[Other] Review: Anesis Fish Spa

So, for reasons that will remain undisclosed, I found myself yesterday preparing to place my naked feet into an aquarium of over-eager looking grey fish. No I wasn’t on a Japanese game show, I was about to get a piscine pedicure at the Anesis fish spa in Clapham, south London.

In my head I had somehow pictured it differently. I thought I’d be handed a fluffy white bathrobe and escorted through to some kind of giant tropical fish tank filled with colourful plants and even more colourful fish, where everything was cast in the pale pink light of those rooms at the back of garden centre pet shops where they sell bags full of neon tetras.

Instead you walk into a small shop roughly the size of a hairdresser’s that’s filled with padded benches, beneath which sit bare tanks of glass, each holding about two dozen ‘doctor fish’. Their real name is, Which should give you some idea of their appearance. They ain’t pretty.

After a perfunctory wipe of one’s feet from the near-mute attendant – it’s time to begin the immersion. As each foot enters the tepid water, the two inch-long fish swarm over it. If you’ve ever seen that moment in the Blue Planet were a whale carcass is stripped of its flesh by thousands of Hagfish, it’s eerily similar.

The sensation is unusual. There’s no sense of being bitten, just a slightly creepy tickling as the fish writhe over your feet. If you don’t look down you can imagine thousands of bubbles are drifting over your skin. Among my fellow pedicurees the reaction varied from pleasant giggling to hysterical screaming. All were first-timers.

After a few minutes you’ll become accustomed to the sensation, and will only feel tickled when a fish finds a particularly sensitive spot, such as the space between your toes. Eventually they start to lose interest and many fish will drift away to do whatever it is fish do when they’re not eating your feet.

Not quite paddling in the Caribbean

Not quite paddling in the Caribbean

Slightly disturbingly, in the case of my tank several of the little critters decided to rip apart one of their own. Whether the unfortunate specimen was alive when the cannibalistic orgy began I can’t say, though it’s possible he’d eaten himself to death on my dead feet-flakes – which is not exactly a comforting thought.

The treatment I had took half an hour which, to be honest, was about 15 minutes past my boredom threshold. Afterwards my feet felt soft and clean, which I suppose is the point – then again the smoothness of my toes was never high on my list of concerns to begin with. The treatment was originally used in Turkish spas to treat people suffering with Psoriasis so it would be great for people with particularly hard or flaky feet-skin, something from which I fortunately don’t suffer.

So the treatment was fine. Unusual and fun for a while, but ultimately boring and of limited benefit. I wouldn’t necessarily look to do it again – and certainly not at full price, but wouldn’t say no if I was offered a discount or asked to go with a friend. Anesis spa itself was adequate if not exceptional. Some staff were friendly, one was quite rude and the rest stayed pleasingly quiet. It’s also slightly off-putting to have your feet immersed in a fish-tank whilst basically sitting in a shop-window on Clapham Common but the reaction of passers-by was quite fun to watch.

6/10

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