As I glided through the cool water and looked up to a ray of sunlight escaping through the narrow gothic windows above, it was hard to imagine that a frantic railway station was just a stone’s throw away.
I was swimming in the pool of the St Pancras Spa. Surrounded by beautiful Victorian-style mosaic tiles, it was almost like I’d gone back in time to when the original Midland Grand Hotel was first built.
Two centuries on, the palace-like structure has undergone a £200m refurbishment and the result is one of the most beautiful historic restorations ever seen.
And as part of the much-awaited rebirth, they also formed the St Pancras Spa – a subterranean sanctuary I had to explore.
After a eucalyptus-infused steam room session and relaxing swim, I left the frothy bubbles of the Jacuzzi and put on my white robe to find the spa’s relaxation room.
As I paced across the corridor’s grey stone slabs in my robe and slippers, I could have heard a pin drop. Cool hues and images of ancient Greek ruins led to glowing lanterns and a curtain of reeds – the doorway to a calm relaxation room filled with warm glows of light. Greeted by a pot of jasmine tea, four cushioned loungers and calming music, I felt like I was in a faraway land.
I was there to experience the Sublime Massage, one of the spa’s carefully picked healing rituals from around the world. Your ‘journey’ can be to Africa, India or the Far East and they promise to use techniques passed over generations.
After being led into a darkened treatment room, I lay beneath a heated duvet and let my body relax.
A sweet fragrance was sprayed to trigger my senses and hot flannels were pulled over my feet. Pressure was then applied over various parts of my back to and legs to ease me into relaxation.
The Sublime treatment is based on Polynesian medicines ‘Rauu Tahiti’ (traditional remedy) and uses a mix of the Noni and Monoi de Tahait oils derived from natural plant extracts.
Noni oil – known as the ‘universal cure’ – comes from the noni fruit seed and Manoi oil comes from hand picked tiare flowers which are the national flower of Tahiti. It’s then mixed in a semi-wax coconut oil and has been hailed a health tonic for centuries. These days, it’s used for both the skin and hair and is gold dust for those trying to escape the stressful modern-day life.
As I became mesmerised by the soothing music, the therapist carried out the full body treatment.
Based on ‘Lomi Lomi’ techniques, the Sublime massage uses long and continuous wave-like movements. At first, I was aware of every elbow, forearm and palm that squeezed and pushed into my back. And as she kneaded my knots I grimaced with pain. But eventually I reached a deep relaxation and felt the tension in my body disperse.
From my back the therapist moved on to my legs where she softly bent and massaged every piece of tension out of the muscle. Every finger and toe was wiggled to release every element of stress. I don’t think her hands left my body for the full 70 minutes. I felt positively healed.
As I turned onto my back the treatment ended with a shoulder and head massage that left me in a complete state of calm. Using mother of pearl extracts left my skin baby soft.
Barely able to lift my eyelids, I left the treatment room in a haze of beautiful oil aromas. I felt like I was walking on air.
The St Pancras spa is a spectacular mix of old and new. I’d urge anyone feeling the effects of the modern world to embark on one of their ‘journeys’. You’ll feel ready to take on the world.
The sublime massage, 70 minutes, £120
St Pancras Spa, Euston Road, 0207 841 3578
by Lucy McGuire