Spa Junkie at… Bhuti, Richmond

Our spa columnist trials a new city eco retreat

Bhuti offers yoga, Pilates, high-tech holistic spa treatments and complementary therapies
Bhuti offers yoga, Pilates, high-tech holistic spa treatments and complementary therapies

“Find your inner bhuti,” promises Richmond’s new eco wellbeing escape, Bhuti. Far from some bikini bootcamp promising to sculpt the derrière of my dreams, this space promises a lot more soul, with yoga, Pilates, high-tech holistic spa treatments, complementary therapies and a vegan kitchen. “Bhuti goes beyond beauty to offer ultimate wellbeing inside and out,” reads the promotional bumf. “There isn’t really a direct translation. It’s that feeling when you feel most like… you.” I plan a day of wandering round Richmond Park, the largest of London’s Royal Parks, followed by a series of Bhuti classes, consultations and therapies.  

First up is a yoga class with Samantha Trinder, Bhuti founder and owner of luxury boutique hotel The Bingham. The studio is flooded with natural sunlight and calming birdsong fills the air. Our class of mostly women warms up with sun salutations before moving into a series of spinal twists – great for massaging the organs to stimulate digestion, says Trinder.

One gold-nail-varnish-wearing lady in what must be her seventies flexes into some impressive moves. This is one of the more sedate Vinyasas I’ve signed up for, suited to a more mature age group. Gentle backbends are followed by the Locust pose and inversions, which Trinder says help lymphatic drainage – a real mind-body cleanse. We bend and shift between postures for an hour, the pace slow and steady.

Trinder (or Sama, as she’s fondly known) envelops us in blankets for the closing Savasana and guides us through a deep meditation. “Our practice is breath focused and designed to energise mind and body for the week ahead. Namaste.”

After the class finishes, I wander barefoot around the 5,000sq m space. Cane chairs hang from the ceiling above seagrass carpets – I am told that everything has been designed by an expert in Vastu Shastra, the Indian version of Feng Shui, using natural eco materials in earthy hues. It feels wonderfully peaceful. There are also six treatment rooms offering holistic, natural spa treatments using eco-luxe brands such as Oskia, Ila, Neom, Live Native and Elemental Herbology, and also a mani/pedi area and a lounge for deep relaxation.

Heading to the vegan tearoom, I scan the nutrient-rich organic menu and order an avocado-cacao bowl with banana, dates and blueberries, plus a carrot juice with red pepper, turmeric and lime. Both are delicious.

A vegan tearoom is one of the highlights
A vegan tearoom is one of the highlights

Energised, I return to the studio for a private postural assessment with Stott Pilates (a variant on the traditional practice) instructor Claudia Fischer. She assesses the alignment of my body using a “plumb line”, a weighted piece of string.

“Your feet are in a pronated position – particularly the left foot,” she begins. “And your knees present medial rotation – especially the left. There’s also an anterior pelvic tilt, meaning excessive lordosis of the lumbar spine.” In other words, my feet and knees turn inwards, my pelvis tilts at the front and my spine curves in too much.

Strengthening my glutes, core and posterior chain, or back muscles, with back stretches, hip extensions in the bridge position and abdominal crunches should help with my back curve, she says. She asks how much time I spend sitting at my computer… how long is this piece of string?

She circles me, scribbling notes on her pad. “Your scapulae, or shoulder blades, show winging and protraction – more in the right shoulder, which is also in a slight depressed position.” Great… I’m so out of whack even my shoulders are depressed. “The serratus anterior muscle is key to stabilising the scapulae and the shoulder girdle – choose exercises that help develop this muscle and your rotator cuff muscles,” she concludes. She suggests shoulder shrugs, push-ups, planks, oblique punches and shoulder packing (squeezing my shoulder blades together for five to 10 seconds by moving my arms behind my body).

I feel inspired to sign up for one of her Pilates classes, but the restorative Gold Cellular Age-Restore face therapy awaits, a facial blending gold and frankincense from the gardens of Ethiopia. All that’s missing is some myrrh… Therapist Henrietta begins by massaging a gold cleanser with babassu oil, sea buckthorn (a herb high in Omega 7 and Vitamins A, C and E) and jasmine into my face. It turns from oily to milky as she rubs. Next up is an earthy-smelling hyaluronic serum with boswellia extract and argan oil.

Using a handheld sonic wave therapy device – a combination of anti-ageing LED lights for sensitive, rosacea-prone and combination skin – she ensures the creams penetrate to my skin’s deeper layers. The machine glides painlessly across my face. At the end, she leaves my skin covered in a thin film, which she says will dissolve. It does – into rather a pleasant glow.

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The Bottom Line

Bhuti is a welcome urban oasis of calm. The yoga class was one of the calmer I’ve done – slow, relaxing and very spiritual – and though I usually like a more dynamic, athletic practice, my body seemed grateful for the change of pace.

My skin was was left plumped and with a visibly dewy glow. I wouldn’t advise it for people who have oily/combination skin (or those wanting immediate lifting and toning - the facial strokes were gentle, relaxing and calming, as opposed to stimulating), but it was just what my dry skin needed.

And since the postural analysis, Fischer’s words have been ringing in my ears whenever I’m hunching over my laptop – and I’ve been doing press-ups and push-outs on my bedroom wall ever since.

Spa Junkie paid £110 for 90 minutes of treatment, unlimited yoga and fitness classes and access to the members’ space.

Spa Junkie, aka Inge Theron, is the founder of FaceGym. She pays for all her own travel, accommodation and therapies. Follow her on Instagram @spajunkiechronicles.

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