It all began with a button. I am not referring to the bright red button I saw when I was nine years old. That button was bright red and had a small sign beneath that read, “PRESS HERE” in glossy black, capital letters. Being an obedient girl, I pressed and nearly fell off the counter top as a deafening siren started wailing and customers began filing out of the store where I sat on a busy Saturday afternoon. My mother walked upstream through the slightly panicked crowd, calmly taking my hand and whispering through a force smile, “What did you???” My Mom had no doubt in her mind that I had been the one to set of the fire alarm that emptied the store. I’ve always been something of an adventure prone kind of girl like that. BUT this year’s button was the French, deceptively non-descriptive word for pimple.
It was a particularly special one; a black head that sat just to the left of centre at the tip of my nose (why do the ugliest always make their appearance at the tip of the nose?) and refused to leave, calling me to PRESS HERE, much like the smoke detector test in that store in the 70’s. I tried lotions, potions and poisons. I dug deep, I detoxed, I nearly drowned myself drinking more than two litres of water a day. It would not dislodge. Something had to be done.
Since buttons seem to inspire adventure in me, I decided that “something” was going to be an article on the best spas in Paris.
The first spa I went to was After the Rain in the Hotel St James Albany or the rue de Rivoli. I knew little to nothing about this four star hotel in the very center of Paris, but I was very excited to be heading there because when I made my appointment I’d been told to come early and bring a bathing suit. There was a pool!
I arrived an hour early for my rendez-vous, thrilled with the opportunity to be changing up my exercise routine. I was even more thrilled as I was given a tour by the receptionist, and I saw the pool, a gorgeous basin with stone walls, amber lights and wooden lounge chairs. It was utterly zen and I felt like I had my very own, private pool under the Tuileries gardens. A quick visit to the perfectly appointed locker rooms and I was ready to hop in. I did laps for forty minutes. I was alone the entire time and it was heaven.
After the pool, guests are invited to spend twenty minutes in the hammam, which has a changing LED light display to help you keep track of the time. I hadn’t arrived early enough, so I went in for my facial still buzzing from the swim.
The treatment room was a continuation of the zen design around the pool, with a splash of energizing red details. I knew nothing about After the Rain, but quickly learned that it is a very scientifically oriented cosmetics brand from Switzerland and the facials are custom blended for each client’s skin. After a quick analysis I was informed that I have very dry, visibly sensitive skin.
The treatment was fantastic, the products had cured my customarily scaly winter skin without leaving any visible redness. Unfortunately, it did leave me with that damned button, despite some considerable effort on the esthetician’s behalf. It was my fault, I should left time for the hammam!
After the treatment I headed to the rest area, another perfectly peaceful space with flavored waters, teas, herbal teas, dried fruit, fresh fruit, chocolates and fraise Tagadas candy. They even had a working wifi, so I could stretch out my lounge chair, pull out my iPad and write this piece as I Tweeted about the joys of After the Rain and dreamed of coming back with Mr French for their couples soins, La Vie en Rose which includes a rose petal bath, champagne and strawberries from the hotel’s garden.
After the Rain
St James Albany – 202, rue de Rivoli , 1st arron – Tél. : +33 (0)1 44 58 43 21
+ The feeling of having your own private pool under the Tuileries, the rest area with exotically flavoured waters and fun treats.// – The lack of light
60 minute massage 140€
La Vie en Rose 260€