I’m very lucky, because I work with my best friends. The Self Esteem Team, a business I run which delivers mental health and body image classes into schools and colleges throughout the UK, consists of three women – one of whom is me and the other two are my favourite people in the world.
Having said that, it’s sometimes difficult for the three of us to switch off from ‘work mode’. Myself, Grace and Nadia were mates before we were colleagues, but even when the three of us arrange to meet socially, inevitably we’ll end up ‘talking shop’. However much you love your job (and I adore mine, for the record) it isn’t good for the mind set to feel as though you are always at work.
So, when we were given the opportunity to eschew all work-related things for the day by visiting the super swanky spa at Syon Park, followed by afternoon tea in their restaurant, we jumped at it.
The spa itself reminds me of a cross between an ancient Egyptian palace and a Moroccan opium den. It screams opulence, is decorated mainly in purples and golds and boasts a swimming pool, sauna and gym as well as numerous spacious treatment rooms. There’s also a lounge for relaxation pre and post treatments.
We were given super luxurious fluffy robes on arrival, which were (in the best possible way) a bit like wearing a duvet (something which I would definitely do more often were it considered socially acceptable). As we reclined on chaise longues in the relaxation room in our robes and fluffy slippers, munching on fruit and flicking through Cosmo, we fantasised about being ‘Ladies of the Manor’.
We each had a thirty minute back, neck and shoulder massage, by the end of which we were so relaxed we could barely speak. We took thirty minutes to let the aromatic oils soak into our skin, then headed to the showers, which were those powerful ‘rainforest’ types which make you feel clean in a way you don’t often experience in real life.
As a body image campaigner, I always love situations in which women hang out free from body-insecurities. We chatted to people of all shapes and sizes in the changing rooms, largely naked and make-up free. The environment is so relaxed, you can’t help but feel completely unselfconscious. The experience isn’t about how you look, it’s about how you feel.
After a dip in the pool, we headed upstairs for finger sandwiches, dainty cakes and delicious, buttery scones (I asked for a doggy bag. I have no pride).
Living in a city like London, the pace of life can often be quite wearying. Even social time can cease to feel like a proper chance to relax and unwind, so it’s great to know there are places like Syon Park just a short tube ride away (it’s on the District Line).
We left feeling relaxed, invigorated, fragrant and full of cake. Which is, as any sensible person will tell you, the ideal state for a human to be in.
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