The English-sounding St James Hotel is a very French slice of eccentric chateau luxury in Paris's 16th arrondissement on the right bank. The hotel is also a private members' club with a gym, gloriously leather-upholstered library and reading room, and a beautiful restaurant overlooking chic gardens. Recently renovated, it's an Alice in Wonderland blend of black-and-white checkered squares, sweeping staircases, and quirky balloon-themed (thanks to its past as a hot air balloon launching site!) uber-design.
Despite my reluctance to tear myself away and see if I could score a room for the night, I eventually (after drooling at the dining room) went downstairs to find the spa.
The spa at the St James is a Gemology spa. Gemology spas use precious stones in both the products and treatments that are completely paraben-free. I had my mind changed on the use of precious metals and gem stones in products when I tried Dibi's Gold Performance last year. Amazing. I loved it! Infuriatingly, the treatment had an equally golden price tag. Happily, the Gemology Spa is reasonably-priced, once you factor in that whole getting-to-Paris thing, anyway...
So, I put myself in my therapist's hands and asked her to choose what I should have. Oh boy, was I in for a treat: a wrap, exfoliation and massage. We began with an anti-ageing wrap which contained garnet, along with raspberries and cranberries, which was quite possibly the most delicious fruity-smelling treatment I've ever received. Only the thought of the garnet stopped me taking a surreptitious lick! Whilst the wrap did its work, my therapist gave me an eye-rollingly good head massage.
Time to shower off. A word here about the difference between French and British levels of, um, intimacy. Usually, our therapists disappear outside when we get undressed, get into the shower, out of the shower, and so on. Not in France. Oh no. Be ready for that!
Back on the couch again for my 30-minute relaxing massage. I really enjoy hot-stone and lava-shell treatments but had never experienced a massage with a hot gem stone. My therapist used a series of warmed rose quartz stones, along with an oil blend which included peridot, ylang ylang and orange. I love a new massage experience, and this was quite superb. My skin felt like it was soaking up the minerals in the oil and the warmth of the stones, expertly wielded by my therapist, soothed any tense knots.
Finally, when I was little more than a happy pile of Spy, curled up on the couch, my therapist began my exfoliation treatment. Using citrine, with volcanic mud and thermal water from New Zealand, the exfoliant gave my already glowing, super-moisturised skin an extra level of softness that lasted for days.
I loved everything about the Gemology Spa. It's very small, just two therapy rooms, so you'll be given incredibly good service as there's no sense of being on a treatment conveyor belt. I loved the innovative treatments and the products, too. When I left, they gave me a few samples to try, so I'm now saving for a sapphire and lapis-lazuli-based moisturiser for sensitive skin! The only danger is, if you stay at the St James hotel and enjoy the spa, there's a chance you might not see anything else of Paris -- it's too nice to leave!
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26th March 2014
Minimalist lines; organic products; facial massage; tranquillity; interesting people-watching.
Discarded towels on loungers; steam rooms that aren't steamy; mobile phones.
Behind the scenes