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A luxury spa day in London with Denise Van Outen

Sometimes a spa break is about a lengthy weekend escape, but sometimes the best luxuries come in smaller packages - the kind that involve a mid week afternoon with your best friend. Here, Denise Van Outen talks about the day spa that felt like a week away with her bestie at Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Centre at Hotel Cafe Royal in London…

Denise Van Outen spa

First impressions

Akasha at the Hotel Cafe Royal in London is a really beautiful spa. One of the many great things about it is that it’s in central London and it’s a real hidden gem that you can visit when you’re running around having a busy week - its location buys you time to yourself or to spend some really valuable quality time with a friend when you don’t necessarily have a weekend to dedicate to a spa break. It’s so easy to forget that there are these amazing spas in central London and Akasha is one of the best examples.

I visited with my friend Lydia Bright, who you will know from TOWIE, after our 85k trek in the Himalayas for Brain Tumour Research. It was something we talked about on the gruelling 10 day journey last November, and it was a wonderful way to recap that seminal experience and unwind afterwards both mentally and physically.

The spa

We spent a full afternoon in the spa after running around at work meetings in the morning, and I think this is where any working mum will appreciate the value of its accessibility and its real sense of luxury. Fusing wellbeing and total decadence this is a place that makes you feel unashamedly expensive and grown up - it is definitely time that’s just for you and your friends.

Spacious facilities include hydrotherapy, a gym, a hammam, and London’s first Watsu pool for tailored hydro-treatments and guided meditation, not to mention plenty of space to relax and have a good chat, which is how we started out afternoon - easing into the quiet with a herbal tea.

When you have the time to unwind however, particularly somewhere this special, I don’t think you should ever underestimate the value of simply being quiet with someone. That’s something you can only do with really good friends, and Akasha’s beautiful, tranquil swimming pool is the perfect place for just that.

As soon as we walked in I had that wonderful feeling where your shoulders drop and you realise the tension is melting away.

The treatment

After a little time relaxing, both Lydia and I had a full body massage, and another lovely aspect of it was that you could choose between having a relaxing treatment or an invigorating one.

I chose an invigorating treatment as I wanted to use it as a chance to feel revitalised before heading back into London outside and continuing with my afternoon, and I think it’s really important to know that a spa treatment can provide that - it doesn’t always have to be about zoning out for the rest of the day.

You can have a treatment that gives you a real boost and helps to improve your day rather than write it off by making you want to sleep for the remainder of it. It adds real value and a much more accessible way of incorporating meaningful wellbeing into busy schedules.

The treatment was beautiful and at the end of it I wasn’t spaced out but the lovely oils made my skin feel amazing and all my muscles felt relaxed. Afterwards we sat in the relaxation room for about 40 minutes with a cheeky little glass of Prosecco, which was bliss!

The location

The central location of the hotel on Regents Street is a real asset. Not only is it a beautiful and accessible place to get to, and a great place to meet a friend, but it’s also ideal if you want to combine it with a day of shopping in London or even a working day.

You could go in the afternoon if you only have a half day, or evening in the evening. People think they don’t have time to go away for a weekend, but there are opportunities on the doorstep and you feel just as good afterwards! It’s really valuable time!

The verdict

It’s a really beautiful, grown up, mini luxury experience and a very special treat that’s perfect for sharing. It has that really high end vibe - very relaxing but super modern, which is what I loved because it looked like something you would see in Vogue. If Nobu did spas, this is what it would be.

Top tips

  • Go at a time you wouldn’t normally treat yourself - at lunch time or in the evening after work.
  • If you want to feel boosted opt for an invigorating massage so you don’t feel spaced out afterwards.
  • Make sure you arrive early - it’s really worth spending time there and sets the tone for your whole treatment rather than rushing straight in.


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