Claridge's Spa review: “If you’re looking for top-to-toe pampering, this is the pinnacle” 

“Is it worth it? A resounding yes. I’m convinced that because we’re so far into the earth the excavation has hit some kind of magical healing energy source.”
Claridge's spa swimming pool

In a world that feels frenetic and ever-changing, it’s poetic when something remains beautifully unchanged by time. Claridge's is one such entity. That’s not to say the grande dame of London’s Mayfair (and part of Maybourne Hotel Group that owns The Connaught, The Berkeley and similarly elegant international properties ) is so stoic that it’s been trapped by the clutches of time, far from it. It’s more that when something is so exceptional, it simply doesn't need to change. At Claridge's you’re taken care of in a way that feels truly unique, and translating this to a spa offering – and one that goes beyond a pleasing massage or facial – is no small task.

What's the backstory?

Since opening in 1856, everyone from silver screen royalty such as Cary Grant and Jackie Onassis to royalty, politicians and those just wanting to be part of the experience for a few hours while sipping tea from the finest china have graced this ornate entrance. But a fully rounded spa has been a noticeable absence here, especially as spas – and a swimming pool – have become part of holiday wellness rituals. They're now a must-have expectation from a luxury hotel stay. It follows that a sizeable spa was a logical and necessary expansion; even those who are drawn to the omnipresent bustle of London crave moments of calm – or the option of it at least. 

Claridge's spa swimming pool

The entire project – which involved digging down five floors below ground level – has taken seven years and the spa development is a part of this excavation, alongside other exciting enterprises (including shops, we hear). The spa design itself is a true highlight: it was created by Hong Kong-born interior architect Andre Fu and is nestled three floors below ground level, in a space noticeably inspired by Japanese wellness traditions.

This is also the hotel’s first ever swimming pool, and though fairly modest in size, it evokes the feeling of happening upon a secret beach-front enclave, with the water lapping at your feet as you enter the room. Maybe it’s the soft rose lighting throughout the spa, perhaps it’s being so far underground that it does feel cavernous, but the entire space does feel entirely cocooning. The spa facilities – aimed at fusing holistic wellness with results-driven technologies – were conceptualised by the Maybourne Hotel Group’s Creative Director of Spa and Wellness Inge Theron, also the founder of FaceGym.

Claridge's spa treatment room

What’s the wellness concept?

Fu’s design was inspired by visits to Japanese temples and Zen gardens in Kyoto. That influence is present as soon as you enter the dimly lit spa reception: there’s a floral artwork by Damien Hirst on the left, and next to it, a towering water feature that toys with elements of light and shadow creating a sense of noticeable harmony.

The use of natural elements such as limestone, wood and water throughout the spa ensures that it feels connected to nature despite being so far underground, and is reminiscent of traditional Japanese Sentō bathing houses – albeit a very upscale version, naturally. 

Claridge's Spa is 7,000 square feet but feels smaller, which is no bad thing. Spas that cater to hundreds of guests simultaneously can feel a little chaotic, the opposite of the calm they’re designed to create. The heated pool has cabanas set back from the water, alongside panels for privacy, steam rooms, a sauna and seven treatment rooms all combined to create a magical enclave that feels otherworldly.

Every detail is carefully considered, –the Martha Freud candles in the waiting room, the handmade poultices used during treatments that use seasonal ingredients, phone chargers in the lockers through to the Japanese kimono-style pink robes and ever enthralling Japanese toilets. There are a selection of face and body treatments from Augustinus Bader, La Eva and FaceGym. It does feel like a huge missed opportunity, and slightly incongruous to not feature and support at least one East-Asian owned skincare brand within a spa that’s so heavily inspired by Japanese wellness rituals.

Claridge's spa rain chain

What are the signature treatments?

Each treatment begins and ends with a ritual: a welcoming foot ceremony helps to wash away stresses with scented water and enzyme-rich koji rice extract that softens the skin. After that, you’re invited to sink into a plush warm bed for the treatment of your choice.

Bamboo & Silk Ritual, 90 minutes, £295

This signature full body massage combines three forms of pummeling, using traditional massage by hand, warmed bamboo sticks to unlock knots and heated herb-filled oiled poultices (mine were chamomile) that create an incredibly multi-sensorial deep tissue massage. The poultices are the surprising winner here as the muslin cloth also has an exfoliating effect and its light, earthy scent feels more modern than a heavily scented oil. The treatment ends with a gentle facial massage using smaller poultices and silk cocoons that give a very light exfoliation. At the end of the treatment, a bell signals the finale – before you’re handed a fermented green tea, and float out of the room. It’s a feeling that lasts.

Signature Sculpt, £100 for 30 minutes (an add on to any non-FaceGym Treatment of 60 minutes or more)

This intensive 30-minute session can be added to body treatments and uses deep facial massage – the core of FaceGym’s offering – alongside electric muscle stimulation (EMS) technology administered via a handheld device, to help give the skin a gentle lift and depuffing effect. Awakening the many unused muscles in the face isn’t relaxing, but it does feel like a workout for the face. It’s followed by an application of skincare.

Claridge's spa corridor

Which therapist should I book?

The aim is that all the therapists are constantly trained, so they’re all at a similarly high level – and that’s exactly as you’d expect here. But there is also a rotating roster of wellness practitioners, such as acupuncturist Ross J Barr, who specialises in male and female fertility and offers sessions that support physical and emotional wellness.

What makes it different?

Of course, the treatments are exquisite and top quality; the massage in particular was beautifully ritualistic and expertly executed. But it’s the design of the space that feels incredibly special here. Fu has taken some of the most magical parts of Japanese wellness culture and created a modern, but cosy spa experience that feels as though it has calm built into its very foundations. You should build in extra time to swim, visit the sauna, and steam rooms and meditate in the privacy of a cabana.

Another huge bonus is the exciting addition of the Josh Wood at Claridge's salon. Hotel salons often have something of a retro, slightly forlorn feeling to them, but this minimalist, three-chair salon is quite different. Created by celebrated hair stylist and colour expert Josh Wood (he’s the beauty editor’s go-to for incredible colour) it’s staffed by Wood’s handpicked team of A-list hair stylists and there’s also a curated in-room hair service available. Wood has reimagined what hair and beauty services – there’s also make-up, nails and more available on request – could offer within a hotel setting. It’s essentially the ultimate beauty and grooming concierge for those who want everything taken care of under one roof.

Josh Wood at Claridge's

Anything else to mention?

There are so many wins, as you’d expect in a hotel of this calibre – and no detail goes unnoticed. In an age where inclusivity should always be at the heart of every new venture, spas are no different. The treatment beds are padded for those who need extra comfort and all lower and raise, and there are also two larger beds for size inclusivity and comfort. The beautiful pink Kimono robes also extend to a size XXL, and in terms of accessibility, the spa is all on one floor, and all the showers are wet rooms. 

Final word

Is it worth it? A resounding yes. I’m convinced that because we’re so far into the earth the excavation has hit some kind of magical healing energy source (yes, that’s the official term). My advice: book a massage and then head to the pool to slip into a deeply blissful and restorative state. If you’re looking for top-to-toe pampering – this is the pinnacle.

Address: Claridge's, Brook Street, London W1K 4HR