WHEN a Four Seasons opens, you can count on a bit of fanfare – some state-of-the-art design, some standard-setting opulence. When it reopens in London after a refurb costing £100m, your expectations can be even higher. Rooms, foyer, bar, restaurant and spa all have their own horns to toot.
In the case of the Four Seasons Park Lane, the spa has a particularly bold trumpet to blow. In keeping with the modern fixation on pampering and spa health – whereby the spa becomes the altarpiece of any serious luxury hotel – the Four Seasons has gone and plonked it in pride of place on the roof. Once this would have been where the penthouses or the restaurant was – now it’s where you get your skin exfoliated and your plane-induced knots rolled out.
Given its position atop a hotel on Park Lane, the views are of Hyde Park and Mayfair’s streets and rooftops. The spa’s genius is the way it worships these views. Walls are windows – and every treatment room has a view. It’s a simple but effective strategy, as nothing is more relaxing and rejuvenating than a sense of light. A good view is worth a thousand facials (or something to that effect).
The only spot that is completely in the dark, oddly, is the waiting room, which also has a fire burning there (especially odd since the day I visited it was 22 degrees and sunny).
But no matter. This is a spa of the finest specifications, with gleaming experience showers and even an ozone-treated, sky-lit vitality pool. The “double sky suite” is a must for couples, with its “sensual” curves and 180-degree views. And the sunlit lounge – where you can nibble breakfast or take a healthy tea – has a private terrace.
The spa uses Organic Pharmacy products, which are simple, aromatic fusions of plant extracts. I had the signature Hyde Park Awakening (80 mins, £175) – Mayfair winking at me from behind the blind. It began with a foot soak, then proceeded on to a thorough body scrub that felt particularly good on the legs, for some reason, and finally, a vigorous back and head massage. It was a fine treatment, though lacking any distinctive feature. I felt good, smooth-skinned and de-knotted at the end, but I’d expect nothing less in a place like this.
What truly left a mark on my memory – and on my mood for the day – was the windowy elegance of the spa. Being outside but inside is the ultimate tonic to a life spent in an office.