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Celebrity Spotlight … Martel Maxwell Visits COMO Shambhala Urban Escape

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As Mother’s Day approaches, author, journalist, and mum-to-be, Martel Maxwell, heads to COMO Shambhala Urban Escape for a little bit of prenatal pampering.

First Impressions

Entering the spa gave me that feeling of shoulders lowering three inches, quite instantly. Calm. The smell hit me first. Aromatherapeutic, comforting and cleansing. The staff were friendly and engaging and I loved the very first thing I was given - a cup of tea which was sweet with manuka honey and zingy with ginger.  To get to the spa, you get the hotel lift and walk past guest rooms. I loved this delicious insight because …

The Hotel

The Metropolitan Hotel (where COMO Shambhala Urban Escape is housed) is something of a London institution and I admit to having a long history with it. A bit of a love affair actually. When I arrived in the capital from Scotland, as a fresh-faced journalism trainee 13 years ago, I made a beeline for the hotel’s infamous Met Bar. I’d read about it since I was a teen and it sounded so glamorous and fun - where all the Brit poppers like Liam Gallagher in his two-fingered salute days, hung out. Alas, I was knocked back as it was for private members (recently it became a non-members bar with a DJ at weekends, with good, informal food and an extensive cocktail list.)  Undeterred, I became a showbiz reporter and eventually it became a regular hang-out (I have a lingering memory of dancing with Ronnie Wood from the Rolling Stones one night) while it’s equally famous restaurant, Nobu, was often on my work ‘expenses’ list (oh how I miss expenses since becoming self-employed). I’ve also stayed at the hotel - so in short, I’m well-acquainted with the Metropolitan. The only thing missing from my experience was the Spa … and when asked me to do a review I tried to play it cool.

The Spa

A haven of tranquility. It’s hard to believe such a wee gem of calm can exist in the heart of Mayfair. The spa focuses on treatments, with specialist staff offering authentic therapies that do the trick.  If you’re looking for a pool, Jacuzzi and so on, it’s not for you. But it’s perfect for high-end treatments that leave you feeling lighter, brighter and ready to face the Big Smoke … or a cocktail downstairs.  The changing room was lovely - clean, super-modern and slick with digital lockers for your belongings, a large shower and complimentary body creams, a robe and slippers.  Ok, so the treatments are not ‘cheap’ but from my experience they are not a million miles away from high street salons in terms of price. I had a treatment that lasted for more than an hour and in many a good high street salon you’d be looking around the £100 mark. What you get as extra is the experience of one of London’s most famous hotels. I can understand why the spa attracts regulars over and over again. You are paying for a service that delivers - it de-stresses and in London, that’s no small thing. You feel pampered before the treatment starts. No car horns or outside noise guaranteed.

The Treatment

My therapist, Sarah, was excellent. I knew this from the off by her professional, bright manner and from the questions she asked. The treatment was for pregnant women so it was reassuring that she clearly had knowledge and ascertained any concerns or problems first.  How to explain the ‘special bed’ for pregnant women? I want one for my own bed. On top of their massage bed they put on a special mould with a hole for your head and - wait for it - a hole for your tummy. If you’d have told me this six months ago (this is my first pregnancy) I’d have wondered what the big deal was. It’s huge. Sleeping on your stomach is out and this special prenatal bed allows you to lie on your front and all the weight and tension disappears as your bump enters its new home for the next 70 minutes.  I was then given a toe-to-head massage with oils safe for expectant mums and with just the right force (my therapist had checked and I said I liked a medium to high pressure touch). She really worked the knots in my shoulders and soothed away tense areas. A niggle I have about massages is that you can often leave feeling that not much has happened, that you’ve been stroked a bit and that’s it. The thing about therapists is, you really can tell when their heart is (or isn’t) in it, and Sarah cared that I was given a great experience. If I could have repeated the therapy five times I would have happily stayed all day.

The Location

Park Lane, Mayfair. Posh London. You see London at its most majestic on the short walk from Green Park tube station. The perfect location to make-believe you’re a lady what lunches and do this kind of thing all day, every day. Oh right, just me then.

Top Tips

  • Research deals on - for instance, my package is offered at a discounted price with extras and it adds up to a good deal.
  • Be honest about what you want.  Your therapist will only know what makes you happy if you tell her and you’ll get much more out of it that way.
  • Leave yourself time before and after if you can, to enjoy the surroundings - the ginger tea, the changing room. Afterwards, I was given more tea and some nuts to snack on in the comfy seats by reception. If you’re like me (a little weird) you’ll love a people-watch - observing who else is lucky enough to enter this oasis of calm. Trouble is, I didn’t really want to leave this place with its heavenly smells and aura of wellbeing. Don’t worry, I did. Eventually.

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