In the center of London, there are plenty of spas to choose from, with most situated in London’s luxury hotels. However, as London reopened in Spring 2021 after the pandemic, a new type of relaxation experience launched for the first time in London, Aire Ancient Baths. Aire Ancient Baths are situated worldwide, including locations such as New York, Barcelona, and Copenhagen. Each site is different, but all have the main elements of the Aire Ancient Baths brand. The bathing rituals of ancient civilizations inspire the experiences, and all the spas are based in historical buildings.
The London site is situated just off the Strand, not far from Covent Garden. An iconic 18th Century townhouse is the venue for Aire Baths London, in which the author of Peter Pan, JM Barrie, resided. The house was designed by Robert Adam, a neoclassical architect who appropriately drew inspiration from the Greek and Roman empires. This is reflected in the classical architecture and interiors of the location, with original features including ceiling roses, cornices, and vaulted brick ceilings still visible.
From the very beginning, it is clear that this is anything but an everyday spa experience. The outside looks like a typical London house, but little does it belie what lays beneath the innocuous entrance. As you enter, you are led into a Library to complete any necessary paperwork and receive your wristbands according to what package you have booked.
You can book the ancient baths for 90 minutes, which costs £90, or you can add on a package that includes a massage of various lengths, a Himalayan salt experience, or the signature wine bath. However, the treatment rooms are in glass partitioned rooms, which can occasionally lead to some noise from the adjacent rooms.
Once you are ready to embark on the journey around the baths, you are led down a candlelit staircase to the changing rooms below, where you are handed your rather cute water socks to keep you safe during your stay.
As you enter the baths themselves, you notice the exposed brickwork, multitudes of flickering candles and lanterns, relaxing music, and the gentle noise of water as you feel you are transcending back in time to a Roman Baths. The mood is slightly otherworldly, romantic, and deeply calming.
To keep the tranquil atmosphere, numbers are limited for each session, and they also have a silence policy, although most people were whispering in hushed tones. Obviously, you aren’t allowed to use a mobile either, thereby allowing you to completely disconnect and take in the total serenity of the surroundings in the twilight.
Before you start, helpful and serene staff guide you around the different baths. There is a wide choice of experiences that quickly fill the 90 minutes experience.
- Caldarium (Hot Bath /40ºC)
- Frigidarium (Cold Bath / 14ºC and Ice Bath 10ºC)
- Tepidarium (Warm Bath / 36ºC)
- Balneum (Bath of Thousand Jets)
- Vaporium (Steam Bath)
- Flotation (Salt-water pool with salt the density of the Dead Sea)
It is recommended to brave the icy waters in between heat treatments to get the full benefits. There are also heated marble stones to relax in between baths to enjoy tea or water to rehydrate.
When you have finished your session, the changing rooms are well equipped with showers, hairdryers, and toiletries to help you return to the outside world, although you may feel you want to remain in this silent blissful world forever!
The next planned Aire Baths are due to open in Toronto in 2023.