Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Review - Agua Spa at the Sanderson Hotel

Disclosure - treatment was provided free for purposes of review



The Sanderson is a 5 star hotel located a few streets away from the frenetic foot-traffic of Oxford Street. From the outside, it's a monolithic, imposing building, but it contains one of the most blissful sanctuaries known to mankind - the Agua spa.

I'll be honest - I'm not the sort of person who can walk into a 5 star hotel as if to the manner born. I felt decidedly small and overwhelmed as I walked through the Sanderson's imposing lobby area for my treatment last week, but as I stepped out of the lift on the first floor and into the Agua reception, I immediately relaxed. I think it was the "quiet zone, no mobile phones" sign. (My subconscious probably thought I was in the geeky refuge of a public library.)

Agua is a maze of billowing white curtains, suspending from an incredibly high ceiling. It's probably quite a large space, but it's divided by miles of white fabric into a series of corridors and nooks that defy all wider sense of its dimensions. Without walls or windows, you quickly lose all sense of being inside a building, far less a busy hotel.

Beyond Agua's reception desk, the curtained pathways lead through to a central relaxation area. The lighting is low, and a cauldron-like water feature bubbles away, casting bright reflections on the ceiling. Elegant white chairs and side tables, custom designed by Phillippe Starck, are arranged around the edges of the room. Further along is a changing area with individual showers, mirrored lockers ready-prepared with robes and slippers, and a dressing table with thoughtfully provided hairdryers. There's also a steam room, and several individual relaxation areas; cosy curtained nooks with armchairs and lamps.


After a quick tour, I settled into a chair and sipped on a glass of iced water while I filled out the pre-treatment form. It was very thorough; even my taste in music was queried on the form and catered to during the treatment. After donning my white robe and slippers, I met my therapist Kasia who led me up some white stairs (who knew they were hidden behind all those curtains?) to a spacious treatment room. I had chosen the Restorative package, one of eight new "Inside Out" packages at Agua. Each one is different, but all are targeted at those who are short on time but keen to maintain their health and wellbeing. Each package involves a treatment followed by a carefully designed healthy meal and accompanying smoothie.


Before beginning the treatment, Kasia explained in detail how she would proceed, which was quite handy for me as I quickly became so blissed out that I wasn't really keeping track. First was the Eve Lom "Ultimate Cleanse" - a double cleanse of my face and decollete using Eve Lom's cleanser. (Kasia used natural sponges throughout the treatment to remove the products, which was a particularly luxurious touch as they're very soft and absorbent on the skin.) Next she painted several layers of warm paraffin wax onto my face to open my pores. Then she placed a warm cloth over my eyes before gradually peeling off the mask and finally performing extractions on the exposed skin. The cloth shielded my eyes from the very bright lamp she was using to check for areas of congestion.

I'd never had an extraction before, and to be honest I didn't think there would be much to extract, since I exfoliate regularly and keep a pretty vigilant eye on my pores, patrolling regularly for blackheads. However, several rather eye-watering minutes later she seemed to have honed in on quite a few problem areas and I was thoroughly purified.


Afterwards, a chamomile lotion and a layer of Eve Lom Rescue Mask were used to calm my skin and I lay back and enjoyed a massage with Aromatherapy Associates oils. The massage was slightly unusual in that I lay face up while Kasia slipped her hands under me and massaged my back, shoulders and arms. I was lying on a water pillow, so she was able to manoeuvre quite easily. The massage was the only part of the experience I might have wanted to change, and that was only because I wished it could have gone on longer.

Kasia was a great therapist - not only for her technique, but also her quiet, calm manner. She was gentle and careful in all respects, but also gave me a sense of assurance and expertise that made it very easy to relax with her.

After lying quietly for a while, I was installed (like royalty) in one of the private relaxation areas where I put my feet up and was served dinner - on a silver tray no less. To be honest, I thought the meal might be a bit "virtuous", but it was absolutely delicious - a light but fortifying meal that I enjoyed enormously. I had grilled turkey breast, quinoa with a salty dressing, watercress and roasted butternut squash. The coconut and fig smoothie that came with it was also very tasty.


I will let the picture do the talking - I ate every last bit.

After a luxuriously warm and powerful shower (with Korres toiletries) I dressed and reluctantly left the Agua premises. Stepping back onto the grey London street was like coming back down to earth after a few hours floating on a cloud. The experience was an absolute respite from daily life, which is, I suppose, exactly what a spa should be.

The Restorative package is £170 at Agua spa. For more information see the spa menu at the Sanderson Hotel website.

1 comment:

  1. Had a wonderful time at the Sanderson, staff very helpful and whole hotel very cool. Only negative is that the hotel is a times a bit manic, not it terms of staff but the general volume of people passing through at night, not very relaxing!

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