The Ham Yard Hotel sits on the edge of London’s high-energy Soho district, tucked away in quaint Ham Yard Village. By chance, I had wandered through the hotel’s courtyard once before, while trying to get from A to B during an evening out. Detour though it was, I couldn’t help but stop and marvel at how romantic the property looked, illuminated under the night sky.
With my booking at the Soholistic Spa, came the happy opportunity to go beyond the courtyard and into the hotel proper, and just as its exterior suggests, Ham Yard hotel is the picture of modern romance.
Drawing from the vibrant fashion, art and culture scene surrounding it, Ham Yard’s chic décor pulsates, alive with creative spirit. Guests of the hotel are welcomed with walls adorned in brightly coloured paintings, set against a bold wallpaper of red zig-zags.
Once at the Soholistic Spa though, the mood shifts, as if from Lichtenstein to pastoral landscapes. Here décor is dominated by shades of white—wood, tile and marble—offset by the warmth of hardwood floors and charming wicker chairs.
Indulgence begins in the changing room here, where beautiful bottles of soaps and lotions, courtesy RikRak by Kit Kemp (the collection is bespoke and smells of a garden paradise) await, alongside…wait for it…memory-foam slippers. Luxury is, after all, a must-stop on the road to R&R.
After slipping into my plush robe, I made my way to the common room to complete my consultation form. And that is where it dawned on me; in the centre of London, amidst all its bustle, somehow, the Soholistic Spa appears to weary spa-goers as a tranquil seaside retreat. I studied the white-pebbled walls and its mirrors trimmed in seashells—counterpart to the room’s chest of drawers. Between these details, the wicker furniture and the sound of trickling water, streaming out from the trunk of an ornamental elephant head decorating the space, it was undeniable: I had the sudden sensation of vacationing at a rustic waterfront cottage.
Still lost in reverie, I made my way to the treatment room, accompanied by Emma, my esthetician for the day. On the agenda was the Liz Earle Superskin Botanical Lift facial, a treatment that promises to breakdown tension held in the muscles of one’s face, followed by a lifting massage. While still in my twenties and not quite at gravity’s mercy yet, I nevertheless remain concerned about forehead creases, as well as tight jaw muscles. (The result of grinding my teeth while sleeping during times of stress.) This treatment’s combination of a facial and a massage, I thought when booking, would surely remedy both grievances.
I was right.
The treatment begins with a massage and Emma working to alleviate tension from my shoulders and neck area. Then, after wrapping my hair into a towel to lift it out of the way, she moves on to the facial. First came the Liz Earle Eyebright Soothing Eye Lotion, smoothed onto my eye lids with cotton pads, in order to remove traces of makeup. With ingredients including witch hazel and aloe vera, the product is also able to tone down the appearance of dark circles, while decreasing puffiness around the eye area. Next, Emma cleansed the rest of my face with the line’s refreshing Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser, which includes active ingredients such as rosemary, chamomile cocoa butter and eucalyptus oil. After wiping my face off with a warm towelette, the esthetician repeated the cleanse, this time with a few drops of the Liz Earle Brightening Treatment Mask. Once again, witch hazel and aloe vera were among listed ingredients, used to aid the complexion’s revitalization. By the time a cool towel was placed over my face to close my pores, after removing the clay mask and cleanser combo, I knew the main event was up next.
Commence lifting massage.
Using the line’s Superbalm (which contains a healing neroili oil that allows ones hands to smoothly move around the face), Emma began the massage, focusing on my forehead. As she worked, it felt as though she was literally erasing the lines; moving her fingers back-and-forth, perpendicular to the crease I had pointed out earlier. From here, she proceeded to work her way around my face, as though she was drawing a map, pressing down when finding target areas that required more attention. She pushed upwards on my cheekbone, then into the sides of my jaw bone by my ear, and lastly under my brow bone. She repeatedly came back to these same spots. When it came to lifting, her finger always held my brow up, her hands never once left my face. She rapidly pulled each brow up, and continually drew back my skin along my jaw line. (These motions work to drain the lymphatic zones.)
From there, it was then time for her to use the facial’s signature tool: a jade stone called the Gua Sha stone, an instrument used in traditional Chinese medicine. The stone is kept in cool water and when used, stimulates the skin, as it carves into the muscle. Like Emma’s fingers during the massage, the stone never left my skin, effortlessly gliding across my cheekbone and along my jawline. From the sculpting sensation and “lifting” action alone, I was convinced that I would leave the treatment room looking something like a chiseled Olivier Rousteing.
However, more steps awaited. Next came the Liz Earle Intensive Nourishing Treatment Mask, used in combination with the Foreo-sonic machine, a deep cleaning sonic facial brush. With the help of the brush, the ingredients in the mask are allowed to penetrate deeper into the skin.
As the facial reached its dénouement, it came time to moisturize using the brand’s Superskin range—the facial’s namesake. For my skin, Emma chose the Liz Earle Superskin Moisturizer with natural neroili. (For those with sensitive skin like me, this product is ideal, as it is fragrance-free).
After a long winter, hydrated skin felt like a blessing, while these products’ ability to rehydrate dry skin seems near miraculous. And, though the moisturizer Emma used on my face may not be specifically classified as an anti-aging product, it is formulated with a collagen enhancing ingredient—pomegranate extract—that works to preserve your youthful glow.
At the treatment’s end, with the lights still dimmed, Emma asked me to sit up, and pull my knees to my chest. She then massaged my neck and back one final time. As she massaged my neck, I looked up from the treatment bed into the mirror across the room; my skin was luminous, despite my recent lack of sleep, which was most definitely apparent when I first walked into the spa.
Aside from the immediate benefits I luxuriated in post-facial, Emma gifted me with some jewels of beauty wisdom to take home. And, should perky skin be on your wish list, you might want to consider adding a round of the facial exercises Emma schooled me in, to your own nightly beauty regime. They’re easy. For one, simply open your mouth slightly and massage the jaw bone near the ear, while pushing upwards along the jaw line, never allowing your hands to leave your face. Another useful exercise is to circle your fingers around your eyes to promote blood flow to the area, thereby alleviating any dark circles or puffiness affecting the area. By religiously massaging these areas, one could potentially slow down the aging process; a chance I’m willing to invest time in.
As I exited the spa—my seaside sanctuary—I realized that while I had been wrapped in serenity throughout my treatment, I had emerged feeling more energized than relaxed. I felt like I had defied gravity that day—it was almost a high. It would seem even one’s face can use a rush of adrenaline every now and then.