Underneath one of the busiest transport hubs in London doesn’t seem like the most obvious place to seek relaxation. But the spa at the beautiful St Pancras Hotel is an oasis surrounded by metropolitan madness. On a recommendation, Fashionable Mother and I headed there on a rainy Friday morning, welcomed into the heart of the hotel under the fashionable Gilbert Scott restaurant.
The spa is small, a niche gem rather than an all-singing all-dancing retreat, which is sensibly to expect in the middle of a city – they don’t have access to the sprawling estates of say, Grayshott, or Lucknam Park. But what St Pancras has is presented impeccably; a small hydro-therapy pool in a warm tiled basement room, with an adjoining steam room and lovely loungers. It honestly felt a world away from the trains passing just a thick wall away, and with no phone signal to be had, I felt protected by the spa’s secluded, luxury embrace.
My chosen treatment was an hour’s massage, with my very knowledgable therapist asking plenty of questions in advance to ascertain my lifestyle, stress levels and even sleep patterns. While I tend to think I carry stress in my shoulders, she immediately honed in on my pelvis and lower-back, and relaxed me so much I was near to a blissful trance, if not total spa coma.
A pleasing bonus point of the St Pancras spa was the relaxation room – the place you tend to be taken following a treatment. Too many I’ve been hustled into have been too cold, too cramped, devoid of atmosphere or just lacking from the establishment entirely. Although very small (I can’t imagine the spa ever being super busy, with the hotel’s clientele seemingly business and weekend flying visit-oriented) it was perfectly formed – loungers with throws if you feel the chill, candles, light music, plenty of magazines, fresh tea, iced water and even nuts and fruit if your treatment has left you peckish. I could have stayed there all day, but was reluctantly ejected on the promise of afternoon tea.
Afternoon tea! Exciting! Who doesn’t want afternoon tea following a relaxing morning’s spa? Luckily (it was still raining) we needed only to pop upstairs to the hotel’s Hansom Lounge for the St Pancras Afternoon Tea. The ambience was slightly dented by a mass check-out of a business contingent, piling suitcases through the lounge and saying plentiful goodbyes. Luckily the food soon arrived to distract us. Frequent takers of afternoon tea will know the pleasing ritual that is a three-tier stand of cakes and sandwiches, loose-leaf tea and an old-fashionable strainer. Our waitress was lovely and very attentive, offering more sandwiches (fresh walnut bread with honey-roast ham, yes please) and topping up tea as FM and I valiantly ploughed through the mini patisseries. Victoria Sponge, Mille Feuille and chocolate mousse pots (oh my) got the better of us, but really only because we made the rookie mistake of binging on warm scones and clotted cream, the central staple of a good tea.
When we left the hotel the rain was still coming down hard, in fact, the only thing I’d add to the experience is a hotel-based blow dry bar, but hey, my hair may have been past saving but my muscles, mind and stomach were satiated indeed.