In the last few years I noticed that come the first of January, people rush into gyms and detoxing, as if seeking atonement for the festivities overindulgence. By the same token, most often than not, come February, the person is disheartened and back to his or hers usual routine, sports or diet wise. If I have learnt anything from experience, January is definitely not the time to detox- spring time is, but that is not to say that you can’t start implementing gentle, positive changes that will make a difference to both how you look and feel.
Last year my face got indulged on many occasions, so this year I want to pamper and worship my body a bit more, particularly as the way my body functions, certainly affects how my face looks. So I accepted a tempting invitation to have a Hammam and a Moroccan Majorelle treatment at The Spa at Dolphin Square ( the Spa was inspired by the spirit of Morocco and fuses ancient therapies & spa philosophies that centre around cleansing & purifying, relaxation & balance, wellness, as well as integrated health ).
Having heard wonderful stories about Morocco, I woke up on the day of my treatment expecting a magical fairy tale of sorts and I wasn’t disappointed…The Spa is located in Pimlico, a five minute walk from the tube station and when I strolled to the building, I felt surprised that I didn’t know about it before. There is a modern sports centre development next to it, with football fields and an outside climbing wall and when you enter the actual Dolphin square building, you see a large reception area, heaving with activity. You descend down the stairs, glancing at the giggles and splashes coming from the swimming pool to your right, open a dark wooden door and what greats you is a peaceful oasis, that transforms you into a Moroccan abode.
Reception staff, dressed in burgundy coloured tunics and trousers, welcomes you in with a smile and you sit down to fill in a questionnaire, while looking at the product displays ( I noticed Aromatherapy Associates and La Sultane de Saba, a well-known French Spa brand, which inspires you to dream and to experience the products based on the wonderful traditions of the Orient ) and the decor. I was then taken to the changing rooms ( make sure you enter the door with a pink Moroccan slipper if you are a girl ! ) where you are allocated a little wardrobe, with towels, bath robe and comfortable rubbery slippers, as well as a little complimentary rosewood & cinnamon winter soap to take away with you later) and are left to get changed. You have toilets, showers and a great area where to blow-dry your hair and get ready to face the world later. Even though the Spa was opened about a year and a half ago, it is absolutely pristine, which seriously impressed me-it’s cleaner than some really well-known London Spas, which I had treatment at in the past ).
I was then taken to a cosy relaxation area, where light gently streams through the windows of the walled garden and was treated to a cleansing ritual, with my hands cleaned with water from a gleaming copper pot. I was offered a glass of water and waited for my therapist, gathering my thoughts and enjoying the preciousness of the moment.
Zillah, my therapist for the hammam, took me to the darkish grotto looking room, where I was to have a Hammam ( if you want, you can use a steam room prior to it, to open up your pores ). My body ( don’t forget to bring your swimwear if you intend to use Hammam or steam room ) was doused with warm water and then Zillah proceeded to massage me all over with Savon Noir ( a traditional Moroccan cleansing soap made out of olive oil, crushed olives and infused with Eucalyptus oil, which is known for its antibacterial & antiseptic properties ). I was left to lie down and relax for a few minutes on the marble bench ( to be honest, it would have been nice if it was slightly warmer to start with, but it certainly wasn’t uncomfortable ), with my head propped up with the rolled up towel. When Zillah returned a few minutes later, she proceeded to massage me all over ( no area was left unscrubbed ) with the Kessa glove. The process is quite vigorous but you will exit the room with the even, soft skin.
Zillah led me to the relaxation room, where I reclined on the warmed up stone bed, drinking a glass of water infused with orange slices and looking at the gentle glow of colourful Moroccan laps standing in the little wall niches. If your main aim on the day is relaxation, then do stay for slightly longer, for me, as it was the morning, it felt a little bit long, so when Jayne, my therapist who was doing my Moroccan Majorelle body treatment, came for me, I felt like a young colt rearing to go.
Jayne, a petite and warm woman, led me to a lovely treatment room ( when you walk around the Spa’s inner sanctum, it is easy to get lost but each door makes you wonder and dream-it looks authentically Moroccan, with low seating, soft carpeting, pictures of mosaics, metal and ceramic lamps that glow and impart serenity and beauty on you-I also loved colourful woven baskets in the changing rooms, where you put used towels and bathrobes –you really feel like you are in a Moroccan Spa, as the world outside disappears ) where she explained the Moroccan Majorelle treatment to me and let me choose the oil that would later infuse the natural shea butter that she was already melting for my massage and skin nourishment. There were three little bottles-an invigorating one, a relaxing one and a floral one. Generally I wouldn’t necessarily go for the floral oil, but on this occasion I surprised myself. After smelling each bottle I was 100% sure which one I preferred and it turned out to be… rose. I find the smell of rose oil too girly for me but this one smelled like honey dew and I could smell it on my skin for the rest of the day-and I really loved it !!! )
As soon as I got comfortable on the treatment bed, Jayne started the ritual with cleansing my feet with warm towels and then went on to ‘map’ my body from feet up, easing me into a very relaxed state. With a piano concerto playing soothingly on the sound system, she proceeded ( Jayne actually timed her massage moves and movement to music-a first for me ) to soothe my body into oblivion with melted shea butter mixed with rose body oil-starting with my back, neck and arms and then moving on to massaging the stress out of my legs, waist and hips.
I always prefer strong massage and Jayne, without additional prompting, managed to find tight spots/areas and very skilfully un-knotted them with soothing and strong strokes. She also stretched my legs and arms, making my body feel invigorated and elongated at the same time-who needs a gym in cold months when you can have a strong massage that actually works your muscles ?
The music changed from classic to Moroccan sounds and a slightly techno beat but I have to say, it has been one of those rare occasions when I actually enjoyed music as part of the massage, it really appealed to both my music tastes ( I call it getting educated while getting a treatment ) and my overall experience in the Spa.
When I turned over, Jayne proceeded to massage my legs, followed by gentle strokes over the stomach area, stimulating digestion and waking it up from slumber. She then went on to massage my arms and stretching them, opening my chest area at the same time. I have to say that I found Jayne to be one of the best therapist who tended to me in a long while- she has a calming presence and almost instinctively reads you and attends to your body needs-be it relaxation, invigoration or easing sore muscles after a gruelling workout…
What comes next is particularly timely and soothing for this time of the year-a honey mask gets painted on your face ( honey is not only a great antiseptic, it is also a good brightening agent ) to which Jayne also added a few drops of argan and rose face oil-heavenly is not the word for it-you feel like you are in a luxurious cocoon, in the middle of Morocco, with time standing still, even only for a few brief, but blissful minutes. You then have mineral-rich Rhassoul lava clay, mixed with a few drops or rose & geranium oil, as well as a little of water for lathering effect, massaged into your hair and scalp ( it is more of a treat for your scalp, as Rhassoul clay gets rid of excessive oiliness on your scalp but hair of course benefits from your scalp being healthy )-Jayne said to me that she does this treatment on her hair & scalp at least monthly. As I lay, feeling very happy and pampered, almost whispering ‘lucky girl’ to myself, Jayne sprayed rose mist above me and then gently tapped it into my face, helping the product to get absorbed into the skin.
With me safely tucked into my cosy bathrobe and my hair ( still covered in Rhassoul clay mask ) covered by the towel, Jayne took me to the relaxation room and brought me some freshly made mint tea in an old gleaming copper teapot, as well as a little plate of pistachios, almonds, dry apricots and dates and left me to my own devices. I took advantage of the magic of the decor, of the soothing light of the Moroccan laps and browsed through the book called ‘ Marrakesh by Design: a journey into Moroccan style’ by the wonderful Maryam Montague, dreaming of my future trip to Morocco-I was supposed to go a couple of years ago, but it fell through at the last minute and since then I have been dreaming of going to that wonderful country and exploring its nature, people, gardens, souks, customs, traditions, design and food.
You sit surrounded by walls that look like malted lava, carved ceramics, metal laps and wonder how extraordinary the world is and how rich traditions of cultures are, all the while you are in the middle of busy and bustling London.
Hesitantly and almost reluctantly, I walked to the shower, assembled myself and walked out into the street knowing that this Spa has definitely become my secret piece of Morocco in London. An oasis of tranquillity and wonder where the smells, the sounds, the design and the skills of therapists work in tandem, creating amazing vibes and the feeling of exotic well-being and pampering that stays with you, as well as the faint smell of the products ( La Sultane de Saba on this occasion for me ) lingers on your skin….
Moroccan Majorelle £110 for 85 mins
Hammam ritual £37 for 25 mins
The Spa in Dolphin square is London’s only spa offering the benefits of combined authentic Moroccan Hammam, Rhassoul, and Salt Infused Steam Room experience. Dolphin Square’s mineral rich water is drawn from the only working Artesian well in the City of Westminster.
The Spa Facilities include:
- 4,000 sq feet
- Rhassoul Chamber
- Salt Infused Steam Room
- five Spa Treatment Rooms
- two Studio Treatment Rooms
- two Relaxation Lounges
- Walled Courtyard Garden
- Private Parking
- Free WiFi