In a city as busy and as stressed-out as London, visits to somewhere as relaxing and invigorating as the award-winning Spa at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London should be compulsory. A zen-like oasis of calm, it’s the kind of place that soothes your soul as well as your body, alleviating your worries and letting you drift out into the evening rejuvenated.
Lying at the base of the celebrated London hotel, the 500sqm spa was designed by architect Eric Parry and is a gleaming example of how urban spas should look and make you feel. Parry’s aim was to create a space that stimulates every sense from the minute you walk in the door, and he has made a soothing yet exciting environment, spread over two floors and using jet-black Zimbabwean granite, horsehair panels, sculptures and carefully placed lighting. On entering, your eyes are drawn to the distinctive Stephen Cox sculptures as the scent of incense wafts over you and chill-out music plays softly in the background. The lights gently change colour to calm you.
Parry’s elemental design is perfect for Mandarin Oriental philosophy. It’s a holistic spa that’s as spiritual as it is pampering, healing the mind and the body by taking guests on a journey away from their day-to-day lives. One of the first to introduce the concept of Time Rituals, The Spa does not do quick-fix options. The minimum time that can be booked is two hours; people often book in for three or four hours. On top of this, guests are advised to arrive at least 45 minutes before their appointment to make use of the heat and water area – an integral part of the experience at The Spa.
Chilling out begins when you check in. The tatami-matted reception is split into two areas, the softly lit left-hand side symbolising the start of your journey and the slightly brighter right-hand side, where you can buy MO Signature products, which marks the end. You are met by an elegant black-clad assistant gliding across the wooden floor to welcome you. Almost symbolically, you surrender your day-to-day footwear in favour of a pair of spa sandals proffered alongside a single orchid on a tray, before being shown to the expansive changing rooms.
An urban spa gives guests a chance to embrace holistic ideas and relaxing principles
Once changed and wrapped in a soft spa robe, it’s time to move into the heat and water areas with separate vitality pool, solarium and steam room for men and women. Designed to clear the mind, relax the body and warm your muscles, the time spent here prepares your body for your treatment. First up is the solarium, similar to a sauna but slightly cooler to build up your body temperature slowly. And then, almost immediately, you bring it back down again as you jump into a full-body cold shower to stimulate circulation. After this, you enter the Amethyst Crystal Steam Room – as your body heats up, the amethyst clears your mind. It’s then time for another cold shower followed by immersion for 20 minutes in the luxurious vitality pool. Lying back on various curved granite loungers, your body is pummelled with hydro jets to stimulate circulation further. Follow this with a lie-down in the relaxation room where soft music tinkles in the background and coloured light therapy is used to enhance your chilled-out state, and you’ll be so blissed out you’ll feel almost as if you’re at the end of your session rather than the beginning. A water feature decorated with orchids and crystals.
Sessions begin with an Asian-inspired warm footbath and a cup of herbal tea whilst you and your therapist discuss your treatment and what you are looking to get out of it, then the therapist suggests the appropriate rituals for you. The Spa offers a full menu of treatments, the majority of which have an Eastern focus. ‘Advanced Time’ includes treatments such as the Life Dance Massage or Ayurvedic-inspired Ritual experiences, whilst ‘Holistic Time’ offers the Chakra Balancing Journey or an Aromatherapy Massage. Booking a block of time as opposed to a specific treatment means that your personal journey will be individually tailored and you will be able to choose a selection of treatments or try out one of The Spa’s Signature Treatments.
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