Stress is a serious issue. Sometimes, we should sit back, put on some soothing music and allow a series of successive seconds to slow down; we should let ourselves slide into a blissful serenity. OK, enough sibilance. It was just too tempting, since the sound of the words So SPA Sofitel London St James already makes one think of the refreshing, trickling sound of a mountain stream tumbling over smooth pebbles. If you can possibly imagine it, without thinking I’m crazy, picture of me sitting down to write this, saying those words aloud (in my most seductive 1990s Cadbury’s Flake advertisement voice). It’s impossible to say the words without smiling and, serendipitously, this puts me in the perfect state of mind to write about the splendid experience I had there.
In a break with spa tradition, the welcome area at So SPA Sofitel London St James is less like a space station from the year 3000 and more like the lobby of a second hotel, an opulent boutique nestled inside the shell of the Sofitel London St James like an iridescent pearl inside a similarly lustrous oyster shell. An eclectic eye has brought together gold and wood of various hues, violet and rose upholstered dining chairs and a long table where one can enjoy a refreshing pre- or post-spa snack or beverage. The walls are, as is customary, lined with a range of high end beauty products but, unusually, there are windows stretching to the high ceilings behind these shelves, flooding the room with natural light.
Upon arrival, I was shown up a thick-carpeted staircase and was able to wind down in the relaxation room, where the music and temperature had been carefully selected to have a calming effect. By the time that my masseuse, Romane, came to introduce herself, I had reached the kind of calm that makes you walk by swaying from one foot to the other, casting benevolent smiles about you like a new age prophet: ‘ah, those women arriving now look overburdened with their hectic lives; I shall beam at them in sisterly pity’…
Maybe Romane was wondering what I was on, but my excuse is that I’m stressed and I don’t get enough spa time.
I’d opted for the Balinese Massage, listed in the spa menu as a relaxing ritual from Bali, ‘combining traditional gentle pulling and smoothing movements’. Romane asked me if there were any areas she should avoid, how firm she should be, what kind of music I would like and my lighting preference. I chose world music which, although not identifiably Indonesian, did seem to suit the treatment. The lighting was dimmed and I had indicated a medium firmness, avoiding my dodgy ankle, all of which Romane remembered and adhered to competely.
The massage began very gently and progressed to something between relaxing and therapeutic, with Romane building pressure against the knots in my legs and back, tackling each area in turn, with some interesting techniques that folded my limbs against each other to stretch the muscles. The So SPA uses luxury products from Carita and Cinq Mondes, two very acclaimed French cosmetology brands. This treatment used Cinq Mondes’s Baume Fondante aux Noix Tropicales, a balm adapted from a traditional South Asian recipe which includes tamanu, coconut and candlenut oils. It smelled very nice and seemed to glide across my skin. This product starts out quite firm but literally melts on contact with skin, producing a soft and radiant result. I could almost feel my skin gobbling up the nourishment and there was no need to shower after the massage as the balm left no oily feeling on my newly glowing skin.
At the end of the hour, Romane tucked me under my towel and left me to get ready. I waited as long as I possibly could before getting dressed and emerging into the light and sound of the real world, but it was difficult not to get a little giddy about how refreshed and bright I felt. Usually, a relaxing massage can have a soporific effect but, on this occasion, I actually felt as though I was ready to take on the world.
So SPA Sofitel London St James offers a range of massage and beauty treatments, which can be perused on their spa menu (adorably modelled on a restaurant menu, with sections such as starters, specials and desserts). Any of the staff are also happy to answer questions and are very knowledgeable about both the treatments and products on offer. Should you find yourself in the St James area, short on serenity but with some time to spare, you certainly should visit the So SPA at the Sofitel London St James – it’s a spa experience not to be missed.
So SPA Sofitel London St James
6 Waterloo Place
London SW1Y 4AN