I should admit up front that I had completely the wrong idea about what a facial would involve, never having had one before. I had vague ideas from my own facemask-from-Boots efforts, and as for the ‘electrical current’ component that I was informed the Aroma Lift Facial would involve, I imagined something like a medical procedure, having assured them I had no heart conditions or epilepsy. So I went into this pretty much blind.
Okay, so it was in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. That should say enough about the level of swishness that this spa trip involved, but in case it doesn’t, let me explain that the Mandarin Oriental is one of London’s top hotels, sits opposite Harrods and has guys in red coats and top hats on the door. And for the record, its spa is just as impressive.
The spa – or The Spa, as it is actually named – is underneath the hotel, so immediately upon entering the reception you experience the peace and tranquillity of leaving the London streets far behind you. It’s all dim lighting, soft music, small trickling pools and exceptionally welcoming staff, which is all very relaxing. But it’s about to get so much better.
Because a facial, it seems, is not just about your face. I was instructed to go the whole spa clothing route, which is to say to get rid of them all and put a robe on. I struggled out of my only waterproof footwear – hiking boots, as it happens – and into the spa slippers followed by a robe, which was only to be removed as I got under a sheet on a massage bed.
The facial, administered by the wonderful Jessica Sardo, involved exfoliation, moisturisation, the aforementioned electrical currents (more on that in a minute) and a whole load of massage not only for the face but shoulders and chest too. It lasted an hour, and you can imagine how incredibly relaxed I was at the end – I think I left my body behind on the bed at one point. Jessica, you are an artist. Marry me.
Okay, the electricity thing. I may have exaggerated a little – it’s actually a ‘micro-current’ run over your skin by probes, and you certainly don’t feel anything painful. Every so often you might feel something akin to the tiniest static electric shock – that’s about it. But a lot of time is taken on this part of the facial, so the skin gets a thorough toning. There are three of these ‘manual meets machine’ facials, coming under the bracket of Aroma Radiance Lift facials, ranging from £90 for an hour to £165 for ninety minutes
Does it work?
Skin feels pretty good, I have to say. I didn’t come out with the skin of an 18-year-old (shame), but it feels firmer. But for me, the magical underworld feel to the experience and the relaxation that came with it was the major thing – that and the use of The Spa’s other gorgeous facilities such as the Vitality Pool, the steam room and sauna which made me feel well and truly spoiled.
It’s an exceptionally heavenly place, really very decadent, and a treatment here would make a great gift for someone you really, really like. But tell them to leave plenty of time for the pool and sauna – this is not an experience to be hurried!
The Spa at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel
Tel: 020 7838 9888