In close vicinity to but a little bit away from the fast paced environments of Canary Wharf and the City of London is Custom House. Custom House is a small district that forms part of East London. The area is primarily known for the gigantic ExCeL Exhibition Centre which falls on its doorstep. However, there is actually so much more to this area that I have to tell you about. This is because the spots in and around Custom House together make for a perfect weekend filled with peace, pampering and fun. In order to enjoy this heavenly retreat with glitz, magic and stars, you need to use the transport for London network and step off at Custom House Docklands Light Railway. From here, you will be easily able to embrace the wonderful gems that are the VA Salon, Sunborn London Yacht Hotel and the Emirates Cable Car.
A pampering heaven at VA Salon
Let’s start with the VA Salon, which deserves recognition for providing a first-class experience in an absolutely gorgeous location overlooking the waters that surround Canary Wharf. Inside the VA Salon, the décor is delightful and quirky and from the moment you’re greeted by Anastasia (the owner), you know that you’re in for a treat from the get-go. Anastasia and her team are passionate, friendly and have a genuine interest in making you feel at ease and in ensuring that you have a positive and memorable experience. Unlike some of the more centrally located salons, the VA Salon has a real lack of pretentious air; the atmosphere is laid back and leisurely yet the service is second to none. Whether you book one, two, three, four or more treatments, you will be satisfactorily beautified and leaving the VA Salon with a twinkle in your eye and a contagious smile that will draw people towards you.
Radiate and glow with a facial
Having enjoyed an array of treatments at the VA Salon, I feel that I can confidently give you insight into this exceptional salon. Starting off with the facials, VA Salon gives you an opportunity to choose from several types of facials and will engage with you about which type of facial would work best for the results that you’re seeking. I had the pleasure of enjoying the Express Oxygen Facial and highly recommend it. You’ll feel like a ray of sunshine has been painted on your face as your skin will radiate and glow unlike ever before. The facial experience is absolute fantastic and the best part is the oh so very reasonable and unbeatable price at only 50 GBP (71 USD) for an amazing 45 minutes. It should be noted that there are a number of different types of facials available, including those that last for a longer duration of time (such as 75 minutes), and you are advised to speak to the beautician about what would be best for your skin.
Stylists that make magic happen
Now, when it comes to having your hair done, VA Salon can and really does make magic happen. It offers several treatments ranging from a simple fringe cut to complex conditioning treatments to getting you ready for your wedding. As I’ve enjoyed having my hair treated (and so very carefully) by the VA Salon, I must recommend that you consider bidding farewell to your regular hairstylist and giving the VA Salon a chance to show you how incredible you could look and feel. You will find that the stylists really take an interest in getting to know you, your lifestyle and what would make you feel good so that they can help reflect that in your hairstyle. This is important because VA Salon is not only about making you feel good in the immediate moment but also in the future. It wants you to look in the mirror a week after your experience and feel fabulous! The cost of the hair treatments vary and it is advisable that you check the VA Salon website for more information.
Manicures that take pampering to a new level
Last but certainly not least is the magnificent manicures offered by VA Salon. The Manicure & Gel Polish is a must for any woman and takes any pampering experience to a new level! The result is exceptional and the gel polish is of such a brilliant quality that you will notice that your nails look gorgeous for at least a few weeks, which is quite surprising. For someone who has a collection of nail polishes and do-it-yourself kits at home, I’m not the biggest fan of getting a manicure. However, I have to admit that VA Salon has entirely changed my mind about this and I will be visiting again as the results are long-lasting and the entire experience of even being in VA Salon is wonderful. The cost of the Manicure & Gel Polish is 35 GBP (49 USD). Is it worth it? Yes! You will definitely feel special, cared for and a gazillion times perkier by the time all of your treatments are finished.
Sunborn London Yacht Hotel
Within eyesight of VA Salon is the Sunborn London Yacht Hotel, an inviting giant sitting on the waterfront of the ExCeL Marina. The Sunborn London Yacht Hotel is a luxurious 4-star hotel that embodies grandeur, glamour and uniqueness and is the only floating hotel in London. It has 131 beautiful rooms and 4 exquisite suites, a bar, restaurant and conference rooms. The interior of the Sunborn London Yacht Hotel is jaw-dropping and features white and glitzy gold surfaces, an opulent double winding staircase with an enormous chandelier which collectively makes it possibly one of the most aesthetically pleasing places to be. The price to stay at the Sunborn London Yacht Hotel varies contingent on when and for how long you wish to stay and it is recommended that you check-out Booking.com for the best prices. The prices during the weekend are usually at the higher end.
Afternoon tea at the Sundown Bar
If the cost of staying at the Sunborn London Yacht Hotel is, however, too steep, then fear not as you are still able to enjoy the décor and ambiance by visiting the hotel’s bar, the Sundown Bar. The Sundown Bar is located behind the glamorous front desk, tour desk and ticket service. It is open from 10.00 am and closes between 12.00 am – 2.00 am (contingent on which day of the week you visit). From 12.30 pm – 4.00 pm, you can also enjoy afternoon tea there, which consists of sandwiches, scones, sweet treats and hot drinks. The cost of an afternoon tea experience varies and is from 27 GBP – 40 GBP (38 USD – 56 USD) and depends on which type of afternoon tea experience you select (i.e., one with or without alcoholic drinks). It is advised that you book in advance for this popular British tradition. The view from the Sundown Bar of the rest of the Docklands is spectacular. You can see Canary Wharf and the O2 from the bar and terrace area.
A nightcap and/or a ride on the Emirates Cable Car
If the timing of afternoon tea does not work for you (and/or you would rather be enjoying some treatments in VA Salon at that time, then I would recommend that you visit the Sundown Bar at night for some drinks and snacks. The cost for drinks ranges from 3.50 GBP – 26 GBP (5 USD – 37 USD) per glass or cup. The bar snacks ranges from 4 GBP – 15 GBP (6 USD – 21 USD). The view from the bar at night-time is a wonderful sight as you can see the skyline light-up. If you’re a solo traveller, you will appreciate the warm, welcoming and very laid back but sophisticated and elegant vibe that the bar exhibits. If you’re with a partner, then there is a real romantic feel in the bar area due to sparkling ceiling and the warm and comfortable armchairs that make you feel cosy and snug.
Do you also fancy a bit of an adventure in seeing London at night? Travel under the stars and see London from a different perspective by hopping onto the Emirates Cable Car, which is a short-distance away by foot from the Sunborn London Yacht Hotel. The cost of a single trip experience per person is 4.50 GBP (6 USD). A 360 degree round trip costs 10.70 GBP (15 USD) and includes an inflight discovery film, inflight guide and free entry to Emirates Aviation Experience. It should also be noted that you can enjoy the Emirates Cable Car during the daytime too; however, it’s a bit more magical at night, which makes the experience feel a rather more special!
Make it work for your budget
A pampering weekend at the Docklands can suit various budgets. If you’re ready to splash out, then go for it and book a weekend at the Sunborn London Yacht Hotel, enjoy afternoon tea there and visit the VA Salon for multiple splendid treatments and enjoy the night skyline from the Emirates Cable Car. As an alternative (and in order to keep the spending to a minimum), I would recommend visiting the VA Salon at time when there are offers/promotions, enjoying a drink and/or afternoon tea in the Sunborn London Yacht hotel (rather than a full-blown weekend) and taking only a one-way ride on the Emirates Cable Car. This type of strategic spending means that you can still have a pampering weekend full of fun, without the enormous price tag!
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