Struggling to remember their own name – let alone to exfoliate – amidst the madness of Fashion Month, the invitation to spend an hour tucked between heated sheets in a dark room, whilst a trained professional tends to their frazzled skin (and nerves), can’t be one many Fashion Editors would turn down.
Thus, when I arrived at St Pancras Spa, a little gem tucked away in the Victorian-tiled basement of the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel and cannily marketed at travellers in need of pre- and/or post-trip pampering, to be presented with my pre-treatment questionnaire asking not only about my skin-related concerns, but how I was feeling today, the “headache”, “medium” stress and “need to unwind” boxes all received a nice big tick. Intriguingly, St Pancras Spa takes an holistic, aromatherapy-based approach to its treatments, using Aromatherapy Associates’ range of actively-sourced natural, vegetarian, non-GM and paraben, mineral/sulphonated oil, SLS, petrolatum and propylene glycol-free products, so I was curious to find out what they’d be able to achieve, minus the chemicals.
I’d opted for the Ultimate Aromatherapy Associates Facial, which promises to take a bespoke approach, tailored to individual skincare needs and concerns. Following my pre-treatment consultation, during which my therapist, Liana, and I discussed my current skincare regime and concerns (a tricky-to-manage combination of sensitivity coupled with an irritating tendency toward hormonal breakouts), I was left to settle into my heated treatment bed, before she returned to tuck my tootsies in and set me off on my 60 minute odyssey. Taking a closer look at my skin, she announces that I have some underlying “congestion” but, given my sensitivity, she will employ the “Soothing” range, before taking me through the products she intends to use. The heat of the treatment bed combines with the cave-like darkness of the room and heady aroma of essential oils already hanging in the air to evoke a dreamlike sensation, almost instantaneously triggering the “unwinding” process intensified by Liana’s ministrations.
Whilst previous facials have never ventured much beyond my jawline, Liana’s focus on the upper chest area is very nearly as intent as that on the face, and my upper arms, shoulders and head are all paid more than passing attention, too. It does see off the beginnings of that previously-threatening headache, and I’m sorry when the hour (which has whizzed by) is over. Liana talks me through my “home-care plan” – which includes several nuggets of useful advice (use a nourishing mask once a week, and try to start using serum and facial oil on a regular basis – or, if I can’t manage both, pick one to start off with) – but there’s absolutely no hard-sell; I’m simply encouraged to take the product information away to digest in my own time. Ushered into the Relaxation Room to “have a nice cup of tea”, I ensconce myself on a day bed, chrysanthemum tea (heavenly) in hand, and open my treatment plan, only to discover that I am positively obliged to relax for at least 10-15 minutes post-treatment. Oh well, time enough to try the rose petal tea too, then… and the snacks… I emerge, 30 minutes later, and float back to the changing rooms.
On a weekday afternoon, the spa is an oasis of tranquility, and the pool (complete with jacuzzi and spa jets), steam room (billowing yet more fragrant gusts of those delectable essential oils) and sauna all look indescribably inviting… but are all also, unfortunately, off-limits, since I’m admonished to ensure I allow my oils to absorb for at least 2-3 hours. Oh. Still, being squeezed into half a train seat on the journey home does almost nothing to diminish the zen-like feeling of calm I have been imbued with as a result of my facial.
Two weeks on, I can’t say I’ve noticed any major changes to my skin as a result of the treatment, although I did get a few additional spots in the first week – let’s hope they marked the last vestiges of my “congestion” surfacing, eh? I do think, if I continued with Liana’s skincare advice and popped in for regular “top-up” facials, I’d see a difference… but the psychological benefits of the experience alone probably make an Aromatherapy Associates treatment worthwhile anyway! Not to mention that amazing herbal tea you get afterwards…
St Pancras Spa is at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, Euston Road, London, NW1 2AR. Read more about the spa and how to book here.