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agua Bathhouse & Spa at Mondrian London

November 26, 2014

Hotels & SpasLifestyle | by Vicky Ilankovan


Last week saw the official launch of Southbank-based agua Bathhouse & Spa at Mondrian London, and with it the innovative ‘Spa Playground’ concept.

We congregated in Rumpus Room, the hotel’s art deco-inspired rooftop lounge with views across London’s skyline. Trays of cucumber-infused champagne were circulated before sweeping glass walls, from which a glowing St Paul’s cathedral watched on. The room itself is striking; a polished brass bar stacked with all manner of bottles, velvet aubergine seating and an expansive skylight exposed to moonlit clouds and a smattering of stars.

Spa Director, Jacqueline Kneebone, has years of hands-on experience as a therapist, which gives her rare insight that shines through her brand curation. She spent two years researching cutting-edge industry leaders for this project, with a number of key requirements: products were picked based on their holistic ethos, medicinal qualities and long-term results. Consequently, treatments are not only personally tailored to each individual, they also aim to cleanse from the inside out.

Alexandra Soveral opened with a background of 9 years spent researching the effects of antioxidants and the benefits of hand-blended essential oils. ‘I see beauty from a health aspect,’ she explained, and praised agua as ‘a spa with a conscience’ in its commitment to using genuine, efficient products.

Simon of Dr Jackson’s is a pharmacognisist, who formerly trained in oncology and has travelled extensively, studying ancient belief systems from shamanism to herbalism, Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines. He brought to light the logic in doing so; the analgesic in aspirin is present in the bark of willow trees, which Native American women used to chew to soothe pain during childbirth. His range of teas complement topical treatments; a detox infusion steeps baobab funicles with six times the antioxidants of green tea. The relaxation blend contains Valerian, a flowering plant clinically proven to actively reduce anxiety and ease nerves.

Lola’s ApothecarySpa Steamroom was by far the youngest brand there, but her farm-based company uses fragrant organic ingredients, merging Lola’s love for perfume and high performance skincare, with radiance and healing at its heart. A roll-on elixir of rose oil comes with dried petals floating in a rich golden scented liquid.

Johanna of Estelle & Thild credited the changing face of organics to the Stockholm-based company’s worldwide growth. The tinted moisturiser smells like a wildflower meadow and melts into the skin seamlessly, leaving just a hint of colour and a healthy glow.

Annee de Mamiel’s company happened virtually by accident, she was merely creating a product to cater to her own needs. Firmly rooted in combatting the stresses of the modern world, Annee integrates aromatherapy with acupuncture and revealed that 20% of her clients are male.

Finally, Meghan and Rachel spoke of their co-owned company, Jing Institute, which is committed to providing advanced, expert massage training for therapists.

There’s a visible focus on men’s grooming, with male-orientated facials and massages alongside thermal mud masks and waxing. In addition, the steam rooms with their geometric murals are uncharacteristically large – with the men’s taking precedence over the ladies. The menu, we learnt, has been specifically curated to appeal to a new, youthful generation of spa-seekers.

In keeping with the hotels transatlantic voyage theme, the spa space is a subterranean maze of curving walls and dappled light with a distinct beneath-the-surface feel. The interiors, devised by Design Research Studio under the creative direction of lighting innovator Tom Dixon, are, as would be expected, artfully lit; contemporary fittings hang from above and a golden sheen emanates from invisible sources. It absorbs the cool, calming tone of the Sanderson (also retained by Morgan’s Hotel Group) and flips it into something altogether more androgynous, with an edge of retro. The communal spa room is a modern upgrade on Roman baths; marble surfaces with stylish lounge chairs and a floor-to-ceiling glowing copper teardrop as the focal point, echoing a striking copper hull that snakes through the hotel lobby above. Beneath the sculpture, a starlit pool ripples, casting melting shadows on the ceiling.

Spa receptionThe new concept, the Spa Playground, defies convention by encouraging an interactive experience and describing itself as ‘sociable as it is salubrious.’ While individual rooms cater to classic one-person treatments, the space is also open to groups of friends: exclusive-use parties can be arranged whereby groups of up to 15 guests can swill cocktails and get pampered in private to a spa-soundtrack of David Bowie and Pink Floyd.

For those who like a morsel with their mani-pedi, there’s the obligatory raw menu but also more decadent options: gourmet ice-cream sundaes and organic chocolate fondue.

The launch culminates with vitamin smoothies (spirulina, pear and maple or almond, avocado and date) and canapés (seared tuna avocado rolls, sesame speckled rare beef wrapped french beans and crispy shallot sushi with ponzu emulsion) served in the spa reception, while skilled therapists perform a series of taster treatments. Few of these brands have appeared in spas until now and this, Jac noted, is what gives agua its point of difference: not only do they showcase exciting and unique brands, they also collaborate with each one to develop treatments that intrinsically promote wellbeing and give every ‘patient’ a bespoke experience.


Reservations: 020 3747 1000 / https://www.morganshotelgroup.com/mondrian/mondrian-london/spa-fitness/agua-spa


Annie Biziou