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