For a start, you have to be able to actually find it. After 10 minutes of walking round in circles in the beautiful London sunshine admiring the red brick properties of Cadogon Gardens, I eventually stumbled across Ushvani. Little did I know that it would turn out to be one of the best day spa’s I have ever visited.
Upon entering you would be forgiven for thinking that you had just been transported to Malaysia. The hustle and bustle of Sloane Square had vanished and instead I found myself standing in a magnificent dark wood foyer complete with the sounds of running water, atmospheric music, a beautiful fish tank, candlelight as well as a collection of majestic dark wood carvings sourced from Malaysia. I removed my shoes and slipped into a complimentary pair of Ushvani flip flops whilst my spa therapist talked me through the facilities. After wiping my brow with a cool herbal infused towel- a welcome treat after walking around in the sun- my therapist took me on a quick tour of the spa. The size of the spa is incredibly deceiving from the outside. Although Ushvani is what I would describe as ‘boutique’ in size, with only a handful of treatment rooms, it is spread out across 3 levels, each just as exquisite as the last. To describe the spa as beautiful just doesn’t seem to do it justice. The décor combines the best of Malaysia with rustic earthy tones and luxurious textures and blends it with the original ornate British plasterwork and decadent high ceilings of this former hospital building.
After the mini tour had ended I wandered to the changing room. The changing rooms are like few that I have visited; luxurious, calming and filled the essentials as well as with beautiful Ushvani products to use. I was like a child in a candy shop but exercised a little self-restraint as I knew that I could have a play with the products after my treatment. As I was getting changed into my bikini I noticed an incredible scent in the air. I followed my nose and it led me to a bowl filled with green leafy cuttings. I am still not sure what they were but the scent fills the air and is utterly delicious. As I wandered from room to room in the spa I noticed more and more bowls of green leafy goodness producing an almost indescribable scent; grassy and almost rice-like.
Bikini on and ready to go, I made my way to the steam room for a little sweaty cleansing of the pores. The steam room felt like a private haven- in fact the entire spa did as I only ever came across one other lucky guest. After 10 or so minutes in the steam room I was ready for a quick shower and a dip in the pool. The pool is petite. A small compact whirlpool with not enough room to swim but the perfect amount of room to relax and enjoy the power jets creating a bubbling sensation on the skin. And it is beautiful! A wall of water cascades and trickles into the pool like a beautiful water sculpture in a Malaysian garden.
After turning into a relaxed prune in the pool I went back to the changing room to dry off. Attractive disposable knickers on and fluffy robe to complete the look, I was ready to begin my treatment. I made my way the lounge where I was told that my spa therapist would pick me up. Yet again the green leafy goodness filled the air as I entered. I grabbed myself a glass of cranberry juice from the dispenser and took a seat on one of the many comfy loungers. The room was filled with a variety of textures including taffeta, organza and thick comfy cushions galore with raw silk in a rustic earthy palette of orange and brown hues mixed with cream accents completing the Malaysian sanctuary. The dim atmospheric lighting and soothing music relaxed me, so much so that I had started to nod off as the therapist walked in to collect me.
Ushvani’s Philosophy is based on ancient Asian culture that focuses on both spiritual harmony and natural treatments. The holistic approach is taken to treat the mind, body and spirit, going beyond mere superficial pampering. The use of purest botanicals to cure ailments is common in Asian therapies and accordingly Ushvani’s treatments incorporate natural herbs, spices and flowers in concurrence with this natural philosophy for total wellbeing. With this in mind I selected to try the warming herbal ritual, a 90 minute long warming massage ritual inspired by movements from traditional Nuad Bo-Rarn Thai massage, Thai reflexology and Shiatsu massage. Warning- if you are looking for a massage in which you can fall asleep this may not be it. Three different herbal compresses are incorporated into the massage warming up and releasing your muscles and aiding the healing process. During this ritual I was placed into yoga-like poses. I must admit I did get a little shock when the therapist joined me on the bed and started bending my body into yoga positions but it did almost immediately de-stress my tired muscles, even if it wasn’t particularly relaxing. After being manipulated into Stretch Armstrong positions my spa therapist then did start to massage my back, legs and stomach with a more conventional style of relaxing massage. The stomach massage was particularly lovely. The therapist used the herbal compress whilst working through any knots in my stomach and surprisingly she told me afterwards that that is where I hold most of my tension- who knew! To finish, the ritual becomes a lot more calming with a scalp and face massage and a soothing neck stretch which mimics a mild rocking motion and lulls you into a deep sense of relaxation.
At Hero & Leander our focus is completely set on couples and although the spa facilities at Ushvani are female only they do offer treatments for men and have a dedicated room just for male pampering. So as a couple the options would be to have two separate treatments in two separate rooms and come together at the end to enjoy a cup of hibiscus tea in the tea room, or the better and more romantic option would be to book the Asmara Suite. Asmara is the Malay word for ‘love’, and quite fittingly the suite is dedicated to couples treatments. The intimate self-contained space is exquisitely appointed with beautiful Malaysian furnishings and decorative carvings. If booked into the suite you will enjoy a complimentary fruit platter and juices on arrival before enjoying a blissful holistic treatment side by side. You can choose from any 2 hour treatment from the menu. The Asmara suite also has private facilities so that you can luxuriate in your own steam room and then relax in the intimate deep sunken stone bath infused with Ushvani’s signature Nutmeg Flower Bath Oil.
De-stressed, stretched and in a Zen like state of mind, I found my way back to the changing room to shower, have a little play with the Ushvani products (which you can purchase from reception) and change back into my clothes. Before leaving I was served a delicious cup of hibiscus tea with sugared winter melon in the tea room as I reflected on my treatment and the surroundings of what could possibly be London’s best day spa. As I made my way back onto the streets of the bustling Capital city I left feeling rejuvenated and as though I had entered a hidden Malaysian paradise right into the centre of town.
Escapism from city life is important and with Ushvani right in the centre of it, what better place to visit.
For more information or to book please visit www.ushvani.com