“This feels like speaking to a therapist,” I found myself saying. Dr Tanja Phillips, one of the three founders of The HVN and the space’s medical director, smiled warmly.
Dr Tanja was conducting my consultation, a mandatory first step for any guest at The HVN, London’s first wellbeing space of its kind. With an emphasis on individualizing the client’s needs and desires, the 90-minute consultation is a combination of an interview and a comprehensive examination of the face.
The latter includes some seriously impressive high tech that wouldn’t look out of place in a Bond film; granted, if Bond were to ditch the international espionage and entered the business of UV and collagen levels.
The former, a pleasant half-hour conversation about one’s deepest physical insecurities and concerns about personal wellness with Dr Tanja, who grants the conversation with an intimacy akin to conversing with an old friend, rather than a trained medical professional. There’s even tea at hand, a brew specifically created for the company.
Having just opened in the last months of 2023, The HVN – which was co-founded by Dr Tanja alongside the space’s CEO Muriel Zingraff and COO Jo Harris – is somewhat of a singular entity in British wellness, the first of its kind that places the unique makeup of the client right at the heart of their wellness journey, and highly personalizes it through offering both premium medical advice and an impressively wide range of services.
“The HVN encapsulates everything that myself, Jo, and Tanja see as the fundamentals of a complete health and wellbeing experience,” Zingraff commented.
“We have pooled our knowledge and research to curate The HVN as a place to receive bespoke treatments, as well as true and transparent information about wellness with complete trust.”
The environment of the space feels not dissimilar to a high-end spa, from the plush white robes to the gentle birdsong in the waiting rooms. There is a deliberate stillness to the space that enables an ambiance of deep serenity; a remarkable feat, considering the bustle of London outside. Everything has been thought of, from the gentle lighting to even the space’s signature scent.
The menu, however, launches The HVN into a more medical sphere.
Treatments go beyond the usual massage and facial offerings; clients can peruse through options that include cosmetic touches such as acupuncture upon the face, sculpting of the body, and more medical services that encompass osteopathy for physical ailments, extend to hyperbaric oxygen treatment to aid chronic conditions.
In my case, after Dr Tanja sat through a list of complaints I had ready at the arsenal – I want my hair to grow longer! I’m tired until lunch! And, of course, the battle cry of almost every woman, I believe my life would be a lot better if I lost five pounds – we decided on a further functional medical assessment to look at some pills for my hormones.
Almost everything in the body is dependent upon hormones, Dr Tanja explained to me. Whether it be mental health or hair growth, skin or weight.
A scan of my face with the aforementioned technology provided further insight into the state of my health. Despite not ever bothering with sunscreen, it transpired I score very low for sun damage; on the other hand, what I had always taken for granted as naturally rosy cheeks turned out to be rosacea.
A HydraFacial was recommended to eliminate my blocked pores, and a series of laser treatments for my rosacea. The quotation came in the form of a wellness plan emailed to me a few days later.
Booking treatments is easy; you can either reply to the concierge via email or through calling. Most treatments can only be purchased through a recommendation within the wellness plan. It’s a quick turnaround, too; despite great success upon its launch in London, most treatments have bookings available within the week.
Quick and efficient, treatments that last under 60 minutes – such as my laser treatment – can be taken during a lunch break. And based in the heart of Knightsbridge, clients of The HVN can make the appointments work seamlessly around their day, whether a light touch-up after lunch, or a long-awaited massage after some heavy-duty shopping.
My HydraFacial, which came in at 90 minutes in total, was a delightful post-work treat. Quite honestly, it was the best I’ve had, and my facialist Florina was kind enough to include some lymphatic massaging at my request. I timed it purposefully before I flew long-haul from London to New York City for Thanksgiving, and the effects were astounding; no post-flight bloat, no physical signs of fatigue or stress.
A week later, I returned for my laser treatment. I’m quite scared, I told Dr Ireny, who was administrating it; I had done a patch test with Dr Tanja during my consultation, and it hurt a little bit.
She was kind and not patronizing, and we laughed a lot during our hour together. Upon reflection, I had the same experiences with Dr Tanja and Florina.
And perhaps that’s the secret to The HVN. It is a real – to use the popular jargon – safe space, both in the literal and metaphysical meaning. Physically, it is a gorgeous wellness retreat in central London, setting the same ambience people flock miles to enjoy in the depths of the countryside.
And in addition, to the total credit of the founders and their meticulously hand-picked staff, it feels like an emotional retreat of sorts too. The staff, all experts in their respective medical fields, are generous and considerate, tender and thoughtful. Perhaps my only regret is that I didn’t complain in my consultation enough; I would have thoroughly enjoyed more treatments.