Having visited London so many times in the past, I was not expecting this specific trip to turn out the way it did. How and when did this city turn into a place I would recommend for a wellness getaway? It is still a wonder to me as I sit here writing this piece.
London, a massive city housing over 8 million people, has changed in the last few years. Health and Wellness is now a top priority for locals, a far change from the pub dwelling, fried food consumption and nonstop cigarette smoking historic past. Currently, travelers and residents alike are seeking out the latest in wellness trends from soul searching to modern fitness experiences; health is on the forefront.
As I was checking into my hotel, The Mandrake a new five-star property located in the heart of the West End, I was intrigued by the stylish decor and dark entryway. Based on first impressions alone, one would not categorize it as a health and wellness escape but don’t be fooled. That is the magic of the hotel and all its mysterious surprises that come into play during your stay. Two-faced but in an enthralling way, it is fashionable and anyone in the London “scene” knows about this place and frequents it often. From the good-looking staff that caters to your every need to the eclectic design that is highlighted throughout its corridors and public areas, the hotel demands you stop to take notice.
Once you walk into the atrium, you can expect an entirely different vibe and a sense of calmness comes over. Hanging vines, lush greenery and bamboo accents fill the quiet space. Luckily for me, I was booked into a Terrace Suite overlooking this beautiful secret garden-like oasis and in the days to come, I made sure to enjoy the creative inspiration that came along with its presence.
A Soulful Journey to Relaxation
Feeling relaxed I opted to take it a step further and booked a treatment with the properties massage and sound therapist, Slavomir Latko. The Mandrake offers an array of specially curated sensory experiences from Full Moon Gong Baths, Sonic Enchantment, Lomi Lomi Temple Bodywork or its Three-Dimensional YAR Sound Experience. Their spiritual and body wellness program was the highlight of my trip. After 90 minutes of Lomi Lomi Nui bodywork, a form of full body massage from ancient Hawaii, I was centered, energized and entirely at peace. Slavomir is a true healer, and his core training is in the ancient Hawaiian massage art of Lomi Lomi Nui which he has practiced since 2008. Focusing on the soulful nurturing of body and mind, you can immediately feel his presence and relaxing nature before the treatment even begins.
His other specialty is Sound Therapy with gongs, therapeutic tuning forks, singing bowls and other instruments that produce deeply healing sound vibrations. On the second day of our stay, Slavomir invited us to experience this firsthand. The aim, to restore your inner harmony and provide access to your own insight.
To be honest, I have never been able to meditate; my mind just cannot shut off. A few minutes into the sound bath experience and I was in a trance, my thoughts slowed, I took notice of my breathing and the harmony set in. I was disappointed when it came to an end as my “adult time out” was something I wasn’t sure I would experience again and I liked the quietness of my brain. As if the universe was reading my thoughts a couple walked in on accident and Slavomir being the kind soul he is, offered they try a taste of the experience for themselves. I was thrilled; it meant I was going back into a complete state of relaxation. As quickly as before, I began again fading into the incredible sounds he played to clear the mind. A treatment at The Mandrake will leave your soul happy with the mental clarity you will need once headed back to the outside world.
The food scene has stamped its place on the map and the destination’s cuisine is no longer known as merely fish and chips. Dining in London has never been hotter and more unique. Prominent chefs and restaurants from all over the world are actively searching for a spot here; new trends are exploding all over the city and areas previously devoid of decent food are becoming hot culinary destinations. Even fake restaurants like the shed at Dulwich had people around the world in a frenzy trying to get in its non-existent doors.
Breakfast at The Mandrake’s onsite restaurant Serge is the perfect place to jumpstart the day. Delectable menu items include Ricotta Pancakes with Verveine Chantilly and Rhubarb, Eggs Benedict with Cornish Crab and Coconut Yoghurt with Chia Seeds, Honey and Banana.
For dinner, Eneko Basque Kitchen & Bar is the new kid on the block and showcases modern dishes by renowned Chef Eneko Atxa. Located in the Covent Garden area at the One Aldwych Hotel, the restaurant celebrates art on a plate with inventive small and large plates that are too pretty to eat. The Beetroot Tartare and Endive Salad are presented with an influx of colorful items all elaborately plated. Ingredients are prepared with precision to create original dishes that are a composite of skillfully layered flavors and textures like the Hake Tempura and Grilled Octopus.
Finally, for those looking to have some fun, good drinks and a lively night out visit Refuel inside The Soho Hotel. Opt for a specialty crafted cocktails like the “Mr. Greene” where kiwi and mint are muddled with Grey Goose Vodka and Wild Apple Liqueur then topped with Champagne or the “Smokin’ Hot” with QuiQuiRiQui Mezcal, fresh ginger, lime juice, honey, grapefruit and salt. Mixed drinks are shaken to perfection and the wine list will satisfy even the most discerning connoisseur.
The decor offers a playful setting encompasses a mix of textures and patterns just like the menu. Choose from the a la carte menu with items ranging from a 21 Day Dry Aged Filet to Monkfish & Tiger Prawn Curry or the set menu with two or three-course options. End the evening with one of the establishments sinful desserts and you are sure to leave on a sweet note.