The extent of most hotelgoers’ plans for ‘wellness’ is typically a massage and an hour stewing in the hot tub.
But these days, retreats are taking things up a notch, aiming to care for guests’ spiritual needs as well as ensuring their pillows are well-fluffed.
Boutique London hotel The Mandrake sums up this movement in their new ‘soul revival package’, designed, they say, for ‘spiritual wellness seekers’.
These involve all manner of fancy treatments, ranging from in-room energy healings to sound baths and cacao ceremonies, all hosted by expert shamans and healers.
As you’d expect from a posh London pad, all that comes at quite a steep price… the packages begin at £730 (including the treatment, a stay in an evergreen terrace room, and dinner for two on a private balcony).
So before you take the plunge, it’s probably worth diving a little deeper into what’s actually involved in one of these slightly mysterious ‘spirit-reviving’ package deals.
We tried it out first to bring you a detailed review…
Metro.co.uk’s review of The Mandrake’s ‘soul revival package’
Entering The Mandrake is pretty much exactly what you’d imagine from a hotel whose website talks about a ‘unique, immersive’ experience and that has its very own wellness concierge.
We enter through a dark hallway decked out with glittering masks – part of an art exhibition happening at the hotel, we’re told – and make our way into a reception decked out with plush velvet sofas and keys hanging on oversized tassels.
Heading up to the terrace rooms – each with doors that open out to a lush green space and greenhouse that feels miles away from the central London location – is a bit tricky without a guide, as the lift drops us outside identical looking doors, only one of which leads through to the rooms’ entrance, the others belonging to other guests.
Perhaps that’s to get you in the lost wanderer mindset from the get-go, reminding you that the journey is more important than the destination. Or perhaps The Mandrake should some clearer signage.
The rooms themselves are lovely, with large beds you can sink into and plastic-wrapped art books for flicking through. We weren’t so keen on the large painting of a slightly creepy doll, right by the bed and thus staring into our souls as we tried to drift off, but everything else was spot on.
The massive glass doors out to that shared terrace are lovely, but if you book a stay, do remember to draw the curtains before stripping off or getting too comfortable. A nice view does come at the cost of feeling a tad exposed to, well, everyone else on the same floor and the ones above and below.
Turn on the TV and the menu screen will quickly set the tone for the hotel’s vibe. A video plays of naked people dancing through the hotel’s interiors, looking rather like a cult ritual. This is a place that’s a bit out-there, for those who don’t feel silly throwing around words like ‘sexual intimacy’ and ‘energy’. Perhaps don’t book a room for your nan, essentially.
We’re escorted up to the penthouse for our spiritual wellbeing session, which has the added bonus of letting us behold the gigantic bathtub in the room available for those willing to front a minimum of £5,000 a night.
Then, time for wellness. We lie down on mats and pillows, cover ourselves in blankets, and close our eyes. It’s entirely okay – and expected – to fall asleep, so don’t force yourself to resist the cosiness.
Our practitioner begins to swirl their way around crystal bowls to create a soothing sound bath. For those not in the know, this is a practice that is supposed to send your mind and body into a deep sense of wellbeing and calm, the idea being that we react differently to the specific sounds produced by these bowls and other items (gongs, for example).
It’s also said by some that the crystals the bowls are made out of have specific energy vibrations that heal the body. If you believe in this, cool. If you don’t, that’s not a problem – the sounds produced will still send you into a meditative state.
With our heads nestled right by the bowls, the experience feels a bit intense at points. But the key is to open yourself up to the feeling, let your mind wander, and just see what happens. Don’t overthink it, just enjoy a moment of genuine calm.
We’ve tried crystal sound baths before, so this didn’t feel too out of the ordinary – and I’d recommend this to anyone who’s experiencing issues of stress and anxiety. It’s an easy entryway into meditation and mindfulness, and gives you a rare moment to just lie down and do nothing.
The next bit is where things get a little stranger. Our treatment involves energy healing, which sees a practitioner hovering their hands over various parts of the body to, they claim, remedy ills and get a sense of any ‘blockages’.
With our eyes closed, it’s tricky to get a sense of what’s actually going on. I occassionally hear our practitioner’s feet padding from one part of the room to another, then sense her closeness, feeling the presence of her hands right over my head.
Is anything actually happening? That depends on what you believe. I could swear I felt genuine weight and movement without being touched, but I don’t know whether that’s ‘energy moving around’ or just my stomach digesting my lunch.
After an hour of drifting in and out of sleep, we’re gently awoken and brought back to chat. I do feel calm – my usual mile-a-minute internal monologue has slowed and my breathing feels better – but that’s about it.
What slightly brings me out of this calm is when the practitioner tells me that my ‘heart chakra is very heavy’ and that this means ‘someone has recently deeply hurt me’. I can’t bring anyone to mind, so this leaves me more baffled than feeling ‘spiritually awakened’.
She does also mention that I have some tension in my sacral chakra – around my abdonmen – and explains that this usually involves some sort of creative block or frustration with a lack of inspiration. This feels more accurate. I can definitely relate to feeling a touch stuck and out of touch with my creative side.
As we’re mulling this all over, another comment slightly dents the spiritual vibes. I ask the energy healer what we should do after this experience, expecting the usual advice of taking things easy, drinking water, resting up, and so on. She instead recommends some nearby bars and clubs, before warning off one locale as it’s ‘full of chavs’.
That’s not very zen.
Dinner in Jurema is delicious – all fresh Mexican-fusion flavours and a riot of textures. We sleep well and have a brilliant breakfast before we go.
Is the ‘soul revival package’ worth doing?
Do we feel calmer? Yes, absolutely.
Spiritually awakened? Perhaps not as much as hoped. Rather than feeling creatively ‘unblocked’, I’m still running through who could possibly be responsible for the deep wounds in my heart chakra.
Wellness is a noble goal, but I’m not so sure it can be achieved in under an hour, without delving more deeply into any mental or emotional issues brought up.
The cost of these treatments, whether you buy them as a package or added-on to an existing stay (which would cost you between £180 for ‘the heart opener’ cacao ritual and £300 for ‘shamanic healing’), is steep, and if you’re seriously struggling with your mental wellbeing, that’s money that may be better spent going towards counselling sessions or similar therapies.
But if you’re the type to drop upwards of £400 a night on a hotel stay, we’d say it’s worth upgrading to include some emphasis on your wellbeing. It’s rare that we take some time to fully focus on our mental, physical, and spiritual selves, even when we’re on holiday, so if splashing cash isn’t going to fill you with further stress, this isn’t a bad place or way to spend your money.
At the very least, you’ll come away feeling relaxed and well-rested – even if you snooze through all the spiritual stuff.
The soul revival package at The Mandrake is available to book from £730.
The spiritual wellbeing concierge menu:
If you’d rather book a session than do the whole package, here’s what’s on offer, with descriptions from The Mandrake…
The Heart Opener – £180 for 60 minutes
‘Let our guides open your heart using the alchemy of sound and a ritual using medicinal ceremonial grade cacao, from Peru. This rich, velvety elixir is a doorway to the heart, honoured for thousands of years by the Incas, Aztecs and Mayans who used it to communicate with their gods and higher powers.
‘Our guides will take you through a ceremony of intention setting and
sacred sound to create healing vibrations and heart activating mantras to release what no longer serves and call in your higher self.’
The Spirit Awakener – £180 for 80 minutes
‘Our guide uses ancient reiki practices accompanied by crystal singing bowls to awaken the deepest part of you. Reiki is used to rebalance and restore the flow of energy in your body – clearing blocks and soothing trauma.
‘Crystal singing bowls are incredibly powerful – our bones have a crystalline structure and the sound from the bowls resonates to the very core of our being.
‘Sound also works on a cellular level, as we are 65 to 70% water, allowing the vibration to work internally.’
The Soul Connector – £200 for 90 minutes
‘Tantalise the senses as you are immersed in scent and sound with your own private sound bath.
‘Lie back and go on a cosmic journey, as healing frequency instruments and essential oils are woven across you. Allow the vibrations to relax the body and soothe the mind as you journey inward to clear blockages and make space for whatever is needed in that moment.
‘The sound journey will include three planetary gongs – Sun, Earth & Venus, crystal bowls, medicine drum, chimes, Native American flute and other percussive instruments. The aim is to expand your consciousness to a higher level, to facilitate release, energetic shifts and promote healing, regeneration, and reconnection with your pure self.’
Bespoke Sessions – from £200
‘Since the dawn of time, mankind has used ceremony and ritual as a way of marking life events. We believe rituals are an essential part of modern life. They are not only a way to celebrate, but also allow you to reconnect to your soul.
‘From a fire ritual that honours an ending and calls in courage for the next chapter, to a Goddess Circle that connects your tribe in spirit and sets an intention for the next step in your dance – The Mandrake can curate a bespoke ritual or ceremony for you.
‘Our Spiritual Concierge is on hand for a consultation to create something
that is suited to your personal needs.’
Shamanic Healing Session – £300 for around three hours
‘It is the Shamanic belief, that when connection to our true selves is weakened or severed, an imbalance is created within us, manifesting a fertile landscape for physical and mental illness to develop. Our Shaman offers truly healing sessions, rooted in ancient, indigenous traditions.
‘Within Shamanic healing, a space is created in which these stuck energies can be removed, and your power can be fully restored. After this, a window of opportunity is opened, and you can reclaim the beautiful, powerful and positive creature that you were born to be. Once this happens, true and limitless healing can occur, and you can once again rekindle a life of bliss.’
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