Spa Junkie at… Privet, London

Our reporter heads for the (Notting) hills for a green-fingered, pre-holiday facial, exfoliation and massage…

Image: Jay Yeo

When I heard whispers that the Notting Hill hipsters were getting groomed à la Privet, I thought there had been some kind of mistake. But “top-to-toe body topiary” is much more than gardening gone swish. This little beauty nook on Kensington Park Road, set in a stylish garden-themed building, offers a full menu of body pruning and preening for both men and women.

I pop in, take a look and instantly sign up for one of its Summer Bonsai Makeovers – hour-long sessions comprising a variety of treatments designed to get you looking your best for your vacay or staycay (from £75). I choose Sunshine A Go Go, which consists of a mini Murad facial, full-body exfoliation and St Tropez spray tan (£110 for one and a half hours). However, because I already have a little colour from a recent girls’ break in Barcelona, I ask whether I can forego the spray tan and opt for a massage instead. The staff are accommodating and make the switch.

I am taken to The Log Cabin, one of the treatment “sheds” (there are four in total, including the “Toolshed” for men), with stripped wood, sheepskin throws and a relaxed Scandi-meets-Zen feel. My mini Murad facial is carried out by Anna, a gentle-mannered therapist who swiftly and efficiently cleanses, tones, exfoliates and moisturises my face in a 30-minute blast. Although more of a “taster” facial than an in-depth treatment, it leaves my skin glowing and hydrated.

Anna then dons a pair of exfoliating gloves and, using Murad’s exfoliating cleanser (made up of a trio of mild acids – salicylic, lactic and glycolic – and jojoba beads), briskly rubs the dead skin from my legs, arms, back and chest. She concentrates on those bony areas such as ankles, wrists, toes and fingers – the zones where fake tan can mess up an even colour. After half an hour, the exfoliator is removed with warm water and soft towels are used to dab dry my sparklingly clean – and slightly tingling – skin.


The beauty baton is then passed to Erinah – Privet’s in-demand masseuse. As she dims the lights, I sigh in anticipation of a soothing massage. More fool me. Relaxing? Pah. As I lie face down on the lounger, I try to work out how many pairs of hands are prodding my legs and back. Erinah laughs at my confusion and informs me that I can feel her knees as well as her hands as she crawls up my body. She really gets into the deep-tissue massage, and tells me to “take big breaths in and out”. As her knees massage my buttocks, she assures me that even though a deep massage can feel a little painful (it does), it helps unlock tight areas and my body will thank me for the intensity afterwards. Erinah works on the knots in my back, and after half an hour I begin to feel the uncomfortably tense areas loosen and finally relax.

The bottom line:

I’m pleased to have made this new west London discovery. The service was attentive and the treatment well performed – my facial, exfoliation and massage were each thorough and effective, leaving my skin smooth and glowing, and my muscles relaxed. However, for a second visit I would probably steer clear of the package deal and book full-length treatments; I’m not really a big fan of “mini” anything ­– I prefer to go big or go home.

Spa Junkie is the founder of FaceGym. She pays for all her own travel, accommodation and therapies.


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