I asked my friend Shelley what she wanted for her birthday present and she said a float session at Floatworks. Many years ago my sister used to work in a floatation centre in Edinburgh but I’d never tried one. Intrigued, I decided to book one for myself too!
Floatworks has two locations in London – one in Vauxhall and one in Angel. Shelley and I chose the Angel location as we wanted to have a catch-up and lunch before our float and the area has lots of eating options.
What is floatation or floating?
You might be wondering what exactly floating or floatation is. It’s basically lying in a darkened, soundless floatation tank, which is filled with Epsom salt, and enjoying the quiet and sense of weightlessness. It’s a whole hour where you just get to be at one with yourself and your thoughts.
The benefits of floating
According to Floatworks, the four benefits to floating are:
- Stress relief and relaxation
- Better sleep
- Consciousness exploration
- Meditation and mindfulness
The floatation tank is filled with Epsom salt, which is a magnesium rich mineral that has been used for centuries to help improve sleep, reduce pain, muscle ache, headaches and improve skin health. People who float regularly report that it helps to reduce stress and anxiety and that the impacts can last up to a week. Many say that their sleep is longer and better several nights after they float.
The experience at Floatworks
If it’s your first time floating, the staff will take you through what it is and the benefits. After leaving our shoes by reception (they don’t allow shoes beyond reception so make sure you bring flipflops or a pair of socks to walk around in), we were shown the hair and make-up room for afterwards, where there are mirrors, hairdryers, GHDs and amenities such as body lotion, tissues and ear buds.
There’s a lovely relaxation room where you can chill out after your float if you want a chance to just reflect on the experience and prolong that relaxing sensation.
I really loved the design and decor of the relaxation room. It has lots of comfy chairs and sofas to settle in, with a glass of water of a cup of herbal tea. You can help yourself to a wide range of herbal teas after your float.
After being shown where we could relax post-float we were taken through to the floatation area where we picked up a towel to take in with us to our private pods. They ask that you’re quiet when walking to your pod so that you don’t disturb anyone having a float.
Inside your private room, there’s a shower with shampoo, conditioner and body wash so that you can shower after your float and wash your hair. They also provide moldable ear plugs and Vaseline in case you have any cuts as the Epsom salt can really burn!
The closed pod reminded me of an egg! They need to stay closed to maintain the temperature. If you’re worried about hygiene, the levels of salt mean that nothing (including bacteria) can exist in the water. The water is also sanitised and filtered after each session.
Note that you’re advised to float naked as the levels of salt can damage your swimwear.
The pod itself is a bit larger than I thought it would be and I had plenty of space inside. I was a bit worried that the water wouldn’t be warm enough but it’s actually at body temperature so was absolutely fine. It was explained to us that music would play for the first 10 minutes and then it would switch off and only come back on again 5 minutes before the end of the session. The pods are designed so that you float in total silence, which helps with consciousness exploration and meditation and mindfulness. I won’t lie… I liked the music and would have preferred it on the whole time as I found it really relaxing.
There is a blue light in the pod, but it’s recommended that you switch the light off and float in darkness. It’s meant to represent a blank canvas for your mind. I didn’t mind being in total darkness but I can see how some people may prefer keeping the light on and you’re in control of the light switch, which is inside the pod itself.
The sensation of floating is quite strange, particularly in the dark and in silence. I was a bit worried I’d be bored and the time would drag but actually it went fairly quickly. I did feel relaxed afterwards but I think this is something that you probably have to do fairly regularly to really feel the benefits, however it’s quite pricey so is not the most affordable option for relaxation. According to Floatworks, you’ll feel the benefits after just one session but you’ll notice more of a difference if you go once a week or at least once a month.
What does it cost?
At the time of writing this, the price for a single session is £55. If you decide that you’d like to float more regularly, you can buy a membership. For one float a month you’ll pay £45 or for two it’s £80. They also offer annual memberships at £450 for 12 floats or £700 for 24.
I really enjoyed the experience at Floatworks and would like to go again. It was very relaxing although I do think it’s quite expensive though, meaning I couldn’t go that regularly. The staff were really friendly and knowledgeable and were happy to answer any questions we had. I really loved the relaxation areas – perfect to chill for a bit post-float.
Have you ever had a float session? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!