Spa LONDON Wimbledon: London, UK

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Wimbledon. Just say the name and many people can't help but think of tennis, strawberries and cream, Pimms with lemonade, and long summer days. But over the years, the popular London suburb of the same name has become much more than a Grand Slam tennis tournament, including an ideal place for visitors to the capital to enjoy a romantic getaway.

If you're wondering how I know this, it's because I lived there for over a decade in the years before I moved to Sydney; also, I recently had the opportunity to return to check out what's new in my old stomping ground. And what I discovered is that, besides some hot new restaurants and cafes, designer shopping, and some fabulous places to stay, Wimbledon also has a worthy spa venue - spa LONDON. It's part of a small group of day spas in funky neighbourhoods including the West End's Oxford Circus, up and coming Bethnal Green, and leafy SW19, or Wimbledon if you don't know the famous post code.

The idea behind the award wining spa LONDON is a luxury spa experience at an affordable price. The spa locations around London (and in Surrey) are often in historic buildings, such as Bethnal Green's York Hall, or the Ironmonger Row Baths in Islington. They embrace the character and unique qualities of the sites, while offering a range of high end, modern-day treatments to suit anyone in need of a spot of pampering. The Wimbledon spa is a great example of this, located in Wimbledon Leisure Centre as part of a major one million pound refurbishment of the centre, and it's one of South London's leading spa venues.

The Facility & Decor:

The spa is upstairs in the Leisure Centre with facilities including a reception, treatment rooms, a relaxation lounge and a thermal spa experience set within an historic, converted bath house, comprising an aroma steam room, sauna, ice fountain, Hammam benches with foot spas, a hydrotherapy pool, a monsoon shower, and a bucket shower. The decor of the main area including the lounge and treatment rooms is easy on the eye, with plenty of natural hues including polished light wood floors, rich buttery painted walls, gossamer white curtains separating velour-covered wood framed relaxation beds, and plenty of light from carefully placed lanterns on the floor in clever wall recesses containing warm candles. In contrast, the thermal spa area is bathed in natural light from windows and skylights high on the walls, the natural hues continuing with warm beige tiles and the Hammam benches adding some glimmering colour through its purplish-bronze mosaic design.

The Treatment:

One of the many things which likely sets this spa apart from others in South London, besides it decor and facilities, is the impressive lineup of spa brands it offers, which include the ever popular Elemis, Murad, La Sultane de Saba, Jessica and Fake Bake. On the menu is another impressive lineup of alluring options from single treatments to packages. Examples include an Elemis Deep Tissue Muscle Massage, ideal for combating long flights and jet lag, a La Sultane de Saba Ayurvedic Massage including a spice scrub, a Murad Sun Undone Infusion Facial, which is rich in vitamin C, and a restorative pedicure, which is ideal for tired feet after a day of sightseeing. Spa packages include the 75 minute spa London Discovery, an indulgence beginning with a salt body scrub, back massage and an Elemis Taster Facial, through to a 160 minute spa LONDON Ultimate Indulgence, which includes a salt body scrub, a 90 minute full body massage including face and scalp, and an express manicure and pedicure. There's also a range of signature spa LONDON treatments.

My treatment, however, was something new, and the ultimate in pampering, called a spa LONDON gold Signature Treatment. My 90-minute journey in the capable hands of therapist Ashleigh begins with a welcoming foot bathing and cleansing ritual. Next was a full-body scrub using the spa's new range of Gold products; a delicious gold-shimmering cane sugar scrub rich in caviar extract, golden jojoba oil, and grapeseed oil, which sloughs of dead skin cells to leave your skin feeling soft, smooth and super hydrated. After showering, the next phase of the treatment is a full body deep tissue massage using Thai herb compresses, focussing on lymphatic drainage movements to release heat and generate energy. This was the part of the treatment which is hard to stay awake for. Ashleigh also asked me about any specific concerns, which when I travel is always storing stress in my lower back and sometimes around the neck and shoulders. The treatment rounded off with the application of another new product from the Gold range; Gold Dry Body Oil, which is contains jojoba, apricot kernel and sweet almond, all three of which combine to work in synergy with key ingredients including caviar extract and vitamin E to leave the skin soft with a gentle, lingering fragrance.

The Verdict:

I could say this about every spa treatment I have, but this was much needed after two weeks of travelling to, and round, the UK and Ireland via Hong Kong, including a number of busy days exploring my old neighbourhood, Wimbledon. Besides friendly staff and a terrific therapist, spa LONDON was truly a hidden gem which many visitors on a romantic getaway may not realise exists. The treatment menu and brands lineup is impressive, and if you have a treatment you can enjoy the thermal suite, which is a haven from all the hustle and bustle outside. And as I always say, the proof of a good spa treatment is often not just how you feel immediately afterwards but how you sleep that night; in my case, in a suite in nearby Cannizaro House overlooking Wimbledon Common, it was like a baby.

spa LONDON Wimbledon is based at the Wimbledon Leisure Centre, Latimer Road, London SW19,, and it's open seven days a week. The spa LONDON Signature Gold Treatment costs 70 UK pounds. The Other spa LONDON locations are found at Bethnal Green, Epsom (Surrey), Old Street, Oxford Circus, and Swiss Cottage.

To get to London, fly Cathay Pacific from Sydney to London via Hong Kong. Cathay Pacific Airways is the 2014 Skytrax Airline of the Year and offers flights to over 190 destinations in 42 countries and territories. From Australia the airline has over 70 flights a week to Hong Kong from six major Australian cities – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Cairns and Perth - with a choice of flying in economy, premium economy or business class.

There are four flights daily from Sydney, three flights a day from Melbourne, daily flights from Brisbane, four flights a week from Cairns and Adelaide, and ten flights from Perth. All flights provide connections over the Hong Kong hub to the airline’s worldwide network, including eight European destinations (from March 2015 Zurich will be added, taking the number to nine). From Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific offers five daily flights to London, offering a choice of flying in economy, premium economy, business class or first class.

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Joanna Hall