Male Bonding, On One’s Own By Alex Larman

At a men-only spa, Alex Larman finds out that masculine pampering has its upside….

Gentleman's Tonic

Perhaps it’s thought that real men don’t bother with such wussy things as spa treatments, or that most men’s definition of male grooming is adding soap to water, but there are a noticeable lack of men-only spas.

Gentleman’s Tonic (www.gentlemanstonic.com) aims to fill that niche with locations everywhere from Mayfair to Mexico and the Middle East.

Their flagship spa in the peaceful environs of Bruton Place, a stone’s throw from London’s Mayfair, is squarely aimed at the post-metrosexual man, unconcerned about wearing a colourful Paul Smith shirt, but equally unconcerned if it has a few wrinkles in it. Out go the soothing sounds of new-agey pan pipes and flower petal teas; in come wet shaves, sports massages and Bloody Marys.

I sipped one of the latter as I prepared for an aromatherapy massage on a recent visit. My previous experience tended to take place in hushed silence at expensive hotel spas, with much form-filling and hand-wringing talk about my ‘‘requirements.’’ The atmosphere here was no less professional, but much more relaxed and informal. Annemie, my masseuse, expertly applied a variety of essential geranium, citrus, rosemary, mint and lavender oils to my weary limbs. I was ensconced in one of the three treatment rooms that combine trendy and old-school, with wood and leather framing hi-tech music consoles and LCD screens.

She worked on my pressure points skilfully, and I felt the stresses and pressures of my morning slip away. That may have been the vodka starting to settle, but after a wonderfully relaxing hour at her hands, I left the room feeling energised and ready for my next adventure upstairs: a wet shave with a straight and incredibly sharp razor. Gentleman’s Tonic knows that no man should be away from a TV for very long, so Sky TV plays on the miniature LCDs in the four barber rooms. I had been tentatively experimenting with some facial foliage for about a week which only proved there are some people a nascent beard doesn’t suit, and I’m one of them.

Thankfully over the next 30 minutes, my expert barber Jay saw to it that all traces of my follicle folly were wiped away. First, the worst excesses were clipped away, and soothing hot towels opened up my pores. Then, skilfully and efficiently, Jay used an old-fashioned straight razor to tidy me up. Far from the Sweeney Todd stereotype, this was as painless and welcome as the massage had been.

Eventually, I stepped out into Mayfair again, revitalised and refreshed, and feeling very much of the model of a modern English gentleman.

Gentleman’s Tonic
31a Bruton Place
London W1J 6NN

Tel: +44 (0) 20 7297 4343

www.gentlemanstonic.com