The words “London” and “spa” don’t seem to go together. Yet the purpose of my last three trips to the city on the Thames has been to write about spas. This last time, it was to check out the Bamford Haybarn that recently opened at the Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge. Fancy neighborhood, fancy hotel, with a spa called … a barn? Come to find that this is the city outpost of a popular Cotswolds wellness resort, and the design, by architect Spencer Fung, was intended to be “rustic chic.” I normally hate terms like that, but in this case it is accurate and it totally works.
I crossed over the threshold – which has a lovely wooden heart set into the wooden floor – and into a reception area where the desk was fronted by a resin panel set with sliced logs. This design theme repeated on the landing and in the waiting areas, and helped create a visually soothing space, offset by neutral tones of white and cream, as well as strategic use of stone.
Keep in mind — I was fresh off a flight from New York, followed by the Heathrow Express train to Paddington Station, and had chosen to walk to the hotel from the station (about 45 minutes through Hyde Park and past the Serpentine Gallery with its new Zaha Hadid addition), so to say I was a bit “off” was an understatement. The spa had scheduled me for a treatment very shortly after I arrived, which I didn’t think was the best idea (what I really wanted was a nap), but it turned out to be genius.
The locker room, while small, does have full-sized lockers, a sauna and steam room, and showers stocked with lovely signature products (which are also in the hotel rooms and, contrary to my usual behavior, departed with me from said room). I met my therapist in an also small but very stylish waiting room, and she led me to one of the four treatment rooms for my Bamford Body Signature Treament (85 minutes, £180). It started with a footbath, followed by a lovely long massage that incorporates shiatsu, Swedish, and meridian work, as well as pressure point massage on the face, neck, shoulders, and head – I loved the focus on the facial massage, it helped clear my fuzzy sinus-y state. They describe it as “deeply relaxing and uplifting.” I can’t lie – I fell asleep (hard) and felt thankfully refreshed when I woke up.
The spa in general seems suited to an urban audience, meaning people who will come for a massage or an Oskia facial, and be done with it – I didn’t notice many people lingering or lounging about. Then again, it was October and rainy. Should one want to linger, there is a lovely garden planted with aromatic plants and shrubs like lavender and jasmine, as well as a 15-meter pool set under a retractable roof and ringed by chaise longues. It’s really not long enough to swim laps, but a rooftop hotel pool in London is quite the luxury – if it were sunny, one could ostensibly get a tan. There’s also a really fantastic spa menu (with no calorie counts!). I tried the Quinoa and Lentil salad, as well as the Baby Squid in mild chili – both were very good. They also offer more decadent dishes like a Poached Native Lobster and an Angus beef fillet, as well as smoothies and Chapel Down wines by the glass.
While I had all the best intentions, I did not make it to the fitness center to work out, but did notice when I peeked inside that the cardio machines were set in front of windows, offering nice views of the surrounding Knightsbridge neighborhood.
Overall I’d say Bamford Haybarn is a nice addition to the London spa scene. It’s not as large or as over-the-top luxurious as the spa at the Dorchester or ESPA at the Corinthia, but it is a very soothing, calming, space, in a luxurious historic hotel in a bustling London neighborhood. The spa menu is very massage and facial-focused, with one body exfoliation treatment.
I see this as a good spa for business travelers who might not have much time but want to get a nice treatment while in town, or as a good neighborhood go-to for locals. Berkeley Hotel guests can access the spa and fitness center free of charge; non-guests can buy a day pass for £150.