Mineral springs have been used for bathing for centuries – indeed, some would say millennia. In Britain, it was the Romans who first made it fashionable to sit in pools of slightly smelly water heated far below the earth. But the heat is only one component of what makes mineral springs so appealing – it’s the “mineral” part that draws crowds year after year. Even in this age of multivitamins, whizz-bang medical technology and organic diets, we still crave the nebulous reassurance of a cure-all that mineral water can give.
This notion was first popularised in the 18th and 19th centuries, when mineral springs at Bath in England and Baden-Baden in Switzerland, among others, began to draw rich clients. They came from all over Europe and the US for “the cure”. The heated water was thought to be good for arthritis and a host of other ailments, depending on its chemical make-up. Mineral springs usually contain traces of elements like magnesium, calcium, manganese, potassium, iron, sodium and sulphur. Patrons at the baths would sit in special sipping pavilions and drink the water as they mingled and flirted – you might as well go the whole hog if you believe minerals can fix all your ills.
Today, the biggest spa towns have become whole cities, and the bath-houses are historic locations where you can still go and enjoy a soak, and maybe a massage. Book yourself a private room and enjoy half an hour of blissful solitude in a warm mineral bath, or head outdoors for a thrilling contrast between chilly winter air and near-scalding water. Water that isn’t geothermally heated in a hot spring is brought to a pleasant temperature before being pumped in.
This fascination with hot springs and mineral pools was the beginning of the modern spa industry. Nowadays, you don’t need a geological phenomenon to enjoy a blissful soak – which is good news for visitors to London, where luxury spas are booming. If you’re looking for a cure for aching muscles or sore joints, modern spas have you covered with a whole menu of pampering options for a massage in London. If you’re looking for spa facial treatments London also has you covered, with anti-aging, sculpting and balancing facials featuring such indulgent ingredients as rosewood, white lupin and gold leaf.
Hands and feet spa treatments in London are the perfect way to prepare for a glam night out in the city’s bars and clubs. Gel manicures, conditioning oils and expert massage techniques will put a spring in your step and a sparkle in your eye – in fact, you might want to go for another one the day after, when high heels have done a number on your poor feet.
Whether mineral springs really have the power to cure disease, or whether it’s simply the power of a long hot soak, it’s clear that there’s still some magic about the spa experience. We humans are simple creatures; we like to be pampered and fussed over, and this is exactly what spas are all about.