Europe’s first Chuan Spa (there are several throughout the world) is in the 5-star Langham Hotel in central London. Offering treatments based on Traditional Chinese Medicine, this spa will appeal if you’re looking for some Eastern ambience in central London. The facilities are excellent, the treatments original and professional, and the spa is distinctively different: there's a pool with chandeliers and a Himalayan rock salt sauna, for instance. Chuan Spa is currently closed while it undergoes an exciting refurbishment project. The spa will re-open in summer 2017 as Chuan Body & Soul.
- Six treatment rooms, including a couples' suite
- Relaxation area
- 16m swimming pool
- Vitality pool
- Himalayan rock salt sauna
- Changing rooms with sauna and steam room
- Fitness studio
- Chuan Own Brand
- Germaine De Capuccini
Our Spa Spy review
The Langham Hotel, in the centre of London, is luxury and service all the way. Gentlemen in top hats wait to help you into the huge marble hall with grand pillars, stylish bars, an oak-panelled dining room run by Roux père et fils, and, of course, a rather lovely spa. If you are staying at the hotel (which is a rather lovely treat), ask for a room in the Regent wing. These rooms are just above the spa and you can go straight down in the lift to the spa reception. Ideal if you have donned your robe and don't want to risk having to cross the rather grand main reception area.
What's on offer?
Chuan spa spans three floors. At the lowest level is the 16-metre swimming pool. The double-height ceiling and glass walls mean you can see into the pool area from above which helps make it light and bright.
On the next level is the thermal area finished in black slate. This has two heated, tiled loungers, a vitality pool with water jets, and a Himalayan rock salt sauna with an intense orange light behind the rock crystals. There is also a gym with Technogym cardio and resistance equipment and a fitness studio.
The changing rooms are on this level, too, and they each have a sauna and steam room as well as showers and lockers.
The six treatment rooms are on the top level near the relaxation area. The couples' treatment room has a large wooden Ofuo bath, big enough for two to share, two treatment beds, and a sitting area so you can have lunch there as well.
"Chuan" means "flowing water" and, in Chinese culture, flowing water is seen as the source of life and balance. This sums up the ethos of Chuan Spa which offers treatments based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Don't expect your average spa experience. Massages at Chuan Spa combine TCM techniques and essential oils to restore balance and harmony. Many involve acupressure points as well. The stone massages use hot and cold stones to balance the "yin" and "yang" of the body.
Tell us about the treatments
We had The Travellers Retreat (90 minutes, £180) which is designed to "rebalance your body and soul after a stressful day".
My therapist, Najmin, asked me how I was feeling and offered me three oils to smell, so that my body could choose the right one. I went for the first, with a scent of lemon and lime. Najmin then asked how I wanted my skin to feel after the treatment, and how I wanted to feel. My answer to both was "brighter" and that's what she set out to achieve.
Najmin began with a warm foot soak, and carefully dried my feet before moving on to a back exfoliation. She used herbal sea-salt mixed with oils, so it was a very gentle, yet thorough exfoliation. Najmin removed the oils with warm damp cloths: much more luxuriously lazy than having to get up and into the shower! She then began a lovely back, neck and shoulder massage, focusing on the tight muscles caused by too much work on a laptop. Najmin found all the tight and tense muscles -- even the ones under my shoulder blades -- and worked away at them until she, and I, felt them loosen. I then turned over for the Thalgo facial. This uses deep-sea marine algae extracts. My skin was noticeably brighter after the treatment, just as I had requested.
Meanwhile, my spa partner was having a Chuan Signature treatment. She writes: "I thoroughly enjoyed my Chuan Signature Body Elements treatment (90 minutes, £160). My therapist, Bethanie, shepherded me through to the 'Earth' treatment room and talked me through what to expect: a full-body massage followed by a tailored Thalgo facial. My face was very winter-season dry so she recommended an exfoliating scrub with added hyaluronic acid: sounded good!
Bethanie's massage was perfectly judged, with an uplifting scent of jasmine throughout from the oil I had chosen from Chuan Spa's own blends. I appreciated the journey as Bethanie worked along the acupressure points in each of my limbs and focused on my stressed neck and shoulders. Bethanie was sensitive to my areas of sensitivity, noting which muscles needed kneading, and those which required a lighter touch. The scalp massage while my face-mask did its work was divine. In an ideal world, I'd have this massage every day. The 90 minutes fairly whizzed by. I was perfectly relaxed and perfectly ready for my tea and berries in the relaxation area when the treatment was (sadly) over."
Book a spa day with afternoon tea in the Palm Court for an ultimate treat. That does mean you have to time your spa day carefully, however, as you need to dress and go through to the hotel for tea. Book your treatments accordingly. The Palm Court is all elegance and quietly perfect service. The tea involves dainty sandwiches and warm scones, and your very own three-level cake stand with a variety of cakes and sweetmeats.
My spa partner never eats sweet things, so she went "off piste" and had a cauliflower soup that she declared "deliciously unforgettable".
Supper in Roux at the Langham is a luxurious treat. We shared a whole turbot, served in the copper pan it was cooked in, and then filleted for us at the table. Such style!
Simpler fare is served in the spa if you book a day package.
We loved / we didn't love
We have always loved the relaxation area at Chuan Spa. The high-ceilinged room is divided by huge free-standing wooden and glass screens decorated with padded fabric sections which add colour and softness to the area. It feels intimate and opulent without being crowded, as there are just six leather recliners.
The pool which was once a bank vault: No stacks of gold bars are left (sadly) but the water is clean and clear and the pool is long enough at 16 metres to stretch out and do a few lengths. There is not much seating around the pool, which keeps it the preserve of serious swimmers.
The salt sauna: Cooler than a traditional sauna, so you can stay in for longer and the salt element is invigorating.
We didn't love:
The three broken lockers in the changing room.
The circular seating area in the changing room takes up a lot of space; even with just three people there, we found that we got in each other's way.
Who do you think would like it?
Anyone who needs to be pampered with some top-class treatments.
Foodies who like to spa well and eat well.
Those who need a city-centre bolt hole when the work, or the shopping, gets too much.
What bubble rating did you give this spa?
The fine-dining restaurant, Roux at The Landau, is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner; the hotel’s award-winning afternoon tea is served in the Palm Court.
380 rooms and 15 room, suite and apartment types available, from Classic Rooms to The Infinity Suite.
Mon - Fri: 9am to 10pm
Sat - Sun: 9am to 8pm