Whisper it – one of London's best-kept spa secrets is called Ushvani and it's discreetly tucked away in the charming surrounds of Cadogan Gardens in Chelsea
It’s probably the decent thing to do to start this piece with an apology; a sincere ‘sorry’ to all those who already know about Ushvani, a truly tranquil haven of Malaysian spa nirvana nestled in the heart of Chelsea, for the fact that there might now be a few more fans snapping up those coveted treatment appointments, or taking a spot in the high-ceilinged yoga studio to find their inner zen while gazing out over the rooftops of Cadogan Gardens. And to those who aren’t familiar with what may well be one of London’s best-kept spa secrets – it’s my pleasure to introduce you.
In an area synonymous with luxury, Ushvani fits right in, but it does so in its own, understated way. No fancy awning or flamboyant branding as you approach the red-brick, Grade II-listed building in which it’s housed. Just a discreet gold plaque and a buzzer that allows you entrance to the spa’s reception, which is remarkable in its aesthetic: the original Edwardian interiors, complete with wood-panelled walls and high, corniced ceilings, are punctuated with pieces of Malaysian sculpture and a huge fish tank where two resident parrot fish – said to bring luck and prosperity in Malaysia – eyeball me as I take a seat and am provided with a cool cinnamon-scented flannel.
Walking down into the lower floors, the traditional feel of the building is left behind and the serious spa-style comes into play: a bubbly plunge pool where you can bob about for as long as you please pre-treatment, soothed by a gentle waterfall trickling down the wall beside you, and a steam room to cosset you in a gently scented mist that makes the shoulders drop almost instantly.
Treatments here are based on ancient Asian culture and very much take the holistic approach. Your mind, body and soul are all in for a treat, with products incorporating natural herbs, spices and flowers: think hibiscus, coconut, and kaffir lime, and it’s the last of this list that forms the core of what I’m here to experience – Ushvani’s new Summer Kaffir Lime Ritual, which uses the invigorating nature of lime, as well as a ton of other gorgeous and exotic natural ingredients, to leave your skin glowing, and your senses tingling.
The 90-minute session begins with a full body cane sugar scrub, where the powerful scent of the citrus floods the room while the natural oils and sugar get to work on your skin, leaving it soft and supple. Next, a freshly prepared coconut milk ‘mandi’ - a warm, softly scented concoction that you ladle onto your new, baby-soft skin in the shower - before a coconut and hibiscus oil back and shoulder massage just in case, ya know, after all that lot you’re still feeling a little highly strung. As a final flourish, kaffir lime butter is applied over your entire body, before you relax in the post-treatment area with a soothing hibiscus tea.
Whatever your plans this summer, factor in a visit to an exotic Asian spa by way of a trip to Ushvani in Chelsea – you’ll feel a million miles away.