The Mandarin Oriental Spa: A Haven in Knightsbridge, London
If you’re a Condé Nast Traveller reader and you have a copy of the October issue, you’ll have read that The Mandarin Oriental Spa, Hyde Park was voted the Best UK Hotel Spa in the magazine’s annual Readers’ Travel Awards.
I hadn’t seen this when I recently visited the spa, but this highly coveted hotel dazzled readers for its therapists, programmes and bedrooms. Across the whole of the UK – where we have some absolutely stunning spas to choose from – that’s quite an accolade. I felt very honoured to have experienced this retreat.
The Mandarin Oriental Spa : First Impressions
I arrived on a Friday afternoon, frazzled from the week and ready for someone to ease me back to a stress-free me.
With flags flying and suited and booted doormen, the five-star Mandarin Oriental Hotel is an icon of Knightsbridge. It exudes an air of grandeur when you arrive at the foot of its sweeping stairs. Hotel staff are super attentive and once I’d located the spa, I arrived to a tranquil reception area where a pleasant staff member offered me a seat and served me a shot of herbal tea with a cooling towel and a single fresh flower.
After filling out the obligatory health form, I was invited to ditch my converse for some flip-flops. I was then led down a stone candle-lit stairway where Buddha statues and bamboo decoration offered a nod to the hotel’s Far East roots.
The changing rooms are compact but contemporary and clean, with a few toiletries and a hairdryer for guests to use. Refreshments-wise, there was a tray of cranberry juice, ice and bottled water. And there were super-thick towels and robes so luxuriously heavy, they require muscles to wear. There was noone there when I arrived, so it all felt very relaxed. Oh, and there’s no mobile phone or wifi signal down here so you are totally cut off and be free of digital temptations (Yessss). It was clothes off, bikini on, and time to decompress.
The Mandarin Oriental Spa : Using The Spa Facilities
It’s so important to invest in a bit of wind-down time before a massage. I really believe you benefit from easing yourself into a treatment and have a better experience as a result. Some days it takes longer to switch off the super-busy mind than others, and today was one of those days. So I was glad I arrived in plenty of time before my Oriental Essence Massage was due to begin.
The nice thing here, is the spa facilities are separate for men and women. They’re located right inside the changing rooms, so swimwear is ‘optional’ and you can loll about, care-free.
Thirty or fourty minutes gave me sufficient time to float in the spa’s Vitality Pool. Essentially an enlarged Jacuzzi, it’s not large enough to swim laps, but it does allow you to float above a hydrotherapy body jet – good for getting the circulation going and warming up the muscles. The ‘Heat and Water Oasis’ also offers a super hot sanarium and Amethyst Crystal Steam Room and it’s all dimly lit to make you feel uber relaxed, with arty stone sculptures at either end of the pool. With twenty minutes to spare, I dried off and entered the super-serene relaxation room to wait for my therapist.
Zen Colour Therapy Relaxation Room
Weirdly, the relaxation room is one of my favourite bits when I visit a spa. You’re cut off from the world, you’re distraction-free. And the only worry you have is whether you’re going to read Tatler or the September issue of Vogue first. The relaxation room here offers four relaxation beds – divided by horsehair panels. It’s all very hi-tec too – you can electronically recline your bed and each one is fitted with a personal reading lamp and oversized earphones allowing you to listen to meditative music. I’m not entirely sure what the colour therapy element is, but I assume it’s been designed with calm-inducing tones in mind.
The Mandarin Oriental Spa : The Oriental Essence Massage
My smiley and welcoming therapist, Monika, invited me to follow her back upstairs to one of the eight treatment rooms. After taking a seat, she asked me what kind of pressure I preferred in a massage and what I wanted to achieve from the treatment. She checked that I was happy with the temperature of the heated bed, and explained that she would be using their signature oil – the Quintessence Body Oil – by Aromatherapy Associates. With jasmine, frangipani and uplifting mandarin, it would offer a calming but uplifting effect.
The Oriental Essence Massage covers the arms, legs, back and neck, and thankfully for me – began with a thorough pummelling of the knotty shoulder and neck area. Monika used a combination of hands, arms and elbows and didn’t hold back on kneading my many knots with her elbows. It hurt, but it was highly effective.
For once, the music was very pleasant (so many spas get this wrong) and the room was quiet and nicely dark (but not too dark). The bed was very warm from the heated blanket (perhaps actually a bit too warm, but Monika soon adjusted that). And the face rest was actually very comfortable (so many of them manage to suffocate you). Importantly, the oil smelt divine.
After my back and legs had been massaged, I turned over, and my legs and arms were massaged on the other side. It ended with pressure applied to various points along the scalp and a chime of the Tibetan cymbals.
Monika moved the bed up and served me a cup of delicious pineapple and green tea and chatted to me about the treatment before allowing me to wake up and leave the room.
Feeling super-relaxed yet not too sleepy, I headed back to the relaxation room and enjoyed more herbal tea, more magazines, and just a teeny bit more ‘me time’.
The Mandarin Oriental Spa is a haven in busy Knightsbridge. It has the nicest and most patient therapists, a pace that you set yourself and the five-star luxury comes from its noticeable bespoke feel. I left feeling rejuvenated, relaxed, and a better version of me. I can see why the warm and friendly service has helped it earn that accolade.
The Spa at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
London SW1X 7LA