I’d always thought that underground the centre of Amsterdam would be something of a dingy dungeon or decrepit liar, but beneath Museumplein the situation is quite on the contrary. A stunningly serene, tranquil space awaits those who dare to venture souterrain, as I discovered while visiting the Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Centre.
Located below the luxurious Conservatorium Hotel at Museumplein, the spa is a true oasis where it seems impossible to feel anything but total relaxation. The facilities have been designed to align the four elements: earth, water, air and fire. Earth is represented by the organic bar lounge; water is the main spa (which features a Watsu pool, whirlpool, sauna and hammam); fire is the fitness club; and air is depicted by the calming yoga and Pilates studio.
Upon arrival, guests booked for spa treatments are invited to get comfortable in plush housecoats and slippers before venturing further underground to the spa area. The facilities are almost surreal – think waterfalls that gently cascade over walls and treatment cabins which float above pools of water. An eerily calm turquoise swimming pool tempts you to jump right in, though I had to skip a swim to save my skin for my facial treatment.
Specialists always analyze skin before applying products (all of which are from the French Gemology skincare line). While I’d booked a Diamond Anti-Aging Care facial, my specialist advised a slightly different program for my dry, sensitive skin. A gentle scrub made from pearl extract worked to deeply exfoliate, while a fresh green tea cleanser removed impurities. A hot stone massage on my face was a unique treat I’d never experienced, but the piece de resistance was a soothing, highly moisturizing facial mask. It smelled like the best things in life – baking sweet cake, fresh roses and drying laundry – all mixed into one.
While the facial absorbed into the epidermis of my face and neck, my specialist then surprised me with some unexpected (and highly appreciated) treats: after being bundled in a warm blanket, I drifted away during hand and arm massages, followed by an exfoliating foot scrub. Once my feet were cocooned in heated blankets like hot jacket potatoes, I was more-or-less at the epitome of complete bliss.
Following my treatment, I was invited to the relaxation area where cool mint water and hot South African rooibos tea awaited me. While munching on apricots, I sat in my plush housecoat and sipped tea while listening to the soothing trickle of water that surrounded me — the perfect finishing touch to the treatment.
A Diamond Anti-Aging Care facial is €120 for 60 minutes. For an additional €75, spa guests can purchase a day pass for the spa facilities (including the gym and gym classes, swimming pool, hammam, sauna and whirlpool).
Text: Lydia Parafianowicz