The Sanctuary Spa, in Covent Garden, was one of my very favourite places, and had been ever since my first visit about five years ago. I loved that it’s woman-friendly without being all fluffy and pink, but most of all I loved it because it’s a spectacular oasis of peace and calm right here in central London.
I used to go two or three times a year, but on my last visit there was a bit of a customer service issue (which was never really resolved by the spa either at the time, or in response to emails after my visit), so I hadn’t been for a while, but when I was invited to an event recently to celebrate their re-launch of their skincare range, and to announce the opening of three new branches (in Cambridge, in Richmond and in Bristol), I thought I’d pop along to see how things were.
During the event, I was struck by the obvious passion for the place from the staff, and was impressed by the entire operation’s devotion to making the spa a real sanctuary for their visitors, and I have to admit that I was very impressed by this. I was also happy to hear that they’ve changed a lot of their skincare – I have to be honest, I was never much of a fan of it, and always found Sanctuary facials to be a little disappointing in the past – and I’m delighted that they’re expanding their offerings into things like eyebrow shaping, and a more medi-spa offering in all their sites.
In fact, I was so impressed with everything they’re planning to do that I went back – at my own expense! – last Friday for a day of R’n’R. As I’m still recovering from surgery, a lot of the facilities were inadvisable (the pools, the steam rooms, massages, etc), but the setting itself is so wonderfully relaxing that I still managed to have a great day. I started with a light breakfast in the koi carp lounge, then went to the third floor – the Sanctuary has 42 treatment rooms, an amazing number I still find hard to believe – for an express manicure and a perfectly polished pedicure. The manicure didn’t quite last 24 hours, though the colour (Merlot from Jessica) is beautiful, I always go for a deep, dark nail colour when someone else is doing it, it’s so satisfying seeing how neat a manicure can be! The pedicure, however, was amazing. My therapist, Hollie, was very sympathetic to my … er… unusual foot situation, but the callus gel they use is AMAZING, and frankly, my feet have never been so soft. I bought a supply of this amazing elixir so I can replicate the results at home from now on!
I then had a lingering lunch in the restaurant – the food at The Sanctuary is much better than you might expect from a spa, you can eat healthily if you wish, or not if you don’t! Generally, I choose not to, and had an excellent steak and chips for lunch, followed by an iced coffee in place of desert. Then to round off my day, I had a little post-lunch nap on one of the beds in the koi carp lounge. I didn’t miss not being able to use the pools or the steam rooms, or anything of that nature and I had a wonderfully indulgent and relaxing day, I’m glad I decided to go back.
As for the revamped, repackaged and relaunched skincare, well, for me, the jury is still out. I have some bits and pieces to try – I have high hopes for the facial oil – and I’ll bring you my thoughts as and when I get around to trying everything properly. But, one thing they’ve launched that I think is a great idea is the “Facial in a Box” kit, which has everything you need to give yourself a salon-quality facial at home. In two varieties, Brightening and Youth Boosting, the kits cost £16 each, and are a great way to acquaint yourself with The Sanctuary products.
Now, this post has been pretty London-centric, and I’m aware that many of my readers won’t get the chance to travel to London to try out their facilities (though if you do get the chance, leap at it, you won’t regret it!), so I bought one of the Facials in a Box to give away to one of you guys. Just leave a comment on this blog post saying what would be your ideal spa treatment, and I’ll draw a winner entirely at random at the end of the week. The prize is a Brightening Facial in a Box, and I will ship internationally. You don’t need to be a follower to enter this competition, but you do need to leave a valid email address in your entry comment. Good luck!