A riot of red roses greets you in the soaring lobby of the Corinthia Hotel, a pale, grand building in Whitehall, just a stone’s throw from the Thames in London. Whizz up to the mezzanine level and you enter ESPA Life, a soothing, labyrinthine marbled space over four floors that burrow deep into the London clay. Though you may feel like you could quite easily get lost, there is always someone reassuringly zen to lead you back to where you need to be.
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Light welcomes guests to the spa, which slowly descends into a rich, opulent darkness at the lowest level, where a black-marbled thermal floor offers access to a swimming pool, a vitality pool, a glass ‘amphitheatre’ sauna, a steam room and relaxation area. You can even have your very own private spa suite, where you can unwind with a Rasul healing mud ritual followed by a treatment of your choice. All these lovely spaces are richly scented, warm and cocooning, with ambient fireplaces and atmospheric mood lighting. And while this is an enjoyably tranquil spot to indulge away your afternoon, the treatments are the star attraction. Whether you’re looking for a cellular hydration facial, a wellness massage, acupuncture, meditation or even sleep therapy, there’s a vast menu of beauty and body therapies and a team of highly qualified practitioners on hand to sort you out.
I’m here to try the mindfulness massage (pranayama breathing, visualisation techniques and a full-body aromatherapy massage including a warm rose quartz crystal scalp massage) with the wonderfully named Angel Gonzales. But as soon as he clocks my posture, he tells me I need a deep therapeutic massage that will undo the knots in my shoulders and leave me standing straighter, taller and without my normal niggling back pain.
Angel starts off by letting me choose my favourite from two ESPA oils – I pick a warming West Indies clove oil that smells spicy- exotic. Expertly using his forearms, elbows and fingers to eke out every little bump and knot, he employs deep, swift strokes to uncrunch my back and shoulders. This is followed by a gentle but sustained stretching of my limbs during which everything starts to feel realigned in my body, and finished off with a scalp massage using a special clay treatment.
Afterwards, I’m led to the ‘sleep pod’ area where I recline, loose-limbed and Cleopatra-like, on a massive bed strewn with cushions, popping grapes and sipping lime-flavoured iced water. And I’m pretty sure that’s Helen Mirren I spot nearby, specs perched on the end of her nose as she reads Vogue in a big white fluffy robe.
A 90-minute wellness massage with Angel costs around $300AUD. To find out more, visit the ESPA Life site here.