Walking through Leicester Square in central London, just moments from Sofitel St James, preparations for the London 2012 Olympic Games are in their final stages.
Hundreds of volunteers parade around, seemingly oblivious to the incessant drizzle, practicing routines designed to dazzle the world in just a few short weeks time.
Although a fan of the Olympics in general, I am in no mood today. Along with hundreds of tourists, I struggle through the crowds, arriving at So SPA wet, ruffled and borderline belligerent.
Luckily, there is no better place to overcome such a journey than this magnificent spa.
Situated in what was once a bank, the high ceilings, natural brown, ochre and green colour scheme and Corinthian style marble columns instantly create an aura of calm.
The elegant oak staircase, rose coloured marble walls, and intricate decorative mouldings block out the chatter of everyday life in an instant; it is as though the rest of the world simply does not exist.
Sitting down, I am greeted with green tea, hot towels and a menu of possible treatments.
From the music, fragrance and room temperature, every element of the experience is tailored to suit an individuals needs; allowing guests to find their own equilibrium.
A full range of treatments is on offer to the experienced spa goer, including the delicious sounding Martini & Manicure, Hot Stone Rolling and the Ayurvedic Massage, which draws from the thousand-year-old Indian ritual where warm oil is massaged into the body, relieving tension, restoring energy and improving vitality.
For connoisseurs, So SPA also houses a private hamam with a central heated marble treatment bed, rain sky showers by Dornbracht, with aromatic essence, a Kohler Sok infinity bath with chromotherapy, and an Astorina bath with hydrotherapy jet in a room flooded by natural daylight.
Take a look at the menu here.
Still relatively new to the environment, I opt for the comparatively sedate ‘Gentlemen’s Escape’, priced at £125.
Designed to generate immediate results for body and skin, the package includes a scalp, face, and neck massage as well as a deep tissue body massage.
Simple, direct and perfect for slightly awkward men.
After greeting my therapist we head for the treatment rooms, situated in the old bank manager’s office. A nice touch.
Decorated with gold leaf lined display niches and Wenge veneered bespoke wall furniture, the treatment rooms offer a further layer of relaxation. Laying on the MyBed massage table it is easy to forget everything outside of the room.
The 90-minute treatment flies by, moving from my feet right to my scalp, leaving my whole body refreshed.
A previous masseuse had told me I was the “most stressed” client she had ever encountered, but here the relaxing So SPA environment seems to have calmed my spirits before even entering the treatment room.
All too soon it is over. Down the stairs and into the changing rooms, guests pass through a dark oak pavilion structure which houses a social Tea Bar and retail boutique flooded with natural light.
Here they can relax after treatments while enjoying a cup of tea and a delicious French macaroon. Highly prestigious brands from French cosmetology, including Carita and Cinq Mondes, are also on offer to those who wish to take the spa experience with them.
Fully dressed. Goodbyes said, it is back out into the rain…
Everything guests need to know about So SPA at Sofitel St James can be found on the official website.