Tried & Tested: The Ironmonger Row Baths Spa


London spas don’t have to be crazy expensive. And they don’t need to carry the ‘luxury’ label either. You can get some really great treatments and access to top facilities without spending so much money that you’re thrown right back into feeling stressed the moment you leave and checking your bank balance.

The Ironmonger Row Baths Spa is the perfect budget spot to head to when wanting to escape the hectic outside world and indulge a little.

This means you might have to deal with rubbing shoulders with some strange spa guests (the intense dude doing push ups in one of the saunas, making all kinds of loud grunting noises), but you can easily avoid them when they occasionally pop-up. Fortunately, the spa is large enough that you can easily find your own quiet space.

What is it?

And when we say it’s big, we really mean it. Down in the underground spa complex, you’ll find two steam rooms (each with their own essential oil scents), two saunas (so you can avoid the grunting push up guy), a monsoon shower, a cold plunge pool, an assortment of hot rooms, an ice fountain, a huge relaxation room and an ice bucket shower. They’ve really got it all.

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Let the warm sandstone pods turn your muscles to jelly

You can even head upstairs to the main swimming pool when you want to do a little workout too. These facilities bring a decent number of people to the spa who don’t seek out special treatments. But, if you have the time and need a little extra TLC, then you’ve got to add on a massage or hammam ritual. We, however, opted for their new Akwaterra experience because we always love trying out something a little different.

How does it work?

The Akwaterra treatment is a new kind of hot stone massage – just so much better. They use four matching pairs of ergonomically designed sandstone pods which are filled with warm water. They then go about doing the usual full body massage (with medium to strong pressure) using these pods instead of their hands. Combined with the usual essential oils, the heat from the hot pods makes your muscles melt. Total relaxation starts immediately.

Alternatively, for a reinvigorating wellbeing treatment to trigger drainage of toxins and stimulate circulation, the pods can be filled with cold water and placed in iced water. This will feel like more of a shock to the system than the heated version – but might be exactly what we need during the super hot days we are getting more of in the UK.

What are the benefits?

Each of the paired sandstone pods brings its own benefit when used. The first of the four tools is known as the ‘Kinsey’. It is a large, circular tool with smaller knobs on the bottom, designed to improve blood circulation, drain toxins, reduce water retention and tighten the skin.

‘Kaya’ is a large triangular shaped tool, custom made to ease tendons and ligaments by working deeply in precise points across the body. They dig a little deeper like when the massage therapist would get their elbow or knuckles into the tighter spots.

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They’ve got two saunas, two steam rooms, a massive quiet area, a plunge pool and much more

The completely smooth, round device named ‘Satinka’ helps relieve muscle tension and offers an incredibly relaxing sensation as it glides effortlessly across the body, exuding warmth at the same time. The continuous motion of hot pressure moving around your body is otherworldly.

Lastly, the ‘Ishka’ is another smooth and round tool, however on a smaller scale, that improves micro circulation and tightens the skin – this can also be used on the face or for a more thorough, deeper massage across the body.

The diffusing heat of Akwaterra tools also works to open the pores, accentuating the benefits of the different essential oils used throughout the treatment. Follow all of this up with a few hours in the adjoining spa facilities to get even more relaxed. Jump from hot room to cold over and over again, until you feel like butter. Then head to the large quiet relaxation room to sip on herbal tea and read some trashy magazines in peace. It doesn’t get much better than that.

How much?

Those wanting to only use the thermal spa facilities can do so for £26. This gets you three hours of indulgence underground. You can choose to go during the female only or male only sessions or the more frequent mixed versions. The Akwaterra massage costs £30 for 25 minutes or £66 for 50 minutes. Other massages are similarly priced.

Where is it?

Ironmonger Row Baths, 1 Norman Street EC1V 3AA.