Health & Grooming | The Reconnoisseur

Who knew that this London hotel has a health club?

In the basement, below the radar, a terrific health club and spa

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Who knew that this London hotel has a health club?

November 15 2010
Maria Shollenbarger

Central London – WC1 and WC2 to be precise – isn’t the most intuitive real estate for the blue-chip spa-fitness club. That seems to be the province of the more illustrious parts of London – Mayfair and Chelsea. On Draycott Avenue there’s KX, which is rumoured to have excellent cleansing facials, but the 40-minute (each way!) commute on the Piccadilly Line from my abode rules it out. Soho around Regent Street has no shortage of one-stop facial/rubdown emporia, but they lack elegance, and in any case would need to be combined with a membership at LA Fitness to break the requisite sweat.

Then a friend stayed recently at Gordon Campbell Gray’s One Aldwych hotel, at the edge of Covent Garden (and just a few minutes’ stroll from my flat). Turns out there’s a small but fairly impeccably kitted-out health club and spa in the basement, which is open to non-guests of the hotel on an annual or shorter-term membership basis (anyone can have a spa treatment, but you have to be a member to use the gym). There are the expected top-notch treadmills and cross-trainers, weight-training circuits and medicine balls, and a small army of personal trainers (they’ve got a regular Pilates instructor on call as well for private lessons). Steam rooms, saunas, an 18-metre pool and a vast, slate-and-wood ladies’ changing lounge (with delicious preservative-free REN products in the big rain showers) round out the picture.

The secret weapon, however, in my opinion is the full list of facials using the fantastic Barcelona-based skincare line, Natura Bissé – in particular, the Diamond range. The Diamond Lift Facial (£170)will prove to be both a transportingly pleasant and a gratifyingly results-bearing 90 minutes of your life. I speak from experience, having had it a few times at one or other of the excellent spas around the world with which Natura Bissé has chosen to affiliate itself (others include Castel Monastero in Tuscany and Anastasia Soare’s cult clinic in Beverly Hills). Every time, I have been left with a mild buzz about my throat and around my eyes, a marvellous sensation like kinetic youth humming just under the skin. (The best part: not one second of painful extractions to bear.)

So even if you’ve got a gym membership sorted, it’d be worth keeping this place in mind for your beauty needs. And if you’re marooned at an office in Holborn or Kingsway or the Strand and have despaired of ever finding a way to stay fit and beautiful in one lovely, still-below-the-radar place – problem solved.

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