ESPA Life is an extremely classy spa set in the eponymous five-star Corinthia Hotel, a short walk from London’s Covent Garden. The design is dazzling – from the stark white relaxation area to the black marble pool – while the wellness and mindfulness credentials are impressive. Book in for a session with a naturopath, an acupuncturist, a nutritionist or a personal trainer and combine it with a treatment. The changing rooms are larger and better equipped than some entire spas.
- Single sex facilities
- XXL robes available
- Vitality pool
- 9-metre pool
- Amphitheatre sauna
- Steam room
- Ice fountain
- Marble heated loungers
- Experience showers
- Nail studio
- Daniel Galvin hair salon
Our Spa Spy review
Since opening in 2011, ESPA Life at Corinthia has become a favourite of well-heeled Londoners, international travellers, and those seeking an holistic haven. Just off Whitehall, the spa is spread over four floors of the luxe Corinthia Hotel London: think opulent décor, marble walls and stunning art. The ethos inside the spa is more balanced; it goes beyond the visual and becomes a place of harmony and mindfulness.
What's on offer?
ESPA Life is on the mezzanine floor of the Corinthia. Walk along the black and white corridor to the tall silver sculpture that marks reception. The reception space is clad in marble with lots of ESPA products to try and two back-lit desks. We filled in our consultation form in the spa lounge while sipping our mindful mocktail.
The spa lounge has white leather seating, a full wall-sized mirror and a black centrepiece wall accenting the whites and neutrals. There's a long flickering fireplace and plenty of papers and magazines.
Descend one level (take the stairs or the lift) to the female spa changing rooms. The large circular room has thermal facilities in the centre, with areas of changing space around the outside. There's a black-tiled steam room, traditional wooden sauna, and a huge marble shower between the two. Next to the shower are black and white heated tepidarium beds. The three changing enclaves each have a shower and private changing cubicle, sinks, vanity desks and plenty of fresh towels. By the entrance to the changing rooms is an area of white seating with a big bowl of fruit and fruit-infused water. Your therapist will meet you here.
The sleep pods for post-treatment relaxation are just outside the changing area. Each pod has a crescent-shaped bed with pillows and a blanket; close the space off with a voile curtain. The dark walls, gentle lighting and purple pillows make the pods feel very mellow and calm. A suspended fireplace hangs in the centre of the five pods alongside more infused water and dried fruits to help yourself to.
Descend another two levels to the wet and thermal facilities. The space is dark and cool with black marble walls and low lighting; a lovely contrast to the whiter areas of the spa above. The facilities stem off a central corridor. A relaxation area has white leather couches and a statement light piece which looks almost like petals and butterflies. A two-sided fire wall divides three heated tepidarium beds from the hydro-pool. The hydro-pool is warm with individual jets which you can turn on and off; choose the swan pipe, air beds, massage chair, or jets for your legs.
The dramatic amphitheatre sauna is sunken into the floor and surrounded by glass walls. It was super-hot during our visit and would comfortably seat eight to ten people. Try the large ice fountain and showers if you want to cool off. Continue the journey to the black mosaic steam room with individual curved benches and the cooler swimming pool; it's just nine metres long but feels lovely after the heat. More white loungers run along the edge of the pool so you can take a rest mid-experiences. Rehydrate with drinking water by the thermal facilities' entrance, and there are plenty of extra towels by the main shower.
If you're looking to beautify or keep fit, try the nail lounge, hair salon and gym.
Tell us about the treatments
We had the Mindful Sleep treatment (120 minutes, £280).
My therapist, Angel, met me just outside the changing rooms and took me to our circular treatment room. I sat in a chair and Angel washed my feet while he talked a little about the treatment and my sleep habits, how I felt, and how I wanted to feel afterwards. We chose a massage oil by scent and Angel left the room while I settled on the wide treatment bed.
Angel started the treatment by pressing firmly on areas of my body, to give me a sense of his touch and begin the process of relaxing. He asked me to take three deep breaths, drawing in the scent of the massage oil, then guided me through some breathing exercises. My mind quietened and I was ready for the massage.
The massage is normally done with very light pressure, but Angel agreed to do a little more work on my tense shoulders. He started with my feet and the backs of my legs, working his way up to my thighs, then on to my back, shoulders and neck. Angel used some deep-tissue techniques on the bigger muscle groups, and softer, gentle strokes to bring me back down into relaxation. He placed crystals over each area of my body when he had finished massaging. Angel asked me to turn over onto my front and repositioned the bed, supporting my knees and neck. He then worked his way up my front from my legs, to stomach, to décolletage, to neck and scalp. I was blissfully relaxed and my body felt heavy and loose.
To finish, Angel took me through a session of Yoga Nidra. Yoga Nidra is a form of guided meditation in which the person meditating is brought in and out of the body; becoming more aware of how their body feels and the space around them. The idea is to get to a state of consciousness between sleeping and waking. Angel had me analyse my body, feeling how it sat on the treatment bed, and then moved me to contemplating the sounds in the room and the sounds beyond the room.
The multi-phased treatment was a beautiful way of balancing the mind and body, but also making sure my body was ready for the massage. I felt the initial breathing exercises gave me the time I needed to properly relax, and the Yoga Nidra allowed me to deeply chill out before coming round.
ESPA Life at Corinthia has a huge treatment menu from traditional spa massages, facials and body treatments to traditional Chinese medicine, physiotherapy, nutrition, fitness and beauty finishing touches in the salon and nail parlour. The menu has offerings for men and mums-to-be, too.
If you visit for a spa day, you'll eat in the spa lounge. Check your spa-day plan as some packages only include one course.
We had the mindful set menu which offers three starters, three mains, and three desserts. The food is light but flavourful. We tried the miso-glazed salmon and soba noodles but there was also chicken or a vegetarian option. You can also order juices and shakes, teas and coffees, and wine and Champagne.
The hotel has three restaurants from modern British cuisine at The Northall, upscale Italian at Massimo, and rather lovely afternoon teas in The Lobby Lounge.
We loved / we didn't love
The wellness ethos and treatments: Not many UK spas have made the dive wholeheartedly into mindfulness. Our treatment was calming, balancing, and left me feel ready to tackle the world again.
The décor and finishing touches: For me, part of spa-ing is having something beautiful to look at while I chill in the hydro-pool. The marble, sculptures and design flourishes keep the eyes busy while the mind wanders...
The changing rooms: Who would have thought that one would want to linger in an area intended for showering?
We didn't love
A few little things made the spa day feel just a bit ungenerous. At lunch, our fellow guests were surprised to find that they were entitled to just one course and one drink.
We would also have loved some cleanser and moisturiser in the changing rooms -- though we were welcome to try some samples from reception.
Who do you think would like it?
Solo spa goers: There aren't many spas where you can feel supremely comfortable on your own. In fact, ESPA Life at Corinthia feels like such a special place, you may not want to share.
Anyone who wants to make a change to their lifestyle: The fitness facilities are very good and the experts in the spa will help you on your way to making nutrition and lifestyle changes.
Corinthia Hotel London is in a great central London location, so it's perfect for a city break with spa on the side.
What bubble rating did you give this spa?
We awarded ESPA Life at Corinthia a Good Spa Guide rating of 5 Bubble Luxury. It's our highest accolade and the spa deserves it. You'll find a treatment to suit whether you're looking for a facial or complementary therapies; the facilities are beautifully designed and well maintained; the staff are absolutely helpful and polite. When you pay this much, you expect luxury, and that's what ESPA Life at Corinthia delivers