Heathrow Airport is the busiest is Europe, with more than 70 million people passing through it each year. It is the third busiest airport in the world, and more than 26,000 cups of tea, 35,000 cups of coffee and 1,050 bottles of champagne are sold on site every day. Phew – that’s a lot of bubbles! So it’s surprising to discover that behind the hustle and bustle of the 1,400 flights that take off and land each day, there is a calmer side to the famous airport. Actually, calm is an understatement – tranquil, serene, and totally relaxing – now that’s more like it.
Because adjoined to Terminal Five – itself the biggest freestanding structure on the British Isles – is a haven of relaxation at The Spa at the Sofitel Hotel. This hotel is the only one directly attached to a terminal, and offers immediate access to Terminal Five via a small walkway, to other terminals via free inter-terminal transfers and to central London by a 21-minute express train.
Stepping into the Sofitel is to enter an oasis where personal service is complemented by sophisticated decor. The restaurants and bars showcase fresh international flavors from an all-day tea salon to open kitchens to a gourmet French restaurant with a Chefs Table. Sip champagne at Perrier-Jouët Bar or a cocktail at Sphere.
But I’m not here to sample the delicacies of the restaurants, or enjoy a tipple at the bar before a long flight, I’m here to indulge in some serious me time. And from the moment I walk through the doors of the spa, that is what happens.
Situated below the main hotel, and terminal, it’s surprising how quickly you forget where you are. There’s not a hint of aircraft noise or any sense of urgency with anything. Candles adorn the corridors and a sweet smell of jasmine wafts through the air. The changing room is stocked with luscious Espa products and a fluffy robe and real slippers can be found in your locker. No flimsy disposables here!
There are more than 25 indulgent treatments to choose from, with many of the massages being an hour or more. There are targeted treatments, such as the lifesaving back treatment and personalised regenerating facial, as well as beauty services like waxing, eyelash tints and french manicures. But if you really want to enjoy a unique Sofitel Spa experience, you have to plump for the Olea Basilicos Body Envelopment, a treatment created exclusively for this spa. The journey of relaxation and beautifying begins with an extravagant application of olive oil with a heavenly full body massage and a fresh sprinkling of basilicas – known for its conditioning effect on the skin. You then get a holistic face and scalp treatment, tenderly applied, designed to hydrate, firm and tone the skin. This is all topped off with a sensation of essence applied all over your body. A truly indulgent experience!
We were lucky enough to be treated by head therapist Umendra, whose delicate hands delivered one of the best massages we have ever experienced. Guided by intuition, Umendra managed to locate just the right places to concentrate on to leave this Belle’s body feeling light and supple – and that’s no no mean feat!
Head therapist Umendra’s Top Five treatments before/after flying:
* Total Body Holistic: An indulgent body treatment to melt away tension and bring your body and mind back into a harmonious balance.
* Holistic Back, Face and Scalp Treatment: Renowned as our “Hero” treatment and loved by all. Espa Experience delivers triple results by targeting three key areas, the back, face and the scalp making it the ideal treatment for anyone.
* Stress Reliever Ritual: This treatment combines a body wrap and a massage using soothing oils to restore equilibrium, peace of mind and bring deep relaxation to body and spirit.
* Intensive Muscle Relaxer: This treatment combines a body wrap and massage using specific oils to ease tension in the muscles, help restore mobility and reduce aches and pains.
* Re-hydrating Facial: An intensive and regenerating facial for dehydrated skin, leaving it supple and nourished. Gentle exfoliation help the skin absorb replenishing face treatment oils and masks to deeply moisturize and soothe the complexion, this rehydrating facial leaves skin smooth and feeling rejuvenated.
Sofitel clients range from business men and women staying at the hotel for conferences, to tired and weary travellers in search of a much-needed pick-me-up before, in between, or after a gruelling journey. The spa often has offers on, and is well worth making the trip to from central London for a girly getaway with friends. For more information or to book in, see www.sofitel.com