark

Hidden behind a discreetly illuminated entrance in London’s Marylebone area, Vaishaly is the new spa of the facialist who counts among her clients Madonna and Naomi Campbell.

While facing the street, the spa is not directed at passing trade, thus the minimal and discreet signage to protect the privacy of celebrity clients. Only 30 years old, Vaishaly has acquired a reputation for creating individually tailored treatments, often combining ancient Indian hair removal techniques such as threading with more technological treatments such as gentle micro-abrasion.

Craig Moffatt Architects and Design was commissioned to design the interiors, a small space that was formerly a laundrette. Since the entrance is long and narrow, the design works hard to make a feature out of the reception, with a long, thin leather reception desk and a loop-shaped shelving system hanging above.

The treatments rooms are immaculate, yet warm, thanks to a pre-programmed colour-changing lighting scheme. Each room comes equipped with modish basins and back-lit mirrors. Materials like limestone, American walnut and leather reinforce the welcoming feeling of the space.

Molton Brown Day Spa

Design: The Syntax Group (design director Sue Gloynes and project architect Asif Iqbal)

After the frenetic pace of Bluewater’s main shopping malls, almost anywhere would seem relaxing in comparison and the Molton Brown Day Spa, hidden away at the back of the shopping area, feels like an oasis of calm.

Interiors borrow from a Japanese influence and the obligatory ambient music is piped throughout. A minimalist style reception with stone floors and projected images of a lotus flower (the company’s marque) set the tone.

In the ‘spa’ area itself, natural materials and fluid shapes predominate. Raised oak walkways are suspended above pebbles and there are bushels of mock grasses. Shades of cream and brown prevail, with the occasional shock of burgundy or lilac. The area has been designed to give the impression of an outdoor space, with separate treatment pods (pictured within the image, left) on each side of the spa’s ‘garden’.

The pods are each topped by an elliptical projection screen, adding a sense of fluidity to the space. The treatment areas give a further illusion of space through the use of large windows that look out on to subtly lit cream curtains. Lighting and technology plays an integral part in the experience. As you lie on your massage table a changing variety of colours is projected on the screen above you. Turn over and below you in the floor is a small ‘rock garden’ also lit in a variety of colours.

The spa is the first of a planned six to ten sites, including up to three central London centres likely to open this year.

Jinja at MyHotel Chelsea

Design: Project Orange

Located at MyHotel Chelsea, the second addition to boutique hotel chain MyHotel, Jinja is the treatment room where clients can relax with one of the many Aveda pampering treats available. Jinja’s speciality is the mosqueta rose healing body wrap – a two-hour-long indulgent session that includes a ginger salt scrub, a warm herbal rose mask and rose oil massage. The interior design of the small room is kept essential, with white wood panelling – a theme reiterated across the hotel – and soft, low lighting.

Wellbeing is a concern expressed throughout the whole hotel, which has been arranged in a relaxed and welcoming manner, according to US Feng Shui expert William Spear’s directions. Next door to Jinja is also a mini fitness area, which borders the conservatory – a calm and airy room for those who want to unwind with a book on the Chesterfield sofas.

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