At the time of this particular visit to Sofitel So SPA
, one can’t pretend it was the most pleasant of days. Rocking up at an unsociable hour of the morning to film our Valentine’s Day spa video, we had trudged through snow to reach the trains, and plodded down Pall Mall in a pair of pink wellies and enough knitwear to give us a competitive edge in the style stakes with the Michelin Man, in a manner that was anything but befitting the location adjacent to St James’s Palace. Nonetheless, one step inside Sofitel St James, and all of that melts away to make you feel like The Duchess of Cambridge herself.
From the outside, the building looks like any other English heritage site that the city has to offer, but inside there is a distinctly Parisian vibe, combining grandeur (gilt chairs, high ceilings, jewel tones) with a distinct sense of humour usually reserved for the French, in the form of a temporary art installation of acrobatically positioned bronze figurines.
The building was once a Lloyds Bank subsidiary and owned by The Crown Estate, so the layout of the spa is anything but what you would expect. The ceiling in the reception area, where there is also a long marble table to sit at with a glass of Kir Royale (as we did for the video – it was a tough shoot), is impossibly high, and above you can see the stuccoed ceiling that has been retained. This spa is all about the personal experience – everything is about treatments, but in a way you have never seen before. There is no pool, and the gym is in a separate part of the hotel, but there are treatment rooms over three floors offering different experiences. There is one with a hot tub (hours of video entertainment, in the classiest way possible), dual treatments (are you beginning to understand why we think this is such a romantic destination?), and a plethora of treatments using Carita, Cinq Mondes, and Mama Mio product lines.
The hotel is just about as central in London as things get: right next to Piccadilly Circus tube station, and a short walk from Green Park tube station, but set back just enough that there isn’t a flashing billboard in sight. It is, after all, practically next door to royalty, and it turns out, they are people who really know how to pick a good address.
There are two types of spa day: the indulgent kind, and the fitness kind, and while a day at Sofitel So SPA will most definitely leave you feeling considerably better about life, this is not the place to go if you want to sweat on a treadmill for half the afternoon. This is a place to go to feel very much loved, and if you happen to have someone special to take with you as well, so much the better.
– Book the dual treatment room with the Jacuzzi in advance to add an extra dimension to your day.
– Make time for afternoon tea in the Rose Lounge in the hotel.
– If you are visiting with a loved one, check out the So Romantic spa package which comes complete with a glass of rose Kir Royale and rose macaroons.
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