Fit for royalty? Forget the eau de sweat and chilly queues for the shower – London’s finest health and fitness clubs are like palaces with state-of-the-art gyms, luxury spa treatments, business facilities and lifestyle gurus
Words: Nick Hammond
Lead image: The pool at The Bulgari Spa
A hedonistic afternoon doze in a linen-draped poolside paradise may shout more Maldives than Mayfair, but I’m here to tell you that you can have your cake and eat it. Well, perhaps an energy bar would be more appropriate. Because no matter how well stuffed with boutique shops, designer outlets, fine dining and sights galore, the environs of Mayfair and Chelsea also have something special to offer the seeker of the body beautiful.
Beneath the capital’s teeming streets lie luxury boltholes for the gym bunny; palaces where one can hone one’s physique, reset one’s equilibrium, have an enervating rub down, and reappear, replenished and raring to go. These luxury gyms, fitness suites and spas of Mayfair and Chelsea are perhaps no better defined than by the hidden secrets of Knightsbridge’s Bulgari.
While you can dine, dance and dazzle here with the best of them in the swanky surroundings of this black marble and gold-feathered hotel, it’s the spa and fitness centre downstairs that really feels like stepping into another world. Ethereal curtains of water, a shimmering, gold-mosaic swimming pool and an incredible range of treatments and unctions means you’ll feel more like an Arabian Princess (or Prince, of course) when you finally resurface.
‘Our guests know and expect the best,’ explains General Manager Sylvain Ercoli. ‘Our fitness gymnasium is founded by Lee Mullins, recognised as one of the world’s leading personal trainers, so we can tailor your workout to reach your goal in a state-of-the-art gym. And our spa – more than 2,000sq m tucked away under the busy streets of Knightsbridge – is a haven of tranquility. Steam room, jacuzzi, private treatment rooms and a 25m pool are all at your disposal.’
You can pound the treadmill and watch your share index too
If you’re a full-on Gordon Gekko or Karen Brady character and can’t afford to miss that all important business doc, then KX in Draycott Avenue, Chelsea, may be more your cup of green tea. Olympic Triathlete Emma Davis heads the personal training here, and with a full range of business needs catered for, including copying, scanning, faxing and printing as well as on-site couriers, you can pound the treadmill and watch your share index too.
Although it doesn’t have to be all work, work, work at KX. There’s a fine spa and treatment centre here, as well as a restaurant – you’ll love grilled octopus with mashed sweet potatoes, avocado, rocket, taggiasca olives and anchoiade dressing. And there’s a nail lounge, clubroom, saunas, steam rooms and plunge pools galore.
Sumptuous, airy, tranquil and empowering, this bastion of womanhood does open its doors to men as guests and for certain events and treatments. But at its heart is the health and wellbeing of ladies, from young adulthood to ageing well.
Women don’t always want a roomful of men gawping at them while they don lycra to workout, explaining why ladies-only memberships are all the rage
Taking a bracing dip under a clear, blue spring morning sky is but a pipe dream for most inner city Londoners – but not if you’re a member of The Berkeley Hotel Spa and Gym. At the very tippy top of this Knightsbridge hotel is a rooftop pool to die for – open to that blue sky on clement days and with a remarkable retracting roof protecting you when it’s cold, wet and miserable.
Of course, that’s not all. A cornucopia of treatments are readily available, with personal trainers on hand to watch you pound out the miles while you look over Hyde Park, instead of running round it. If you really want to push the boat out, you can have a personal training session and reward yourself with a massage from head to toe, get waxed, go for a swim and have a bite to eat without having to set foot on the soggy streets.
Now that’s the way to get yourself in shape.
Bulgari: £5,000 per year, £2,000 joining fee; contact London@bulgarihotels.co.uk
KX Life: £6,000 membership per year, £2,000 joining fee; contact email@example.com; 020 7584 5333
Grace Belgravia: From £1,375 per year; contact firstname.lastname@example.org; 020 7235 8900
The Berkeley: Membership £2,850 per year; contact email@example.com; 020 7201 1699