I first came across AIRE Ancient Baths London in an Instagram ad – yes, really! It was an ad saying that they were coming to London and to sign up to be notified when they opened. It looked amazing from the photos – and I love a good spa – so sign up I did. It took me a few months to then actually book when they did open but now that I’ve been, I’ll definitely be back – it was wonderful. Read on to find out more…
Just a note that AIRE Ancient Baths London doesn’t allow you to take your phone into the bath area so as to ensure a tranquil, peaceful atmosphere. As such, the photos in this post have been kindly supplied by their PR.
Also, this was not a gifted experienced – I paid for the spa myself.
The concept of AIRE Ancient Baths is to create a space, dedicated to relaxation, and where time doesn’t exist. In London, you’ll find AIRE tucked away in a small street just behind the Strand and a short walk from the hustle and bustle of Covent Garden. Once you step inside, you can already feel the calm and tranquility – like you’ve been transported somewhere else!
The building dates back to the 18th century and was once the home of author J.M Barrie, who reportedly wrote Peter Pan in this very building! The book geek in me was absolutely delighted by that fact. Even better, there’s a first hand edition of Peter Pan in the reception area.
AIRE offers a number of experiences to choose from. We opted for just the 90 minutes thermal tour, which allows you access to all the different baths and we added cava and truffles to enjoy mid-way through, which is a £12 per person add-on. You can also choose from a variety of massages, such as a couples massage, full body massage or experiences such as the Himalayan Salt Ritual and – if you really fancy splashing the cash – a Wine Bath Experience.
You’re asked to arrive around 15 minutes before your allocated time slot to check-in and be shown to the changing rooms.
What to bring
All you need to bring is your swim suit. Dressing gowns (without pockets – so nowhere to sneak a phone!) are provided as well as yoga-type socks which must be worn at all times. You’re allocated a locker where you can keep your clothes, hand bags etc and which have a towel in for when you are finished and need to shower. The showers are stocked with luxurious shampoo, conditioner and body wash from L’occitane and there are hair dryers and straighteners.
What to expect
Once you’ve changed into your swim suit, put on your socks and gown, you are then given a short tour by a member of staff who explains the various baths and the order in which they recommend. They also explain that half-way though you will hear a bell which indicates you’re half-way and the second time you hear the bell means that your session is finished. If you have ordered any extras, such as cava or fruit juice, and truffles, you’ll be asked when you would like them. We opted for half-way through.
As the aim is to offer maximum relaxation, they ask that you speak very quietly so as to not disturb anyone else. If you’re looking for a hen party spa, this is not the place!
There are seven different bath experiences to enjoy at your own pace. There is a recommended sequence, however you can follow your own path. It is recommend though to start with the Tepidarium, which is a warm bath at 36ºC, as it’s close to your body’s own temperature. It’s also their largest bath and my favourite as you could swim around corners and there were little pockets where you could sit in the warm water and just relax.
After the Tepidarium it’s recommended to have a dip in the Frigidarium (the small pool pictured below). They actually have three – two which are close to each other in the bath area, however one is 14 ºC and one is just 10 ºC. My husband braved them both but I only tried the 14 ºC one and it was freezing!
The other Frigidarium is located inside the Vaporium, which is a steam room. It’s also only 14 ºC but as the steam room is so warm, it’s much easier to brave the cold water! I find it quite difficult to breath in steam rooms so I didn’t stay in this room that long – probably only around 5 mins or so.
After the Vaporium you can take another dip in the cold bath before heading to the opposite bath, which is the Caldarium. It’s the hottest bath at 40 ºC and you’ll feel your skin tingling if you went from cold to hot! This was one of my favourites as I prefer hot water.
The last two baths are the Balneum, or ‘Bath of a thousand jets’, and the Flotarium (pictured below), which is a salt bath so you can easily float. I imagine it’s a bit like floating in the Dead Sea.
My husband loved the Balneum the best, as it was like getting a massage! On our second round of doing all the baths, we probably spent around 20 minutes in this one.
When the first bell was rung, we headed to the relaxation lounge area to enjoy our cava and truffles and then did the circuit again until our session was over.
What I loved
The atmosphere is so tranquil and relaxing and it’s beautifully designed – with dim lighting, exposed brickwork and romantic candles. As the number of people are limited, it never feels busy and there were times where it was just the two of us in a pool. Although it was only 90 minutes, it felt much longer and I left feeling so relaxed – like I’d been there all day or as though I’d actually had a massage instead of just enjoying the various baths!
The 90 minute bath tour costs £90 per person and it was £12 per person to add cava and truffles.
AIRE has numerous locations around the world, including New York, Chicago, Barcelona, Copenhagen and more. Next time I’m in any of these cities I will definitely book a visit! We absolutely loved our spa experience at AIRE and would highly recommend it if you’re looking for a spa that’s a bit different to others and if you really want to leave relaxed and refreshed.