Hidden away in central London, between the Strand and the River Thames, is a quiet haven of relaxation and respite. AIRE London is sited in Robert Street, in the former home of Peter Pan author, J M Barrie. Here the magic of Neverland sustains in its new iteration as a bathing house, replete with a variety of different bathing experiences.
Choose between hot, cold, warm and ice, with the freezing plunge of the Trepidariums (14oC and 10oC), the warming Caldarium (40oC), the scented Steam Room, and the thousand-jet jacuzzi- style Balneum. Visitors book in for a timed session and are left to meander through the candlelit rooms and thermal baths at their own pace, with the option of ordering a cleansing juice or a rather more indulgent glass of fizz.
I spent a morning wandering happily between the different brick-clad vaults, dressed only in a swimming costume and robe. All nagging doubts about feeling self-conscious were soon dispelled and I rapidly realised that unlike some swanky gyms or spas full of posing types who are there for the ‘gram, AIRE’s clientele are there to embrace the moment (and the mobile ban certainly helps in ensuring everyone’s privacy and peace).
The building’s design encourages you to lounge and linger, and the scent of orange blossom subtly pervades. On a practical note, there’s an array of rainfall showers dotted throughout, and the changing rooms are gratifyingly stocked with everything and anything you could wish for to transform you back into your public self once your session is over and you emerge back on to the city’s streets.
To take full advantage of the experience I strongly recommend booking in for a massage in one of the upstairs chambers as an additional extra. I saw Anita who was exemplary in ironing out any knots and niggles before I headed back down to the basement to immerse myself once more in its watery depths.
From £115 for 90 minutes beaire.com
SIX SCENTED SOAKS
If you can’t make it to AIRE, upgrade your bathing experience at home with one of these fragrant options.
Escape: Nyita’s bath oils are hand blended, hand filled and indescribably sumptuous. In a choice of sublime fragrances, including Sunlit, which is redolent in coastal samphire and verdant moss.
From £139 nyitacollection.com
Restored: The bracing pine and capsicum oils in Wiberg’s pine bath essence will soothe tired muscles and aching limbs. In fact, each of its natural ingredient is rich in healing properties.
Restful: Natural salts suffused with oils including lavender, chamomile and vetiver to encourage a good night’s sleep.
Comforted: Almond and coconut combine in this seductive bath and body oil which can be swirled into a warm bath to sooth and nourish both skin and soul.
De-Stress: Blended with 24 pure essential oils, Neom’s blend of luxurious florals will transport you away from day-to-day cares with its decadent jasmine infused aroma.
Invigorated: Inspired by forest-bathing, this herbaceous concoction of wild mint and lavandin is underscored by the warm familiarity of nutmeg, tonka and orris root.