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Float Review – Floating Your Cares Away In London’s Notting Hill

By Paula Jessop

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Just off a busy street in West London’s Notting Hill lies an unassuming door which opens into the intimate lobby of Float. The décor is subtle, understated, relaxing and inviting.  It feels like you could be going into an exercise studio, a health spa, or a chic little beauty spa and you are.

It’s amazing that Float doesn’t have an identity crisis, it has so much to offer. Float is an exercise pilates studio, a beauty spa offering a variety of facials, massages, and mani - pedicures, a health spa with therapies like shiatsu, cranial sacral massage and Reiki. Most of all it is a center designed to regain your health and balance through, just as the name implies, floating.  Floating? Yes, in a specially designed floatation tank.

The floatation tanks are designed for single users to be able to stretch out completely and literally float, their bodies completely suspended in Epsom salt water. The floatation tank is a sensory deprivation tank and once it is closed you are in your own world, void of light and sound with only the gentle sensation of floating in a body of water.

Float's Lobby

Why would be a good question to ask right about now.  Why? Glad you asked! There are a myriad of health benefits which can be derived from a float. Some of the benefits Float lists on their website are relief from:
• Stress
• Muscle pain
• Back pain
• Arthritis 
• Rheumatism
• Insomnia
• Migraines
• Jet lag
• Injury recovery
• Breaking addictions
• Alleviating discomfort in the later stages of pregnancy

As well as assisting healing, floating promotes general well-being and self-improvement:
• Epsom salts leave skin feeling super soft
• Promotes accelerated effective learning, e.g. languages
• Perfect environment to listen to self-confidence or weight loss suggestion CDs
• Inspires creativity

Floatation therapy achieves such wide ranging effects by inducing a state of deep relaxation which harnesses the natural recuperative powers of the body to:
• Improve cardiovascular efficiency to stimulate blood flow
• Reduce the heart rate and blood pressure
• Strengthen the immune system
• Reset the body's hormonal and metabolic balances

Bamboo Room

I am not quite sure how I happened upon Float or rather Float happened upon me. I was researching my trip to London and looking up spas and wham there on my computer screen was Float. I’m familiar with what a floatation tank is having heard about them years ago and ever since having a desire to try one for myself. When Float and I found each other I knew I had to give it a try.

I booked an appointment and eagerly looked forward to my session.  I had a feeling that it would be a great way to fight the effects of jet lag and I wanted to fit it “first thing upon arrival” into my schedule. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to and I had to wait a few days.  The relaxation benefits I did receive from my floating proved my theory and next time I’ll insist on it being first on my “to do” list.

When I did finally arrive at Float I was greeted at the desk, offered a glass of water and given forms to fill out. I snuggled into a window seat sipped on some refreshing water, gazed out the window and started to relax before I even got into my float room. They have four floatation rooms each designed with a different mural giving the rooms separate personalities. You can choose from the Cherry Blossom room, the Bamboo room, the Butterfly room and the Dream Time room. I was given the butterfly room which I found very fitting since a theme playing out in my life right now is about flying and freedom.

Once in my room the attendant gave me instructions about showering off first and on how to use the tank.  She told me what to do if I got nervous, there are light switches and a door latch switch within easy reach. She also said if the idea of closing the tank all the way was too much I could leave the door ajar and I would still get the same benefits because my butterfly room would be dark and quiet.  She explained how I could have a choice of music or nature sounds to bring me in and out of the session and how therr would be silence in between the music/sounds.

I showered climbed into the tank played around with the lights, the door and then sank into the warm water cradling my head with my arms behind my neck at the attendant’s suggestion. After a few seconds I decided I was comfortable enough not to need to support my head because the water did a fine job on its own. I pushed the door closed button turned off the light and waited to hear a babbling brook. The brook sound came on and I floated comfortably marveling how I didn’t sink to the bottom. I felt warm and cozy and began to focus on relaxing. I started to think how the tanks looked like science fiction time traveling or time suspension pods.

Cherry Blossom Room

I imagined myself a Rip-Van-Winkle exiting and being in some far off time frame. Then I tried to quiet my mind so I focused on feeling the sensation of floating. I’d decided this would be a great chance to do some manifestation meditations and went into one. Then I became aware of time and not knowing how much had passed I began to wonder was it a few minutes or was my session almost over and also it was getting hot in here and maybe I was running out of air and I started to feel the first signs of what I think might be claustrophobia. I’ve never felt claustrophobic before and then I became fascinated by that fact. I realized there was a moment that I could choose to panic or be logical and realize this was a fear I’d not had to face before. I don’t like to feel afraid and so I chose to be logical. The water was warm and the area I was in was small, my body was putting of heat as well and so naturally it would get warmer. There had to be air holes or some kind of ventilation system or people would die and the manufacturers certainly couldn’t be selling these tanks to people all over the world.

I decided to sit up and turn on the lights just to check out my theory. This is where I lost all my new found fear because it was really hard to sit up. I just kept bobbing up and down in the tank sliding into the end or a wall and slipping back up into the top of the water. I certainly couldn’t drown in here if I wanted too and I found it would be impossible to sink. It took a concentrated effort to just sit up. I managed to sit up and turn on the light. There was plenty of space for me to sit up fully and not knock my head into the door. I could see the ventilation holes and I wouldn’t let myself open the door because I didn’t want to go any further into the fear which was already leaving me.

Beauty Treatment Room

I located the fresh water squirt bottle, turned off the lights lay back into the water and started to float. I then squirted down my face, hands and eyes with fresh water so the salty water wouldn’t get in them and sting. I began to meditate again and once more started to feel the air leave the room. This time I decided to breathe through it quickly it was gone. For the rest of the float I was perfectly fine and didn’t have another unpleasant sensation. I found that time seemed to crawl by and it did bother me not to know how long I had been floating or how long I had left to float and realized this said something about control and me. Interesting, panic, control and the ability to keep distracting myself during a meditation.

Hot Stone Massage

Hhhhmmm. I still haven’t decided what to make of those and I think I need to do a few more floats to see what else comes up. I didn’t expect a few lessons on what makes me tick to be included with the price of admission. But I love that kind of thing going deep inside and seeing what is lurking or should I say “floating” around.

Ok enough babbling! After what felt like a very long time and a very short time all rolled into one I began to hear a brook babble and then my light came on and I was done.

Signature Facials

I showered off the salt water and was met by a therapist who took me into a beauty treatment room where I was given a signature facial. This facial is custom or bespoke as they say in England and is designed specifically for you and what your skin needs at the time of the visit.

The people at Float say that after a float is a great time to get facials, massages and therapy treatments because you are relaxed, receptive and your pours are opened up. Basically all of you is able to receive much more than before a float when you are so tied up in stress and etcs.  I drifted in and out during the facial and didn't pay as much attention as I normally would. There were still things that stood out in my mind, of note was when the therapist cleaned and gently massaged my feet before starting the facial. Another was when she was rubbing warm honey into my face with a warm rose quartz wand. The energy that was transmitted from the heat and the crystal was delicious and felt truly luxurious and healing to me.

I was left in the beauty room to get dressed and “float” my way out to the lobby. Again I was greeted at the desk with an offer of tea or water and a place to relax before I left Float. I enjoyed my visit to Float loved being suspended in water with no sound and light around. The skin all over my entire body was soft and supple. My face glowed and my attitude shifted from frenetic to tranquil and serene. I’m ready to do it all over again.

2A Bridstow Place, Westbourne Grove
London W2 5AE
020 7727 7133


Published on Dec 31, 1969

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