I recently read that leisure is a verb to most Londoners, with each of us harbouring a secret hangout (or more) to retreat to when life starts to get ahead of us. My bolthole at times like these is one that combines R&R with a round of cathartic cocktails.
If you know, you know that I’m talking about an evening at The Four Seasons Park Lane…
Airily situated at the top of the sleek hotel, the Four Seasons Spa is quite literally a hidden gem boasting sweeping vistas across London.
The pampering begins just as soon as you walk in, with the swirling bubbles of the vitality pool and a windowed sauna – overlooking Hyde Park – as much part of the rejuvenating experience, as the treatment itself. My favourite corner is the relaxation room. I could easily spend an hour (or two) curled up in one of the secluded pods here, plied with peppermint tea and a pile of glossy magazines to guiltlessly flick through!
The treatment rooms each feature floor-to-ceiling length windows; so there’s an abundance of natural light during the day, while distant twinkling lights set an oddly-comforting scene by night.
This visit sees me indulging in the Spa’s signature Hyde Park Awakening ritual.
Created by The Organic Pharmacy, the eighty minute treatment spans an aromatic foot soak, full-body exfoliation and a stress-busting back, neck, shoulder and scalp massage! Needless to say, it’s every bit as restorative as it sounds.
While exfoliations often tend to be quite rough, I find that Organic’s bamboo and calendula scrub is actually quite soothing; and the signature body oil perfect for rehydrating my skin after. Deciding to go the extra mile, I also tack on an eye mask and golf ball to my treatment. The former works wonders for my puffy eyes, while the latter enables my masseuse to knead deeper into the knots in my back.
Feeling considerably lighter, I practically float downstairs to meet my mother for an evening at the Amaranto Bar.
The beguiling interiors of the bar are an instruction in sanguineous hues, ranging wildly from crimson to raspberry-red and scarlet. It makes for a setting that is both scintillating yet incredibly cosy – a sentiment matched by a comfortingly-sumptuous cocktail list and service that is impeccable yet endearing.
The Gold Fountain is a particularly appropriate way to start – featuring a house-made infusion of Stolichnaya vodka, gold leaves, limoncello and wild hibiscus, topped off with a good splash of Champagne. It transpires that a homemade hibiscus and black currant cordial is also a distinguishing factor in my mother’s shorter cocktail.
Drinks are dispatched with tapas-style small plates, that culminate into a full-fledged dinner. There are padron peppers and bite-sized cubes of paneer tikka, devilishly deep-fried potato croquettes and diminutive puffs of truffle-topped gougères, which explode to reveal a fragrant, truffled mushroom filling.
A saffron risotto is the main act – suffused with sweet and savoury flavours, with pine nuts and bittersweet sage leaves adding nuanced textures. A regional specialty from the hometown of Amaranto’s Italian chef, it’s a dish entirely suited for the approaching winter months…
… As are the seasonally-inspired concoctions which round off our evening on a fittingly festive note. An Apple Pie is exactly the liquid pudding you’d expect when ordering a Martini of this name – yet it’s not cloying on the palate, it’s vanilla-tinged sweetness offset by the subtly spiced notes of the apple compote.
There’s also a whisky-based cocktail titled Winter Wonderland on the menu. Laced with dark chocolate liquor and served with candied chestnuts, the royally-indulgent drink is definitely one that I see myself traipsing back for – right after my visit to Winter Wonderland of course, which is opening soon in Hyde Park!
Four Seasons, Hamilton Pl, Park Ln, Mayfair, London W1J 7DR
I was a guest of Four Seasons; as always , all opinions are mine and mine alone.
Which is your favourite spa in London?
Which are your favourite winter-time drinks in London?