Designed by well‐known architect Eric Parry, the rooftop spa at the Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane has opened. Housed in a new glazed rooftop extension, it is conceived as an aerial spa providing a haven of tranquility floating above the hubbub of the London streets below. The new floors on top of what was previously a visually incomplete building has been designed as a ‘hat’ with an over hanging brim.
The façade is formed from a ribbon of glass which traces the plan form of the guest rooms beneath, set back from the parapet and topped with a dark zinc roof. An overhanging soffit with a dark gloss finish softly reflects the activity of the city below. The glass is fritted to varying degrees respecting the privacy required by the activity within. The reflective materials are in contrast with the Portland Stone of the existing building whilst also reflecting the sky.
Eric Parry Architects’ design maximises the spectacular 360 degree view offered by the spa’s location on the tenth floor of the Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane. Arriving at the west‐facing reception area, clients can look through fully glazed walls across Hyde Park to the treetops of the gardens of Buckingham Palace, a memorable start to their visit. Uniquely for an urban spa, most of the internal spaces including treatment rooms and saunas enjoy views over the London landmarks of the Houses of Parliament and the London Eye.
The new spa is a building of contrasts – light and dark, interior and exterior, airy and cosy – reinforcing the sensory experience. The chosen palette of materials is simple: floors of chocolate‐hued smoked oak in dry areas and light granite in wet provide solidity and earthiness. Curved off white walls and silver curtains float over the timber and stone floors, while high gloss clear lacquer echoes the reflectivity of water. A glossy black ceiling lies over the vitality pool while natural light filters along the main wall.
The internal spaces follow the fluidity of the external glass walls to create pockets of space from within. The nine treatment rooms – eight single and one double fully glazed “sky suite” with 180 degree views – sit around the perimeter of the building so that all benefit from natural light.
The mood within treatment rooms is designed to alter as the treatment progresses. At the outset, the room is bright and flooded with natural light with the views clearly visible through the glass façade. As the experience progresses, the room is wrapped with custom‐designed fabric and darkening blinds to diffuse natural light while soft artificial light is deployed as an integral part of the relaxation experience.
Male and female areas are divided by means of a central stacked timber core which contains fully equipped individual post‐treatment relaxation areas. Each treatment room has an associated relaxation area, with soft drapes providing a feeling of cocooned privacy. Individually controlled lighting and sound allows clients to complete their experience in their own way and to mitigate the after treatment feeling while getting ready to re‐enter reality.
Architect Eric Parry said: “I gained much inspiration for the design of our spa projects from my travels to India and Japan and academic research into rituals of renewal. The whole experience, from the welcoming reception to the relaxation in the humid areas, to the treatment and then the individual relaxation and meditation moment is an experience which I have enhanced through the architecture and the design of the space, for an experience which engages all the senses.”
The spa also includes a vitality pool, sauna, steam rooms and heat treatment areas. Throughout the space bespoke elements designed by the architects feature. These include an organically shaped reception desk formed from off‐white Corian, manicure desks from the same material, fabrics, treatment beds and cabinetry, as well as the fabric to the treatment rooms. All of the custom‐designed elements combine beauty with functionality and ease of maintenance.
Art is integrated into the design through collaboration with well‐known sculptor Stephen Cox. Fifteen pieces have been produced for the spa in Egyptian limestone and Indian granite, reminiscent of skin‐tone. Anthropomorphic shapes offer suggestions of the human form and the smooth, tactile material reinforces the sensuous nature of the architecture.