Designing a Rooftop ‘Spa Journey’ at London Park Lane
The new Spa at the soon-to-open Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane pampers guests from the minute they arrive until they depart feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.
A massage at a Four Seasons spa is about more than just easing tired muscles.
It’s about your entire experience, from the moment you arrive to your time in the lounge areas and treatment rooms to a relaxing departure. In the industry, this intricately designed process is called a “spa journey.”
So how does Four Seasons map out the most relaxing spa journey?
Every step of the way is thoughtfully considered and choreographed, while ensuring that you can personalise the experience to your own preferences.
The leading edge in spa journeys is soon to debut at the totally reconstructed Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane in what is expected to be a world destination among urban spas.
Creating a New Kind of Spa
Many hotel spas are in the basement, providing a quiet, secluded refuge, but also reflecting the fact that spas were often fairly recent additions and the only available space was underground.
But with the complete rebuilding of the London Hotel, renowned architect Eric Parry saw the opportunity to create a new kind of spa—on the rooftop.
“When I first visited the building, one of the most incredible experiences was getting out onto the roof and discovering one of the most spectacular views in London, a view that few people had ever seen. It’s a 360-degree panorama from the Houses of Parliament to the green expanse of Hyde Park.”
This unique London perspective provided the inspiration for what Parry has called “a celestial spa” and “a spa of the heavens.” Constructed on top of the original 10-storey building, this bright, airy space is outlined by a curving ribbon of windows. Above is a semispherical dome clad in smooth, shimmering zinc. This new crown gives the whole building a distinctive new profile. And it gives spa guests the opportunity to get out of the basement and into glorious natural light.
Defining the Spa Concept
A spa is about more than architecture. The London experience is being created in collaboration with Susan Harmsworth, founder of ESPA, who has developed concepts for many other award-winning Four Seasons spas, including Bora Bora and Hampshire.
“Before we think about the concept, there are many pragmatic factors to take into account,” says Harmsworth. “We consider the character of the location—whether it’s in a resort or a city—to determine the style of the spa. We consider the local culture—whether there are traditional local treatments, and whether we need to build separate areas for men and women. We also look at the total number of guest rooms, so we know how many treatment rooms will be required.
“In London, we know we’ll be catering to weekday business people who might be squeezing in a massage between meetings. But we’re also positioning the Hotel for the weekend leisure market so people will come for spa getaways in the city. We needed to make sure we had facilities that would welcome both.”
The London design features nine treatment rooms, including an ultra-luxurious double suite on the Hotel’s northern point featuring 180-degree views of Hyde Park and Park Lane.
In keeping with London’s reputation for contemporary style, the space is sleek and streamlined with an organic blend of dark wood and light stone. Sensuously curved white ceilings are reminiscent of clouds.
Choreographing the Spa Journey
The flow of the layout is what creates your physical journey through the spa, and each step is designed to inspire certain atmospheres and emotions. Your path should feel smooth and easy with no sense of congestion.
In London, when you enter the Spa, you’re immediately greeted by a floor-to-ceiling glass wall with an unexpected view over Hyde Park’s greenery.
“The natural light is a great surprise,” says Parry. “This very open, lofty setting starts you on the journey. We want people to get a sense of that heavenly experience right away.”
From the reception area, you move into a stylish changing room, including a steam room, sauna with windows and a heated vitality pool topped by a skylight. Before your appointment, you can relax your muscles with heat sessions and cool down in the shower. Then take a seat in the restful pre-treatment lounge area, where your spa therapist will come to meet you.
When you step into your treatment room, it’s delightfully bright, capturing the therapeutic qualities of natural light. Each treatment room features floor-to-ceiling windows with white-clouded glass at top and bottom for privacy and a clear viewing portal in the centre.
You can enjoy the view as you sit for a complimentary foot massage, then if you wish, silk drapes may be drawn to create a dark cocoon. All treatment rooms are multifunctional, so you can stay in the same space for a facial, body wrap and massage.
Selecting the Right Treatments for London
Four Seasons puts a focus on providing unique treatments at each spa. There’s an aim to reflect the hotel’s local culture, so you can have an authentic Balinese massage at Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay or a hydrating facial in the desert at Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North. The treatments often include indigenous local ingredients, such Provençal lavender, Mexican green coffee and Hawaiian seaweed. You can also find leading-edge skincare lines and the latest therapeutic technologies.
At a resort, guests often have time for longer rituals. In city spas, they want more time-sensitive treatments, delivering genuine results. This reflects an overall spa trend, moving away from transitory hedonistic pleasures to a focus on holistic well-being with lasting benefits.
In London, there’ll be a balance between longer-term goals that can be achieved through several appointments, and result-oriented treatments so you can quickly feel your best for an important meeting.
A key differentiator in Four Seasons spas is the consistently high standard of service. Only the most expert therapists and aestheticians are hired. In London, all staff are trained to analyse skin accurately in order to choose the most effective care. There’s a focus on customising each treatment for each guest, recognising the individual’s unique needs on a given day, if they’re particularly stressed or have a specific skin condition.
Adding a Four Seasons touch to the London experience is Spa Director Livia Reddington, who brings nine years of expertise from Four Seasons spas in Maui and Nevis.
The focus is on natural spa products, including the ESPA line, as well as The Organic Pharmacy from London for herbal, homeopathic and organic skin care and Omorovicza from Budapest for pioneering mineral cosmetology.
Relaxation Rooms Reconnect Spa-Goers With the World
After your treatment, prolonging the relaxation is a priority. Some spas offer relaxation lounges with tea and fruit juices. In London, the emphasis is on privacy, as each treatment room has its own relaxation pod.
Like a private cabin or carriage, the pod includes a daybed with high-tech ergonomic controls, pillows and blankets. Take a nap, read quietly or listen to music on headset—with Four Seasons service always at your call.
Adjoining the spa is the 10th Floor Lounge, serving healthy spa lunches. Or you can extend your journey at the rooftop Fitness Centre, where state-of-the-art cardio- and weight-training equipment let you work out with inspiring southeast views of Big Ben and the London Eye.
As your Four Seasons spa journey comes to an end and you head back into the world, the goal is for the effects to linger with you, helping you feel relaxed, recharged and ready to come back soon.
Next, we’ll explain how Four Seasons is re-conceiving the hotel dining experience.
For more information on Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane, call 44 (20) 7499-0888 or send an e-mail to Gerrie.Pitt@fourseasons.com