Set down one of Covent Garden’s sidestreets, Thai Square Spa is a haven of compact calm amid the West End hubbub. On my recent visit, I was firstly treated to two friendly faces and handed a short form to fill in by the Thai reception staff, before being encouraged to settle onto one of the traditional wooden seats, opposite a slightly tense looking couple (couples treatment first-timers, perhaps?). Next, I was flourished with some special herbal tea which, they informed me, had been freshly infused that morning. A couple of sips later – you never have time to drink that first cup of spa tea, do you? – I was introduced to my (again, Thai) facialist (yes, that is what someone who gives facials is called), who led me to the ladies changing room and handed me a dressing gown, slippers and a locker key. Thankfully, Thai Spa Square is not one of those places where you must change into disposable underwear for a facial – a procedure I never quite understand.
Once on my back on the massage table in the cosy, comfortably heated treatment room (not too cold, not too hot – keeping this Goldilocks happy), listening to the hushed, not-overly-plinky-plonky background music, my facialist got to work with my requested Seven Pollen Facial. Over the course of the next hour, she applied dozens of lotions and scrubs to my skin – all of them pleasant in odour and sans any skin-stinging side-effects. The products incorporated (you guessed it) seven different pollens as part of a secret recipe, famously used by the Thai royal family in order to keep skin balanced, relaxed and boasting a healthy glow, via a process of ‘cleansing, balancing, repairing, moisturising and awakening the skin’. I don’t think my skin has ever done so much in its life, let alone an hour.
And this facial wasn’t even just a ‘facial’ – it was a massage too. At least the last 15 minutes of the treatment (it’s hard to keep track of time when you’re in a dark room with your eyes closed and you’re almost deliriously relaxed) included a thorough head, neck, shoulder and arm massage, all to help encourage overall radiance.
Once I had my clothes back on, I repaired to the softly-lit unisex relaxation room for a full cup of that sweet herbal tea and a leisurely flick through the spa’s stock of magazines (stylish consumer titles including Dazed & Confused, Conde Nast Traveller and House & Garden – FYI). A quick farewell wave later – thankfully accompanied by no product hard-sell from staff, despite the display shelves upstairs – and I was back out on Covent Garden’s cobbled streets, markedly unwound, to the point where I wasn’t even overly worried about my lack of make-up. Whether passersby were, I don’t know. Or care.
The all-important question: did the facial make any actual difference to my face? Over the next few days, at least four people commented that my skin ‘looked good’. One even said it looked ‘all glowy’. And these aren’t the sort of people to give a compliment for no reason.
So, it seems those shimmering, wrinkle-free Thai Royals – and, perhaps, bees – are on to something.