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If someone blindfolded you, put you a flight simulator for 11 hours, and guided you into Glow Bar, you'd definitely think you were in Los Angeles. That would be a slightly elaborate prank to pull, because Glow Bar is, in fact, a stone's throw from Oxford Circus in London. Yet, it has all the vibes of a trendy West Coast health spa. The pale-pink salon is home to a wellness bar and shop stocked with all manner of stress-busting concoctions to get you vibrant and glowing upstairs, and chic, infrared saunas downstairs to leave your body and mind blissfully relaxed.
What is an Infrared Sauna?
An infrared sauna uses infrared heat lamps to heat the body directly rather than using steam or dry heat to warm the air in the sauna the way traditional saunas do. This allows the air temperature to be lower and more tolerable in infrared saunas, while permitting the heat to better penetrate the body’s tissue.
Benefits of infrared saunas are said to include improved circulation, increased healing and collagen production, detoxification, and elevated metabolism and mood. The warmth is great and will definitely get you through the colder winter months. Infrared saunas have also been found to release endorphins to give you a post-sauna high and improve sleep. And let’s face it—sometimes, it’s great to get a good sweat without having to hit the gym for a hard workout.
Sounds tempting, right? Keep scrolling to find out more about London’s Glow Bar and the infrared sauna experience.
What is Glow Bar London?
Glow Bar is London's go-to wellness shop for all the latest natural remedies for de-stressing. After battling stress, anxiety, and depression in her young adulthood, creator Sasha Sabapathy designed Glow Bar to revolutionize how we manage stress. The shop offers various edible and topical elixirs containing adaptogens, herbs, superfoods, and antioxidants. Besides their popular infrared saunas, Glow Bar also offers high vibe facial massages, a luxurious hour-long treatment that combines manual face massage with crystal tools and CBD to promote relaxation, lymphatic drainage, stress relief, and healthy skin.
Upstairs, there's a bar area that serves food and drinks, and the shop to browse. The changing rooms have lockers as well as two showers complete with shower gel, shampoo and conditioner, so you don't need to take your own. Towels and robes are provided. There are GHD hairdryers and straighteners and R&Co hair products, alongside Origins skincare.
Glow Bar is a haven for anyone into alternative therapies. There are crystal hair combs, crystal water bottles, palo santo, and sage bundles for smudging. You can buy adaptogen powders and jade rollers, which can be hard to find elsewhere.
There's a bar and seating area that's an Instagram dream—there are plants everywhere, and the walls are pink. Downstairs, there's a chill-out area where you can hang before or after your sauna, and it's decorated with every item on our dream living room wish list: velvet sofa, check; brass lamp, check; sheepskin rug on chair, check; jute rug, check!
Before the sauna, the team recommend you try a warm moon milk, a hot drink made with almond milk and natural adaptogen powders. Afterwards, go for a cold moon milk or plenty of water (which they infuse with citrus fruit). I chose the Glow with rose, beetroot, and schisandra, which is thought to help lower stress. It tasted like Turkish delight.
Everyone raves about the Yoni Moon Milk, but if you like rose flavors, you have to try the Glow (pictured below). It's really good ice-cold.
The Infrared Sauna Experience
I was a little nervous before heading into the infrared sauna my first time because I wasn’t sure what to expect. It’s a luxuriously private experience—you get your own changing room and own individual sauna pod, which is definitely indulgent, but as someone who rarely spends time alone, I was a somewhat concerned that I’d be lonely and bored by myself in an unfamiliar (and very hot!) sauna for 45 minutes. But, fortunately, my eagerness to experience all the benefits Glow Bar devotees rave about encouraged me to forge ahead.
You can book your sauna appointment on the Glow Bar website, and you need to bring swimwear for the sauna treatment itself. There is a connecting door from the changing rooms to the saunas. Once the sauna pod is ready for you, one of the staff members will collect you from the changing room. There are four saunas, two of which have bigger lobby areas, but otherwise, the saunas are the same.
Each pod is a little like a changing room. You have the "lobby" where there's a shelf for you jewelry, a bottle of water in a charcoal filter bottle, and a Muji diffuser wafting out clouds of spa-like aromas. A glass door divides the lobby and the sauna itself, which has elegant slated wood walls and a seat.
The clever bit is the cubby hole where you can put your phone and link it up to the speakers. You can listen to your playlist, put on a podcast, or sit quietly and meditate or snooze, if you prefer. My fears of being bored and lonely were assuaged as I queued up an audiobook I’ve been enjoying. I sat up for the entire time, but you can lay out on the bench and prop your legs up against the wall for a further circulatory boost.
It gets very hot very fast, and you soon find yourself going red in the face and sweating a lot. At some points, I found it too hot, so I simply stepped out and had a little water before resuming my position in the sauna. You can also just open the door and let out some of the hot air. The time went surprisingly quickly, and after the 45 minutes were up, I showered. You can't really get away without showering because you just get that sweaty.
Heading out, I felt blissfully relaxed. I definitely got a good natural high, thanks to the endorphins, and that night, I really did sleep like a baby. I woke up the next morning vowing to return, knowing it would definitely help with my winter blues.
I loved just about everything involved in my Glow Bar experience. The only thing I would maybe change would be getting slightly less sweaty and hot, but I guess that’s almost entirely the point. For getting a great sweat, it’s sure easier than the spin classes I go to! Of course, it doesn’t provide all the fitness benefits that my workout does, but it really did leave me feeling loose, limber, relaxed, and warm. And when I say “warm,” I don’t just mean physically toasty—my mood and heart felt warm and loved. Plus, Sasha and the staff are a fount of knowledge regarding all things stress relief, and I’m eager to start working some of the elixirs and adaptogens they recommended into my daily routine.
The Finer Details
Directions: Glow Bar, 70 Mortimer Street, Marylebone, London W1W 7RY. Get the tube or bus to Oxford Circus. Head north up Regent's Street, and turn right onto Mortimer Street. It's on the left-hand side.
Cost: £45 for one 45-minute session. Or you can buy packages and save: 5 for £202.50, 10 for £396, or 20 for £765.
Opening Hours: Sunday to Wednesday: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Thursday to Saturday: 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Wunsch A, Matuschka K. A controlled trial to determine the efficacy of red and near-infrared light treatment in patient satisfaction, reduction of fine lines, wrinkles, skin roughness, and intradermal collagen density increase. Photomed Laser Surg. 2014;32(2):93-100. doi:10.1089/pho.2013.3616