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Beauty, Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, London, Spa

Sodashi Facial at Sense Spa at Rosewood London

The colder months in London can be tough on the skin, so what better to way to get the glow back than with a revitalising facial?

For a few hours of uninterrupted ‘me time’, I visited Sense Spa at Rosewood London – an urban sanctuary within the five star luxury Holborn hotel.

Sense Spa works exclusively with Australian high end natural skincare brand Sodashi and it’s currently the only spa in London where you can experience a treatment using its products. I’ve had the pleasure of using Sodashi face and body products before, but this was my first time trying a Sodashi treatment and it was just as heavenly as I expected.

Sense Spa has sleek, Asian-inspired interiors and a seductive atmosphere with dimmed lighting, glowing lanterns and aromatic aromas filling the air.

I arrived 30 minutes before my treatment to begin my spa journey with a relaxing detox in the sauna and steam room.  The spa facilities have a private feel and are located in the separate changing rooms with bamboo and slate walls and underfloor heating.

You’re always aware of being in a luxury hotel with attention to small details such as large glass bottles of still and sparkling water with an ice bucket, fine glassware and very plush robes.  I also loved the quirky locker door handles in the shape of regal-looking animals – an easy way of remembering which one is yours.

The spa facilities are available to both spa and hotel guests and I was pleasantly surprised to find I had them all to myself during my visit.  The sauna and steam room were powerful and immaculately maintained and the sensory showers were fun with different rainfall experiences and a tropical vibe.

My therapist Lara met me in the stunning gold leaf and teak relaxation lounge and led me to a cosy treatment room.  I was offered a delicious red berry juice to sip on while she examined the current state of my skin and identified what I wanted to achieve from my Pure Radiance Facial (60 mins/£110).

My main goals were clearing some blemishes, adding moisture to dehydrated areas and bringing some radiance back to my skin.  Happily the consultation was thorough but didn’t take too long, without the extensive lifestyle analysis that I’ve experienced at some spas.

The heated spa bed was raised on both sides to make it super comfortable and a wide cushion was placed behind my knees to balance the pressure.  Once the music was chosen and I was neatly tucked in, Lara encouraged me to take slow, deep breaths, inhaling the aromas of calming essential oils that invigorate the senses.

My covered legs, feet and arms were lightly pressed to get the energy flowing.  My skin was double-cleansed with a light camomile cleansing lotion and hydrated with a calming rose face mist.  Lara used lymphatic drainage massage to reduce any puffiness and concentrated on congested areas around my t-zone.

A gentle, non-abrasive face polish exfoliated my skin and then a plant essence replenish mask was applied.  While the mask was working, I enjoyed the most divine head massage, as well as having the knots in my shoulders kneaded away.

My skin was then finished with a spritz of face mist, eye-lifting gel, balancing serum and a balancing face and neck moisturiser.

After my treatment, I was led to the relaxation lounge to stay in this blissful state a little longer.  I reclined on the comfy spa bed with copies of Vogue and Tatler and was served warming jasmine tea in a decorative Chinese porcelain cup designed exclusively for Rosewood London.

The central table also offers large carafes of citrus-infused water and fresh fruit to keep you feeling refreshed.  While I was revelling in some peaceful magazine-reading, Lara prepared a tailored list of Sodashi products that would benefit my skin at home.

Leaving Sense Spa through the hotel’s attractive courtyard, my skin felt plump, smooth and thoroughly hydrated.  I avoided wearing make-up for the rest of the day, so I really felt the benefit of the products and those precious few hours of tranquility.

The Sodashi Pure Radiance Facial is ideal for those looking for a holistic, natural treatment with effective results.  With excellent spa facilities, friendly staff and elegant surroundings, Sense Spa at Rosewood London is the place to be for a spot of indulgence in the city.

For more information and booking, visit:

Cherie City was a guest of Sense Spa at Rosewood London

All photos by Rosewood London

Hotels, London, Restaurants, Spa

A Stay at The Runnymede-on-Thames Hotel & Spa

London life can sometimes get a little hectic, so where better to recharging and unwind than at a country retreat just 40 minutes away from the city?

The Runnymede-on-Thames is a delightful 4 star hotel in leafy Egham, Surrey, perched on the tranquil banks of the River Thames.  It’s the sister hotel of The Grove in Hertfordshire and Piccadilly’s The Athenaeum, however The Runnymede has its own down-to-earth identity.

We visited for a weekend of relaxation, fresh air and indulgent dining.  After arriving by train from Waterloo to Egham Station, it was a pleasant stroll through the town centre to the hotel.  Of course, if you have heavy luggage or arrive in the evening, a taxi ride to the front door will take just 5 minutes.

The hotel overlooks the picturesque river and lush green fields to the back.  Not only is the Runnymede area full of breathtaking scenery, it also has historical significance as the home of the Magna Carta, issued by King John in 1215.

The open-plan lobby was a hub of activity when we visited, with guests enjoying afternoon tea in the lounge and lunch in the Leftbank Restaurant, which serves a bountiful 3-course buffet for each meal.

The Runnymede’s duck emblem can be spotted throughout the hotel with a number of colourful birds in the lobby – a fun touch for families.

Our Deluxe Double room on the first floor was very spacious with excellent views of the river.  It’s designed in a comfortable, homely style with a soft, warm colour palette and highlights of royal blue.

Room features include an interactive flatscreen TV, executive writing desk, comfy seating area, king-size bed, large wardrobe and free wifi.  A thoughtful touch is the complimentary tea and coffee facilities with adorable duck mugs and biscuits, which were replenished at turndown.

We were also kindly welcomed with a handwritten note and a trio of gourmet chocolate bars tied with yellow ribbon.

We found the king-size bed ever so plush and comfortable, with high thread-count linen, plenty of pillows and a feather mattress topper.  The quiet location and heavenly bed made for an excellent night’s sleep.

The white and blue tiled bathroom is a good size and features a shower and bath with excellent water pressure, a single sink, comfy waffle bathrobes and a full set of ESPA bergamot, jasmine and cedarwood bathroom products

The spa at The Runnymede is truly impressive and worth setting aside a few hours to enjoy.  Guests can indulge in a relaxing ESPA, Guinot or Jessica treatment, or push the boat out with a bespoke spa day.

The highlight of the spa is the large swimming pool with slow and fast lanes, along with the shallow children’s pool and heavenly jacuzzi.  It can be personal annoyance when hotels don’t heat their swimming pool to the right degree, but the spa pools were at the perfect temperature for comfortable swimming.

We also loved the spacious sauna and eucalyptus steam room, which were both powerful and well-maintained.  There’s even a leather massage chair in the changing rooms to make the relaxation go that little bit further.

The high-tech gym is very well-equipped and in the summer months you can make the most of the good weather at the outdoor swimming pool and tennis courts.

Before heading back to our room, we spent a little time in The Garden Room, an elegant relaxation room with a sun terrace and complimentary tea, coffee and fresh juices.

Beyond the spa and dining, there are plenty of outdoor activities on the doorstep.  Fun ways to experience the river are an elegant afternoon tea onboard the hotel’s riverboat, or a decadent HotTug ride (a large wood-fired floating hot tub).  You can also walk through the orchard and see the beehives or play giant Jenga or croquet.

In the evening, we dined at the hotel’s main restaurant, The Lock Bar & Kitchen.  The restaurant has a cosy, contemporary feel with leather banquettes, open kitchen and glass doors leading out to the terrace.

We began the meal with some fantastic cocktails – I chose a Black & Blue (Bombay Sapphire, fresh blackberries and apple juice) and Steven went for a classic Maitai (Havana Club rum, Captain Morgan dark rum, Amaretto and lime juice).  While perusing the menu, we grazed on three different kinds of home-baked bread with high quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

I started with Black pudding croquettes with a poached egg and crispy bacon.  The croquettes were rich and punchy and went well with the perfectly-cooked egg and lightly dressed leaves.

Steven’s Chicken and leek terrine was packed full of tender meat and slightly sweet leeks, seasoned with a light grain mustard vinaigrette.  It was served simply with a slice of charred sourdough, radishes and cornichons.

I balanced the richness of the starter with a light and tasty Chargrilled chicken with olive oil mash.  The chicken breast was succulent and satisfying while the olive oil mash was silky, fragrant and buttery.  I loved the addition of steam savoy cabbage, edamame and a rich jus.

Steven’s Smoky beef short rib with Lock slaw and spiced potato wedges was quite a monster.  The enormous slow-cooked ribs were flaky and juicy, liberally marinated in a dark, sticky glaze.  The accompaniments were also tasty, but it was all about the ribs.  I would’ve struggled to finish such an extravagant dish but was pleased to pinch a mouthful, or five.

Of course, we couldn’t resist finishing the evening on a sweet note.  My Sticky chocolate slice with warm chocolate sauce almost sent me into chocolate delirium.  The cake was deliciously moist and gooey, surrounded by molten liquid chocolate and finished with a dollop of milk chocolate cream for good measure.

Steven went for the Crumble of the day, which was pear and peach, served with a jug of fresh vanilla custard.  The fruit was nicely stewed while the crumble was just as it should be – golden, crunchy and moreish.

After such an indulgent meal, it was a real luxury to roll back up to our room and enjoy a blissful Saturday night feeling relaxed and full.

Breakfast at The Runnymede is an indulgent, leisurely affair with a fabulous hot and continental buffet in the The Leftbank Restaurant.  The hot selection is excellent and high quality with everything you need for a proper Full English, including fat sausages, home-made hash browns and eggs cooked to order.

There’s also a generous selection of mini pastries, muffins, cured meats, smoked salmon, cheeses, cereal, yoghurt and fresh fruits, smoothies and honeycomb courtesy of the Runnymede bees.

The Runnymede-on-Thames is a fantastic, family-orientated hotel with impressive facilities and plenty to do in the area.  The staff were remarkably warm and friendly and the atmosphere was relaxed and unpretentious.  It’s the perfect spot for a low-key, rejuvenating weekend break.

Weekend stays at The Runnymede-on-Thames from £169 per room per night based on two sharing a standard double on a B&B basis.  For more information and booking, visit:

Chérie City was a guest of The Runnymede on Thames

Photos by Chérie City and The Runnymede on Thames

Beauty, London, Spa

Spa LONDON Ironmonger Row Baths – Islington

Going to a spa in London is the perfect indulgence for a little ‘me time’, however high prices can make it a very occasional treat.  Spa LONDON, the public sector spa group, is one to put in your address book for luxurious yet affordable treatments and facilities.

Recently, Spa LONDON opened its fourth spa – Ironmonger Row Baths – in Islington, just a short walk from Old Street Station.  The splendid Victorian building was once a wash house and later a traditional Turkish baths, which has been restored in a major £16.5 renovation project.

I visited on a weekday afternoon and was surprised to see just how many people were there having a leisurely spa day – they were obviously in on the secret sharpish.  When I arrived, the spa receptionist asked me to fill in a health questionnaire and exchanged my shoes with some rubber slippers, an oversize bath robe, large towel and a locker key.  The changing room is small, but there’s an adjoining vanity room where you can dry your hair and use GHD hair straighteners.

The spa was much larger and high tech than I expected and it was fun to work my way through the different facilities.  The three Aroma Steam Rooms were the most spacious I’ve ever seen in a spa, with wide marble seating, and each had its own essential oil fragrance and lighting based on colour therapy.  My favourite was the eucalyptus room, as the menthol helped me breathe more clearly.

The two saunas were set at different temperatures and both were pristine and powerful.  The three hot rooms were a new experience for me but the only one that felt really effective for me was the Laconium room with hot marble seating to relax and unwind the muscles.

For cooling down, I particularly liked the Ice Fountain, where you can pick up small shards of ice to rub across your skin – cooling the body temperature and helping firm the skin.  The Monsoon Shower and the Hammam also offer relief from the intense heat – and if you’re brave enough, the Bucket Shower and ice-cold Plunge Pool.

After I’d explored all of the facilities, I showered and headed to the Relaxation Room for a few moments before being called for my treatments.  Guests can sip on herbal teas and chilled water infused with fresh limes, or order a light lunch of meze platters, while lounging on the comfortable spa beds with blankets.

My lovely therapist took me to one of the four treatment rooms for a Spa LONDON Back Massage (£35 for 25 minutes).  As I lay on the spa bed, a bowl of Elemis spearmint essential oil water was placed on the floor, so I could breathe in the aromas.  The massage was effective and my therapist used exactly the right pressure – I almost drifted off.

This was followed by an Elemis Clarity Facial (£37 for 25 minutes), which included a cleanse, tone, exfoliation, mask, massage and moisturise.  My skin felt very soft and plump afterwards and the right products were used for my skin – nothing felt too heavy or oily.

Spa LONDON Ironmonger Row Baths facilities are so advanced and spacious that it can compete with many of the city’s high end spas.  Treatment prices are very reasonable – many are less than £1 per minute – and the results are effective, particularly after using the spa facilities.

There are a few finishing touches that Spa LONDON doesn’t offer such as bath products in the showers or a machine to dry your swimsuit, however, avoiding sometimes unnecessary extras helps keep prices low – just go prepared with everything you need.

The spa operates on a single and mixed sex basis throughout the week, so you can plan your visits accordingly.  Treatments start from just £10, while a three hour visit to the thermal suite costs just £8.75 for concessions, rising to £17.50 for local residents and £25 for others.

For more information and booking, visit:

Chérie City was a guest of Spa London

All photos by Spa London

Afternoon tea, Hotels, Hotels - Luxury, Restaurants, Spa

A Relaxing Day At Sofitel St James London

One of my favourite things about living in London is how close it is to Paris and all of the delightful French things that make their way across the channel.  Sofitel St James is a little corner of Paris in historic Mayfair – a perfect marriage of French elegance and English refinement.

Housed in the former Cox’s and King’s bank close to Piccadilly and the private members clubs of Pall Mall, the five-star Sofitel St James complements the building’s original features with chic yet homely interiors by Pierre-Yves Rochon and Russell Sage.

I was invited with London Unattached and Lela London to experience a day of relaxation and indulgence, like true Paris-London ‘ladies who lunch’.

We began the morning in So SPA, a stylish urban retreat with an impressive reception area and treatment rooms set across three floors, filled with natural daylight.  So SPA uses Carita, Cinq Mondes and Mamma Mio skincare products and treatments are designed to appeal to the five senses.

On arrival, we sat at the large communal table and were welcomed with a neat little tray of lavender tea, a fruit jelly and a warm flannel to freshen up.

I was given the usual health consultation form to fill in, but So SPA also requested my preferences for music, scent, temperature of the room, if I liked a heated bed and so on.  This was a thoughtful touch and I loved that the treatment room was tailored exactly to my wishes.

We began the de-stressing process getting rid of toxins and relaxing the muscles in the hammam and jacuzzi.  There are no clocks in the spa, so we relied on the therapists to call us for our treatments and this was done seamlessly.

With the Spa Butler’s help, I chose the signature So Rejuvenating Facial Treatment (60 minutes, £90).  The therapist began the sensory journey by spritzing a delicate rose fragrance in the air and applying a layer of warm honey on my lips.  My bespoke facial using Cinq Mondes products included a double foam cleanse and tone, exfoliation, a hydrating mask and a kaolin mask applied to the t-zone, lymphatic drainage massage and a relaxing hand and arm massage.

She very gently pinched and tweaked the skin around the eye area, cheekbones and jaw to expel impurities and reduce puffiness.  A nice surprise was hot stones smoothed along my arms and placed under each palm.

After the treatment, I felt blissfully calm and was offered some great skincare advice before being guided into the well-equipped Relaxation Room.  I ordered a Mediterranean Rose tea, which came with another lovely fruit jelly, and was left to continue my spa journey on the comfortable bed with magazines and an iPod system with soothing music to choose from.  I could have happily lingered in the Relaxation Room, but lunch beckoned.

Before sitting down to a delicious three-course lunch at The Balcon, we met with Executive Chef Vincent Menager (formerly of Brasserie Roux, Sofitel New York and Alain Ducasse) at the Charcuterie Bar to sample the finest cured and air-dried meats from France and Wales with a glass of Charles Heidsieck Champagne.

True to the Anglo-French philosophy of the hotel, the marble charcuterie bar focuses on meats, cheeses and terrines from Mas le Rouget in Cantal and Trealy Farm in Monmouthshire in Wales.  Guests can stop by for a light indulgence or share a tasting platter before moving on to The Balcon.

Designed by Russell Sage, The Balcon combines the elegance of the Parisian grand brasserie and London’s modern-classic approach.  The high ceilings, large windows and light colours make it an attractive spot for all-day dining.

The test of an authentic French restaurant is how good is the soupe à l’oignon gratinée, so I just had to start with the Normandy onion soup with Roskoff onion and Aspall English cyder.

This Normandy-meets-Suffolf onion soup was one of the best I’ve ever tasted.  Served in a traditional French bowl, the soup was rich, dark and packed full of soft caramelised onions and topped with a baguette crouton, melted Gruyère and fresh herbs.  It’s a comforting dish for when it’s cold outside, or particularly for home-sick Parisians in London.

For the main course, I was tempted by the Rump of Devon lamb, French green beans, pequillo peppers and sweetcorn.  The lamb was tender, juicy and pinkish in the middle, cooked perfectly medium as requested.  I enjoyed the accompaniment of glazed green beans, soft slivers of pequillo pepper, buttery sweetcorn freshly cut from the cob and rich jus.  While the dish was colourful, it was presented in a simple, unpretentious way, which seems to be the concept at The Balcon.

The Blackberry financier with green apple sorbet came highly recommended, so I was keen to try the restaurant’s most popular dessert.  The freshly-baked financier was crisp and golden on the outside with a light, gooey almond cake centre.  It went well with the sweet blackberry coulis and I adored the luscious, home-made apple sorbet.

To finish the meal, I ordered an English Breakfast tea, which came in a Japanese-style cast iron teapot with Gavottes (French caramelised wafer biscuits) on the side.

I loved the bright, elegant design and refined atmosphere at The Balcon and wish I’d discovered it sooner.  It’s now on my list of stylish, central London eateries.

To walk off the lunch, we took a tour of the hotel and viewed the temporary collection of sculptures by Daphne du Barry and the hotel’s current Limelight exhibition, featuring photographic portraits of Barack Obama, Mick Jagger, Valentino Garavani, Francoise Hardy and Dita Von Teese.

We also had the chance to take a peek inside the Presidential Suite, with a stunning bed that looked so inviting for a post-lunch snooze.  I particularly liked the romantic, dusky St James Bar, inspired by the interiors of Coco Chanel’s 1920s Paris apartment.

We ended the day of pampering in the stylish surrounds of The Rose Lounge for afternoon tea.  The intimate lounge is a treat for all the senses with an enveloping rose scent as you enter, heavenly music by a harpist each afternoon and beautifully-designed interiors.

Lunch was a long, leisurely affair, so rather than attempt the full afternoon tea, we enjoyed a pot of Postcard Earl Grey tea and warm, freshly-baked plain, raisin and apricot scones served with clotted cream, lemon curd and the most heavenly strawberry, rose and geranium jam.

I’ve experienced afternoon tea at The Rose Lounge before and the combination of delectable pastries in a relaxed, luxurious setting make it perfect for a post-shopping treat.

Sofitel St James is a beautiful, calming place to spend time in London, whether it’s unwinding with a treatment in So SPA, a leisurely meal in The Balcon or catching up with a friend over afternoon tea in the exquisite Rose Lounge.  When you’re feeling nostalgic for Paris, it’s the place to come for a bit of la vie en rose.

For more information and booking, visit:

Chérie City was a guest of Sofitel St James

Photos by Chérie City and Sofitel St James

The Balcon London on Urbanspoon

Bars, Breakfast, Hotels, Hotels - Design, Hotels - Luxury, London, Music, Restaurants, Spa

Staycation at Sanderson Hotel, London

Staycations are my one of my favourite indulgences and Sanderson is such a fabulous destination hotel that it’s easy to forget all about London and the outside world.

Sanderson is a dreamy, surreal urban resort where innovative design is matched with a cool ambiance and friendly, attentive service.  Part of the petite and perfectly hip Morgans Hotel Group, Sanderson is designed by Philippe Starck and there are a number of his witty touches to discover around the hotel.

The hotel is perfectly located in the heart of London’s shopping district, just a few steps from Tottenham Court Road, however my staycation was all about pure relaxation.

I started my visit in a blissful state with the hotel’s signature Milk and Honey treatment at Agua Spa.   This heavenly 55 minute full body treatment consisted of a dry brush exfoliation, followed by hot honey lightly massaged into my skin and rinsed away with warm milk and flannels.  My therapist then slathered on fragrant rose oil to soften my skin, followed by a light head massage.  I usually go for facials or massages when visiting a spa, so it was a welcome change to try a body treatment solely to condition and moisturise my skin.

Agua Spa has a very unique design – there are no walls dividing the 14 all-white treatment rooms, only billowing white drapes.  I found the quiet hum of the therapists quite relaxing, but there are iPods available to block out any sound.  The changing rooms and elegant relaxation lounge are ever so luxurious but best of all are the private meditation pods where you can unwind and watch TV behind your own curtain.

After my spa treatment, the indulgence continued with Sanderson’s famous Madhatter’s Tea in the tranquil Courtyard Garden.  Included in the afternoon tea is a glass of Laurent-Perrier Brut NV Champagne or one of three different cocktails.  I chose the refreshing Lucid Spark – Camomile infused Cariel vanilla vodka shaken with fresh apple juice and elderflower cordial – and ordered a pot of Earl Grey tea.

We were served a plate of dainty rainbow coloured finger sandwiches, followed by a pretty stand filled with layers of traditional scones served with Alain Milliat strawberry preserve and clotted cream and scrumptious cakes.  Sometimes afternoon teas can be too heavy on the sweets, however Sanderson offers a modest yet generously sized trio – The Queen of Hearts Strawberry and Cream Mousse, Chocolate Opera Rabbit’s Clock and a three layer ‘Drink Me’ bottle.

The afternoon tea finishes on a fun note with a Blueberry Lollipop that turns your mouth from hot to cold and a Hazelnut Praline Ice-Cream Lollipop coated in popping candy.  The friendly staff asked on arrival if we had any food allergies and I was impressed that the pastry chef made an entirely new Chocolate Opera Cake avoiding coffee, just for me.

Before dinner, we had some time to get settled in to our rooms and chill out.  My Superior King Room on the fourth floor was a serene sanctuary designed entirely in white, with just a few colour highlights.  At the centre of the room is the magnificent king-size sleigh bed with adjoining work desk, on a large grey rug inspired by Voltaire’s handwriting.  I meant to study the rug to see if I recognised which Voltaire novel the excerpt was taken from, but I was distracted by the bed, which was covered in the most exquisite Egyptian cotton linen and was exceptionally comfortable and inviting.

The bedroom also features a large flat screen HDTV on a sliding stand, iPod docking station, powerful air-conditioning, a full-length mirror, a well-stocked minibar, two bottles of complimentary mineral water and some cool Philippe Starck hand weights for an in-room workout (I couldn’t resist trying out the weights after dinner).

The only thing missing from the beautiful room is free wifi, which you might expect as standard from a such a youthful, design-led lifestyle brand.

Behind the sheer white curtain is a large open-plan bathroom and dressing area with plenty wardrobe and storage space.  Instead of a bath tub, there is a slick walk-in shower, a full set of bathroom products by Malin + Goetz and bathrobes and slippers.

Later that evening, we returned to Suka for supper and Sanderson Sessions, featuring Swedish/Australian duo Saint Lou Lou.  Twins Miranda and Elektra Kilbey performed their stunning debut single ‘Maybe You’ and a few as yet unreleased songs to a full crowd.

Saint Lou Lou’s sound is a mix of dreamy, panoramic synth pop and sultry, wistful vocals, but there’s a real power and intensity to their performance and they have lots of stage presence.  It was exciting to see such a new band play outside of the typical gig environment and their first album, which they are currently recording in London, is sure to be on everyone’s radar soon.

At night, the courtyard garden at Suka twinkles with tiny tea lights and there is something romantic and fun about dining outside (under the heated lamps, of course).  With the delicious Malaysian street food menu, it felt like we were transported from central London to a cool rooftop restaurant in the Far East, reminding me of my trip to Singapore earlier this year.

The menu at Suka is so appealing that it may be hard to choose, but the best way to experience the food is by ordering 2-3 dishes plus a sayuran (side dish) per person and then sharing.  We started with a glass of Champagne and then tucked into authentic Chicken Satay, Crispy Squid, Beef Rendang, Wok-fried Noodles with Lobster, Spring Rolls and many other dishes.  For dessert, I finished with the Berries with White Chocolate Sauce, which was a light and reasonably healthy way to end the meal.

For a great cocktail to match the fragrant, aromatic dishes, I highly recommend the excellent Lychee Martini – fresh lychees shaken with Bulldog Gin, sweetened with gomme syrup.  The Long Bar gets lively and busy into the late evening, but for somewhere more intimate, try a bespoke cocktail at the residents only Purple Bar or play a game of pool in the Billiards Room.

After an excellent sleep in the divine bed, we regrouped for breakfast at Suka.  I ordered  Eggs Benedict and enjoyed a few freshly-baked mini pastries from the buffet, served with English Breakfast tea and fresh apple juice.  The breakfast menu offers everything you could possibly want to start the day, whether it’s a full cooked breakfast, an indulgent Champagne breakfast or a healthy option.

Before leaving, we visited the Lobby Shop curated by Luna & Curious, offering unique prints,  designer jewellery, homeware and quirky souvenirs – it’s easily one of the coolest hotel gift shops in the world.

Sanderson is the perfect base for style-conscious travellers who appreciate exceptional hotel facilities as well as a great city to explore.  For Londoners, the Madhatter’s Tea or an evening of Malaysian street food and cocktails at Sanderson Sessions are absolute musts.

For more information and booking, visit:

Chérie City was a guest of Sanderson

Photos by Chérie City and Sanderson

Beauty, Hotels, Hotels - Design, Hotels - Luxury, London, Spa

A Ticket To Tranquility At St Pancras Renaissance Hotel

The spa at St Pancras Renaissance Hotel is a real hidden gem among the bustling St Pancras-Kings Cross transport hub and interestingly, the spa philosophy echoes the travel element of its location.

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of visiting The Booking Bar at St Pancras Renaissance Hotel to try the Charles Dickens punch and some delicious bar snacks, in celebration of the great Victorian author’s centenary.  I was delighted to return to the hotel for a spa afternoon to discover the exotic spa journeys that sounded so enticing.

On arrival, I was offered a cool, cleansing towel and a glass of lime-infused chilled water, which was very refreshing on such a humid  summer’s day.  The spa receptionist gave me a detailed questionnaire to fill out, followed by a tour of the spa.  The subterranean spa area is like a long, narrow maze, so this tour was very helpful.

In the luxurious changing room (complete with REN amenities) I had a locker already waiting for me, filled with a thick embroidered bathrobe bearing the spa’s peacock emblem and slippers, a large bathsheet, hand towel and a personalised welcome note with an appropriate quote by Ovid:

“Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.”

I considered this while getting ready and then headed straight for the stunning silver and mosaic pool, to do just that.  The pool area is impressive and palatial, with Eastern-style Victorian tiles in rich colours, high ceilings and bricked archways.

I started with a swim and then enjoyed the powerful jacuzzi jets while sitting on one of the hydro loungers.  The water temperature worked well for swimming, but to make the most of the hydrotherapy massage, it could have been a touch warmer.

The mosaic tiled steam room was ultra hot and effective, with calming twinkling lights on the ceiling.  There was a pleasant scent of eucalyptus and it didn’t have any molten hot drips of condensation from the ceiling that occur in less efficient steam rooms.  The sauna was at just the right temperature to sweat out the toxins and it was spacious and immaculately clean.

I left enough time to properly shower, wash and dry my hair before my treatment and then the spa manager came to take me to the Relaxation Room.  I sat briefly with a glass of water and was soon greeted by my therapist.  She took me to one of the treatment room, of which there are six, including a couples suite.

Being a travel addict, I was keen to experience one of the various spa journey to Africa, India and the Far East.  I was able to incorporate any of the indulgent treatments into my own bespoke one-hour journey, so I chose a Flowers of Bali Radiance Facial and Traditional Massage of the Orient.

The spa exclusively uses the appropriately-named Cinq Mondes, a high end body and skincare brand that I was pleased to try for the first time.

My therapist made me feel very comfortable, cocooned within the thick duvet and heated treatment bed, and began by cleansing my feet with a hot towel.  She then asked me to take deep breaths and inhale the aromas of essential oils to relax my body, before getting to work on my knotted shoulders.

Using Argan Oil, she massaged my back, neck and shoulder with an effective combination of kneading, stretching and smoothing techniques.  The pressure was strong enough to deeply impact the muscles, however, I never felt any pain.  I then turned over and my arms were given an energising rub.

For the facial, a wider selection of Cinq Mondes products were used and the treatment was very thorough and nourishing.  As I was using the Philips ReAura laser treatment at home, my therapist advised not to have exfoliation, as my skin might be more sensitive from the  effects of the laser.  I’d also sweated and washed out any last traces of make-up earlier, so most of the time was dedicated to massaging the contours of my face.  I particularly loved the scalp massage and could feel myself drifting off towards the end of the treatment.

I was brought back to earth gently and slowly and then taken to the Relaxation Room where I chilled out in peace with some glossy magazines, hot jasmine tea, dried apricots and mixed nuts.

The spa journeys all sound heavenly, so here is the complete list…

Journey to Africa, purification and harmony (90 mins) – creme de Rassoul wrap, traditional massage of the Orient.
Journey to India, invigoration and renewal - (120 mins) – aromatic scrub with spices, Ayurvedic massage.
Journey to Indonesia, for stillness and radiance (150 mins) – papaya radiance scrub, Balinese massage, ritual of the five flowers facial.
Journey on the Silk Route (India-China-Japan), road to transformation (180 mins) – aromatic scrub with spices, Udvartana slimming ritual, Ko Bi Do precious youthful facial.

The spa at St Pancras Renaissance Hotel is an enviable facility for all hotel guests to enjoy, however, it’s also a very special underground haven away from the central London crowds for visitors.  What could be better than a spa journey to start your Eurostar journey in complete relaxation, or taking a few hours to unwind before going home.

For more information and booking, visit:

Chérie City was a guest of St Pancras Renaissance Hotel

All photos by St Pancras Renaissance Hotel

Beach, Breakfast, Cherie Soleil, Cornwall, Hotels, Hotels - Design, Hotels - Luxury, Spa

The Scarlet Hotel – Mawgan Porth, Cornwall

The Scarlet Hotel is the ultimate in stylish Cornwall spa hotels.  Perched on a hill just above Mawgan Porth beach, it is the place to enjoy absolute tranquility in hip, luxurious surroundings.

We stayed for two nights at the neighbouring sister hotel Bedruthan Steps, whose family-focused philosophy is unrivalled, however, our night at The Scarlet was a more grown-up,  seductive affair.  The most striking difference between the two hotels is that The Scarlet is a kid-free zone, with all facilities targeted to relaxation-seeking adults.

A unique feature of The Scarlet is that the conventional hotel desk and lobby set up is replaced with a casual clip-board check-in on the stylish Missoni sofas.  The benefit to this is that the staff can hear when they are needed by guests but aren’t constantly present watching over the guests, which makes the public areas feel more like home.  Adjoining the reception room is a bright and airy guest lounge with glossy magazines and views over the bay.

The Scarlet is a leading eco hotel, however, there are no overbearing ethical impositions on the guests.  The hotel quietly implements clever green initiatives such as solar panels, grass-covered roofs and harvested rainwater.

The hotel has 37 bedrooms ranging from the cosy and chic Just Right rooms up to the spectacular Indulgent rooms.  We stayed at one of the four Indulgent rooms with a large balcony overlooking the sea.  The very spacious open-plan suite included a cool circular lounge with a huge round sofa, two flat screen TVs with DVD players, a long desk, free-standing mosaic bath and no less than three full length light wood fitted wardrobes.  The Scarlet also offers free wifi in all rooms, so even though we had no mobile phone reception, we were still able to do a bit of work and plan the rest of our trip on the net.

The king-size bed was very luxurious with crisp white linen, attractive blue striped cushions and handy reading lights, although the bed at Bedruthan Steps had the slight edge on all-round comfort.

The bathroom behind a pretty mosaic partition featured double sinks, a large full-length mirror, plenty of fluffy towels and the most gorgeous natural, ayurvedic bathroom amenities by Tri Dosha. A nice touch was the cotton drawstring bag for taking your soap home – another eco brownie point.  On the opposite side of the room was the most spectacular walk-in shower, tucked behind an undulating wall curve.

After an outstanding lunch at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen Cornwall in Watergate Bay, we ambled back along the rugged, hilly coastal path back to the hotel (over an hour’s hike), where a Voya Detox Seaweed outdoor bath on the top of the cliffs was waiting for us.  We climbed into the appropriately scarlet log-fired hot tubs (they look like cauldrons) and let the nutrient-infused hot water relax our tired limbs, while sipping on iced water with lime – or champagne, if you wish to retox.

The spa is the highlight of a stay at The Scarlet and facilities include the stunning indoor swimming pool, sauna, hammam, rhassoul, silent treatment zone, meditation room, deep relaxation space with hanging canvas pods and an uplifting relaxation room overlooking the sea.  If the weather had been warmer, we would have also tried the outdoor swimming pool  filtered naturally by reeds.

The Scarlet also offers complimentary yoga, meditation and dance classes to hotel guests.  I was hoping to try the meditation class, but as we soon found out in Cornwall, it takes a while to get from place to place and we didn’t arrive back on time.

For the more active guests, the hotel can arrange an impressive range of outdoor pursuits including surfing lessons, wild swimming, climbing, horse riding, deep sea fishing, kayaking and power boat trips.

Having indulged at lunch, we had a lighter bite outside of the hotel that evening, however, the restaurant at The Scarlet offers a daily-changing three course menu for £42, using seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients.  If dining during the day, try the very reasonable two or three course lunch (£18/£22.50) or the decadent three course Sunday Lunch (£25).

The Bar at The Scarlet has a handy 24-hour ‘anytime anywhere’ menu, offering home-made sandwiches, tarts, Welsh Rarebit, Cornish Cream Teas and cakes anytime you feel peckish.  We ordered two Indulgent Hot Chocolates which were shortly brought up to our room and drank them on the balcony, watching the waves rolling towards the shore.

While the breakfast at Bedruthan Steps is all about convenience and top quality self-service, The Scarlet breakfast is served to your table over three courses.  We enjoyed toast with home-made preserves and a large pain au chocolat, followed by scrumptious Eggs Benedict.  The English Breakfast tea and glass bottle of fresh, cloudy Cornish apple juice were the perfect additions, and of course, that perfect floor to ceiling sea view.

The Scarlet Hotel is the perfect weekend break for getting away from it all, whether it’s for an action-packed beach adventure, romantic hideaway or a deeply relaxing spa retreat.  With so many excellent facilities, it’s very easy to spend every moment cocooned in The Scarlet…and why not.

Double rooms at The Scarlet start at £190 per room per night, including breakfast and VAT.  A Voya Detox Seaweed bath is priced at £35 per bath (for couple or individual) for 45 minutes.  For more information and booking, visit:

Advance single fares from London Paddington to Newquay start at £15 one way. To qualify for the best value tickets and offers buy your ticket in advance. Here’s how you can buy before you board: Online at or telephone 08457 000 125

Chérie City was a guest of The Scarlet Hotel and First Great Western

Photos by Chérie City and The Scarlet Hotel

Cherie Soleil, Cornwall, Hotels, Hotels - Design, Spa

Bedruthan Steps, Mawgan Porth, Cornwall

Bedruthan Steps is a Cornwall spa hotel like no other.  It’s stylish and calm yet family-focused, with outstanding facilities and spectacular views over Mawgan Porth Bay.

Opened in the 1960s, Bedruthan Steps has always been a family-run business and now the managing trio of sisters also own nearby hotel The Scarlet.  Both hotels are located just five miles from Newquay and a short drive away from Watergate Bay and Jamie Oliver’s casual fine dining restaurant Fifteen.

We travelled by train in First Class from London Paddington to Newquay with First Great Western.  The journey time of approximately five hours flew by with the help of the beautiful scenery, comfy leather seats and plenty tea and snacks.  From Newquay Station, it was a 15 minute taxi ride to the front door of Bedruthan Steps – it couldn’t be easier!

The sprawling white exterior of Bedruthan Steps resembles a nostalgic seaside resort, but inside is a colourful array of contemporary and retro interiors – think Orla Kiely and Missoni-style furnishings.  The collection of vibrant artwork throughout the hotel is also suitably eye-catching.

On arrival, the atmosphere felt chilled out and informal and the friendly staff glided around in posh yoga wear, looking ready to strike a pose at any moment.

Bedruthan Steps offers a range of hotel bedrooms, villas for a family of four and apartments for up to six guests.  We spent two nights in a villa on the ground floor with French doors leading out onto our own private patio overlooking the sea.

The spacious villa was designed in a neutral colour scheme with pink and orange highlights and filled with lots of natural daylight.  It featured a double bedroom and an area with bunk beds that can be partitioned off to make a separate bedroom for children.  Room facilities include two TVs, fridge, tea and coffee making facilities and complimentary internet access (using a cable).

The double bed was extremely comfortable and luxurious with crisp, fine linen and supportive pillows, making for a peaceful night’s sleep.  There is no air-conditioning in the rooms, which takes some getting used to, however guests can open the door or use the electrical fans provided.

The bathroom was petite but attractive and the shower had very good pressure.  I wasn’t keen on the natural shampoo soap bar, which made my hair feel rough and unmanageable, nor the lack of conditioner, although the body soap bar was absolutely fine.  This was clearly an eco initiative, however wall-mounted products with little packaging waste or a selection of affordable natural products by Weleda or A’kin might have been better.

There are three eateries (and room service) at Bedruthan Steps – the fine dining restaurant The Herring, the informal Wild Cafe and a summer cafe in the grounds serving coffee, pastries and lighter snacks.  The buffet breakfast, served in the Wild Cafe, is a real treat, with everything you could possibly want to start the day, whether you’re keeping it light and healthy or filling up for an action-packed day.

We made up our own Full English breakfasts with excellent quality local sausages, Old Spot bacon and farm-fresh eggs.  We also loved the stewed fruit compotes served with plain yogurt, the fresh cloudy apple juice and the home-baked strawberry and banana bran muffins.  The morning staff were all chirpy and efficient, swiftly bringing us toast and pots of tea with Orla Kiely mugs.

The hotel’s Ocean Spa is a sleek, tranquil haven designed in deep purple and neutral shades with pebble walls, irridescent mosaics and stone floors.  Start with an energising swim in the 12.2m indoor heated swimming pool and then move on to the Ocean Spa with a panoramic view of the sea.  Then, detox in the cedar sauna, eucalyptus steam room and lavendar caldarium.

My favourite part of the spa journey was the enormous mosaicked infinity jacuzzi with various whirlpool and massage jet settings.  Continue the relaxation and recline on a lounger with a magazine or book and watch the waves.

To really unwind, the spa offers treatments such as a traditional hammam bathing ritual, bespoke facials and hot poultice body massage using natural products by REN, Voya and Mama Mio.

In the warmer months, guests can use the three outdoor pools with colourful loungers, cabanas and outdoor hot tub or relax in the coastal garden, which encourages natural wildlife.

Bedruthan Steps has its own surf school, so it’s the perfect place to come and learn how to surf or brush up skills with a few lessons.  Other exhilarating activities include cycling, kite-surfing and tennis on the hotel’s own courts.

Impressively, Bedruthan Steps manages to cater for families with children of all ages without sacrificing the liberty of adult guests.  There is a separate family dining room at the Wild Cafe, adult-only swimming sessions, relaxation room and a stylish adult-only bar.  When parents want a bit of time to themselves, Bedruthan Steps provides baby sitters, a baby listening service and a daytime and evening Children’s Club.

Bedruthan Steps has so much charm and soul and is an ideal retreat for all ages in Cornwall.  The excellent staff always asked about our day and remembered where we had been, making us feel like locals.

To get the most out of a stay at Bedruthan Steps, try one of their themed breaks with tuition.  Learn various skills including bread making, knitting, bee keeping, yoga and pilates or shoe making.

Cornwall isn’t always the easiest region to navigate by foot, so having such wonderful facilities on the doorstep at Bedruthan Steps was very convenient.  With the rolling waves, fresh sea air and restorative spa, you might not want to leave.

Double rooms at Bedruthan Steps start at £140 per room per night, including breakfast.  For more information and booking, visit:

Advance single fares from London Paddington to Newquay start at £15 one way. To qualify for the best value tickets and offers buy your ticket in advance. Here’s how you can buy before you board: Online at or telephone 08457 000 125

Photos by Chérie City (spa by Bedruthan Steps)

Chérie City was a guest of Bedruthan Steps and First Great Western.

Beauty, Hotels, London, Spa

A Re-energising Stay At Grayshott Spa

Sometimes you just have to get out of the city and seek tranquillity and rest.  Grayshott Spa in Surrey is less than an hour away from London, among rolling greenery and rural villages.

Grayshott’s philosophy focuses on health and wellbeing, rather than just relaxation, so it’s the place to be if you need to reassess and improve your lifestyle.

On arrival, Grayshott Spa looked very quaint and leafy and made me think of times gone by.  I loved reading Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters novels about the ladies going to Bath for rest cures and I couldn’t help casting myself in my own 19th century novel, albeit in Haslemere with my ‘gentleman friend’ already present.

Inside, Grayshott strikes a pleasant balance between traditional and contemporary, with a soft tasteful colour palette and a homely atmosphere. The dress code is bathrobes or sportswear and residents (both men and women) sauntered around from room to room, reading, sipping hot drinks and enjoying the peace and quiet.

We checked in to mansion room four at the top of the main staircase, one of the best rooms, I later found out.  Our room was very spacious, with lovely high ceilings, an icy green colour scheme and quirky vintage-style furnishings.  It boasted stunning views of the grounds, a massive flat screen TV and a big, sumptuous bed.

There was plenty wardrobe space and the room came with a stack of magazines and a lovely plate of exotic fresh fruit on arrival.  There is also free WIFI in your room and throughout the buildings, so you won’t be cut off from technology during your stay, however do try to avoid the stress-inducing work emails!

The bathroom is bright and airy with a bathtub-shower, plenty of fluffy towels, Elsyl bath products and another delightful window view.

We arrived just before lunchtime, so after unpacking, we headed down to the dining room for a healthy buffet lunch.  The centre table was laid out with colourful, beautifully presented food and on our table was a healthy eating chart to help you choose the right proportion of carbs, protein and vegetables.

I particularly enjoyed the Thai glass noodle salad, BBQ chicken drumsticks, Moroccan Pork with Spiced Figs and baked potatoes infused with rosemary.  There was even a scrumptious low-fat Apple Strudel with Cinnamon Yogurt and Honey for dessert.

Then it was bathrobes on and down to the sauna and steam room to bring out all the toxins.  Unfortunately, the indoor pool and hydrotherapy facilities were closed briefly, due to a malfunction, but they were back on the very soon.  There is also a gym, fitness classes, tennis, golf and an outdoor pool to kick start your fitness routine.

Grayshott has a staggering 39 treatment room, so that’s approximately one room per two guests.

Feeling refreshed and relaxed, I sat in the spa lounge and sipped peppermint tea while awaiting my appointment.  I was then taken into a treatment room by my therapist for a Rejuvenating Rose Indulgence massage.

The treatment incorporated a full body massage using Rose Serum and Body Oil by ila spa and Aromatherapy Associates.  My therapist used a range different massage techniques to unwind the knots in my back and shoulders and focused on my hands and feet to encourage the flow of energy.  The aroma of the rose oil had a calming effect and I’ve always believed in the power of rose essence to rebalance the body and spirit.

She finished with a long, invigorating scalp massage and I felt so relaxed, I wasn’t sure if I was actually awake or asleep!  It was like an out-of-body experience, which I was told was the desired effect – intense relaxation.

Feeling as light as air, I took another peppermint tea and nestled into one of the sofas in the front room reading magazines.  Then it was back up to the room to get ready for dinner – well, I couldn’t spend all day in the bathrobe!

In the Bubbles bar, Grayshott has ‘cocktail hour’ from 6-7pm, serving virgin Bloody Marys, Fruit Punch and light canapés.  It’s perfect for catching up with friends, meeting new people or just taking the edge off before dinner.

Grayshott’s dinners are nutritionally balanced and are made to be tasty, so you don’t feel like you’re missing out on flavour.  I had a flavoursome Hoisin Duck Wrap with Salad as a starter, followed by the most delicious Roast Pork with Potato and Granny Smith Purée.  For dessert it was Raspberry Tart – a thin pastry base with crème patisserie and a raspberry glaze served with fresh berries.

The portion sizes are on the modest size, mineral water is the standard berage (unless you order a glass of wine) and there are no snacks between meals, so be prepared and make sure you don’t just eat salad leaves at lunch.

We took a walk through the delightful grounds after dinner and borrowed a DVD from the library to watch in bed.  The spa lounge is open until midnight, so you can make a cup of tea and take it up to your room.  Half an hour into the new Ben Affleck and Blake Lively film, I was snoozing away.  This was partly due to the intense relaxation of the day and the outstandingly comfortable bed.

Following a great night’s sleep, we had breakfast in the dining room.  We ordered poached eggs with granary toast and tried a few things from the buffet, which included cereal, muesli, yoghurt and fresh fruit.

We headed back to London feeling relaxed, refreshed and ready to face another week.

Grayshott Spa is ideal for those needing a kick start to a healthier lifestyle with lightly controlled nutrition and on hand advice.  The tranquillity of the surroundings and Grayshott’s dedicated approach to well-being help rebalance your body and soul – everything you could possibly want from a spa break.

If you want to unwind and kick start a healthier lifestyle, enter Cherie City’s 2nd birthday giveaway!  One lucky reader will WIN a Deluxe Spa Day with two treatments and lunch at Grayshott Spa.

For more info and booking, visit:

Chérie City was a guest of Grayshott Spa.

Photos by Chérie City and Grayshott Spa.

2nd Birthday Giveaway, Beauty, Competitions, Spa

WIN A Deluxe Spa Day At Grayshott Spa

Grayshott Spa in Surrey is one of the few destination spas in the UK.  Visits to Grayshott are aimed at improving health and well-being, with spa treatments, healthy cuisine and fitness classes.

Facilities include indoor and outdoor swimming pools, separate male and female spas, Tennis and Gold Academies, gym and weights rooms.

One lucky reader will win a Deluxe Spa Day, which includes a three course lunch in the Dining room, use of spa facilities and two treatments: a Classic Grayshott Massage and an Aroma Face & Scalp Massage (worth £195).

For further information visit


Follow Chérie City on Google Friend Connect or Facebook and leave a comment below (not on Facebook), sharing your favourite way to relax.

The winner will be selected at random and the competition will close at midnight on 31st July 2011.

Terms & Conditions:

- Closing date: 31st July 2011 at midnight.
- Entrants must become (or already be) a follower of Chérie City on Google Friend Connect or Facebook, otherwise entry will be void.
– Entrants must be 18 or over.
- Entry is limited to one per household.
- The winner will be randomly selected from all eligible entries received by the closing date.
– All additional charges incurred during the day are to be paid on departure.
- The Deluxe Spa Day must be taken by 21st December 2011, is subject to availability, excluding Bank Holidays, is non-transferable, non-redeemable and cannot be re-sold or used in conjunction with any with any other offer.
- No cash alternatives will be offered.
- Travel and accommodation costs are not included.
– The winner must claim the prize within 48 hours of contact, or a new winner will be selected.
– By entering this competition, you agree to receive occasional email newsletters from Grayshott Spa.

Beauty, Hotels, Spa

Anne Semonin Spa at Hotel Verta

Anne Semonin is a French skincare and spa brand with a unique approach that incorporates a bespoke mix of products to get the most effective results.  The customised, made-to-measure system focuses on mixing drops of trace elements and essential oils for a potent effect.

I’ve always keen curious as to how this regime works and the best way to experience the brand is to go to the source – the Anne Semonin spa.  Anne Semonin has spas in select locations across the world, including the flagship spa at Hotel Le Bristol in Paris, and closer to home is the relatively new Anne Semonin spa at Hotel Verta in Battersea.

I arrived at the spa reception and was shown down to the changing area by a warm, friendly fellow North East girl who was to be my therapist for my facial.

I changed into my swimsuit and the provided slipper and large fluffy towel, ready to try out the facilities.  After a quick shower, I tried the sauna, which was just at the right heat level, spacious and pristine, as though I was the first to use it.

I then went on to steam room, which was dark and atmospheric with twinkling ceiling lights and calming, spiritual music.  I felt like I’d been transported to a humid, twilight garden in Morocco.

Next up was the Sanarium, which was also designed in light wood, but was a combination of the dry sauna heat and the moisture of the steam room.  I was told that many visitors find this more pleasant and moderate, however, I found that I prefer the two extremes of heat, either the sauna or steam room.

There are also tropical showers and foot baths to prolong the spa journey, but my main indulgence was the hydrotherapy pool.  Completely silver and surrounded by tiny gold mosaics, this was quite possibly the most stylish spa pool I’d ever seen.  There were various jacuzzi areas and water jets to massage and sooth the muscles.

I washed and blast dried my hair and changed into the fluffy robe and slippers, so I would be comfortable during the treatment. I relaxed on the heated mosaic beds and waited for my therapist came down to collect me.  She took me up to the relaxation area and offered me a pot of fresh peppermint tea while I filled out a consultation form.  I lay back on the white leather bed, covered in a blanket while sipping on my tea, flicking through Conde Nast Traveller and waiting for my treatment room to be ready.

I chose the Deep Marine Purifying Facial (£115 for 75 minutes) – ideal for detoxifying and rebalancing combination, oily, congested or problematic skin.  Before my treatment, I was asked about the condition of my skin and the frequency and exact type of the blemishes.  I was told that this was because certain methods can make the problems flare up and the treatment would be tailor-made for my skin complaints.

My therapist started with a double cleanse using Botanical Milk and Marine Toner.  Her hands were incredibly soft and she immediately put me at ease with slow, graceful movements.

The next stage was an exfoliating mask to whisk away the dead skin cells.  My therapist then applied a mixture of Balancing Essential Oils + Trace Elements to various pressure points on my face and used a range of massage techniques to stimulate the skin.

The therapist then used a steam machine to open up my pores, followed by light extraction.  To draw out further impurities, the therapist applied a spa-exclusive thick, paste-like mask that set quickly.  Treatments always feel more decadent and special when the therapists use products that can’t be bought in stores.  It makes it difficult to then replicate at home, but I was told that the next best thing is the Mineral Mask.

While my mask was working its magic, my therapist gave me a relaxing hand and arm massage with a light Botanical Body Milk.  She found the pressure points and the areas of my hands that are continually stressed due to typing and the effect was just blissful.  The arm massage was invigorating and got the blood flowing around my body.

The mask was peeled away in one rubbery layer with deep-rooted impurities and oil particles attached.

To rebalance the moisture levels, my therapist mixed some Marine Emulsion with a few drops of 100% Active Contour Serum and Tissue Serum and massages it into my skin.

She finished with Eye Express Radiance Ice Cubes covered in gauze and gently ran along the contour of my eyes, followed by a few drops of Tissue Serum to brighten, firm and hydrate.

It was then time to go back to reality, albeit after another revitalising pot of peppermint tea in the Relaxation Lounge.

After my treatment, I felt rejuvenated, supple and ready to face the world.  The soaking and steaming in the spa prior to the facial really helped me to relax and opened my pores enough to get the most out of the treatment.

Immediately after and for the following days, my skin felt plump, smoother and more even and best of all, the blemishes dried out quickly and diminished.

Anne Semonin treatments are a high end investment, but the results are significant.  The Deep Marine Purifying Facial immediately tamed my angry, inflamed blemishes and in the longer term, gave my skin a full detox.

The couture approach appealed to my skin and the combination of different products makes it easier to gauge what works best for your skin and unlike a uniform skincare cream, adapt it accordingly.  Even as a one-off treat, I encourage you to indulge!

For more info, products and treatments, visit:

Chérie City was a guest of Anne Semonin Spa

Beauty, London, Spa

Aqua Sheko Spa, Soho

Coralie Grassin enjoys an alternative, exotic manicure at Soho’s stylish new fish spa…

I discovered Aqua Sheko at Selfridges last year – their therapy sessions hypnotised passers-by.  You would put your feet in the tank and the tiny fish would come and eat the dead cells of the skin, leaving it as soft as you can dream.

Quite a different beauty concept, isn’t it?  And of course, a multitude of questions spring to your mind. The main one being – will it pinch and tickle?

Aqua Sheko, the first fish spa to arrive in London, has opened a sister salon in Soho and is now offering the experience for hands as well.  I just could not resist.  I stepped in the elegant parlour and was guided to a counter, where there was a succession of tanks, each filled with exotic Garra Rufas.  I chose a seat and, very intrigued, gently plunged my hands.

They are curious little creatures and come to you straight away, dancing around you very gently.  You then feel what I can best describe as thousands of kisses.  The ever so light pressures massage the skin at the same time, relaxing you instantly.  You barely notice the soft music in the background, fascinated by the ballet in the water.

How does this all work?  The fish use their suction-cup mouths to lift the dead cells away, revealing the more tender skin underneath.  As they do so, an enzyme is released, facilitating skin renewal. They even clean the cuticles – no teeth involved, just pure bliss.

Results?  An extraordinary suppleness.  No amount of cream had ever left my hand so supple and even my five-year-old noticed the difference.  I can see her eying our fish tank with interest now…

The treatment lasts 15 minutes and is an ideal treat during your lunch break! The treatment stations are set up like a bar, allowing you to have a chat with friends at the same time and you can even enjoy a cup of tea afterwards.  The Soho location is awaiting their license and will soon be able to serve sake.  I can’t think of a better idea for a Friday night treat!

Be warned though – this treatment can lead to serious addiction…

For more info on treatments, visit:

Coralie Grassin writes the blog Tea Time In Wonderland.

All photos by Coralie Grassin, who was a guest of Aqua Sheko Soho.