With so many spas promising to pamper and groom you, not to mention the myriad of treatments there are to choose from – anything from chocolate body wraps to caviar facials – its hard to know where to go to get just the right experience for you. There is always the risk that despite excellent reviews and a snazzy website, your chosen spa just might not be right. It could be anything from unfriendly staff to accessibility issues, a bad treatment or even their choice of atmospheric music or mood lighting. The point is a spa experience can differ greatly depending on your needs and tastes.
I mulled this over for a bit whilst preparing to visit the Ajala Spa in St Pauls, London…Although, I need not have worried.
A 5 minute walk from the bus stop, the Ajala Spa is based inside Grange St Pauls Hotel. In such impressive surroundings, the place screams luxury. This coupled with friendly staff and a constant supply of fresh fruit, juice and chocolates (yes, I said chocolate) it is hard not to enjoy Ajala Spa. I had been offered the Hammam Ritual, which sounded good – A 75 minute treatment where skin is cleansed using traditional black soap, before being gently smoothed in a therapist-administered glove exfoliation. Mineral-rich mud is then applied all over to purify and detox, followed by a warm shower and generous application of perfumed oil and shea butter – that was until I found out that the treatment required me to wear nothing but a small pair of bikini bottoms.
Now, I am no prude, but getting semi naked and allowing a stranger (specialist or not) to hand scrub my entire body could have proved too much, if it wasn’t for the lovely therapist Umarin.
To all those spa owners out there who spend thousands on products, fluffy towels, state of the art machinery and completely overlook the importance of friendly, helpful and happy staff…you may need to rethink your priorities – At Ajala Spa, thanks to the staff, I was made to feel completely at ease from start to finish.
This said, my treatment was not for the shy. After filling out a questionnaire about my general health, Umarin then asked me to don my bikini and a dressing gown and follow her to a steam room which was situated next to a communal pool. After 10 minutes ‘warming up’ I was then asked to disrobe and was rubbed allover with a black soap.
Given the fact that I was covered in soap and wearing a tiny bikini, I was a little disappointed to be told that I would need to walk across the busy pool area to shower off. There was only one available shower which made the process even harder, worse still was the fact that I had to wait for a swimmer to shower off before I could go in and stood for a full 5 minutes whilst curious onlookers. swam by. Each stage of the treatment required a rinse off session, meaning a journey back and forth to the shower. To be honest, if you have any kind of physical disability this part of the treatment will make it an accessibility nightmare for you.
The final part of the treatment includes body scrubbing and then a mud mask. Laying face down on a marble surface whilst Umarin scrubbed my wobbly thighs with an exfoliating glove could have been a tricky situation, if it wasn’t for her constant reassurance that my skin would be as smooth as a babies bottom once done.
The finished product? Baby soft skin!
You know that clean feeling you get when you wash your face with a facial scrub? Well, imagine that across your entire body. Well worth the nudity (just about).
The Hammam Ritual costs £110.
1. Each stage of the treatment required a rinse off session, meaning a journey back and forth to the shower. There was only one available and the walk to and from was along the poolside. To be honest, if you have any kind of physical disability this part of the treatment will make it an accessibility nightmare for you.
2. The changing rooms are large and easy to access although this treatment requires a journey into the pool area.
3 The spa is situated at the bottom of a flight of steps within the hotel.
4. The staff were friendly and helpful
5. The hotel is 5 minutes walk from the bus stop. Disabled parking is available by appointment and subject to availability.
Distance from the Tube
- Blackfriars (0.1 miles)
- Mansion House (0.3 miles)
- St Paul’s (0.4 miles)
Distance from National Rail
- Blackfriars (0.1 miles)
- City Thameslink (0.1 miles)
- Cannon Street (0.5 miles)