I am not someone who relaxes easily at the best of times, and switching from a brisk walk to a steady jog in order to make it to a spa appointment on time, is not an ideal way to start anyone’s afternoon of relaxation, even if it does come with a view of the Thames. Thankfully, I arrive on time, and take a moment in the elevator of the Mondrian London to regroup, before arriving at the subterranean level of the Thames, where the hotel’s agua Bathhouse and Spa is tucked away. The doors open, and I take a deep breath: time to relax.
The spa is warmly lit, and I am quickly greeted by two smiling receptionists, fully clad in white. I’m guided around the corner, my eyes following the curve of a white leather sofa towards the copper-framed glass doors at the other end of the room, as a blue iridescent shimmer from the other side of the doors battles for my attention. After completing my pre-treatment form, I eye the cabinet of goodies opposite me, they carry in them the prized products offered at agua, and just looking at them is enough to give a girl’s skin hope.
Wrapped up in a white robe and plush slippers, I take a seat in agua’s spa playground. The space has a cool air about it, with its ’70s retro music and the subtle scent of lemongrass—a custom blended fragrance created for the spa by the spa’s muse, Dr Jackson—the renowned pharmacognosist and founder of the niche cosmeceutical company of the same name. A scent as exclusive as this, demands a decor of equal singularity, and agua is quite apparently up for the challenge. The aesthetic at the spa is a product of British design genius Tom Dixon, and recognizably so, with all its spectacular sleek quirks. We dare you to resist the urge to Instagram the spa’s floor to ceiling bronze water drip, a centerpiece of the space.
In preparation for my treatment, I’m led to an intimate room; I see the countertop here is lined with Alexandra Soveral oils and my heart skips a beat. I’m familiar with her products, and had the pleasure of interviewing her previous to the opening of the Mondrian London back at the end of September. And while, my own treatment would not include Soveral products, I knew that Dr Jackson’s products—a line I had yet to experience, as the Mondrian London is the first to offer it publically—must be of stellar quality to be used alongside Soveral’s holistic brand.
As suspected, I was correct.
Now, when I share the name of my treatment—which focuses on relaxing the entire torso through opening up the chest cavities, draining the solar plexus, along with stretching the shoulder girdlem—your brow may furrow a bit, but trust me, the treatment is as relaxing as its name is cheeky. Using all Dr Jackson’s products, the spa’s Boob Bar treatment (see what I mean?) also happens to be the massage that keeps on giving. Currently, as Jacqueline Kneebone, Regional Director of Spa and Retail at Morgans Hotel Group shares, the agua Bathhouse & Spa is looking into donating a portion of proceeds from Boob Bar treatments purchased to breast cancer patients, through a program that would see patients invited into the spa for soothing massages once a safe amount of time following a mastectomy has passed.
A spa with as much brains as it has heart, Dr Jackson’s line of products are more than bottles and jars that smell nice, these are remedies that show off the good doctor’s studies in the origins of medicine amidst different cultures. “I try to put that into my products,” says Dr Jackson during his speech as the spa’s grand opening this month. Having travelled around the world, he now sources his ingredients in Sub-Saharan Africa, and gives back a portion of his sales to the community.
The techniques, like the products used during treatments at the agua Bathhouse and Spa, share in a set of values, choosing to take a holistic approach to wellness. My own treatment begins with a healing back massage, tailored to my individual needs. I expressed the endless strain I place on my neck and shoulders—part of the professional hazards of being a journalist, stuck in front of a laptop day after day—and so she focusing on my shoulder blades, tiressley working away at the knots built up around the area. And while the deep tissue massage was most definitely a pinch I found pleasure in, full relaxation was not yet mine…that was still to come.
Next I roll onto my back, and prepare for the really crux of the Boob Bar Treatment, to which customers can add a body massage and facial, as I chose to do. Unsure of what was to come next, I’m comforted by the spa technician’s informative explanation: “It drains tension you might have, a lot of people keep anxiety in this area,” placing a hand on the center of my chest. She finishes by explaining how massaging the area helps open up the thoracic cavity, “so you can breathe.”
As a person who is admittedly not a pro at relaxing, this massage did, quite literally, allow me to sigh a breath of relief. I was relaxed. Her touch, moving slow and deliberate, below my collarbone, had me drifting in and out of consciousness.
With my body relaxed, it was my skin’s turn to get some attention by way of facial, as prescribed by Dr Jackson. First came the sweetly scented 04 Coconut Melt, used to remove my makeup, followed by the invigorating citrus-based 07 cleansing exfoliator. And finally came the application of Dr Jackson’s 02 Skin Cream, which can be used as either a night cream or as a mask. The active blend in this magic concoction is a mixture of Baobab, a fruit from Sub-Saharan Africa that helps to hydrate skin, and the Kigelia plant, which wards off blemishes. Thinking I’m finishing, I’m happy to feel yet two more luxurious products smoothed onto my skin: the 03 Face Oil and the 01 Day Cream with SPF 20, a must purchase when visiting the spa.
At the end of my two-hour treatment, I’m reborn and feel so relaxed that I can hardly believe so much time has passed. I continue my process of unwinding, lounging in one of the spa playground’s curtained cubicles, stretched out on a resting bed, under a duvet with a steaming cup of Dr Jackson’s signature blend of tea. Flavour choices include the aptly named: Detox, Expedition or Relax. Guess which one I chose?
Meant to complement the treatment, each tea is a final remedy for life’s stresses. The Detox tea is perfect for post-party mornings, while the Expedition tea contains Baobab funicles, an ingredient that has six times more antioxidants than those found in green tea. And then there is my pick, the Relax tea, which contains valerian to help with anxiety. I could have used a cup of this upon arrival, but found sipping on it to be the perfect ending to my soothing treatment.
A spa that understands wellness starts from the inside out, the agua Bathhouse & Spa’s commitment to pairing natural products with holistic, scientifically sound treatments takes the art of relaxation back to the core principals of healing. At once a turn back to classic spa culture and a leap forward in contemporary spa concept, the agua Bathhouse & Spa ushers guests through its sensory playground, where rejuvenation is revealed to be as much about the mind, as it is about the body.