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The Spa in Dolphin Square
Pimlico, London, SW1V 3LX
Has thermal facilities
5 treatment rooms
The Spa in Dolphin Square is a small but perfectly formed day spa with a Moroccan theme in both décor and treatments. The spa takes the unusual approach of not allowing free access to the heat facilities; instead, the steam room, hammam and rhassoul are prescribed and paid for as part of your treatment programme. The Spa in Dolphin Square is competitively priced for central London and offers some imaginative overnight packages, with accommodation in one of the Dolphin House apartments. Perfect for time out to recharge and refresh, alone or with a friend.
The Spa at Dolphin Square sits in a hidden corner of an art-deco residential "village" in Pimlico. The village has residential accommodation, a shopping arcade, a fitness centre and the spa.
The spa is subterranean, but this works well with the spa's Moroccan theme. Through terracotta and gold walls, vibrant silk cushions and brilliant red fabrics, you enter a world of Moorish charm. Little pink and blue Moroccan slippers denote the gender for the changing rooms, and the corridors are lit, in part, by silver lanterns.
The Spa at Dolphin Square is polished with beautiful touches that are sometimes absent in modern spas. Spa-ing starts with a rose-water ceremonial handwash, a lovely way to be rid of the dust and dirt of London. The mineral-rich water used in the spa comes from the City of Westminster's only working artisan well.
The wood-lined changing rooms have large lockers and are well stocked with [ comfort zone ] products and plenty of towels for wet hair or to have a mid-session dry off. The changing rooms are pretty petite with just two changing benches, two loos and two showers.
Facilities are a little limited. You can use the deep relaxation room, tepidarium and the showers (including a bucket shower) without charge, but the steam room, hammam and rhassoul are all paid-for experiences.
The large, brown leather sofas in the relaxation room have big blankets and plenty of vivid cushions to sink into. The tepidarium has five heated beds (only two were in service when we visited -- it's hard to order spare parts when they come from Austria!) separated by gauzy fabric to help you zone out after your treatments.
A beautiful small courtyard acts as a suntrap on sunny days; sip tea and lust after the mother-of-pearl inlaid furniture. (We did.)
I had the Gold Body Ceremony (145 minutes, £199) and my colleague had the Sultan's Foot Ceremony (55 minutes, £60).
My two-and-a-half hours of bliss started with a hammam ritual. My therapist, Monica, found me in the tepidarium and led me to the hammam, a humid steam chamber. She asked me to check the water temperature before dousing me with water from large wooden bowls. She explained that the treatment was cleansing and softening. Monica applied black soap with olives and eucalyptus to my skin and asked me to lie on a bench while the soap worked its magic. A few minutes later, she came back, washed off the soap and exfoliated my skin with a kessa glove before dousing me with slightly cooler water to bring my body temperature back down. My skin was perfectly primed for what was to come next.
After a mini 15-minute break (back in the tepidarium), Monica took me to a more conventional treatment room to begin the full body massage and facial.
After discussing massage pressure (medium to firm) and my areas of concern (neck, shoulders, upper back), I got onto the massage bed and relaxed while Monica talked me through three deep breaths, just catching the scent of rose oil.
Using a mixture of warm shea butter and gold dust, Monica worked on my shoulders and back using traditional massage strokes and some gentle stretching and rocking of my joints. The pressure was perfect and I was pretty close to sleep by the time she moved from my back to my legs, arms and décolletage.
Next, Monica asked me to move down the bed and raised my knees slightly so they were comfortable during the facial. She applied an argan-oil cleanser and washed it off with warm cloths before using the black soap to cleanse my skin. Next came a gold scrub before she massaged my skin with gold and honey moisturiser.
After applying a moisturising mask, Monica massaged my scalp for five-minutes of spine-tingling bliss. To finish the treatment, she removed the mask with hot towels before applying a gold serum and moisturiser. After all the pampering, my skin was beautifully soft with a slight sheen of radiant gold.
Monica gave me a few moments to wake before taking me through to the relaxation area where she offered a range of teas or snacks. Their delicious mint tea came with almonds and figs.
My colleague enjoyed The Sultan's Foot Ceremony and came out of the treatment with sparkling red toenails.
The Spa at Dolphin Square's treatment menu draws on the Moroccan theme with exotic-sounding rituals such as the Moroccan Majorelle and the Arabian Nights Manicure. The spa also offers more traditional facials, body treatments and beauty must-haves. Do try the salt-infused steam room, rhassoul or hammam.
The healthy and not-so-healthy snacks to try at the spa include crumpets with peanut butter, scones and cream, ice cream, or hummus, pitta and olives.
The extensive tea menu has options such as jasmine, rosebud, mint, spice, and chocolate-mint.
We loved the theme: it really does feel like you've been whisked away to Morocco for a few hours of relaxation and pampering.
The good old-fashioned spa customer service: We always felt looked after and loved the fact that the therapist will come to find you in the spa, rather than you having to report for duty. Clock-watching is not conducive to relaxing.
The rituals: if you can, book a ritual rather than an individual treatment. The journey of the super-warm hammam to tepidarium to warm treatment room will help loosen any tense shoulders before your therapist even starts your massage.
We didn't love that the spa charges for the thermal rooms; we were lucky enough to be able to use the steam room as part of our day, but we would have felt a little left out if it wasn't included.
It would also have been lovely to be able to use the pool you pass by on entering.
Oh… You probably want to watch out for the Wednesday afternoon fire alarm!
Show us any Londoner who needs to relax and we're sure there will be a treatment to suit. Dolphin Square is within easy reach of central London so would fit perfectly after a morning's shopping.
You can hire an apartment at Dolphin Square, so if you fancy a weekend in London, you might want to stay over, catch a show and have time to spa the following morning.
Once again. we gave The Spa in Dolphin Square a Good Spa Guide rating of 5 bubbles.
Dolphin Square is a spa that looks after its guests, offers excellent treatments, and makes good use of its smaller space. Our reviewer felt a bit like a Moroccan princess for the afternoon… (Now she just needs a small palace in Tangier.)
Summer Spy visited The Spa in Dolphin Square in May 2014
This spa has not had any public reviews yet. Why don't you become the first?
Chichester Street, Pimlico, London, SW1V 3LX
Tea menu and nibbles served in the relaxation lounge.
Dolphin Square’s serviced apartments are available for overnight stays.
Monday to Saturday: 11am - 9pm; Sunday: 10am - 8pm