André Fu designs Claridge’s first spa, future-proofing the classic British luxury hotel with his timeless vision of wellbeing
Wellness has become an integral part of modern-day luxury, but which elements will stand the test of time? For Claridge’s, one of London’s most iconic 5-star establishments, its first spa had to honour the hotel’s British heritage while creating a stand-out retreat that will manifest its prominence on the Mayfair map. To achieve that, they had to dig deep, quite literally. After excavating five floors over five years under the emblematic Art Deco building – removing London’s clay by hand, one wheelbarrow at a time – this autumn Claridge’s spa finally opened, and André Fu’s interior has successfully cemented its standing as a timeless classic.
Contemporary wellness concepts have moved beyond opulence and tokenistic treatments to come full circle, connecting back to the root of what calms the human mind. To find inner balance, a minimalist context is the key. So where better to source harmonious design cues than Asia, specifically the Japanese onsen culture with its Zen gardens and meditative walking paths. And who better to create a space that bridges British sophistication with Asian aesthetics than André Fu? The renowned interior architect has long credited the success of his Hong Kong-based studio to a cross-cultural upbringing and has added his magic touch to many properties within the Maybourne Hotel Group.
Yet, the new Claridge’s spa stands out. As you enter the 7,000 sq ft subterranean space, the energy drops and senses are soothed. A softly lit glass and water feature by Victoire Bourgois adorns the entrance; a subtle scent carries through the cocooning space. Warming light washes over limestone and natural oak, leading to a central pool with private cabanas – a safe space to relax and retreat from life’s realities.
Fu’s greatest achievement here is the ease in which guests transition from the city’s bustle into a state of calm. The neutral colour-scape is punctuated by dimly lit bowls of bright green moss, a nod to nature as part of the holistic healing process. The repetitive wooden beams in the corridors are reminiscent of temple entrances. Encouraging a slow pace, the walk to the treatment rooms becomes a mindful moment. Each treatment – from a foot bath ceremony to koji rice poultices – deepens the soothing effect of the design.
When leaving you are likely to float.