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Relaxation Room

Hotels, Paris

Hotel Square Louvois, Paris

It’s a rare joy to discover a hotel that makes you feel truly at home with the comforts that you miss when travelling.  Hotel Square Louvois in the centre of Paris has only been open since August, but it’s already a slick operation with super-friendly staff, thoughtful amenities and seriously covetable interiors by designer Leslie Gauthier.

Hotel Square Louvois Paris

Hotel Square Louvois Paris

This four-star contemporary design hotel overlooks the peaceful, leafy Square Louvois and is conveniently close to the Palais Royal, Louvre and Opera.  I thought I knew central Paris pretty well, but Square Louvois was a new discovery – apparently its elegant residences hosted the cream of Parisian high society in the 19th century.

Square Louvois Paris

Arriving at Hotel Square Louvois, my mum and I were warmly welcomed and offered a seat to check in via an iPad (I liked that we were the first guests to try the new digital system).  The open-plan lobby is a cool lifestyle space with bookshelves laden with paperpack folio editions of classic French novels, two Apple iMacs and a cosy nook with headphones and magazine.

The lobby has a Parisian-meets-Scandinavian style that feels very hip and ‘now’ but the atmosphere is relaxed, fuss-free and unpretentious.  It’s also pet-friendly, so you may spot the occasional pampered pooch trotting around.

Hotel Square Louvois Paris lobby

Guests can also kick back with complimentary refreshments – there’s a Nespresso machine, chilled bottles of Evian and a glass jar filled with Madeleines.  There’s also a daily ‘gouter’ afternoon snack served between 4pm and 6pm in the dining room, but we unfortunately we didn’t hear about it in time to indulge.

Hotel Square Louvois Paris lobby

Our Deluxe Room on the second floor was so calming and chic, designed in a palette of petrol blue, inky grey and soft gold with highlights of dark wood, copper and tan leather.  There are so many gorgeous details such as the black and white photographs of French writers, a cool houndstooth chair and a luxurious geometric-patterned rug covering the parquet floor.  I couldn’t help imagining that if I had a dream Paris apartment, it would look exactly like this.

Hotel Square Louvois Paris

The complimentary amenities continue to the guest rooms with Nespresso coffee and tea facilities, speculoos biscuits and bottles of Evian, as well as free movies on the large LCD TV.  We had an unexpectedly late night following dinner at nearby Cafe Ruc, staying up to watch The Intern in bed.

Our twin beds were incredibly comfortable and covered with superior quality linen (possibly Frette) and indigo denim-style cushions.  Also worth a mention is the powerful and completely noiseless air-conditioning, which made all the difference for a blissful night’s sleep.

Hotel Square Louvois Paris Deluxe Room

The pristine bathroom is an adequate size with a powerful shower and bath and proper hairdryer, but it’s the small touches that make it more fun – luxurious bathrobes and slippers, stunning patterned mosaic tiles and a full set of L’Occitane bathroom products in a cute denim blue felted pouch.

Hotel Square Louvois Paris bathroom

Hotel Square Louvois Paris bathroom products

In the morning, a delightful buffet breakfast is served from a rustic-luxe French kitchen and pantry.  There are hot options like scrambled eggs and bacon as well as delicious mini pastries, ready-to-slice baguette, French cheeses, charcuterie, cereal, fruit juices, apple compote and lots of different kinds of yoghurt.

Hotel Square Louvois Paris breakfast

Perhaps the addition of a few surprising items like crêpes, waffles or a healthy chia pudding might give the Parisian breakfast an edge, but everything was very high quality and served perfectly.  I also liked the accompaniments of posh French butter, miniature Bonne Maman jams and Dammann Frères tea.

The spacious breakfast room was so pleasant and relaxed that we enjoyed a second cup while planning our day ahead.

Hotel Square Louvois Paris breakfast

The real jewel in the crown of Hotel Square Louvois is its fabulous lower ground Wellness area with a sleek yoga studio, relaxation room and swimming pool.  In fact, calling it a swimming pool is an understatement, as its powerful hydromassage jets along one side make it an enormous jacuzzi at the push of a button.

Hotel Square Louvois Paris pool

It was such a treat to unwind after a day of walking around the city and it really added to the vibe of a chilled out urban resort.

Hotel Square Louvois Paris relaxation room

Hotel Square Louvois is the kind of hotel that you can’t help falling in love with and a stay there is sure to be memorable.  If you appreciate cool design, a central location and plenty of thoughtful extras, this is the place that you should make your home in Paris.

For more information and booking, visit: www.hotel-louvois-paris.com

Chérie City was a guest of Hotel Square Louvois

All photos by Chérie City

 

Beauty, London

Thai Square Spa, London

It’s rare to find a spa in London that’s opulent yet still accessible, but that’s the beauty of Thai Square Spa. This well-established spa was previously based in Covent Garden, but recently moved to an elegant building that was once a Victorian bathhouse on Northumberland Avenue, just a few steps away from the River Thames and Trafalgar Square.

Thai Square Spa London

It has the feel of a wellbeing townhouse with an impressive number of facilities – a separate hair salon, nail and make-up studio, 12 treatment rooms and the fabulous Sen Space with hot and cold zones.

I visited on a quiet midweek morning and was pleased to find that I had the Sen Space facilities all to myself for an hour before my treatment.  I changed into a super-comfy Thai Square Spa robe and slippers in the bright red changing room before heading downstairs to start my spa journey.

Thai Square Spa London

The spa was much larger than I had expected with rather grand interiors – a mix of Thai, Roman and Turkish decor elements with hand-painted classical murals, rich silks and hundreds of traditional wood-carved statues.

Thai Square Spa London

My favourite Sen Space facility was the high-powered jet jacuzzi covered entirely in shimmering gold mosaics – what could be more decadent than that?

The sauna is immaculate and has a subtle eucalyptus aroma while the steam room is large enough to really kick back and enjoy the heat.  There’s also an active ice fountain to cool down and rainfall showers with excellent water pressure.

Thai Square Spa London

My therapist Nina came to collect me when it was time for my treatment and showed me through the softly-lit maze to the cosy treatment room.  I experienced the So Sen Uplifting Ritual Massage – 60 minutes of pure bliss and deep relaxation.

Thai Square Spa London

It began with a soothing foot cleanse and was followed with a brisk yet very gentle squeezing of pressure points around my body to get the energy flowing.  Nina then worked on my back, using a number of techniques to knead out the knots and tense areas with a light, comfortable pressure.

She also gave my legs and arms an invigorating massage and I almost drifted off a few times when my shoulders and head were given attention.  By the end of the massage, I felt rejuvenated and stress-free and my skin was ever so soft and nourished from the light jasmine oil – Thai Square Spa has its very own iMantara range of products.

Thai Square Spa London

Making the most of my dreamlike state, I enjoyed a hot cup of secret blend Thai tea and grazed on banana chips and nuts on a lounger in the plush relaxation area.

I left feeling supple and energised and was impressed with spa experience and the quality of my treatment. Thai Square Spa offers a wide range of tailored treatments, but I highly recommend the So Sen Uplifting Ritual Massage as a reviving treat for the whole body.

The So Sen Uplifting Ritual Massage is priced at £80 for 60 minutes.  For more information and booking, visit: www.thaisquarespa.com

Chérie City was a guest of Thai Square Spa

Photos by Thai Square Spa

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: www.spa-london.org

Chérie City was a guest of Spa London

All photos by Spa London

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: www.stpancrasspa.co.uk

Chérie City was a guest of St Pancras Renaissance Hotel

All photos by St Pancras Renaissance Hotel