I first discovered the mystical benefits of a day spa when my friends treated me to a day at The Sanctuary Spa – Covent Garden, following the birth of my first baby.
It was bliss. Robe-on. Lie-down. Relax. Movement only required for treatments, food and Prosecco consumption. No screaming baby to look after, just me and my very comfy lounger.
It became a regular (and much-loved) retreat for us. Then disaster struck – they closed The Sanctuary! The hunt for a new relaxation oasis was well and truly on!
Oh yes, we’ve tried a fair few. Some in hotels, some in health retreats, some rather questionable ones located in the back streets of London. They were all very nice, but they were all quite an effort to access. Often making you feel you needed to sign up for more than one day to make the effort/expense worth it. Plus a lot weren’t restricted access spas – it’s not very helpful when a kid is cannon-balling into the pool near to you whilst you’re trying to achieve a state of zen.
So what began as a regular ritual dwindled into whenever we have the funds and the time, which equated to rarely.
However, that all changed when I met my friend for dinner a month ago…
She was excited to tell me about her recent discovery of a great day spa. I was all ears… Where was this luxurious retreat we will no-doubt shortly be escaping to?
It was in a leisure centre – come again?
Yes! We’d hit the jackpot this time friends we were headed here:
Verulamium Spa, Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre, St Albans
Regardless of my reservations (and yes I’ll admit my own spa-snobbery) I was too in need of some body and mind restoration not to give this a go.
Don’t let the building exterior deter you (although it is one of the nicer looking leisure centres!). Once inside the Verulamium Spa, you’ll feel a world away from where you actually are.
Upon arrival at reception, you are handed a robe, flip flops and towels and escorted to the changing rooms. From here you’ll emerge eager for your experience to commence.
You have access to a Hydra spa pool, aroma steam room, Kelo sauna, tepidarium, laconium and a caladrium as well as my personal favourite, the relaxation room. And if any of those words ending in ‘um’ left you thinking “um?” they are basically rooms of varying temperatures designed to help aid the relaxation process and rid the body of toxins. Helpful hey?!
Our first stop was the heated benches, which in my opinion look more like beds. But what does that matter when you look this chilled-out lying on one:
We made time to experience each of the different rooms and also took the plunge into the Hydra spa pool (although I wasn’t brave enough to try submerging myself under one of the water jets), before drying off and setting up camp on a couple of the padded loungers in the relaxation room.
If you want to rejuvenate as well as relax, there are a variety of treatments available offering the use of Caudalie, Clarins or ENVIRON products.
As a little extra treat for myself, I opted for the ENVIRON Active Vitamin facial and goodness what a facial it was!
My therapist Anna was friendly and knowledgeable, she talked me through everything that was about to happen. The active vitamin facial uses gentle electrical pulses and sound waves to greatly enhance the penetration of the freshest most active forms of Vitamin A, C and antioxidants. Developed by a plastic surgeon, the facial is designed to stimulate collagen, soften lines, improve elasticity and increase hydration. Once I overcame the slight panic of having a mask applied over my eyes and mouth (only your nostrils are uncovered) I actually found it very relaxing – the hand and shoulder massage helped too.
I came away feeling my face had really been ‘worked on’ (in a good way) something that I’ve never achieved through more regular facials. To gain full effect you need to continue a course of these treatments but I was impressed with the results from just the first go.
Good to know: You are advised not to use the steam room, sauna etc after your facial, so be sure to schedule the facial for later in the day in order to take full advantage of the other facilities on offer.
Obviously, after all the relaxing and pampering, we worked up a bit of an appetite. We ate some tasty, reasonably priced spa cuisine (also known as: nutritionally balanced food) in the small cafe within the spa, before returning to the relaxation room for some further unwinding. If you wished to indulge yourself though, afternoon teas are available.
As my time at the spa drew to an end, I realised I had forgotten to take any makeup to reapply post facial. However, the staff were so sweet and expertly applied some of their ‘skin healthy’ Jane Iredale makeup (available for purchase). I’d also like to note I had 4 people compliment me on how good my makeup looked (and I had next to hardly any on!)
Although I did have to leave mid-afternoon (those school-run times budge for no-one), I did so a lot more revived. It’s crazy to think I could fit all that in without severely disrupting my day to day life. But I guess that’s what the beauty of a spa located in a leisure centre is – its accessibility, its low commitment.
And now with wellness centres within leisure centres springing up all over the country, it’s a fantastic excuse for more of us to experience all the benefits a spa day has to offer.
Time-poor people in need of some relaxation now have an opportunity to indulge without needing a significant diary re-schedule or a hotel stay to accommodate.
Additionally, some of the leisure centres also offer creche facilities – what a great way for stressed-out parents to carve out some proper me-time.
I may have been sceptical at first, but I am so relieved to have found a little easily-accessible oasis of calm that I can’t wait to return to again and again.
If you’re in need of some stress-relieving recuperation time – you wouldn’t go far wrong to see if your local leisure centre has a day spa for you.
Visit Verulamium Spa & Wellness for further details.
Verulamium Spa is part of the Everyone Urban Spa & Wellness Brand which is part of Everyone Active. You can view the other spas they operate here.
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Have you ever had a spa day? What was your experience? Do you like to go just to use the facilities or do you like to partake in the treatments too? Would you attend a spa day in a leisure centre or do you prefer more traditional spa settings? Whatever you’d like to say or if you have any questions about the Verulamium spa I visited, please get in touch via the comments box below. I’m happy to help & I always love to hear from you!