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A little bit of heaven

As London's famous Sanctuary Spa turns 35, Harriet Walker finds out that there's more to success than its best-selling products

You'll no doubt know Covent Garden's Sanctuary spa from the best-selling range of products that is available across the country – but you might not know the history of the spa itself, which celebrates its 35th birthday this month.

Originally built in 1977, the ladies-only retreat was a gift of sorts from the choreographer Gary Cockerill to his ballerina wife, a place where she and her colleagues could relax and unwind between performances at the nearby Royal Opera House.

Since then it has established itself as an important part of the area, used as the backdrop to films (such as The Stud, starring a scantily clad Joan Collins) and rock'*'roll parties – Debbie Harry famously launched an album there in Eighties.

But it's more famous these days for being a place of tranquillity and calm, a moment out from the bustling streets that surround it, with several indoor pools and lounges (including the sleep lounge, which promises the best shut-eye of your life), a koi carp pond and even a resident parrot.

Treatments range from classic facials and massages to manicures and pedicures, as well as mud masks and body contouring. Less traditionally holistic approaches also include a glass of bubbly and a slap-up meal at the restaurant – a winning formula that means it's often booked up several weeks in advance.

So if you'd like to celebrate a special day at