Wellness has become something of a catch-all, championed by everyone from clean eating gurus to medical doctors. Grace Belgravia was one of its early advocates, a woman’s only private members club with a focus on preventative health and ageing well.
It was opened by founder Kate Percival in 2012, in a Kensington address most of us can only dream about. Step off a wide street between Hyde Park Corner and Sloane Square, buzz through the entrance and a spiral staircase takes you to the main reception space, with an informal restaurant serving healthy and some more indulgent drinks, snacks and light meals. High ceilings, neutral furnishings and colourful splashes of cushions give a modern, and yes, spa-like atmosphere. A high-ceilinged atrium is a space for events – on the day we were there, it was set up as an art gallery.
If your interpretation of wellness is traditional health, head upstairs to the medical and wellbeing clinic. The medical director is Dr Tim Evans, Apothecary to HM The Queen. You can book in for appointments with everyone from gynaecologists to hypnotherapist and nutritionists.
With five years under its belt, Grace feels like it’s getting into its groove. As the venue has grown, it has opened up some of its facilities for non-members to try, including the spa. The changing rooms are pretty and feminine, with pink walls, pale wood lockers, and a large vanity area with individual desks containing everything you need to make yourself presentable post-spa (or gym).
Beyond the changing areas is a mani-pedi room, with ash wood lining two of the walls and enchanting nail varnishes twinkling on shelves. Continue to the sauna and steam room; both thermal rooms are large and well-designed – the sauna glows, with botanical artwork on the back wall, giving the space a polished feel.
The third thermal experience is the affusion room where I experienced one of Grace’s treatments, TheCapri Palace Leg School, which promises “smooth, healthy, younger looking legs”. My charming therapist, Elodie, led me into the simple, white wet room with a Vichy shower hovering over the plinth-style bed. She asked me to change into disposable underwear, saving my swimwear from the mud and minerals to come.
Elodie spent the next 80 minutes applying heat and cold, wraps, mud and ‘solutions’ to my legs. She painted on athick dark mud mixed with the solution from Capri. It was cool, tingly and had a menthol zing. While it worked into my skin, Elodie did lymphatic drainage pressure point work on my neck, chest and arms.
I rinsed off the mud using a shower in the corner and Elodie wrapped my legs in ice cold bandages, soaked in another solution. This time she massaged my scalp while my legs adapted to the sharp cold of the bandages. Elodie removed the bandages and alternated warm water from the Vichy shower with rubbing ice over my legs
Elodie finished the treatment by rubbing a very cool moisturiser from my ankles to the tops of my thighs. The tingling lasted for a couple of hours – blissful on a beach in Capri but still enlivening on a spring day in London. Elodie explained that normally people book in for a series of five treatments, but my legs did perhaps look a little slimmer and more defined after just one; temporarily at least.
The Capri Leg School is one of Grace Belgravia’s more unusual treatments -- it’s the only place to offer it outside Capri Palace in Italy. You can also book in for Natura Bissé treatments, manicures and pedicures, facials with Lisa Franklin or machine-led facials with CACI, among many others.
Grace Belgravia does feel like a place of calm, a place of non-judgment, a place allowing you to live in the best way you see fit. We sat with women from different walks of life; apparent ‘ladies who lunch’, business women talking new initiatives, as well as the odd famous face having time to themselves. Membership at Grace Belgravia comes with a price tag (full membership is a little over £5,000 a year) but you can book into the spa to try on the atmosphere,see whether it works for you. If you want to return, you'll either have to buy a private invitation (£150) or join. If I still lived in London, I would be very tempted to make the maths add up…