It’s easy to get swept along in the tornado of tedium that is parenting. Make lunch; calm tantrum. Unload washing. Clear up spill; make snack. Unload washing. Fetch glue, paper and safety scissors for crafting session; intervene in squabble. Unload washing. Put plaster on grazed knee. Unload washing….
In the midst of one of these tornadoes, I was invited by Sofitel London St James to experience a Mothers’ Day destination package at So SPA, their tranquil retreat just a stone’s throw away from the hustle and bustle of Piccadilly.
And boy, did I need it.
For the Mothers Day package, there was a choice of two Cinq Mondes ‘rituals’. Cinq Mondes are a French company whose beauty and health products are made from a selection of high-grade ingredients from around the globe. I was given the choice of either a relaxing North African massage (‘from Atlas, Morocco’) or an energising Indian ayurvedic massage (‘from Java, Indonesia’).
My own early Mothers Day treat was the ayurvedic massage. Taking time out to unwind and get rid of all those knots and tensions is all very well, but I needed plenty of energy to go back into the fray. Plus, I was intrigued. I didn’t know much about ayurvedic massages, and I wanted to see whether they differed much to the traditional variety.
The So SPA greeting was elegant: jasmine tea and a lavender-infused flannel, while I filled in a form asking whether or not I’d like my bed to be heated, and what sort of ambient music I preferred.
The destination package includes 30 minutes in a private steam room, to unwind before the 60-minute massage. The steam room had its own shower in the corner; I’ve never stood under a waterfall in a hot rainforest – so I couldn’t say whether or not that was an accurate comparison – but relaxing under this cool shower, while hot scented steam drifted around my head, was a delicious experience, and something I’d book for its own sake.
And the massage? Divine. I was explaining to D afterwards that an hour really is the best amount of time for a massage. It’s long enough to slip into a zone where the only thing that exists is the easing away of all those niggling tensions. My masseuse used a technique to create friction and heat, to stimulate the chakras. Alongside that was some deeper work on my knotty shoulders. It topped all my previous massage experiences for the sense I felt of letting go – of the day’s stresses, but also some emotional bother that had been hanging over me for a while.
Afterwards, I was given a choice of peppermint, rose or chamomile tea, and led to the So Zen lounge, to relax. This was the only experience I would have changed; although it was lovely to be alone with my own thoughts and newly recharged body, I would ideally have taken my book with me (the lockers were two floors below, and I didn’t fancy traipsing down to get it). There were some glossy magazines in there, though, for those who enjoy them; and next time, I’ll be sure to bring my current read up to the treatment floor.
After the massage, I was given a quick tour round the hotel by my host. The Rose Lounge was holding its regular afternoon tea, with a harp being played in one corner, and a display case filled with delicious-looking confectionery in the other.
Sofitel London St James is a five-star boutique hotel styled along French lines. It’s distinctive in its combination of striking colours and quirky details, with more traditional elements. The Balcon restaurant’s dark wood and leather seating, for instance, was set off with splashes of avocado.
A charcuterie counter was housed just around the corner from the ornate St James bar, inspired by Coco Chanel’s 1920s Paris apartment.
This hotel – and the destination experience at So SPA – felt almost otherwordly; you step off the busy streets of Pall Mall into a timeless, elegant space. I will definitely be back (perhaps with my own mother, for afternoon tea.)
This post was published in 2015, when I sampled a mother’s day destination package at So Spa. A signature 60-minute facial and massage at So Spa Sofitel St James is £100.