Winner of the Tatler Best Day Spa Award and widely recognised as the best spa in London, the Malaysian-inspired Ushvani Day Spa is a total escape from the real world. It instantly envelopes you in complete comfort and sexy snugness; it’s the feeling of wrapping yourself Bridget-Jones-style in a down duvet at the end of a crummy day, or being back home and watching the drizzle as your mum practically drip feeds you tea and crumpets as you temporarily allow yourself to escape from real life and adulthood. It’s the hug we all need, the comfort we all long for, that audible sigh of relief like kicking off a pair of high heels after a night out-out.
Although Ushvani is tucked just behind the busy King’s Road shopping street and Sloane Square, the spa’s No. 1 Cadogan Gardens location is quiet and serene, with just the occasional London taxi passing by. Even the location felt luxurious, in the most grand, manicured and quintessentially English of London streets – picture what a Hollywood interpretation of London would look like, like a scene out of Parent Trap or Match Point.
I followed the unmistakable waft of spa smells to the entrance, discreetly marked with just a “No. 1”. There, in a grand Grade 2 Listed Edwardian town house, you’ll find a heavy carved wooden door hiding a tranquil oasis.
I pressed the buzzer and escaped London’s drizzle into a wood panelled lobby, then a further set of double doors lead me into a grand reception area. London traffic and stresses instantly melted away as I slipped into a pair of flip flops and was handed a hot towel soaked in ginger and nutmeg (on hot days the towels are chilled).
The name Ushvani comes from “usha”, meaning dawn in Malay, and “avani” which means earth in Sanskrit, and the interiors reflect both the Malaysian influence as well as Sanskrit’s spiritualness. To the left of the reception desk stands a large aquarium containing bright orange fish (symbols of good luck), and to the right a carved statue of a mother holding a baby – carved out of a single piece of wood. There’s clearly a conscious effort to retain the original character of the building, yet Ushvani also manage to blend in their Malaysian heritage with lots of dark wood furniture, original carvings and sculptures, wood panelling throughout, and a subtle hibiscus flower theme.
I was offered a quick tour of the 3-story sanctuary; there’s a luxurious treatment room upstairs solely for male guests, next door to a grand yoga studio (complete with fireplace and cornicing, where a range of intimate yoga and relaxation classes are held (The Vinyasa Flow yoga classes are just £15 per 90 minutes). Then the Asmara (meaning “love” in Malay) Couples Suite comes with it’s own jacuzzi pool bathroom, couples steam room and lounge area.
The lower ground floor is for ladies only, where there’s a sunken stone pool with a cascading waterfall and hydrotherapy jets (the water is infused with Ushvani’s signature Nutmeg Flower Bath Oil) as well as the changing room, relaxation room, tea room and various treatment rooms.
In the changing rooms the lockers contain fluffy bathrobes, slippers and bottled water, and in the luxurious shower rooms you’ll find citrussy scented shampoo, conditioner and body wash, as well as a high pressured rain shower that pummels onto your shoulders and is almost impossible to leave.
I was shown to my treatment room where I removed my robe and lay face down on a heated bed, feet slightly raised and legs akimbo. I had asked for the Balinese massage as I was craving some deep pressure to relieve the knots in my shoulders, and I got what I asked for.
While the instrumental oriental background music and ginger and nutmeg scents soothed me, the pressure and kneading kept me from nodding off. The Balinese massage relieved any tension I had stored up, and was at the same time relaxing as effective. The technique is taken from the Indonesian spice islands, and this muscle easing massage aims to rid the body of toxins with the use of stimulating and re-energising techniques to uplift the body. It’s centralised around taking advance of the body’s pressure points and is specifically designed and targeted to release emotions or stress; an ideal treatment for anyone who spends their days sat at a computer.
My therapist rigorously kneaded out the knots in my back with a deep-pressure massage which was utterly effective at loosening up my back. The treatment finished with a gorgeous head, foot and face massage.
After the treatment, I was in a dream-like state and was treated to a a cup of restorative hibiscus tea, slowly preparing me (if not entirely willing) to rejoin the outside world.