Professing his secret love for the Spice Girls, and relief at finding a spa destination where the SatNav couldn’t get him into trouble, Andrew Boulton reports on a spa break at St Pancras Spa!
Journeys to my spa reviews never tend to go as smoothly as one would hope. My own dreadful lack of direction as both driver and navigator virtually guarantees that each journey will be longer and more terrifying than that damned villain TomTom had led me to believe. Therefore the relief and joy of being able to arrive at our destination via train, and then take just a short stroll through St Pancras (which surely is one of the world’s most evocative train stations) is the perfect way to begin a weekend whose single purpose is perpetual relaxation.
There have been 12 different versions of this paragraph and not one seems to do justice to just how striking the hotel is. The space itself is vast and extraordinary, and yet the atmosphere and décor of the hotel (and of course the people) makes it somehow seem warm, intimate and intensely inviting. That’s not to say there isn’t a distinct and definite grandeur to the building and we spent a great deal of time simply wandering around its rooms and corridors. I was stunned by the history and quiet opulence of the place (and yes I got a bit too excited by seeing the staircase where a Spice Girls video was filmed).
The subterranean spa is stylish and inviting. The space isn’t vast and an absence of seats directly by the pool isn’t an ideal layout. The pool itself however is impressive and imaginative. Dimly lit and with red and blue underwater lights, it seems to infuse the experience with a dark sense of tranquillity and secrecy. And, on a less poetic note, the lounge spa seats in the pool give the sensation of being softly walloped in the kidneys by a thousand tiny ping pong balls. Which may not sound like it, but is actually a good thing. The treatment area is welcoming and cosy, with a healthy menu of options covering everything from the traditional to the courageous. We opted for an hour session with the first half devoted to a warming wrap (which was lovely) to a massage.
Rightly or wrongly I tend to measure my levels of relaxation by the volume of delicious food that has made its way into my face. On this somewhat shameful criteria, the Renaissance experience was impeccable. Their Booking Office restaurant is a stunning space, reflecting the style and theme of the hotel but also cultivating its own distinct (and remarkably lively) atmosphere. The food was faultless, to the point where I actually heard my own rib crack through overeating. And then I cheerfully ordered a dessert. ‘Rib crackingly delicious’. They should put that on the menu.
In one word, perfect. In slightly more words (for the purposes of a more illuminating review) The Renaissance could not be better placed as a hub for enjoying London. St Pancras underground station is just a few steps outside of the hotel and can be reached without even stepping foot outside.
Simply extraordinary. The term ‘once in a lifetime experience’ is bandied around fairly loosely. Equally you can’t move in London without someone thrusting an ‘iconic’ landmark in your slightly weary face. However the truth is that The Renaissance has a genuine claim to being both of these; compelling, entrancing and utterly unique. Rib crackingly so, one might say.
– Wander: I spent most of my time simply gazing. It made me look a bit weird, and my wife was reluctant to stand next to me but at least I was able to appreciate the incredible building.
– Have a night out (in): The Booking Office is the kind of restaurant where you can eat yourself into a state of self harm as well as a bar you simply can’t bring yourself to leave. And it’s only a few hundred yards from where you sleep. Make the most of it!
– Indulge: The Renaissance is a unique experience and quite frankly unless you’re professionally brilliant at football and/or singing in Coldplay it’s unlikely you’ll be there every weekend. Enjoy. Every. Second.
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