London has it all – it’s a hedonist’s dream. But it’s also frenetic, noisy and, occasionally, exhausting. Fortunately, when it all gets too much, there are a few special places to relax, unwind and eat healthily. Culture Trip has teamed up with Pullman London St Pancras Hotel – whose 24-hour fitness suit and Pullman Running Club makes it an ideal option for health-obsessed travellers – to explore the capital’s world-leading wellness scene.
Outdoor swimming in London might not sound hugely relaxing, especially in the famously wet British weather, but a dip in the Parliament Hill Lido on Hampstead Heath is bound to reinvigorate you. When the sun’s shining, this is where the city’s most well-to-do residents come to cool off, and in winter it’s equally popular for bracing swims. Warm up again with a brisk hike to the heath’s highest point, where benches with views of the city skyline invite reflective moments.
“Find your calm” is the tagline at Re:Mind. This shop and studio, set in food and fashion hub Eccleston Yards, is a soothing space – think natural light woods and plenty of pot plants – from the moment you walk through the door. There are drop-in meditation classes, reiki healing sessions and even tea ceremonies. Re:Mind is a great place to restore your energy in the middle of this bustling city.
London’s Glow Bar branch has a café, shop and saunas | Courtesy of Glow Bar
Glow Bar, a go-to wellness brand for the Duchess of Sussex, opened on Regent Street in summer 2018. The company’s founder, chef Sasha Sabapathy, was inspired to launch the company after leading a stressful, anxiety-inducing lifestyle in New York City. London’s branch has a pink café serving smoothies, healthy bowls and coffees; infrared saunas to help improve your skin, mood and sleep patterns; and a shop with a variety of skincare products and adaptogenic supplements. There’s also an on-site cognitive hypnotherapist.
The exterior of this 1980s Brutalist building doesn’t look immediately calming, but step inside the Barbican Conservatory, the second largest in London, and you’ll be immediately transported to a tranquil, almost tropical place. Over 2,000 species of plant make this a peaceful paradise. Book in for afternoon tea, which is available on certain Sundays, for an extra-special treat.
Eating out in London needn’t be an unhealthy affair. Redemption Bar is a breath of fresh air – and vegetables. Its all-vegan menu, which is also free from wheat and refined sugar, features healthy takes on bolognese, burgers and pasta, as well as a host of colourful salads. Plus, you won’t be tempted to overindulge on the drinks: there’s not a cocktail, pint of beer or glass of wine in sight; there are, however, some fantastic mocktails.
With a large population of Turks, it’s no surprise that London has a number of hammams (traditional Turkish baths). Head south of the river to Pasha Spa for an afternoon of Middle Eastern pampering. The spa’s 90-minute hammam packages include a herbal steam session, full-body scrubs and a soap massage or body mask, plus Turkish delight and tea to finish. Pasha’s large, white-marble hammam room is big enough to fit four, so it’s a great place to unwind with friends.
If yoga is your bag, KXU is the place to go. This multifaceted fitness venue has various drop-in classes to make you sweat, including a fast-paced vinyasa flow session backed by upbeat music. There’s a medi-spa offering classic treatments, as well as an infrared sauna and a cryotherapy chamber, which is chilled to a cool -85C (-121F) and can help with recovery after a hardcore workout. The café serves all manner of healthy, protein-packed post-workout plates and smoothies.
Traditional and tranquil Japanese landscaping makes the Kyoto Garden in West London’s Holland Park a relaxing place to spend an afternoon. A large, rocky pond, with koi flitting about its waters and a bridge across its middle, sits in the garden’s centre surrounded by colourful flowers, shrubs and trees. A small waterfall provides a calming soundtrack, stone lanterns are dotted around and, in autumn, the trees create a fiery display as they turn shades of red, orange and yellow.
Looking for the perfect place to stay on your visit?
Pullman London St Pancras Hotel
Pullman Running club at Pullman London St Pancras Hotel | Courtesy of Pullman Hotel
It’s important to stay somewhere that helps you unwind and recharge, too. Pullman London St Pancras Hotel has a premium 24/7 gym and sauna with panoramic views of St Pancras station. Guests and non-guests alike can join Pullman Running Club – the hotel’s athlete-inspired running club – which passes a number of iconic London landmarks including Regent’s Park on its route.