This post is a little overdue. Primarily because I’ve been contemplating how to write this. I could have, if I wanted to – written a sugar-coated version of this post, in order to keep both parties involved happy, but a blog is all about being honest, and (I hope), it is one of the main reasons people read this website, so I’m going to be 100% truthful in this review.
A few months back, I was invited by Xperience Days to review one of their ‘Spa Day for Two’ packages, which they offer on their website. Available at a variety of hotels and spas up and down the country, with the nearest to me being the Mariott (Westminster), I had been wanting to treat my mum to a day of relaxation for awhile, so I immediately replied with an eager ‘yes please’ and gave the company several mid-week dates that I would be available for. The package included two treatments, so we booked in for a facial and a massage, which were confirmed for 11am on the 27th March.
Fast forward to the day of the spa trip (a Wednesday, I think), my mum and I left early so that we could arrive, enjoy a bit of time before our treatments and then leave afterwards (we had to be back home for 2PM so my mum could pick my sister up). Upon arriving at the grand Mariott Hotel, in a gorgeous position right next to Big Ben, the Cathedral and the Thames, we couldn’t quite believe we would be spending the next few hours there, as it looked amazing!
When we arrived in the spa area, it seemed very quiet, with not much going on, which we put down to the fact that it was during the week, however we were a little annoyed that no staff members were there to greet us. We were told by an assistant in the attached spa shop that someone would be with us shortly and that we should take a seat, however half an hour later – we were still none the wiser. Still bundled in our coats, scarves and boots, we felt a little out of place in a deserted dim-lighted room, and didn’t quite know who or what we were waiting for.
Eventually, after wandering up and down the corridor of the spa, we managed to track a member of staff down – who again, told us to wait and that someone would be with us shortly. By this time, it was coming up to 11.30AM, having been there nearly an hour and we were started to get really annoyed. As the review was complimentary (although we’d paid for travel to London) I didn’t feel as angry as I would have if I had paid, however it was still very frustrating to have been kept waiting.
When someone finally noticed my mum and I, and asked for our booking reference, we handed over the number of vouchers, letters and forms that I had been sent by Xperience Days. Apparently, as it turns out – they hadn’t been expecting us, they had no record of our booking and started to get quite defensive. They searched for a number of email addresses that I had been contacted by Xperience Days on, and apparently couldn’t find any record of us, but ‘kindly’ fitted us in at a new slot (12.30PM) and gave us the treatments complimentary, despite us not having the correct paperwork.
By this point, we were so far from relaxed that we contemplated going home. Yes, we had our treatments booked in – but I felt like we were being made to feel guilty about our trip – and having waited a long time already, I thought just offering our treatments (which we were already entitled to) complimentary, wasn’t really cutting it. After being handed dressing gowns and slippers and given a tour of the facilities (which I know we weren’t going to be able to use as we had to leave early), I was feeling far more tense and stressed than when I had arrived.
After emailing Xperience Days, letting them know what had happened, I received a call from the very helpful Gary, who apologized for the mess up and asked to speak to the staff member at reception. From what I could gather, the mess up was actually the fault of the Mariott Hotel, who actually didn’t admit or apologize for this confusion at all. They did in fact have a record of our booking and our arrival on their system (something they didn’t disclose beforehand) with a side-note saying that a member of the spa’s staff needed to call Xperience Days back to confirm the booking. No-one had done this. Obviously.
The facial itself, was fairly average if I’m being honest. I’m no expert with regards to facials, having only had a few – but you’d usually expect it to have some form of face/neck massage incorporated into it? No such luck. Just a bit of face tapping and head squeezing. At one point, she popped a face mask on and then walked out of the room and left me for 5-10 minutes. It was okay, and my skin felt much smoother afterwards, but nothing to rave about. My mum’s back and shoulder massage was according to her, very nice, which is the one positive thing to come from the trip – however, £40 travel for a 30 minute massage isn’t really value for money.
Unfortunately, as we had to leave early – I can’t comment on the other facilities available. Overall the trip was largely unsuccessful, having felt far more stressed leaving, than when I had arrived. Something I assume is not the primary purpose of a spa. The staff at the spa, although reasonably apologetic, didn’t actually admit to it being their fault, nor did they offer us anything to compensate for having waited a long time without being greeted, or blaming us initially for the mess up. I hate to sound like a constant moaner, but I wanted to be honest about what happened so that hopefully the spa can learn from this – and make sure that this doesn’t happen to a paying customer, let alone someone with a complimentary press pass.
I’m sure, in the right circumstances, the spa is lovely – and I’m sure that many people who have visited can confirm that it is a great place to unwind, relax and chill out. However, in this case, I cannot confirm this myself – and it’s unfortunate to have had such a bad experience, as I wanted so much to treat my mum and have a lovely day. Having just returned from Bath, where I visited the wonderful Bath Thermae Spa (with fantastic service from all staff members), I can look back and see how a spa day should be – and how it treats its customers.
Xperience Days, despite the mix up – is a fantastic website, offering some really great packages which make perfect gifts. I appreciate it wasn’t Xperience Days fault, and for that – I’m sorry for the rather sombre review, but blogging isn’t about providing sugar-coated information, it’s about being honest. So, I’m sorry for whinging, but I felt like I needed to be truthful here.