January 03 2010
When a friend told me about a “secret spa” in a town house in London’s Chelsea (just behind Peter Jones), I was intrigued. Ushvani, I subsequently discovered, is an Asian spa which opened “softly” just a year ago. It was founded by a high-flying Malaysian lawyer frustrated at not being able to find massage and other therapies of the high standard she was accustomed to in the East.
Usually, I avoid day spas because of the production-line, “one in, one out” factor, but this is precisely what Ushvani aims to avoid. The spa is spaced out over three tranquil floors (with a treatment room for men), and is so serene that you will wonder if you are the only person there. In fact, treatments are staggered and space is factored in between clients, so the spa feels totally private and the ambience super-exclusive.
Ushvani offers a stylish menu of authentic Asian massages as well as an interesting selection of wraps and scrubs (ranging from ginger and kaffir lime to a green-pea scrub for sensitive skin). The Malay massage (£180 for 90 minutes) involves long kneading strokes and is deeply relaxing, while the Balinese massage is great for tense muscles and general reinvigoration (£180 for 90 minutes). It’s not cheap, I know, but Ushvani would no doubt say that you are paying for a high standard of service and exclusivity.
Quality of the massage aside, I can’t decide what I love most about this spa: the tranquillity, the private spa pool in the basement, or the cinnamon and brown colour scheme (which sounds hideously 1970s but, in practice, is quite wonderful).
In addition, Ushvani has just launched its own spa range based on botanicals commonly used in Asian therapies. Products include Coconut & Hibiscus Oil (£35) and the signature Ushvani Balm (£25.50), a “wonder” product containing rosemary, thyme and eucalyptus. Excellent for muscle aches or pains – I find that it works wonders for RSI (repetitive strain injury) – as well as jet lag and generally clearing your head.