In Shepherds Bush, away from the circus that is the Green, the Westway flyover and Westfield shopping centre, you’ll find K West Hotel on a quiet residential street. It’s not historically a quiet place. During the 60s and 70s the building was the BBC Kensington Studios and hosted musical heroes such as David Bowie, Bob Marley and the Kinks. The hotel interior plays homage to these stars with its decor as well as with themed cocktails and music nights. However, below ground is the K Spa; One that has won the award for Best London Spa and that creates a tranquil space in an otherwise bustling area of town.
The K Spa is the reason I’m here in this part of West London. I’ve travelled from Hackney to try out a rather novel treatment – one that is becoming increasingly popular after the success of the therapy in the sports world. Cryo has been used recently in medical treatment – mainly in the States – for the rehabilitation and reparation of muscles after intense exercise . But it was first used in Japan in 1978 for treating rheumatoid arthritis and since has become more widely used by dermatologists for skin conditions as well as for relieving pain, anxiety and depression, inflammation, and even for improving cellulite.
This must all sound mysterious if you haven’t heard of the cryo treatment before. What can sports therapy and luxury facials have in common? Cryo is a cooling process that lowers skin temperature by exposing it to very cold temps. We’re talking below -150°C. The cold stimulus causes blood vessels to constrict, pulling blood deeper where it is reoxygenated. It is also said that activating the nervous system in this way releases endorphins and opioids – that’s a natural pain numbing and euphoria for cryo users.
Essentially it’s a non-invasive procedure for people seeking health and wellness benefits. I’ve tried the full body cryo before and was very pleased with the results. So I was looking forward to experiencing the face-concentrated session and, from what I know, rather innovative beauty treatment. Walking into the spa you can see that Aromatherapy Associates is its chosen brand – a great sign. On starting the session I was asked about my own skin concerns: tactful, as previously I’ve been told straight up what my issues should be during a pampering facial (…rosacea I now can’t help but notice). I was very pleased to hear that this treatment was going to work well for my not unusual worries of pore size and dry skin, as well as more besides.
The K Spa describes the Cryo-Oxygen Facial as ‘the most advanced skin rejuvenation treatment tackling lines, wrinkles and pigmentation’. It’s a four-step process. The Cryo-Oxygen air blasts are to cool and oxygenate the skin. Meanwhile a micro-channelling roller penetrates the skin creating microscopic channels. This phase is actually to induce ‘controlled micro-trauma’, stimulating collagen growth. It also enables the topical infusion of powerful skin rejuvenation ingredients next applied to be driven into the skin, alongside jets of cold oxygen to soothe and restructure the skin. Bingo – that’s what we all want from anti-ageing care, isn’t it? A deep exfoliation, a boost of collagen and an injection of magic products. We finished with a Crystal Clear face mask to give an extra hit of hydration, firming and lifting. The needling and cryo lasted for around 15 minutes, with the cleansing and soothing the same either side.
It’s certainly a results driven facial. The whirr of the machine generating the ultra cold, fine air blasts and the very faint sensation of the micro-needling lessen the relaxation element. But it really isn’t un-relaxing; I could only just feel needling on my problem areas that had more ‘air’ time, and it was really the feeling of ‘it must be working’. The K West technicians do well to make it as relaxing as possible with music, atmosphere, cooling masks and head-to-arm massaging. And anyway, concentrated attention on, well, myself, is always a luxury. My main takeaway was feeling revitalised and very fresh from a deep exfoliation, apparently 30 times deeper than a topical one. I also left without the usual angry red skin that follows other facial treatments I’ve had.
The K Spa Cryo-Oxygen Facial is a 60-minute treatment. A Crystal Clear face mask is included to give an extra hit of hydration, firming and lifting. The hour-long treatment costs £110 at ‘off peak’ times (£120 ‘on peak’). I unfortunately hit the spa on a makeover week – the pool area, changing rooms, sanarium, sauna and steam rooms were being updated. If you go for this facial, I’d check in before to see if the K Spa space is open to use before your your treatment, as a newly renovated spa is a tempting one to try out… Instead I spend time in the dark relaxation room with a book before taking myself off to Westfield a few minutes’ walk away, in what was probably the best state to hit the popular shopping centre.
K Spa at K West Hotel
London W14 0AX