The Waldorf Astoria brand is the famous legacy of American business tycoons, the Astor family and has a history of luxury hospitality … so it stands to reason that they continue the tradition in the grounds of one of England’s own historic families … Spabreaks.com Editor Bonnie went along to see how it translates …
The omniscient ‘they’ are forever talking about the importance of first impressions, so coming dangerously close to running over a duck as I meandered up the driveway towards London Syon Park was a pretty good indicator for what was to come – yes, this is a venue within the London area; no, it is most definitely not a city spa.
In the grounds of the Duke of Northumberland’s four hundred year old estate, the hotel’s contemporary architecture juxtaposes the classic design of the main house nearby but evidently takes inspiration from its noble neighbour when it comes to the interiors. The rooms in particular are opulent and cater to the modern traveller with a monochrome palette, and crystal accents dotted throughout. All bedrooms have floor to ceiling windows overlooking the gardens or the private estate (accessible with your room key); there are televisions in the bathrooms; and perhaps most importantly not only are there plug sockets for US, UK and European appliances on the wall, there is also one right next to your bed – it’s not a glamorous feature but my goodness it’s a convenient one.
Interrupting its streamlined grandeur the venue is peppered with art – from the sensor triggered animal noises that stopped me in my tracks to the mirror mosaic statue – affectionately dubbed ‘Sylvia’ – who greets you upon entering the Kallima Spa. Lights turned down low, candles lining the corridor, and treatment rooms leading off from a central hallway decked with magenta flowers, I half expect to find myself in a Lewis Carroll novel. The glowing light extends the ambience around the pool, there is also a sauna, steam room and a gym. When it comes to treatments there is no menu which often throws people a bit – therapists prefer to cater specifically to the individual: yes, you can have a massage, a facial, whatever your heart or rather your body desires, but instead of selecting it before you arrive, you book the amount of time you would like your treatment to last for and then a therapist will conjure something specifically for your contemporaneous needs. Alongside all the low-lighting and essential oils however works cosmetic surgeon Alex Karidis MD FRCS and his assistants (of Liz Jones facelift fame) who offer a selection of non-surgical treatments including Botox.
Osterley and Kew Gardens tube stations are within the vicinity (although you would have to traverse the entirety of Kew Gardens to walk from there) so while it is in London, it is advisable to drive – not least of all because of the aforementioned driveway. Of course, it is this remoteness that gives Syon Park its charm – close enough to the city that it is ideal for a weekend getaway without traumatic travelling, it is surrounded by forty acres of garden to potter through when the weather is nice and which act as something of a sound vacuum against the majority of city noise.
The hotel has its own herb and vegetable gardens which guests will see chefs pottering through – particularly in the summer time in preparation for teas and salads. The Capability restaurant is a formal dining area offering seasonal dishes and locally sourced produce; there is also afternoon tea on The Terrace, and Brownies – which forms a central hub, being the first thing you see upon entering the hotel – a series of sofas and chairs reminiscent of a set of Ladurée macaroons – the lounge area offers tea, cakes, a sundae bar and it’s all-important namesake – brownies.
Syon Park takes the grand design of the Waldorf Astoria brand and turns it into an atmosphere that is contemporary and accessible. There is an accommodating atmosphere, and the ‘interactive art’ (animal noises) imply a welcoming sense of humour. Meanwhile the spa’s ‘book time’ policy and the venue’s practical considerations when it comes to design denote the kind of forward thinking that mean travellers really can relax safe in the knowledge that this is a little escape, but within easy reach of everything you could possibly need.
– Don’t be thrown by the ‘book time’ policy in the spa – the idea is to make sure you get as much out of your treatment as possible, so take advantage of it!
– If you can, drive … or get a taxi from the station – the benefit of the venue is that it is just that little bit removed from city life, but you may not be quite so appreciative of that point if you don’t have a degree of independent transport.
– Take some time to look around the gardens, they are a pleasure to behold and are sure to help you relax and unwind.
– Be careful of the ducks on your arrival … evidently, they were there first.
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