51 Is The Magic Number!

Spa at 51 - Luxury redefined.

If there’s something I love, it’s being pampered. There is no question that if I ever win the lottery or manage to write that best selling novel then I will plant myself in the hands of a trained beauty therapist for 3 days a week and everything else can be damned.

However, back in the real world, I have to tailor such extravagances to the budget that I can afford as a humble writer (which usually tends to mean a quick sauna at the gym and a facial treatment on my birthday and for Mother’s Day).

So when I was introduced to Spa at 51, the 5 Star luxury spa based at 51 Buckingham Gate in
London , I was quite excited by the prospect. I had heard of the location and knew it had a reputation for excellence.

Originally built by an unknown English gentleman, Major Charles Pawley a royal engineer, St James Court, now 51 Buckingham Gate, was Major Pawley’s masterwork. He meant for it to be exclusive - and exclusive it has remained.

Major Charles Pawley originally acquired the site in 1897 for an unknown sum and at great cost erected 8 more self contained 6-storey houses, each with its porched entrance opening onto the great central courtyard. Pawley embellished his hidden court with turrets, balconies, arches, and gable ends all overlaid with scrollwork. An interesting touch was the entire brickwork up to the second floor was tiled over with a sea-green glaze.

Topping this glittering green curtain is a monumental frieze – actually carved out of brickwork – decorated with scenes from Shakespeare’s ‘Sylvan Plays’ – A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Love’s Labours Lost, As You Like It and Much Ado About Nothing. In the midst of all this ornate decor is the beautiful flowing fountain which once was though a gift from Queen Victoria herself.

At almost exactly the same time as Pawley was building his architectural gem in Westminster, another hotel was being built several thousand miles away that was to become the most famous grand hotel east of
Suez . This was to become the Taj Mahal Hotel in
Bombay – better known today simply as the Taj – the brainchild being J.N.Tata. Having established a thriving network of hotels across the sub-continent in 1981, Taj International Hotel secured properties in Washington and New York and later purchased St James court in the heart of Westminster , destined to become its European flagship.

Which brings us to where we are today…

From the moment you set foot in Spa at 51 you know you are somewhere special. The facilities are impressive and include a luxury state-of-the-art gymnasium, saunas and steam rooms. Real quality has a “look and feel” all of its own and this possessed it in grand measures! The surroundings exude a calming ambience, the treatment rooms a welcoming appearance and the staff proved to be an asset to the company.

Whilst I was undergoing my deep cleansing facial I was really impressed by the consideration and understanding of my therapist; you could tell immediately that for her, this really was a labour of love. She understood my skin, knew what was best for it and also how to treat it.

The other major “ace in the hole” as far as I’m concerned is the fact that it is also the only spa in
London to offer Anne Sémonin treatments.

Madam Anne Sémonin the founder of this prestigious beauty range used in the spa developed a series of treatments representing a personal and holistic approach to beauty. Anne Sémonin was the first French brand to combine trace elements and essential oils within a complete spa range – this contributes to the effective penetration and action of the products on the skin.

Because each skin is unique, every Anne Sémonin programme is customized and starts with a personnel interview and diagnosis of your skin from your beauty therapist. The treatments are then adapted and “made to measure” in the famous Anne Sémonin tradition. At the end of every treatment, hot lime and ginger towels refresh and an Indian tomato juice shot awakens you.

When you trial and experience as many products as I do as a journalist, it has to be something very special that catches your eye and stands out from the crowded beauty and cosmetics market. In my opinion, the Anne Sémonin range most certainly sits atop them all judging from the results I encountered.

Not only can I highly recommend the Spa for its epicurean facials, my experience was also a sensual and calming one for the body and soul.

For further information on this luxury spa visit 51-buckinghamgate.com/spa


Poppy Watt