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Pamper yourself: Mandarin Oriental

By Brigid Delaney for CNN
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LONDON (England), CNN -- What is it: For my money the Mandarin Oriental is the most glam hotel in London. Its not unusual to see movie stars or models milling around the foyer, while its location near Hyde Park and the shopping mecca of Harrods and Harvey Nichols also make it a place for the seriously monied.

So it was with some excitement that I booked in for a session at the spa located in the hotel's lower ground floor.


There were two unusual things about my session: firstly it was at 7am, which meant seeing dawn over Knightsbridge and secondly I didn't book in for treatments as such, but time. The spa encourages clients to book time with therapists and then a discussion is had with the therapists as to which treatments would suit. As for the early appointment, the spa is popular and its wise to book in advance.

Guests are encouraged to attend the spa early to enjoy the wet area - a bubbling pool, steam rooms and relaxation area.

My treatment began with a foot massage while I sipped a cup of herbal tea and discussed with my therapist which treatments may suit me.

I said I was going on a detox so the therapists recommended a body scrub and a massage. I was asked to smell some creams and chose which one I fancied. After picking a peppermint cream the therapists prepared it into a body scrub.

The scrub was fantastic, sloughing off all the old skin cells and leaving my skin feeling clean and tingly.

After a quick shower it was back on the massage table for a full body massage.
At this stage I was so relaxed and comfortable with my highly competent therapist, I drifted off a bit and dozed.

The massage was fantastic - loosening all the painful areas such as my calves and neck.

Not neglecting the feet or head, the therapist was thorough and left me in a sort of stupor. A coating of scented moisturizer was the finishing touch.

I was then left to don the robe and head to the dimly lit relaxation room where magazines in leather bound cover, such as Tatler were on offer as well as fruit and teas.

And there I drifted for another couple of hours, relaxing and dozing before it was time to leave this gorgeous haven and head to street level.

Worst bit: This was a faultless experience. The ambience of the spa, the staff, the facilities and the treatments were all top-notch. But of course service and style of this magnitude comes at a price. Two hours of time at the Mandarin Oriental will set you back a whopping £230.

Best bit: Booking time rather than a treatment makes sense as it means the therapist can tailor make a treatment to suit you, rather than just going for something that may look nice in the brochure but not necessarily be the most suitable.

Verdict: For my money this is London's best spa; its more of an 'event' than just somewhere to go for a treatment. Book in for a special occasion and make sure you get there early to enjoy the water area. If you wait to use it after your treatment you risk washing off all the nice creams that the therapist puts on your skin.

Cost: £230.

Contact details: The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London, 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA Telephone +44 (0) 20 7235 2000 E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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