Serenity is built into The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona, thanks to its tranquil design and traditional therapies, as Cathy Wagstaff discovers.
There are some places that have an effect on the spirit simply by virtue of being there, but few have influenced me quite as quickly as The Spa at Mandarin Oriental, Barcelona.
Upon entering the subterranean space, an oasis underneath the mid-20thcentury avant-garde luxury of the hotel above, my breathing slows, my mind quietens and my heartbeat becomes a conscious focal point.
This is the genius of patricia Urquiola, the Milan-based Spanish interior designer, whose celebrated minimalist philosophy stretches from the top-floor penthouse Suite above to this serene retreat in the heart of the Catalan capital. While the hotel is all about light – guests enter through a glass-crowned, white-walled atrium on a walkway suspended over polished black tiles – here the vibe is dark and sensual. The black ceiling over a jade-green pool that wouldn’t be out of place in a Bond villain’s lair is softened by wooden flooring.
in the two oriental suites designed for Thai massages, there are spa vitality pools, futons and flowing floral wallpaper in shades of gold, chocolate and cream.
Spa sensation Mandarin Oriental is renowned for its Signature Spa Therapies, invoking the group’s rich Asian heritage regardless of where its hotels are in the world. The treatments, each one hour and 50 minutes long, were developed in consultation with Traditional Chinese Medicine and aromatherapy specialists, designed to rid the body of anything that might block energy and restore equilibrium. For those seeking unparalleled indulgence, the Massage Executive programmes offer rejuvenation over a full day, but for me, preparing to board a flight back to Australia later today, a little bit of balance is exactly what i need.
i slip off my shoes with gratitude as i fill out a questionnaire taking stock of how i’m feeling and what kind of energy blocks might be standing in the way of my total wellbeing.
i’m glad i’ve arrived the recommended 45 minutes ahead of my appointment to take advantage of the steam room and relaxation area, both sleek, low-lit havens designed to vanquish any final worries that have managed to linger.
When it’s time to shower and wrap myself up in a robe in time for my treatment, i’m already in a state of bliss. During the ceremonial washing of feet with peppercorns and salt, my therapist alerts me to an imbalance of yin and yang in my system.
An oriental meridian massage with custom-blended essential oils is just the thing, she says, to bring me back to a state of equilibrium and optimal state of wellbeing.
i couldn’t agree more, because when the kneading ends, the Tibetan chimes sound and it’s time to transition back over a steaming cup of tea, i’m feeling like myself again – just the version of me that’s ready to take on the world (and a long-haul flight).
Travel file www.mandarinoriental.com/barcelona