I won't go into the detail of what it is - other reviews already do that. But I would heartily recommend it. I went for the first time today, and I guess I was a little trepidatious about the ins and outs of what happens when you get there - you know, where stuff is, what are the dos and don'ts. I needn't have been. Once the staff at reception had worked out it was my first time, they organised for someone to show me around and explain what was on offer, how long to spend in each bit, what routine to go through. In other words, you immediately feel at ease. The other thing I couldn't figure out was what you needed to take with you. The short answer is 'just yourself'. Although a bottle of water is a pretty good idea - with that amount of heat you need to keep rehydrating yourself.
And yes, it does feel like a place populated by regulars, but crucially they're welcoming regulars.
And afterwards, you just feel so damned relaxed
Prominent in the late 1920's the Porchester spa is a lovely old building which brings you back in time. Not at all the typical spa you would expect today, but something akin to what my grandmother would have ventured into.
The food is similar to what you get at a small corner sandwich shop, but for the price you pay that makes sense (so no reason to complain).
There is evident damp in the corners of some of the rooms, likely because of how old the place is, which could use some help.
There are men only and women only days, which is nice, although Sunday seems to be a mixed gender day.
I do not usually read reviews because I prefer to make up my mind for myself. I have never written a review either but after the events of September 7th 2011, I had to write this to warn people.
I paid £23.60 for my ticket and was given 2 towels and a quick tour of the facilities. I used the sauna, steam and plunge pool. I would not say the facilities were in the best of conditions I would say it was a scene of Grime and Crime!
Anyway after completing a few circuits of sauna/steam I thought it was time to get my own shower gel from my locker. My shower gel was called Joop and came with an aftershave set.
I left the gel for 60 seconds in the shower to go and get my second towel to dry off. On returning it had vanished! When I asked the men if anyone had seen it they all laughed and said it was a natural occurrence for things to go missing there. I attempted to complain to the attendant who just said that you have to watch your stuff like a hawk there. I was also informed that the council accepted no responsibility for stolen items although there were no signs written anywhere stating this!
To make matters worse whilst this conversation was taking place a regular visitor called the attendant by first name to come over to his locker. His locker had been smashed in broad daylight, his trousers had been stolen! The poor man had his wallet in his trousers containing £400! I just felt really sorry for him standing there with no trousers. How was he going to get home it was not at all funny.
It appears that the place is infested with some low life thieves so go there at your peril. The establishment has a very real security problem and I for one will never visit that place again!
Booked myself for a body scrub at the Porchester Spa for 15GBP and it fealt like I stepped into another world.
When I walked in there was a guy in a kitchen openly preparing a fried fish. Reminds me of some backward Eastern European country. Then when the doors swung open I look upon a gloomy hall with old naked men.
Overheard men talking about money and scams and it seemed like a gone back to the Rachman era when Westbourne Grove and surrounds were pretty run down.
Despite every corner of the place looking like a crime scene, the staff were friendly and the scrub itself was novel. I don't think I've ever been quite so emotional about pain, embarrassment and smooth skin since I was a virgin.
5 stars if you like odd London experiences. 1 star if you're a man like myself who thinks they should be in a bright Californian "ClubSport" being rubbed down by a young latina.
I only came for the Turkish baths and steam room. If you have ever watched the movie Eastern Promises, this is what the facilities remind me of. Lots of old green and white tiling. The relaxation room looks like it was very grand at one point - now adorned with various pieces of plastic furniture, it has been now relegated to a life of shabby functionality.
The facilities are constantly cleaned by the staff there, but I was a little bit grossed out by all the signs explicitly saying "no exfoliating with mitts and muds in the facilities", and tons of women not heeding these so-called rules.
There is a menu and a little cafe - unfortunately I didn't try anything. I hope to come back for one of the services (exfoliation, massages)
Facilities are a bit old, but overall clean. Only £13.50 with a MyWestminster card, otherwise around £23. Quite a steal for Central London, and a unique experience.
This is a great spa and very relaxing, even though I have been there once it was a memorable experiance. The interior is excellent. Some days there are men only day and others its women only day. The spa offers a rangwe of beauty treatments including a turkish bath...........
The staff are proffessional and helpful. I would love to visit here again.
The Porchester may be the oldest spa in London but is probably the most dirty one.
I went on Sunday with my husband and the place was smelling like a deep fryer.
The food in the kitchen wasn't good either.
I wouldn't recommend going to this Spa. Please go somewhere else.
I must admit - the staff were very friendly and helpful....given that we had to leave after 10 minutes of being in the spa, they still smiled and assisted us with our girevances.
Sadly i should have read these poor reviews before going...but given that i hadnt, i stepped right into trap!
It's an old spa - this is true - but it is also a dirty one. It is safe to say that there is indeed a cockroch problem here...the steam rooms smell awfully like public toilets...and the showers (3/4) and changing facilities (3 wooden boxes) have that 'school swimming pool in the 40s' feel to them. ie..cramped and about to fall apart!
Take a look around before paying a visit...you will most definitely not stay!
My mum booked us in for the women's day spa (Thursdays) for my birthday. I had a fantastic day and could not believe that the day costs only £30 and includes use of the steam room, cold plunge pool,, sauna and swimming pool. She also booked us in for a full body scrib which was great and a bargain at only £10. In between treatments we chilled out in our white robes on loungers in the green tiled relaxtion room. I would definately recommend Porchester Spa and the prices are unbelievable for a Central London location.
I do treat myself to a nice day at the spa from time to time and Porchester is my top choice. I love the fact that it has nothing to do with the modern, corporate spas but rather kept its old time appeal. I feel really comfortable there as most of the visitors are of my age and like the fact that it is single sex. Furthermore the people that go there are quite friendly which helps me relax and really enjoy the experience.
I wanted to like this place as it's regarded as an institution. I booked a body scrub and a 90 min hot stone massage, so together with the nearly £30 entry fee was spending over £170. I have been to many local/Korean spas in the States and elsewhere and am not fussy, for me a place just has to be clean with good therapists: but this is just run down, the once lovely hall marred with dirty plastic chairs. I went on couples day with my boyfriend expecting to have a relaxing day, but the vibe was weird, no-one shows you around, it was full of strange shifty characters.
The guy that did my scrub was a sweetheart, although he looked like an ex-con. It was nothing to write home about -- a basic and perfunctory sugar scrub, and though I'm no prude, I would have liked to be told that the therapist was male.
The massage was a disaster. A thin cubicle where you could hear all the noise around, and the massuese was this nervous, flightly, insensitive, chatty woman, who insisted on talking throughout the whole 90 mins, even though I very politely said I was there to relax for some quiet time and made clear I didn't want to talk.
She basically scrubbed my body roughly with the hot stones as if I was a piece of meat: there was no consideration or sensitivity to my body. I couldn't wait for it to be over.
Basically, this is not really a professional spa. They get by on the reputation of the architecture and facilities. Go elsewhere.
Went there for a swim today. Good value and staff could not have been more friendly.
On the one hand I don't know why I'm doing this, this is my absolute favourite place in London and I don't want too many people knowing about it in case it's difficult to get into! This is an old victorian spa with russian dry rooms, turkish baths, swedish sauna, beauty treatments, a cafe, and all in the most amazing surroundings - green and white tiles, a blue mosaiced plunge pool etc etc. On entry you receive two towels and a gingham wrap and for the next few hours you'll be in heaven, make sure you bring face packs etc to pamper yourself with. The moroccan scrub is great value as is the whole experience, particularly if you have a Westminster Residents card which gives discount on entry.
In my opinion this is one of the few proper spas in London on an English Heritage site.It was opened in 1929 when it used to be know as the Turkish and Russian Vapour Baths.Since then it has undergone a considerable amount of refurbishment and has earned its status as a Grade Two listed building. Well worth a visit,but check before you go there as they have rather strange opening times and there is single sex and mixed bathing times as well.
I joined the Porchester, with the intention of the club becoming my local. However, after 2 visits I can say I would not recommend it on hygiene alone.
The steam room is cleaned only once a day and has the original 1930's wood slatted seats, which will ensure a place for bacteria to thrive within this environment - a few days after using this steam room (which did not smell clean) I developed a terrific cold - the first one I have had for 5 years. My doctor tells me steam rooms are notorious for this, so it's important to consider this when using one.
The 1930's seating area for women in the spa is a delight. Dimly lit, with dark green tiles and the sound of the dripping plunge pool on the level below. Old fashioned and quaint. However, I did not renew my membership, and was sad not to do so. I had been told it would be a relaxing place to unwind. Both inside the relaxation room and the steam room were large groups of women all chattering away very loudly (even though there were quiet please signs everywhere). I did ask the attendant about this and she said they are having problems with this at the noise at times and it's best to come before 9 am weekdays (which is impossible for me as I work in the city). I tried to chat quietly to a lady next to me after our sauna, but we could not hear each other due to the noise levels.
The swimming pool is rather elegant, however if you are accessing it from the spa, you have to walk through what appears to be a long broom closet to get to it - most odd!
It is certainly worth a visit for the sheet individuality. Antique deco tiles and an ambience of a bygone age - but as a long term club prospect, I'd give it a miss. Such a shame, for a little extra effort by the staff to regain the original bliss factor that surely would have been its original hallmark would make this centre one of the best health spas in England.
A great place to unwind, but it is not a clean environment, which sadly lets it down. On the plus side, I had a wonderful massage (which is available to everyone, price reasonable for central London).
However, one thing lets it down. The hall itself could be restful but it is actually rather noisy, the sound echoing around the hall due to the tiled floor. I visited with 3 girlfriends and we enjoyed ourselves in spite of this. A group of 12 women arrived who had been obviously drinking prior to their visit in the afternoon so gone was the restful atmosphere. It tends to attract large groups who do not pay regard to others, having heard from people at work who have visited previously. Of course, the Porchester will always be known as a place where one can rest away from the hustle and this is true, it is indeed an institution and hopefully will stay that way. It is lovely to take tea in the afternoon after a massage and plunge pool. It is quite easy to spend £100 here if you spend the day, on various treatments!
However, I picked up a foot rash when last visiting so I don't think I would return just yet. And I was wearing flip flops!
not overly impressed with this place. let me start out by saying i am a spa goer. i've been to some world-class spas, and i've found that you can really get a flavor for an area at these neighborhood bathhouses. i go to korean bathhouses in LA and orange county all the time, so i'm accustomed to a utilitarian aesthetic.
so i knew what i was getting into before i even entered the place, and my expectations weren't high as far as the facilities. it's old. it's moldy. it's not the cleanest place, but i can live with that. what really bothered me was the customer service. i booked a 90 minute massage, and it was confirmed. when i got there and checked in, it had been somehow downgraded to a 30 minute massage. luckily that was fixed. the facility is two floors, so i asked the attendant where i should wait for my massage. all she said was 'they'll call your name.' okay -- fine. so i fell asleep on one of the plastic chaise longues on the second floor and awoke to two women calling my name. it was now 10 minutes into my massage appointment, and apparently you had to be waiting downstairs. the massage therapist was kind of bitchy about my lack of understanding about the protocol. i had to go to the bathroom and then she had me fill out paperwork -- this should have been done when i checked in. so now i'm almost 20 minutes into my appointment. the massage therapist decided to interrogate me about why i needed a 90 minute massage. what difference does it make? i'm paying for it, so just get on with it already. at this point i was so annoyed that i almost walked out but i calmed down and the massage itself was serviceable. the bed was sort of hard and the massage therapist was wearing shorts and a tank top. personally, save your money and go to a nicer spa. between the spa admission and the price of the massage and the tip i dropped more than 100 pounds. spend your money elsewhere. it's not worth it. they don't even have a jacuzzi. i'm going to try sanctuary spa at covent gardens today to make up for this disappointing experience.
Stunning art deco Turkish baths with arches, tiles and decadent spaces to lounge about in with mint tea, fruits and scones. A green mermaid overlooks the icy cold plunge pool (so cold it is hard not to scream, though you will be frowned upon if you do!). Start by taking it easy in the frigidarium (least hot room), move into the tepidarium to sweat, or if brave to the laconicum - very hot room - if you can bear it, and sweat away your worries. I would recommend taking flip flops as the floor is so hot you end up hopping otherwise. One steam room is so steamy you can't see anyone in it. There is a roomy sauna too. Most people go naked (there are alternate days for men or women, and one mixed day when swimwear is worn), although you are given a cloth and two towels to wrap around you. You can book massages and body scrubs there, and order food too. It is expensive but you can use the swimming pool too, and as you can spend three hours there it is worth it.
I love the Porchester Spa, it is as close to a proper hammam as you will get in London.
The building is beautiful, but some areas (thinking about the staircases down to the toilets in particular) are more like you would expect from an old chuch hall than a chi chi spa. The steam room and saunas are fantastic, they are actually hot! I love the Turkish warm rooms for relaxing and the cold plunge pool is really invigorating.
I've been here twice so far, once for the ladies only Thursday night session and once for the Sunday afternoon mixed session (which has special reduced rate for couples) - the vibe at both is very chilled and relaxed, and people are friendly but not intrusive. Swimsuits are compulsory for mixed sessions but not in single-sex sessions so if you go on one of those nights there will be people wandering around naked. It didn't bother me but just a note for spa/hammam-newbies!
I've had two of the exfoliation treatments the Citrus Salt Scrub which is a signature treatment and an amazing exfoliation, probably the best that I've had outside of a traditional hammam and very good for cellulite - and the pomegranate scrub which was an exfoliation with the added bonus of a mini massage and the perfect antidote to dreary winter weather.
Prices are excellent particularly the reduced rate for Couples on Sunday (£33 for both, instead of £26 each) and it is even cheaper if you have a local residents card. You have to pay extra for treatments, but these start at £15 BARGAIN! Entry price includes hire of two large, clean towels. Refreshments are incredibly cheap.
There are signs saying no outside food and drink can be brought in, but I've had no problem taking my own water bottle into the sauna or steam room just to stay hydrated.
Notes for first timers: bring flip flops (some of the rooms get very hot underfoot, particularly the sauna) and a dressing gown or some lounging clothes for AFTER your spa session when you want to laze around on the loungers upstairs and enjoy a snack.
Don't bother bringing a dressing gown INTO the spa area, it will get completely soaked from the steam rooms.
If you are booking a treatment, I'd recommend arriving early and spending a good 1-2 hours enjoying the swimming pool, sauna and steam rooms. Once you have finished the treatments, you might not want to go back into the spa area and wash off all the gorgeous essential oils.
Public transport links are good, but there isn't much in the way of on-street parking around the spa. There is a NCP carpark very close by this is quite expensive however (I think I paid £12 for 4 hours on the Sunday session).
I can't comment on things other reviewers have mentioned, but I didn't notice any mould, dirt or cockroaches! I'm a very fussy customer and not afraid of leaving a negative review so if I had noticed these things I would definitely say so. I visited the Porchester Spa in November 2012 (twice!)
This is a beautiful space, the deco plunge pool and the architecture are gorgeous. I also get the concept - it is an authentic baths - municipal, real and so not contrived and overdone. However it is shabby and worn out, again some might see this as authenticity. But it is also dirty and broken; the lockers do not lock, the showers are filthy with hair and debris, the floors aren't clean, there is left over food on the tables. All of which just make the experience unrelaxing which is just not what a spa / baths experience should be. Even at a municipal swimming pool the floors are mopped and the showers are cleaned - by the end of the session we went to, the place was just unhygenic and unpleasant. Sure it is not a hotel spa - but it is £24 for a session - which is not a negligable cost. Overall after being a regular attendee I found the decline too much, the filth too hard to overlook (have lived with the cockroaches up till now) and will not be returning. Which is shame as a great female space. It is a loss when it could (and has so in the not too distant past) be done so well.
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