Porchester Spa interior

For a year I lived in Notting Hill on a junior editor’s salary, eeking out my cash and ruing the fact that I lived in one of the most expensive areas of London. I spent most of my time heading back over to my friends in north and east London where I could at least afford to go out.

I wish that I had looked a bit more carefully out the windows of the number 7 bus as I escaped eastwards, because then I would have thought  to have visited The Porchester Spa, where for just £23 I could have spent a day off recovering from dealing daily with some of the world’s most talented, and therefore spoilt, over-indulged and obstreperous, photographers.

Instead I waited ten years until a kind publicist invited lil’sis and I down for the day to experience the 1929 Art Deco spa for ourselves.

The spa is attached to the local council swimming baths, and is not what I would call a luxury destination. Then again, I always think that the nearest smart equivalent, The Sanctuary Spa in Covent Garden, is vastly over-rated and given the choice, would rather save my money and head to the Porchester which essentially does the same thing, but without the towelling robes and pot plants.

So long as you are prepared for white plastic loungers & metal lockers in the  combined large entrance hall and relaxation lounge,  large naked ladies disporting themselves in every direction and bring flips flops for your feet, I guarantee you will enjoy the spa and its happy, municipal atmosphere.

It’s best to get a tour from the friendly receptionist so you know what’s what, as downstairs is a warren of rooms, all doing something different.  There are two relaxation Russian stream rooms, three Turkish hot rooms, a beautiful ice cold plunge pool and a newly installed Finnish sauna cabin.

We didn’t try the shmeise, (only available on Couples & Mixed sessions) but  after an energetic swim in the beautiful Porchester baths next door (there’s a secret door from the relaxation hall) and a steam to open our pores, we each had a body scrub.  Flopped on beds like beached seals in the wet  treatment room, we were both oiled, massaged, scrubbed  and rinsed into a state of unthinking floppiness. I had a coffee scrub and ll’sis had a special brown sugar blend  by Tia & Anda (more of this later), and we both agreed  afterwards that they were the best body treatments we’d ever had. I cannot recommend them more highly. They would have been worth it at four times the price (£25 each).

Squeaking with cleanliness we fetched books from upstairs, and headed to the Turkish baths, which are a series of extraordinarily calm and quiet tiled interconnected rooms, each marked in Latin (caldarium etc) and with the original (listed)  tiles and benches, where you can lounge in comfortable dry heat and let the warmth enter your bones.

The Porchester is open from 10am-10pm, 7 days a week, and operates mixed or male/ female only sessions according to the day of the week.  There’s an entire menu of interesting sounding spa and conventional beauty treatments, certain of which are only available on particular days so do check & book before you go.

LLG & Lil’sis were guests of The Porchester Spa

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12 comments

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Ah! Love bang for your buck places in London. Nothing beats affordable quality! Great review.

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Your post makes me REALLY homesick. I used to live in Kensington, so this was so accessible to me. If only I knew!!!

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Great post. Have always wanted to go here and was sad that when I finally discovered Ironmonger Row baths by Old Street this year, they had just closed for refurbishment FOR TWO YEARS.

Tip for the future: if you’re ever offered the chance to check out a Korean bath house, DO IT. (I think there are a few in New York.) Similarly awesome and cheap.

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You wouldn’t have wanted to go 10 years ago. It was ghastly! I heard they renovated the spa in 2006 – I think it’s about time I’ll give it another chance.

PS: Funny, I have a post up today, too about living in W10 during my early London days. Our paths might have crossed before! 🙂

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I agree with you on the scrubs. One of the best scrubs I have experienced as been at the Portland, and worth every penny.

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Thanks LLG! Will have to give this a go 🙂 You are so right about Sanctuary. I have some gift vouchers to spend there so I will have to go soon but I would not have booked it especialy because Sanctuary is not a relaxing spa at all (!) and there are better spas in and around London and this one sounds like the ticket. x

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Do love the Porch. I don’t know if she’s still there, but Vanessa who gives massages there was the best therapeutic masseuse I have EVER met. I used to cry with gratitude. And cheap. Seriously, ask for her, the woman is bloody genius.

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I didn’t realise they were there! I have travelled past so many times.
A beautiful Decor building and treatments at the best London prices I have ever heard of. I’m heading there soon!

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I am for ever grateful to you!! I grew up with a sauna in our house and my whole life in NZ and Russia, there was not a week I went without one (at least twice), until I got to London. Can not wait to go here!!!

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