Male Grooming: James Haskell finds time for some pampering at Park Plaza’s Mandara Spa

Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page


I am familiar with spas, although unfortunately normally only for sporting recovery purposes as opposed to all the exotic treatments on offer. In my book, aside from the hardened spa user, they are most often seen as an ideal present for a girlfriend or female loved one. Ladies love being pampered while relaxing and spending a day with a girlfriend, don’t they? Well, it has always been a well-received gift in my book.

Until recently, I had yet to explore the experience for myself. However, earlier this month I ventured to the Park Plaza Hotel near Westminster Bridge in London to try a ‘proper treatment’. Being a professional rugby player means that you don’t often get time to put your feet up and relax, especially seeing as every extra minute spent off the pitch for me involves running time consuming businesses.

So, I jumped at the opportunity to try a male grooming treatment, although my excitement was mixed with a touch of apprehension. After all, I wasn’t entirely sure what the ‘treatment’ might involve and (ironically) felt a little fearful of being covered in mud, well, of the face pack kind!

The Mandara Spa

The Mandara Spa

However, there was no need for my nerves and I was greeted at the Mandara Spa by a lovely receptionist, who took me through to my own little changing room, where I decamped into a robe. Unfortunately it wasn’t a Hugh Hefner style gold flowing robe, but nevertheless, it was rather plush and comfortable.

Another positive sign was that the slippers fitted – just like Cinderella! Usually it is always an issue trying to wedge my size 13 feet into the slipper ends, but not on this occasion.

Mandara Spa is located within the central London hotel and offers a surprisingly tranquil respite from the busy chaos of the City outside. In fact, it is a serene haven and I felt relaxed from the moment I walked through the door.

I was booked in for a facial. I chose this treatment because I get lots of massages, so my first reaction was to go for something completely different. Albeit a little bit left field, which as I understand it, in the world of metrosexual reality, is de rigueur.

The treatment was excellent from start to finish. I had a lovely female therapist who calmed me from the moment I arrived. The treatment rooms were luxurious and very well appointed, with a bed that was even large enough to fit my big frame.

The treatment rooms

The treatment rooms

I couldn’t possibly start to detail the exact number of creams, lotions and exfoliates that were used on my face, as I would be here all day. Plus, I don’t think men mind too much. Needless to say from the moment my facialist started, I was completely and utterly relaxed and I knew my skin was getting plenty of TLC.

Despite the lavish experience, I must admit that I was a tad sceptical about whether it would actually make a difference to a somewhat gnarled and rugby battered visage. However, contrary to my preconceptions, I was immediately aware of a noticeable improvement to my skin and facial demeanour; I actually looked a little bit younger than 85 years (Rugby player’s age works to the same formula as pet’s ages!). There really was a significant difference.

Based on my experience, I would recommend this particular treatment and also any other treatment at this spa. It was such a relaxed atmosphere that I actually fell asleep half way through the treatment. I really didn’t want it to end – it was an hour and a half of pure bliss and comfort.

I think the therapist was perhaps a little concerned that she may have to lift me off the bed; I was in such an idyllic state that all my muscles had set into the treatment table!

The spa is located in the Park Plaza Hotel

The spa is located in the Park Plaza Hotel

As said, I really didn’t want the experience to end and will certainly be returning. Luckily, being single, the only person I will be spending spa treatments on this Christmas is yours truly!

Having said that, if you are looking for some inspiration, this makes an ideal gift and I suspect it is an equally fantastic experience at any time of the year.

The Skin IQ Facial is available at the Mandara Spa in the Park Plaza Hotel. It costs £110 and last 75 minutes. The treatment has been designed to provide the ultimate skin overhaul with maximum anti-ageing results. Charged with clinically proven Time Defense Wrinkle Delay and Eye Reviver, this facial is tailored to help combat the effects of a hectic lifestyle, ageing from frequent shaving and environmental stresses. To book, please call +44 20 7620 7300